May 24, 2009 at 10:49 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Series Thoughts, Toronto Blue Jays
And that happened. If you polled 100 baseball experts asking them to take over/under 10% chance that the Braves, a .500 team that has played bad at home, would sweep the Blue Jays, who have the best record in baseball, with Roy Halladay facing Kenshin Kawakami in the first game, somewhere between 99 and 100 of them would take the under. And somewhere between 99 and 100 of them would be wrong, because the Braves really just swept the Blue Jays. I’m amazed.
The thought of sweeping the series became much more of a reality after the first game, in which Kenshin Kawakami out dueled ROY HALLADAY and the Braves won 1-0. Kenshin pitched 8 shutout innings allowing 3 hits and no walks, striking out 7. The only hit for extra bases was a double to lead off the top of the 8th. Which he successfully pitched around. With 2 outs in the top of the 8th and the runner still on 2nd, Roy Halladay was lifted for a pinch-hitter who looked at a slow curve for a called third strike to polish off what amounted to arguably the best outing by a starting pitcher of the Braves’ season.
Halladay nearly matched Kawakami’s effort, going 7 shutout innings allowing 5 singles and a walk while striking out 6. As previously mentioned, he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the 8th, and was replaced in the bottom of the same inning by Jesse Carlson, who gave up a lead-off double to Matt Diaz (who is our best OF but is relegated to the short end of a platoon for no reason). Diaz advanced to 3rd on Escobar’s groundout and scored on Kotchman’s sac fly. Mike Gonzalez was brought in to pitch the 9th because it’s not like the first 4 batters up that inning were right-handed or anything. I don’t get the decision. Soriano is the better pitcher. Using Mike Gonzalez in the 9th when it’s more match-up favorable is a good decision, but making him the default closer just because he is ain’t a good decision. Gonzalez got 1 out, gave up a double, and induced a groundout which allowed the runner to advance to third. With 2 out and a runner on 3rd he induced another groundout which Martin Prado, playing 3rd for the injured Chipper Jones, charged, bobbled, recovered, and threw to first barely in time to end the game. One of the most exciting, sensational games of the year. A great win. Taking down one of the game’s greats. It was amazing. I can’t say enough about how well Kenshin pitched. He looked incredible out there. Like Greg Maddux. It was awesome.
Derek Lowe started the second game going his patented 7 and 1/3 innings allowing 2 runs. He looked angry when Bobby yanked him for Peter Moylan after retiring the only batter he faced in the 8th. Moylan walked the first batter then got a double play ball and got out of the 8th. Meanwhile, the Braves had scored 4 runs on a Kotchman double, Derek Lowe knocking in a run, and a Kelly Johnson solo shot in the 7th. The fun began in the 9th, when AGAIN, Bobby went with Gonzalez to start the inning even though 2 of the three batters due up in the inning were right-handed and Soriano was fresh, Gonzalez had been used the previous night. This time it proved to be a bad decision. He got a flyout, then he started having an episode, giving up a double, walk, single, and a walk to leave with the bases loaded, 1 out, and only a 1 run cushion. Luckily, Bobby hadn’t used Soriano yet, so Soriano came in and got a clutch strikeout and a flyout to finish the game. He really bailed Mike Gonzalez out on that one. Sooner or later, Bobby will realize that Soriano is the better pitcher, and he will use him as the default game finisher.
In the third game, Jurrjens didn’t have his best stuff, allowing 8 hits (1 double) and 2 walks while striking out 3 in 6 innings, but their offense wasn’t very interactive and most of the damage was scattered across the frames, so he finished 6 allowing only 2 runs. He didn’t factor in the decision because the score was tied 2-2 when he departed, but the Braves opened up a can in the bottom of the 7th scoring 7 runs courtesy of a home run by Kelly Johnson (his second in as many days) and McCann’s second home run of the day. We added another in the 8th. Soriano pitched the 8th with a 7 run lead because it’s not like we need to keep him fresh for when it really matters, and Acosta, who was called up to replace Parr after he threw 90+ pitches basically piggybacking with Medlen on Thursday, finished the game pitching a scoreless 9th. We used 3 relievers in the 7th inning (with the score still tied), Moylan, O’Flaherty, and Bennett. You want to know something you won’t believe. Jeff Bennett has a sub-2 ERA. Pure insanity. Unlike the first two games, which had the feeling of a World Series game, it was a relatively easy win. We really just trounced on them and put a hurtin’ to them. Good series.
Off to San Francisco to face the Giants.