April 24, 2011 at 7:59 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves
Happy birthday Chipper Jones.
I don’t mean to beat this theme into the ground, nor do I plan on turning CAC into the first ever blog dedicated exclusively to analyzing Atlanta’s game-by-game walk rates, but walks were again the difference in this game. The Giants had one more hit than the Braves (Giants: 6 singles, 2 doubles, 1 homer; Braves: 4 singles, 2 doubles, 2 homers), but the Braves walked 6 more times than the Giants did (7-to-1) and, again, not coincidentally scored three more runs. There are a lot of other narratives that this game provided, and I’ll get to them in a second, but the patience theme is worth discussing. This team is going to hit and hit for power, if they keep walking like they have the past few games they’re going to have enough offense to win the division.
Martin Prado was held hit-less in 3 at-bats, but walked twice and scored two runs. Chipper Jones went 2/3 with 2 walks. Dan Uggla went 1/3 with a homer and 2 walks. Brandon Hicks–starting at SS for Alex Gonzalez who had the day off–remained hit-less over his career but walked and scored.
Brandon Beachy was very good again, making only one mistake to Buster Posey that cost him a pair of runs. Beachy only allowed 3 baserunners (a double, single, and homer) in 6 innings while striking out 7. If he keeps striking out at least a batter an inning and not walking anyone he’s going to stick around for a long time.
The Braves got 2 runs in the first when Prado walked to leadoff the inning and Heyward hit a double to make it 2nd and 3rd with nobody out. Chipper Jones then punched an 0-2 slider down the LF line for a 2-run double. The Giants tied the game at two in the 4th when Aubrey Huff doubled and Buster Posey hit a hanging change-up out of the park and the score would stay the same until the 7th inning. After a Nate McLouth groundout to leadoff the inning, Brandon Hicks walked bringing up Beachy’s spot in the order. Alex Gonzalez pinch-hit for him against a lefty and struck out swinging and it looked like Beachy would again not be rewarded with a win for his great effort. Then Martin Prado walked to put runners at 1st and 2nd with 2 outs and Jason Heyward hit a homer to the deepest part of the ballpark to make it 5-2 Braves.
Unfortunately, the win Beachy was in line for would be snatched right out of his hand in the bottom of that inning. With Moylan on the DL and Kimbrel having pitched 3 days in a row, Jario Asencio was summoned to work the 7th. After getting Buster Posey to fly out to center, Pablo Sandoval singled to right to put a runner on 1st with 1 out. Then Pat Burrell hit a little tapper down the 3B line that Chipper charged but didn’t attempt to make a play on. Cody Ross then singled to load the bases with 1 out and Miguel Tejada walked to make it 5-3 Braves. Nate Schierholtz–whom Asencio probably shouldn’t have been allowed to face–grounded into a run-scoring FC to make it 5-4 Braves. Aaron Rowand, who is terrible, then stepped to the plate and doubled to make it 6-5 Giants. Linebrink relieved Asencio and got Freddy Sanchez to fly out to end the inning, but the damage was done. It’s easy to blame Asencio (who didn’t pitch well) or Fredi (who probably should have taken Asencio out earlier) for the lead disappearing, but don’t forget that if Chipper makes the play on the Burrell grounder and every other event in the inning happens (obviously something you can’t assume), the Braves leave the inning leading 5-2.
It wouldn’t matter, anyway, because Dan Uggla led off the 8th inning with a long homer to left to tie the game. Eric O’Flaherty pitched the 8th and the 9th allowing only a single. The Braves did nothing else after the Uggla homer until the 10th inning when a Jason Heyward single, Chipper Jones single, and Dan Uggla walk loaded the bases with nobody out against Brian Wilson. Freddie Freeman struck out and Eric Hinske, pinch-hitting for O’Flaherty, grounded into a 4-2 FC, but Nate McLouth worked a 3-2 count and lined a single through the middle to give the Braves a 8-6 lead. Brian McCann singled in an insurance run before Alex Gonzalez grounded out to end the threat. Jonny Venters came in for the 3-out save in the 10th and struck out two before Aubrey Huff reached on an infield single that Alex Gonzalez made one of the more fantastic plays I’ve ever seen on but Freeman dropped the throw. Didn’t matter because Buster Posey flew out thereafter to end the game. Suck it, Posey.
Unrelated update: I posted this over at BtB, a chart detailing how batters have fared on the action pitch of the 12 counts from 2002-2010. It’s a resource I’ll undoubtedly be linking to in the future, but I thought I’d go ahead and throw it out there for inquiring minds to review.