Sometimes the final score doesn’t reflect the pitcher’s performance at all.Such was the case last night at Turner Field. Despite perfect baseball weather last night, the Braves early defensive errors (resulting in at least 2 unearned runs), doomed the home team.
You know you have sloppy fielding when the pitcher loses the game, and his ERA drops.
Raise your hand if you had a fielding error last night?
(Yunnel Escobar raises hand)
(Omar Infante raises hand)
(Jeff Francoeur raises both hands)
Hey, Brandon Jones, I’m looking at you! What’s up with running in on a fly ball and letting it go over your head—for the second time this year? How that wasn’t called an error, I do not know.
And Escobar, we love your passion, but we need you in the line-up more than we need you in the clubhouse taking a shower.
Then in the 9th, for a short moment in time, 30,000+ fans were unified as the Braves started to rally. Quickly, runners were on. Then Francoeur, hitting .243, gets out. Not to pile on Jeffrey like much of the Atlanta media, but this was really the nail in the coffin for the game.
But, with the tying runner on third, with two outs, to a screaming, raucous crowd, a lone batter walked to the plate. It was…….Corky Miller. With my hands over my eyes, I peeked through my fingers at the scoreboard and noted his .103 batting average. Would the last position player on the bench be hero or goat? Let’s just say that, upon leaving the field, he would have felt just fine in a barnyard.
However, there were some bright spots. Out of the lineup for several days due to an aggravated quad, Chipper Jones took to the plate, looking as if he owned it. On the second pitch, with the grace of a black belt, punched an easy single into left centerfield. He goes to first, a pinch runner comes in, and he strolls back to the dugout. Honestly, he makes it look easy.
And it’s always fun to see Tex get hot. With a homer and a double, he seems to be finding a groove.
It’s official; I’m on the Charlie Morton bandwagon. I like what I see in this kid. This should have been another “X” in the “W” column for him.
Tags: Charlie Morton, Defense, Milwaukee Brewers
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Milwaukee takes the first in the series 4-1.
Some times you just have to tip your hat.
The story tonight is Brewers ace Ben Sheets. Undefeated on the road this year, Sheets threw his third complete game, completely befuddling the Braves hitters.
Offensively, Kelly Johnson was the only bright spot, going 2 for 4, and being the only Brave to cross home plate. To tell you how Sheets dominated, Infante and Teixeira were the only other Braves players to get a hit; just one apiece.
And, just as unfortunately, the “old” Jo-Jo Reyes showed up tonight, giving up four runs and being relieved after only 2.1 innings. For some reason, he just couldn’t seem to get his fastball under control. Here’s hoping he can mentally recover and return to his most recent form. Buddy Carlyle, Royce Ring, and Jeff Bennett came in and stopped the bleeding for the rest of the game, not allowing another run.
(This just in! Jeff Francoeur went 0 for 3, and left runners on base, with an average dipping to .243.)
Exactly two hours and 15 minutes after the first pitch, the Brewers were walking off the field and going to a clubhouse that had to have a very different feel than the home team’s.
But tomorrow night is another game; Charlie Morton’s third.
Let’s hope we can see some more of his first outing brilliance.
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Mark Teixeira has been catching some criticism for not being firing on all cylinders offensively. He responded Sunday afternoon with three home runs – his second career three home run game – as the Braves topped the Mariners 8-3. Teixeira becomes the first Brave to ever hit three homers in Turner Field, and he may officially be ready to go with the bat. We just need to get Chipper in front of him in the lineup – Chipper missed another start today with that pesky quad injury.
Tim Hudson, who has previously had some extensive trouble in Interleague Play (0-10 in 12 starts – yikes), looked marvelous as he went seven innings and got the win to put him at 8-5 on the season with a sub-three ERA. Brian McCann helped put Hudson ahead by going back-to-back with Tex in the fourth.
Tex is going to get hot here – historically he warms up at the end of June. He already has 55 RBIs, fifth in the NL. When he starts raking, he’s unstoppable. And once Chipper gets back in front of him and pulls his average back up to .400, Teixeira is going to get a ridiculous number of RBI opportunities. Brian McCann said of Tex – “When he gets hot, he’s going to be fun to watch.”
True that. Maybe Teixeira is the offensive catalyst the Braves need right now. Maybe we’re coming around.
Tags: Seattle Mariners
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Jorge Campillo was great until the 7th inning, but the Seattle Mariners tacker on 9 runs in the 7th, 8th, and 9th for a 10-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves. If that wasn’t bad enough, Chipper left in the 8th after he aggravated his quad injury. He’s day-to day. And his average is at .390. Yunel made it from first to third safely while scoring on a double, but when trying to avoid the tag at home, he made an awkward slide and slammed his right hip into the ground – strained his right hip flexor and is also day-to-day.
Campillo had another solid start, but once again the Braves’ bats were nowhere to be found. The bullpen wasn’t great either – the normally great Will Ohman gave up 5 earned runs. The Mariners, whom everyone thought would be listing out of control after they fired their manager and general manager just last week, were stellar. They racked up fifteen hits. Erik Bedard was good while he lasted, but he left the game in the third inning with back spasms.
Even a giant tomahawk-chopping cow couldn’t help. Maybe second time is the charm – more baseball Saturday night.
Tags: Seattle Mariners
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The Braves came out strong behind Jair Jurrjens and 7 2/3rds innings of one-run ball to beat the Rockies last night 7-1. Chipper went 2-4 and started the scoring in the fifth with two RBIs. Jurrjens’ extra five days of rest due to his sprained ankle seem to be paying immediate dividends – “I got my changeup back,” Jurrjens said. The extra rest helped a blister heal.
Up in Queens, the Queens have fired longtime sucky manager Willie Randolph. I don’t mean that in he was their manager for long, but that he has sucked for most of his time as Mets manager.
Jerry Manuel will replace him as interim head coach. The Mets also cleaned out some of their other manager positions. For more info, check out our buddy Andrew’s site over at TheRopolitans.
The Braves are finally up to 10 road wins, taking three out of the last four on the road. Do you think they’ve turned a corner? With the starting pitching looking great its last time around, will they continue their improvement?
And as Mike Hampton heads down to the Gulf Coast League for a couple rehab starts, will he ever pitch in Atlanta this season?
Tags: Chipper Jones, Colorado Rockies, Jair Jurrjens, Jerry Manuel, Mike Hampton, New York Mets, Willie Randolph
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The Braves bullpen innings have started to catch up with the team as Manny Acosta allows five runs, one earned, in two innings of work late Tuesday night in
Geovanny Soto hit a three run homer to cap off the scoring and Jon Leiber pitched a scoreless ninth to keep the Cubs ahead of the Red Sox for the best record in the big leagues.
Greg Norton started the scoring off for the Braves. Yunel Escobar walked to lead off the game and Kelly Johnson singled to put runner on the corners with one out. Jeff Francoeur, hitting third in Chipper Jones’ absence, struck out swinging (surprise). Mark Teixeira did surprisingly strike out following Francoeur to bring up Norton with two outs. Norton subsequently hammered the Ted Lilly offering to the last row of seats in left field. Francoeur’s line tonight? 1-5, 2 Ks, 4 left on base, and game ending GIDP on a 3-1 count.
With the score 3-0, Glavine proceeded to finish off the top of the order in the first inning facing the minimum. Glavine, however, did have trouble in the following innings. Kosuke Fukudome hit an RBI single and Reed Johnson added a sacrifice fly to make the score 3-2 Braves after two.
Leading off the third, Derek Lee homered to left field and Reed Johnson added an RBI single to give the Cubs the lead.
Brian McCann and Omar Infante added RBI singles for the Braves in the top of the eighth for
Tom Glavine (2-3) took the loss and Lilly (6-5) got the win.
Injury update: I don’t know why I put these in the recaps anymore, it’s not as if good news comes out of these. Smoltz had arthroscopic shoulder surgery today to repair what they found to be a torn labrum among other things. No timetable for his return.
Glavine left the game with a strained left elbow joining the small village on the Braves injured list. Glavine is expected to miss AT LEAST his next start if not more.
Some good new, for real: Chipper took BP today and pinch hit in tonight’s game (BB). He may be back tomorrow, or Thursday in the series finale.
Tags: Chicago Cubs
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It was a great night for Chipper Jones tonight. 4-5, HR, RBI, SB. What’s there to complain about there? He raised his average back up to .418 at the end of the evening as well. Chipper’s 6th inning blast to deep right field was the 400th of his career. Congrats on a great accomplishment, Chipper!
Oh yeah, and the Braves won 7-5.
Tags: 400 HR, Chipper Jones, Milestong
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Yunel Escobar picked the right time to swing at a 3-0 pitch. With 13 career plate appearances and 13 career walks on a 3-0 count, Yunel Escobar stood at the plate in the bottom of the 10th in a tie game tonight with a 3-0 count and jacked the ball deep to center. As the Marlins center fielder slammed into the wall, Escobar’s ball bounced off the top of the wall before clearing it. The Braves won 7-5.
In the bottom of the ninth, Jeff Francoeur scooted home on a wild pitch to tie the game 5-5, saving John Smoltz from getting the loss in his first appearance since coming back from the disabled list. A couple of misplayed balls by Omar Infante (including a crucial ball that just bounced off his glove) not just cost the Braves the lead but put the Marlins ahead 5-4. Smoltz gave up a couple hits but was hitting 95 with his fastball and around 85 with his change. His arm slot is interesting to watch.
Mark Teixeira and Jeff Francoeur both added solo shots and Jo-Jo Reyes pitched into the 7th inning for his second straight start. The game saw several lead changes early, with the Marlins holding close early. Escobar had played hero earlier in the night too with a clutch single in the eighth to give the Braves a 4-3 lead with two outs.
Great to see the Braves back at home and winning close games. We need these if we’re going to be horrible on the road. More baseball tomorrow night from the Ted.
Tidbits for conversation:
- Why is Greg Norton starting in left field?
- Do you think Smoltzie’s issues tonight were a sign of more to come, or an abnormality?
Tags: Florida Marlins, Walk-Off
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The Braves entered the bottom of the ninth leading on the road by one run for the first time in a long time, yet could only achieve what they had in their last 19 one-run road games: a loss. Rafael Soriano, in his first save situation since April 6th. Soriano allowed the tying run to score when Ryan Freel scored on a groundout by catcher David Ross. Manny Acosta (3-2), pitching for the third straight game, allowed rookie phenom Jay Bruce to hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th.
Francisco Cordero (2-0) allowed a single to Josh Anderson to start the inning and allowed him to take second after both Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson struck out. Chipper Jones was then intentionally walked. As always, though, the Braves failed to score with an opportunity. This time Mark Teixeira, who hit a game-tying three run home run in the top of the third, lined out to center.
The Braves, who seem unable to get anything going offensively unless the other team does it first, lost their 20th straight one-run road game with the only positive being the fact that they got later into the game with a small lead at all and Smoltz one game closer to coming back.
Ken Griffey started the scoring off for the Reds in the bottom of the first. Griffey, after Bruce singled with one out, launched the 599th home run of his career off Jair Jurrjens, the Braves starter. Griffey’s home run was just the third allowed by Jurrjens all year, he then proceeded to allow his fourth as Brandon Phillips hit one to follow Griffey.
After loading the bases on three walks with a strike out sandwiched in between, Jurrjens got pitcher Josh Fogg to ground out to end the inning.
Fogg, starting for the first time since April 16th, allowed six runs in three and one third innings for the Reds, despite the fact that he had a lead to work with in three of the innings he pitched in. Leading 3-0, Greg Norton hit his first home run for the Braves—a two run shot that followed a Jeff Francoeur single.
With the score 3-2, Jurrjens allowed two more runs on a Griffey sacrifice fly and an Edwin Encarnacion single. Fogg, with a three run lead again, proceeded to allow Mark Teixeira’s three run home run. Johnson doubled to lead off and Jones walked ahead of Teixeira’s hit.
Both pitchers would allow one more run before leaving the game. Neither team would score again until Francoeur hit a home run to lead off the seventh off reliever David Weathers.
Game Notes: Bobby Cox was ejected for the third time this season when arguing a play at the plate that involved Freel scoring the tying run.
Link: http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?s=140#s=140&f=2939&t=2531242 – Link that explains the Braves road woes.
Tags: Cincinatti Reds
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Great American Ballpark was supposed to be a haven for the Braves bats this weekend as they played the Reds. Not so, as Edinson Volquez silenced the Braves’ bats and Jay Bruce scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th for a 3-2 win, and the Braves’ third one run loss in four games.
Both Tom Glavine and Volquez did not allow a single run until the top of the fifth. Kelly Johnson doubled and moved to third when Chipper Jones grounded out to second. Mark Teixeira drove Johnson in with a sacrifice fly to center.
In fact, Glavine and Volquez had almost identical lines. Glavine – 6 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 5 Ks. Volquez, 6+ IP, 5 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, 7 Ks. Former Brave Kent Mercker(1-0) got the win in relief while Royce Ring(1-1) took the loss.
The Reds answered back with two in the bottom of the frame. Joey Hairston and Jay Bruce hit back-to-back doubles to score the first. Bruce moved to third on Ken Griffey’s groundout to short and then came in to score on Brandon Phillips’ sacrifice fly.
In the top of the seventh, Braves had runners on first and third with no one out after Greg Norton chased Volquez from the game with a double and Omar Infante singled. Ruben Gotay drove Norton in from third on a groundout, but also grounded into a double play—one of three on the day for the Braves.
Going into the top of the 11th, the game was still tied. Johnson singled ahead of Chipper. While you like the Braves chances in this situation, Chipper was 0 for 4 at this point and his next at bat was his second GIDP of the day, dropping him to 0 for 5 and his average to a paltry .411.
In the bottom of the frame, off Ring, Bruce had his fourth hit of the day. Griffey followed with a hot shot to the third base side that Chipper was unable to come up with. Phillips followed with another hot shot to third that Chipper again could not come up with.
The Braves send Jurrjens to the mound Saturday to take on
Injury Update: Mark Kotsay was placed on the 15-day DL and will have his back checked out. Josh Anderson was called up from triple A to take his place on the active roster. John Smoltz will make another rehab appearance, this time in relief, to test his shoulder again. Smoltz is expecting to join the Braves on Monday at home against the Marlins.
Tags: Cincinatti Reds
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Jorge Campillo’s ERA rose after today’s outing as our fifth starter, while the Braves secured a rare 8-1 road win. Campillo, who’s ERA was 0.86 before the game, allowed a home run to Russell Branyan to increase his ERA to 0.99, just disgusting. That’s the first run that Campillo has given up since assuming a starting role.
In all seriousness though, the Braves were hopefully able to put two one-run road losses behind them on their way to Cincinnati to take on the Reds. Campillo (2-0) pitched five innings and allowed one run on the homer for his second win, another converted reliever, Seth McClung (2-2), took the loss after allowing six runs in four and two-thirds innings.
Campillo struck out six in his five innings and walked none. Campillo also got his first major league hit and RBIs on a flair to right fielder Corey Hart.
Mark Teixeira homered in the win, his first in the last 19 games, as he continues to show signs of life with his second four-RBI game this week. Teixeira’s .290 batting average is 30 points higher than his .262 average in April and only figures to get higher going into the summer.
The Braves did not start the game out soundly. Yunel Escobar singled on the first pitch of the game. After Kelly Johnson popped up on the second pitch, Chipper Jones singled and Teixeira walked. Greg Norton, getting the start in left field while Kotsay is nursing his sore back (Blanco made the start in center), grounded into a double play—a signature of the Braves season.
In the third, Escobar singled and moved to third on a Chipper single. Teixeira hit the ball to the right side that would have scored Escobar anyway, but Teixeira was safe at first and Chipper moved up thanks to Rickie Weeks’ throwing error.
In the fifth, Kelly Johnson singled and stole second on a mental error by the Brewers—they didn’t hold the runner with Chipper at the plate. With first base open, Chipper was intentionally walked before Tex unloaded to right field for a 4-0 lead. Campillo later singled with the bases loaded for a 6-0 lead.
In the eighth, the Braves loaded the bases with two outs, but Manny Acosta grounded out to first. Atlanta replicated that in the ninth, but this time Kelly Johnson’s single scored two to put the Braves up 8-1.
Some strange occurrences happened in this game. After Brian McCann’s strike without being in the box last night, the umpire was involved in a very rare call today as well. With Ryan Braun attempting to steal third, Corky Miller’s throw to third sailed into left field and allowed Braun to score. But before that happened, Hart was called out on batter’s interference because he stepped out of the batter’s box during the throw attempt. The hitter is required to stand in the batter’s box to avoid this call. This cost the Brewers a run that would have tied the game.
Chipper watch: Chipper went 2-4 today to raise his average to .420, the fourth highest batting average through May 28th this late in the season.
Injury update: Matt Diaz’s PCL is partially torn, but he will not require surgery. He will, however, be out six weeks for treatment. Soriano threw the ninth inning today with his fastball reaching 94 miles an hour, he allowed a base runner on a walk but did not allow a hit. Smoltz will pitch for Rome tonight and Gonzalez was cleared to go on a 10-day minor league rehab assignment.
Tags: Jorge Campillo, Milwaukee Brewers
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A strange at-bat by Brian McCann in the eighth and a Rickie Weeks (.205) triple that scored a run highlighted the latest Braves’ one-run loss on the road trip; a 1-0 game in the favor of the Brewers.
Jeff Suppan (3-4) pitched eight sparkling innings and out-dueled an arguably sharper Jo-Jo Reyes (2-3). Blaine Boyer came in relief for Reyes can’t seem to keep guys off base lately and allowed Weeks’ second triple of the season. Solomon Torres, the lone remaining closer for the Brewers picks up his fourth save with a perfect ninth inning.
In the eighth inning, Reyes walked the leadoff hitter and was replaced by Boyer after the best outing of his season. Boyer got the first two outs of the inning, but the offensively challenged Weeks was able to sneak one inside the line for a triple that scored J. J. Hardy.
Suppan pitched his best game of the year, allowing just four hits—all singles—to the Braves. The Braves didn’t help themselves either by going 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
In the first inning, Chipper Jones and Mark Teixeira walked, but McCann grounded out to end the threat with a runner in scoring position. In fact, McCann struck out three times and left five men on base after coming off a 13 game hitting streak that ended yesterday.
In the second inning, Gregor Blanco singled and moved to second when Omar Infante reached on an error. Reyes came up with one out and bunted to the third base side. Jason Kendall, the Brewers catcher, streaked in and threw to third for an out and onto first for a bunt double-play.
The third inning saw another Braves threat go up in smoke when Chipper and Teixeira singled back-to-back that put Chipper on third. McCann’s strike out to end the inning also ended the Braves scoring threat. The Braves had runners on first and second with two out in the second, but Teixeira flied out to end that threat.
Umpire Mark Wegner, who called a fairly even game all night, angered Teixeira with a called third strike in the eighth and inning and also irked McCann with a call. McCann stepped out and would not return to the batter’s box when instructed and was pitched to anyway. Suppan’s throw was in the general vicinity of the plate and called a strike, a crucial second strike that allowed Suppan to strike out McCann two pitches later.
Game Notes: With the loss, the Braves fall to 0-11 on the road in one run games and 2-14 overall in one run games. Kelly Johnson’s 13-game hitting streak ended one game after McCann’s last night.
Injury Notes: Kotsay avoided the DL today and did some light running and throwing before the game. Soriano was activated from the DL when Diaz was disabled after crashing into the wall yesterday. Diaz strained his PCL and may require surgery on the ligament that will keep him out for four to six weeks. Smoltz, who has been feeling under the weather with flu-like symptoms, will make a scheduled rehab start this Thursday to test his new three-quarters arm delivery and could rejoin the team as early as this weekend or early next week.
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