I was at today's Mets-Braves game at Shea Stadium, a noontime game the Braves wound up just winning, 7-6. About 35,000 fans were on hand (not the better than 52,000 announced, as it wasn't nearly that full) on a rather delightful day to be at a baseball park.
Chipper Jones hit a mammoth shot almost midway up the Shea Stadium scoreboard, and Mark Teixeira added a homer right after that to pace the Braves. David Wright hit a two-run shot in the ninth to make the score 7-6. Then Carlos Delgado hit a blast to the opposite field in left that Willie Harris (pictured) made a game-saving catch to take homer away from him and preserve the Atlanta win. I thought for sure it was going out.
Harris also made a great catch off Moises Alou in the first to save a couple of runs from scoring, and take an extra-base hit away from him. This is the same Willie Harris who played in just 47 games for the Red Sox last season and hit an anemic .156.
Harris is currently hitting .328 for the Braves as their leadoff hitter. He was signed by Atlanta in the off-season to a minor league contract. They brought him up a couple of months ago, and it seems like he's a reborn player. Seems like every time I put on a Braves game, he is in the middle of some rally or making some kind of great play. He was a total stiff on the Red Sox last season (he only got to bat 45 times, but he still did nothing, striking out a 1/4 of the time). He currently has 15 doubles, 16 steals, with 1 home run and 24 RBI since his recall.
Harris has always been a rather marginal player, and his claim to fame before this season was that he scored the World Series-winning run for the White Sox in 2005. But now, at age 29, he seems like a whole new player. Maybe its because the Braves gave him a chance to play regularly and he's taking advantage of it. He seems to making great plays in the field too. (I don't remember him being a great fielder in Chicago or Boston.)
But now he seems to be the kind of player the Braves needed at the top of their lineup. He may have single-handedly saved the win for the today with his play in the field.
Last year, we Sox fans kiddingly referred to him as "Wily Mo Harris" and he seemed to be as useless as Pena was in 2006. But now, he's become a much more valuable player than Pena has ever been.
It makes me wonder if Harris has gotten some help (and I don't mean steroids) from "other places." Or maybe he's just that good. We'll see if he keeps it up.