2007 NEWS

2007 News > 9/2/07

By Jeff Lutz, MLB.com
Original Article HERE.

ATLANTA -- Tom Glavine escaped into the dugout after a rough first inning against the Braves on Sunday, and when he emerged for the second inning, the clocks at Turner Field had all been turned back to 1995.

Glavine put that tough opening frame aside and turned in a vintage performance that had to remind his former home fans of that World Series-winning year, when he delivered Atlanta its only World Series title with a 1-0 Game 6 victory over Cleveland.

The team that Glavine helped pitch into the postseason 11 times may have had its playoff hopes dashed on Sunday by the 41-year-old left-hander who, based only on the uniform he sports every five days, is now an enemy to the franchise that drafted him 23 years ago.

If the Braves -- now 7 1/2 games back in the National League East after New York's 3-2 win on Sunday -- see the number of important games in which they're involved dwindle down the stretch, Glavine will be at least partly responsible.

When Glavine walked off the mound after six-plus innings, the best the Turner Field crowd could offer was lukewarm applause, save for the standing ovation from the Mets fans behind the visitors' dugout.

"A very appreciative ovation for the way I pitched," Glavine said. "It was nice. Believe me, I was more than happy to go out there and pitch a good game and try to make that happen."

Glavine and John Smoltz, teammates from the day Smoltz joined the Braves in 1988 until Glavine signed with the Mets before the 2003 season, squared off on the mound for the fourth time this season. But this wasn't just one of the bunch.

Glavine was pitching at Turner Field for the first time since winning his 300th game, on Aug. 5, a feat for which the Atlanta fans submitted a warm reception when he was recognized before Friday's game.

Sunday might also have been Glavine's last appearance at Turner Field, his home for six seasons. The two-time Cy Young Award winner hasn't decided on his future, but retirement is a possibility.

That decision will remain on hold, however, because Glavine is likely headed for the postseason, a familiar scenario for him and formerly an autumn rite of passage in Atlanta.

Glavine seemingly took that tradition with him to New York, though. The Mets are on track to make their second straight playoff appearance, whereas the Braves look to be shut out for the second consecutive October.

"I guess there was some part of me -- not really when I walked off the field, but during the course of the game -- that thought, 'You know, this could be the last time I ever pitch here,' " Glavine said. "But beyond that fleeting 15 seconds, I really didn't think about it much. The fun part of pitching for me right now is trying to execute my game plan, and that's really all I'm thinking about."

Getting the best of Smoltz, who was mostly sharp during his seven innings but was done in by a two-run homer by David Wright in the fifth, was a welcome change for Glavine.

The good friends and golfing buddies had met three times previously this season, with Smoltz going 2-0 and the Braves winning all three games. Smoltz picked up his 200th career victory against Glavine and the Mets on May 24.

"It won't be the last competition between the two of us, I can guarantee you that," Glavine said. "For bragging rights, it was nice to finally beat him -- he's certainly had my number. I've pitched well against him this year, but he's pitched a little bit better, obviously, and gotten the better end of the stick."

Glavine needed 26 pitches to escape the first inning, during which he issued two walks, allowed two singles and saw the Braves send seven batters to the plate. Retiring Brian McCann on a groundout with the bases loaded started a string of 12 straight outs recorded by Glavine, a stretch that ended in the fifth inning with an eight-pitch walk to Yunel Escobar.

Glavine was removed with no outs in the seventh after he'd issued a single to Kelly Johnson, and three New York relievers finished off Glavine's 302nd career win and 12th this season.

Walking off the Turner Field mound for potentially the last time carried little sentimental value for Glavine, who won't look back until this year's postseason destiny is fulfilled and his career is complete.

"If it is the last time, you don't want it to be a negative memory," he said. "If it is, it will be a nice, positive memory. But that's a long ways down the road before I make my mind up on that [retirement] issue. We'll let it play out."