September 25, 2009 at 1:35 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Daily Post, Draft, Farm System, Minor Leagues, Series Preview
Elias Rankings Update
The new Elias Rankings are out courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors.
- Adam LaRoche remains a Type B and puts some distance between him and the “no-status” status.
- Garret Anderson, against all odds, remains a Type B by a fairly large margin.
- Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano remain in no jeopardy of falling out of Type A status.
- Tim Hudson may have an outside shot at achieving Type B status, but he’s a fairly large ways away (Tim’s at 53.333 points, Pelfrey, the highest on the list who isn’t a Type B, is at 58.409, and the lowest Type B, John Lannan (whom Kelly has a career 1.133 OPS against, gotta squeeze in the agenda!), is at 60.00).
We Swept ‘Em Back-to-Back
Two straight sweeps of the Mets. Not that this deserves any bragging, as it’s probably easy to beat the Mets without Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, J. J. Putz, and Johan Santana. But it still feels good to sweep the Mets. Always. Never gets old.
Right at 12%. That’s pretty much all wild-card at this point. Perhaps I just cursed the Braves who head into a 10-game stretch where they play 3 at Washington, 3 vs Florida, and 4 more vs Washington. We’ll hope the Braves don’t read this site and try to prove me wrong.
Getting down to it, though, the Braves need to win 10 of their last 10. Seriously, running the table is pretty much the only option. After Colorado lost last night*, they sit at 86-67 and the Braves 82-70. If the Braves go 10-0, they’ll be at 92-70, the inverse of last year’s record. All Colorado has to do is go 6-3 over their final 9 to force a 1-game playoff and 7-2 to win the wild-card. Perhaps the Braves have help on the way, though. Colorado’s final 9 games feature 3 vs. St. Louis, 3 vs. Milwaukee, and 3 @ Los Angeles. There’s a good chance that the Rockies win less than 5 of their final 9. So the Braves chances are still alive. You’ve just gotta run the table.
*Good lord, about time the Rockies lost**. It’s annoying. Earlier in the year, the Braves were on a huge streak and gained no ground on the Phillies. It’s the same story here. Every time the Braves go on their streak, seems like someone else ahead of them follows suit. The only option is to go on an unattainably long hot streak.
**I wrote this post yesterday and the Rockies had just lost their first to the Padres. The Rockies have since lost again, putting the Braves in an even better position.
And you’ve gotta start tonight in Washington.
The Pitching match-ups include Javier Vazquez vs. John Lannan, Tommy Hanson vs. Garrett Mock, and Derek Lowe vs. Livan Hernandez. I like the Braves in all 3 of those. It’s important to take them 1 at a time, though. Meanwhile, the Rockies will be pitted against the likes of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Kyle Lohse this weekend. It’s a great opportunity to gain some ground.
The Braves have the best chance of any team of overtaking the Rockies. It’d take a trick they themselves have pulled to overtake them, though (the Braves have won 11 of 13. The Rockies won 21 of 22 to get to the World Series. The Braves need to win 20-21 of their final 23).
Earlier, Christian Bethancourt was named the GCL’s number 1 prospect. I didn’t report it because I don’t know anything about GCL players, usually. Baseball America followed up with their Appalachian League Top 20 Prospects. The Cartagena Kid was ranked number 1. Danville also won the Appy league, so it would stand to reason they would have a few in the top 20. Last year’s 2nd rounder, Tyler Stovall, ranked 16th on their list. 2009 4th rounder–Mycal Jones, a toolsy college SS, hit .258 with 19 SB (4 CS), 4 HR, and a .767 OPS, enough to rank 17th on the list. Brett Oberholtzer (LHP), a 2008 8th rounder, also cracked the top-20. The article also mentions two break-out performers who didn’t crack the list:
Two of Danville’s first-year pros made a huge impact in the Appy League but just missed the cut. First baseman and league MVP Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg, a 16th-round pick from Nova Southeastern (Fla.), hit .359 to win the batting title, and his strength and knowledge of the strike zone portend a bright future. Lefthander Chris Masters, an 11th-round pick from Western Carolina, led the league with 85 strikeouts in 70 innings and narrowly missed winning the ERA title at 1.42. He expertly spots an 87-92 mph fastball but needs to refine his secondary stuff.
Games Last Night
Even though the Braves didn’t play, I watched some baseball last night. First the Padres-Rockies. That game was pretty crazy. Then the Giants-Cubs, that one was even crazier. Let’s just take a look at the Win Probability Graphs. First Rockies-Padres:
And the Cubs-Giants:
It was a great day for Braves baseball even if they were off. The Rockies lose (and now have 9 games against tough opponents), the Cubs win (so the Cardinals have to play at least one meaningful game against the Rockies), and the Giants lost, putting them behind the Braves in the Wild Card standings. Great day.
Packers 34 at Rams 17
Redskins 21 at Lions 10
49ers 20 at Vikings 21
Falcons 34 at Patriots 35
Titans 10 at Jets 17
Chiefs 3 at Eagles 33
Giants 31 at Buccaneers 17
Browns 3 at Ravens 24
Jaguars 21 at Texans 38
Bears 17 at Seahawks 16
Saints 38 at Bills 35
Steelers 27 at Bengals 0
Broncos 9 at Raiders 10
Dolphins 17 at Chargers 34
Colts 27 at Cardinals 21
Panthers 35 at Cowboys 34
I’ve already done Kelly Johnson Fan Club for the upcoming series and I feel like I should be diverting more attention towards getting the Braves in the playoffs (like I can have any impact…) and less to my “KJ needs more playing time” agenda. Although I think the two would probably correlate. So that’s all I’ve got for now. Let’s beat the Nationals tonight, and tomorrow, and Sunday!
September 18, 2009 at 12:50 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Daily Post, Kelly Johnson Fan Club, Philadelphia Philthies, Pitching, Series Preview
7 games out, 23 games out, or whatever, it still feels good to sweep the Mets. It also feels good to watch Jeff Francoeur try to leap over the wall and catch Brian McCann’s home run to no avail. Yes, I did watch this one. After I turned off the GT Miami game in disgust. Anyway, I’m pretty sick of the Jeff Francoeur crap. The baseball media makes such a fucking huge deal about it when he comes to town. Get the fuck over it. He’s going to be coming to town 9 times next year because the Mets are stupid enough to tender him a contract.
Ryan Church vs. Jeff Francoeur
To those of you who think it was a bad trade:
Jeff Francoeur 2009 Mets WAR – -0.2
Ryan Church 2009 Braves WAR – 0.4
Ryan Church has been the better player–any way you slice it.
Continuing with both because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Again, starting in the East:
The Cubs are pretty much dead.
Phillies Come to Town
If the Braves have any shot at the division, they need to sweep the Phillies. Here’s how the pitching match-ups play out:
Tim Hudson vs. J. A. Happ
Hudson is completely unpredictable, but if he pitches like the Tim Hudson of 2007-2008, the Braves should be in pretty good shape. There’s also extra motivation to beat Happ in order to boost Hanson’s ROY hopes. I don’t know what to expect, I’m just going to close my eyes and hope for the best.
Javier Vazquez vs. Pedro Martinez
Though Pedro has pitched well for the Phillies, he’s thrown 119 and 130 pitches in his past two starts. Even though he gets 5 days rest before the game Saturday, you have to think the Braves have the advantage in this one. Vazquez is 1-1 with a 3.81 ERA vs. the Phillies in 4 starts this season.
Tommy Hanson vs. Cliff Lee
A crucial game for Hanson’s ROY campaign. Beating Cliff Lee is no small task. Lee threw a shutout in his last start, but had a 9.60 ERA in his previous three. Atlanta was in the middle of the first of those games, touching him up for 6 runs in 5 innings to start the streak. Hopefully we’ll see a deja-vu.
The good news is the Braves won’t face Cole Hamels who seems to have their number.
Kelly Johnson Fan Club
Prado and Infante have been swinging hot bats as of late, so I don’t suggest playing Kelly Johnson over one of them this series. To back my point up further, he’s struggled against Martinez (.455 OPS) and he’s 1-for-7 with a homer and no walks against Happ. Still, I think he should play Left Field this series, at least some. He’s a better bet defensively than Garret or Diaz and he’s been swinging the bat well lately, unlike Garret.
Stay Hot, Nate
Nate McLouth has been tearing it the fuck up since he came off the DL. He’s hit .413/.500/.652/1.152 with 3 HR, 2 2B, 8 BB, 6 K, and 9 RBI during that period. I’ll take a .500 OBP and a .239 ISO out of the leadoff spot any day of the week.
I did a Q&A for a buddy at the Phillies’ blog Macho Row. I’ll link to it when he gets it up.
That’s all I got.
August 12, 2009 at 11:13 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Philthies, Series Preview
People ask me all the time if this game is a “must-win”? Or if this series is a “must-win”? It’s usually a very idiotic question, of course, because it’s not like this is the one game or this is the one series that if you don’t win, you have no chance of making the playoffs. Game 163. There’s a must-win. An elimination game. There’s a must-win. Tied in the loss column with 1 to play and the team you’re chasing finished? That is a must-win. But when you’ve got 100, or 50, or even 20 games left, nothing is a “must-win” in the truest sense of the word. And I’m a literal person, if you didn’t know. That is–I take things literally. If you didn’t know.
Throwing all the sports-journalist-talking-point-puppy-fluff-emotional-nonobjective crap out the door (things usually don’t piss me off more than journalist’s nonobjective bullshit) , this is an important series. I don’t know what the standings will look like going into the series. The Braves will be between 4 and 6 games out in the loss column. They have a chance to make up major ground. By the same token, they have a chance to eff the goat and piss away a great deal of ground they’ve fought for over a month to gain. Doing the former would do wonders while doing the latter would be devastating. And you don’t need me to rattle off statistics to know this.
The Phillies are a very good team. Make no mistake about it. You can try to poke holes in it. You won’t get very far. They’re a very good team. Are they better than the Braves? I don’t know. The Braves are a very good team too.
I’ll preview the series.
Game 1. Friday, August 14. Jair Jurrjens vs. Joe Blanton.
Jurrjens comes into this game pitching like horse shit in his last two starts–both against the Dodgers. Jurrjens gave up a combined 17 hits, 5 walks, 8 ER, and struck out 10 in 9 and 1/3 innings pitched. His previous season-low game score was 35. He tallied 34 and 33 in these two. It’s been very unlike him. He’s pitched pretty well all year and hasn’t had an extended (more than 1 start) stretch of suckage. Hopefully he’ll pitch well, like I know he’s capable of. It wasn’t a stretch that was hard to see coming if you looked close enough, though. BABIP neutral, he’s been better against left-handed batters this season. Reason being is he lacks a true out pitch to right-handed hitters. When he has the slider (which is sketchier than hit or miss), he handles them fine. Otherwise? He’ll keep getting 0-2, 0-2, 0-2, and fail to put them away. We saw this in both of his starts against the Dodgers. The whole time. The Dodgers are largely a right-handed hitting team. Their only dangerous lefties are Loney and Ethier. Right-handed they’ve got Manny, Kemp, Casey Blake, and Russel Martin with 2 switch-hitters. He nearly always has the good change-up, which can do a number on left-handed hitters. Good thing Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez all hit left-handed.
Joe Blanton has been a solid starter. Just the blue-collar, run of the mill, strike-throwing, consistent, never great pitcher. It’s not that he’s unbeatable, it’s that you have to beat him. Waiting for him to hand you the game will largely resemble a famous Samuel Beckett play. Ultimately beatable, though. If good Jurrjens shows up, and I hope he will, this is a very winnable game.
Game 2. Saturday, August 15. Kenshin Kawakami vs. Cole Hamels.
You never know what you’re going to get with Kenshin Kawakami. I could put a Forest Gump reference there, but I figure I’ll let the reader just fill in the blank. He threw a minimal quality start (6.0 IP, 3 ER) against the Padres two outings ago before shutting out the Dodgers through 7 in his last start. In his only start against Philly (at their shitty joke of a ballpark), he pitched 6 innings allowing 9 baserunners but only 2 runs against all odds. He was credited with the win in that game. He has sort of this reputation as a “big game pitcher” because he seems to do well when the stakes are high (like when you’re facing the Red Sox or Yankees or Dodgers or Cubs or Phillies or Roy Halladay). Probably all crap, but I hope the stereotype holds up against the Phillies.
Hamels has fared worse than Jurrjens over his past 2 starts. He’s given up a combined 15 hits and 6 walks with only 6 (!) K’s and 11 runs (10 ER) in his past 2 starts over 10 and 1/3 innings. He’s had stretches like this all season, though. The curse of the contract! (Which is total bullshit, by the way). Left-handed hitters have hit him a little better than right-handers in his career. Again, because his curveball sucks and his change-up is dynamite. Good thing like every Braves player ever hits left-handed. Except Yunel.
Impossible to predict which Hamels or which Kawakami will show up.
Game 3. Sunday, August 16. Javier Vazquez vs. J.A. Happ
Say what you will about Happ’s record and ERA, but both of those are nothing more than a delusion and the Braves should certainly win with Vazquez pitching. Vazquez has been great all season. No need to preview him. You already know.
Happ, on the other hand, has been great at nothing other than getting lucky. Low BABIP and high strand rate. He hasn’t been good at getting ground balls, striking out batters (well, not exceptionally good, 89 K’s in 121 IP), limiting line drives, or being stingy with walks. As I mentioned, his ERA is a delusion, and he isn’t all that good. A very winnable game.
So, a sweep is possible. And this series is important. Let’s hope it happens. Missing Cliff Lee is huge.
May 28, 2009 at 7:15 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, Series Preview, Series Thoughts
Here are my thoughts on the Giants series. Our 50 million dollar pitching staff couldn’t deal with the monstrosity of the Giant’s potent offense, but it didn’t really matter because our bats decided they’d take the series off too. What an embarrassing series. We played like absolute crap.
Looking forward, we’ve got Haren vs. Lowe tonight. I love the Braves and all, but Derek Lowe is such a drag to watch, just unentertaining, a junk pitcher, etc… And and Dan Haren is so much fun to watch. It’s cool, though. I can do other things while Lowe is pitching and the Diamondbacks are hitting because I have virtually no interest in watching the bottom half of each inning, other than to know the score. Good thing they’ve got that scoreboard thing in the corner of the screen. Saves me lots of time to catch up on things. But really, Dan Haren is a joy to watch. So incredibly entertaining. He might be my favorite pitcher in the game right now (Maddux has retired). I previously noted the 36 most entertaining pitchers (my opinion of course), and he was number 2, behind Ubaldo Jimenez, who kind of sucks. Dan Haren is a guy you really get behind, though. Except when he’s playing the Braves. Maybe I should cheer for the Diamondbacks and if they win I’ll be prepared, if the Braves win it will be a pleasant surprise. Ha. Anyway, like I said. If you get a chance. Watch the game tonight.
After that it’s Jair Jurrjens vs. Jon Garland. Jurrjens is due for a bad game, but it shouldn’t matter because the Diamondbacks have a pathetic offense and Jon Garland is sporting a super-cool 1.55 WHIP despite tossing back-to-back quality starts. So he’s due for a bad game. Worse than normal. Which is usually pretty bad. There was much talk about the Braves bringing him in this off-season. I’m not saying he’d certainly be better than Kenshin Kawakami, but Jon Garland is just flat out boring and not good. At least Kenshin brings more flavor to the game.
Following the “no excuse for not winning” game, we’ll send Javier “innings eater” Vazquez against Doug Davis. I started out very high on Vazquez and he’s let me down thusfar like I should’ve expected. Same old song and dance. Great K/BB rates, crappy ERA. Low strand %, high BABIP. He does everything a pitcher can control and needs to do to be dominant very well (except that pesky HR% and HR/FB) but does everything we statheads throw into the luck tank that you also need to do to be dominant very poorly. I’ve concluded that he’s worse from the stretch than the wind-up which contributes to the low strand %. Anyway, he’s got the mighty task of taking on Doug Davis. Who isn’t that good but isn’t very bad. We’re in a hitter’s park and if Javy keeps it in the park and we don’t win this game I’m quitting on our offense.
The fourth match-up scares the hell out of me. And yeah, that’s right, we play 4 game series’. Because that’s the way the unbalanced schedule works. Anyway, it’s presumably Medlen vs. Max Scherzer who shut us out in an embarrassing 12-0 loss. How embarrassing? Well, the WORST LOSS IN TURNER FIELD HISTORY. Yeah, not even exaggerating. The Braves haven’t “announced” a starter for that game, but I’m betting it will be Medlen. Other possibilities include Morton, Parr, Glavine, and Tommy Hanson. Let’s not discuss Tommy Hanson, please. They’ll bring him up when they bring him up. And until then there’s no sense in fretting about it. If we win that game I’ll un-quit the Braves (assuming they do something so embarrassing in the previous 3 games that I’ll quit them before then).
Moral of the story is: Watch Haren tonight, our outfield sucks, and sometimes our 55 million dollar pitching staff can’t shut down horrible offenses in pitcher’s parks. Who knows what’s in store for this series in a hitter’s park. A lot of bad baseball, I imagine.
May 14, 2009 at 10:07 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, New York Mutts, Series Preview, Series Thoughts
A win that put us on cloud 9, a loss that put us in the trenches, and another win that put us right back where we started. That’s what happened. Here’s how it went down.
In the first game, Santana vs. Lowe, neither pitcher was particularly brilliant. Santana pitched 6 and 1/3 innings of 1-run ball before being pulled with a runner on 1st. The Braves had baserunners all night against him, but being Johan Santana, he was able to strand most of them. We worked the count well, something we haven’t done all season which pisses me off, and he was at over 100 pitches when he was pulled. Mets and Braves fans alike can both attribute to what unfolded in the latter stages of the game to the Mets bullpen imploding and shoddy defense, as they allowed 6 runs (only 3 earned), in the next 2 and 2/3 innings. The big hit was had by Matt Diaz, who singled off Pedro Feliciano with the bases loaded in the 7th to plate 2 runs and break open the lead. Why Jerry Manuel left Feliciano, a lefty, in to face Matt Diaz, a righty who a) murders left-handed pitching and b) is pretty much completely inept at hitting right-handed pitching, I will never know, but it cost the Mets. Feliciano of course didn’t lose that game by himself, 3 other Mets relievers pitched and they all allowed runs. Also, if Jose Reyes makes a fairly routine play Feliciano gets out of the inning clean. Lowe allowed 3 singles, 2 doubles, and 2 walks in his 6 and 2/3 inning 2-run performance. He only struck out 1 batter and it wasn’t his best game. He did have the sinker working, inducing 15 ground-ball outs. Carlyle gave up a run in the 9th, but the Braves had already scored 8 to the Mets 2 at that point, so it wasn’t like they were close to threatening. Moylan and Soriano were both used in the game. I have already been on my rant about how abused our bullpen has been, so I won’t go there in this post.
I want to take a second to say how impressed I am with Lowe as an individual. First of all, Bobby Cox says Lowe is the hardest working pitcher he’s ever had. Bobby Cox has been in this league a long, long time, and for HIM to say someone is the hardest working he’s ever had, that means A LOT. Secondly, here’s a quote from David O’Brien about the mood in the clubhouse after the first game:
Lot of optimism in that clubhouse after this one. I asked Lowe about the 5-1 trip and he said this was what a lot of people, the Braves included, had been waiting to see from this team.
And he said he likes their chances to win this series, particularly with “our best pitcher going tomorrow.” Those were his words about Jair Jurrjens
Lowe is the guy who signed the big 60 million dollar contract this off-season, but he’s humble enough to say that a sophomore 23-year old who most people had never heard of before last season is our best pitcher. That’s just impressive to me. I’m usually not impressed with Derek Lowe’s outings, but dang, he impressed me more with that quote than he possibly could with an outing.
The second game. Ugh. I wish I could forget it. Jurrjens spun a gem, allowing 5 baserunners through 7 innings, 4 hits and a walk. In the 8th, he gave up 2 singles and a double which Jose Reyes tried to stretch into a triple and was thrown out doing so (he was actually safe, the ump blew the call), with a flyout somewhere in there, and exited the game having allowed 2 runs in 7 and 2/3 innings. Moylan failed to retire the only batter he faced and O’Flaherty got us out of the inning still up 3-2. Mike Gonzalez gave up a lead-off double to Carlos Beltran who stole 3rd a batter later (the replay showed he was out and again the umpires blew the call, but I guess it evens out because they get the run either way) and came home on a sacrifice fly. 3-3. Jeff Bennett came on to pitch the 10th. Stop right there. I know what you’re thinking. But, it was probably Bobby’s best option at the time. Soriano was unavailable because he’d been used way too much for the past week, Gonzalez, Moylan, and O’Flaherty had all been used, and you want to save your long-men (Parr and Carlyle) for either a) later in the game if it goes past 10 innings or b) the next day because Jo Jo Reyes was scheduled to pitch. Anyway, Bennett walked in the winning run. And guess who drew the walk? Yep, that’s right, the only good player on the Mets who is actually playing well right now, Carlos Beltran. By the way, that dude is really damn good. One of the top-5 players in the game I’d imagine. Not far out of it if he is.
The third game went pretty much exactly as advertised. Jo Jo Reyes started and was awful as usual. He left having already allowed 2 runs and the bases loaded with no outs in the third, and Buddy Carlyle promptly gave up a grand slam to Fernando Tatis. To that point we had scored 4 runs, so down 6-4 wasn’t that awful. Niese started the game for the Mets and was chased in the 5th. The Braves battled back and scored 3 more runs to take the lead, but Soriano gave up a run in the bottom of the 8th (probably because he’s been so over-used), and the bats on both sides of the ball kind of died until the top of the 12th, when Martin Prado hit a home run to make it 8-7. At that point, the Braves had used all 13 position players, 6 relief pitchers, Reyes, and Kawakami had pinch-hit. Luckily the 1 pitcher Bobby saved was Gonzalez, who, despite being very wild and looking like he had nothing left in the tank (though he still hit 95 with his fastball), pitched around a double to Jose Reyes (that missed being a game-tying home run by about a foot), and nailed down the save. The Braves used 22 players in that game, which has to be a record for the season. Lowe, Vazquez, and Jurrjens were the only players we didn’t use. Thank god today’s an off-day.
It was an exciting series. It felt like October. Both sides made their share of bad plays, but both sides made their share of excellent plays. Good baseball all around.
Looking forward, we’ve got the Diamondbacks at the Ted for a weekend series. Vazquez, Kawakami, and Lowe will pitch. They’ll be opposed by Doug Davis (who kind of sucks, even though he’s a remarkable story), Max Scherzer (young strikeout machine who I will make it a point of interest to see in person), and Jon Garland (groundball specialist who isn’t that good and has been pitching horribly this season). Reasons I’m dissappointed about how the schedule treats us: I don’t get to watch Dan Haren face the Braves. Reasons I’m excited about how the schedule treats us: I don’t have to watch Dan Haren face the Braves. Webb is on the DL by the way, so we didn’t exactly miss their 2 best pitchers by luck of scheduling.
Davis has been pitching well of late, but the regulars in the line-up hit lefties well (Kotchman, Diaz (not really a reg), McCann, Francoeur, Kelly). It seems like a good day to rest Schafer and let Infante get some work in at Center. I’d play Diaz, Infante, Francoeur, Kotchman, Kelly, Yunel (who interestingly hits righties better than lefties), Chipper, and B-Mac. All of those guys are either a) right-handed hitters, b) left-handed hitters who hit lefties as well as righties, or c) switch-hitters named Chipper Jones.
Scherzer is going to be fun to watch. He’s a guy who you can get into his head, so be patient, wait for a mistake, and do some damage. Garland isn’t a quality pitcher, and his BB/9 is throught he roof, so patience is huge. Stay away from the DP too, he’s a ground-ball specialist.
Overall, this is a very sweepable series. May we do so.
Players I like watching on the D-Backs: Stephen Drew (a favorite of mine), Justin Upton, Dan Haren (who we won’t see), and Max Scherzer.
May 11, 2009 at 7:07 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, New York Mutts, Philadelphia Philthies, Series Preview, Series Thoughts
Again we win a series in Philly, although we didn’t play as well as we did in the first series. We lost the first game behind Reyes’s terrible outing. He gave up 8 runs (only 4 were earned because of 2 errors in 1 inning, 1 by Escobar and 1 by Reyes, both on routine plays). Anyway, we pretty much didn’t have a chance after that and never really threatened to come close to the 10 runs they eventually scored. Kotchman hit a 3-run blast off Lidge in the 9th, but that would only make us 4 runs away, and we lost 10-6.
Vazquez was vintage in the 2nd game striking out 7 in 7 and 2/3 innings while allowing 4 hits (2 home runs) and 2 runs (both earned) while walking none. The offense scratched across 6 runs, McCann and Escobar both hit 2-run homers. We used Gonzalez in the 9th to protect a 4-run lead for some reason, which pissed me off because he’d been used 3 of the past 4 days. And it turns out, he’d be needed the following day, so he’s now pitched on 5 of the past 6 days including 2 in a row. And he won’t be available for the first game against the Mets and Santana. A starter that we’ve needed a closer against every time we’ve faced him last year.
Anyway, in game 3 Kawakami labored through 6 innings of 2-run ball. He looked sub-optimal and really struggled, but 2 runs in 6 innings is a quality start nonetheless. The Braves got 3 RBI’s from Kotchman and 1 from Garret Anderson. The bullpen shut them down. O’Flaherty pitched the 7th, Gonzo the 8th because Howard, Ibanez, and Stairs were due, and Soriano the 9th. The Braves won 4-2.
Looking forward to the Mutts series, we’ll face them for 3 games in our first trip to Citi Field. Interestingly, we’re matched up perfectly. #1 vs. #1, #2 vs. #2, and #5 vs. #5. Unfortunately, their #1 is named Johan Santana and ours is named something else. Jurrjens should have the edge over Pelfrey and we have no idea what to expect out of Niese, but he’s been terrible at AAA so I like our chances to take 2/3 from the Mutts. It’d sure make me happy.
Having McCann back is so huge. He really is our only good, young player. The way he takes pitches and works the count is unique on our team and universal on most good teams. Although Kotchman has been taking a lesson or 2 from him recently.
Hopefully we’ll put it together a good series and upset the Mutts’ winning streak. I hate the Mets.
Game’s about to be on.
It’d be great to take 4/6 from the Mutts and Philthies on the road and get back to 500 in the process.
May 7, 2009 at 8:56 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Draft, Monthly Awards (fake), Philadelphia Philthies, Series Preview, Tim Hudson, Transactions
Break out the brooms. Well, not really. We did take both of the games, but sweeping a 2-game series is hardly broom-worthy. Especially against the Marlins’ (who are currently in a 4 for 17 skid) 2 worst starters. In the first game, we scored 8 runs off Florida’s Andrew Miller replacement, Graham Taylor, then failed to get a hit off of their bullpen for the final 6 and 1/3 innings. During that period, we only got 4 runners on the basepaths. Garret Anderson, Omar Infante, and David Ross all drew walks while Chipper was intentionally passed. Complacency is greatness’s biggest enemy, and it is currently the Braves’ biggest enemy. The Braves haven’t put a game away with their bats all season. The inability to put pressure on the opposition after the 3rd inning is giving the opposition lots of hope, something they don’t need to have. Once again, our pitching staff bails us out. Derek Lowe kind of sucked in that first game. He gave up 6 runs, all earned, in 5 innings while allowing 7 hits (3 doubles, 1 HR) and 3 walks with 5 strikeouts. This performance wasn’t on the defense, you can’t allow 4 extra base hits and walk 3 batters and expect to have a good outing. Jorge Cantu was responsible for most of the damage against Lowe, smacking 2 of the doubles, the home run, driving in 5 of the runs, and scoring 2 of them, playing some role in all 6. Anyway, allowing 6 in 5 innings usually results in an automatic loss, but since we scored 8 early runs, Lowe put another one in the W column after Carlyle, Moylan, Soriano, and Gonzalez all pitched scoreless innings (in that order) to finish the game. Gonzalez was especially sharp, striking out 2 in his perfect 9th for a save.
The second game was much closer to what was advertised, 2 run-prevention minded teams playing in a pitchers’ park. Funny how there were 4 HR in this game, though. Kotchman pulled a pitch down the RF line that beamed into the seats on a rope, David Ross Hit a no-doubter to left-center, and Hanley Ramirez hit 2 solo shots off of Jurrjens. Jurrjens was very, very good despite giving up 2 home runs. He only gave up 1 additional hit and walked 2. He struck out 4 and allowed only 2 runs, both earned, in 7 innings. Garret Anderson drew the team’s only walk of the afternoon, but we had 12 hits, 3 for extra bases. 2 of those XBH belonged to Kotchman who finished the game 3/4 and a triple shy of the cycle. Kelly Johnson was 2/4 and stole a base, maybe he’s out of his funk, but I don’t support putting him back in the lead-off spot. I’ve never thought it mattered all that much, but even if Bobby refuses to put Schafer in that spot Kelly Johnson isn’t the next most logical choice. That’d be Yunel Escobar, Omar Infante, or maybe even Casey Kotchman. The bullpen picked up where Jurrjens left off, and Soriano pitched a scoreless 8th, though he got into some trouble and at one point we had Moylan warming up in case Soriano faltered anymore. He successfully got the ball to Gonzalez who finished the game by pitching another perfect 9th. The Braves had scored 4 runs by the 5th before they started their afternoon nap, which proved to be enough.
Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano have been used 3 days in a row while Peter Moylan has been used twice in the past 4 days and warmed up today. I’d say Peter Moylan is the only one of our late innings guys that will be available tomorrow night and if he’s used tomorrow night he probably won’t be available the following day. Bobby needs to slow the eff down with our late innings group. I know they’re great and he feels very comfortable using them in late and close situations, but you’re talking about our best 3 relievers and we can’t afford to lose one. Also keep in mind they’re ALL coming off surgery. I would have rested one of Soriano and Gonzalez and used Moylan, Carlyle, or Bennett in the 8th just to keep one of them fresh for the upcoming series. Then again, this team needed that win and you take it any way you can get it.
Right now seems like a prime time to call up Medlen to piggyback with a starter and give the bullpen a rest. His line so far at Class AAA Gwinnett: 30 and 2/3 innings pitched, 17 hits, 7 walks, 4 runs (all earned), 0.78 WHIP, 1.17 ERA. I’d say he’s handling International League hitters just fine.
But that isn’t likely to happen, so we’ll head to Citizens’ Bank Park for Repeat Tour #1 with a pretty tapped bullpen. This especially doesn’t bode well since we’re using 2 starters that are pretty incapable of going the distance, Jo Jo Reyes and Kenshin Kawakami. Vazquez will pitch the game between the two of those guys, which also doesn’t bode well, because he’s a fly-ball pitcher and that’s one heck of a home run park. They’ll be opposed by Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, and Brett Myers. Myers, the least crappy of the 3, is sporting a 5.35 ERA, Joe Blanton a 6.84, and Cole Hamels a 7.27. Those should be jet names, not ERA’s. We seem to have Myers and Blanton figured out as we jumped on them pretty well in the first series. Cole Hamels was a few outs away from shutting us out twice last year, but he’s been off to an awful start. He’s had injury troubles all season and can’t seem to put it together. Hopefully he doesn’t put it together for at least 1 more start.
The Phillies have hit 39 home runs entering tonight’s game. They’ve allowed even more though, more than 45 (fuzzy on the exact figure). Any time you play in Citizens’ Bank Park you want to do 3 things: 1) keep Rollins and Victorino off the base-paths at all costs, if they’re running wild you’re going to pay, 2) keep the ball down in the zone and away from hitters when possible, limit those home runs, and 3) pitch to Ryan Howard with the bases empty, because he’ll make you pay if you make a mistake in front of him. We have GOT to take advantage of the mistakes their pitchers make (and they will make them, especially when Hamels isn’t pitching) EVERY TIME, not just in the first 3 innings. Someone named Dusty (and I don’t know who Dusty is) posted this at Braves Journal, it deserves a re-post:
OPS+ by inning:
Complacency. Bad, bad thing.
The good news is McCann is eligible to return to the club tomorrow and he very well may. No official word yet, but he’s 1-3 with a double, a walk, threw out a baserunner, and tagged someone out at the plate today for Gwinnett so far. I’m praying he’ll be back. That’d be the boost we need. And we’re going to need some comfortable leads to win this series considering how cashed our bullpen is.
Lets go get them. Another road series win in Philthy would be a huge confidence boost. There’s no reason we can’t do it, either. Their starters are crap so we’ve got a decent chance to score a bunch of runs. May complacency not rear its’ ugly head.
Edit: P.S. I won’t be discussing Manny Ramirez on this site. Not until I know more, at least.