The reports of Dan Uggla’s baseball departure were perhaps a tad premature.
One of the kookiest games of the 2014 season had a goofy conclusion, with Uggla hitting a grand slam in the ninth inning against fill-in closer Jake Diekman to give the Atlanta Braves a 9-6 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
UgglaThis is the same Uggla whom ESPN.com’s David Schoenfield was suggesting the Braves cut earlier in the afternoon, one who closed the 2013 season by going 13-for-his-last-120 and then opened 2014 with a slight upgrade to 8-for-41, giving him a .130 batting average over a 52-game stretch.
But Uggla has done this sort of thing against the Phillies before. Phillies fans remember well another go-ahead grand slam he hit -- this one a walk-off shot against Tom Gordon on June 11, 2008.
The odds were a little longer for this one against Diekmann. Uggla was 1-for-his-past-45 against left-handed pitching entering that at-bat.
The home run increased the Braves chances of winning by 51 percent (per historical data available at Fangraphs.com), making it the second-most-valuable home run of the season, trailing only Alexei Ramirez's walk-off home run on Sunday (a 71 percent increase).
What else made this such a weird game?
The one thing stranger than Uggla’s homer was the line for winning pitcher Luis Avilan, who allowed five earned runs in one inning, an eighth inning in which the Phillies got a clutch three-run home run from Domonic Brown (who hadn’t hit a homer against a lefty since Aug. 7, 2013).
Avilan was awarded the win. He became the first pitcher to be credited with a win despite allowing at least five earned runs while pitching an inning or fewer since Jack Knott of the 1934 St. Louis Browns against the Philadelphia Athletics.
Knott got the win because the official scorer didn’t have a choice -- Knott allowed five runs to the Athletics in the top of the ninth and was the last man on the mound when the inning ended. The Browns scored six in their half of the ninth to win.