Ok, so last night’s game wasn’t a blow out, but it was nice to get a win against the tough-as-nails Florida Marlins.
The Braves’ bats finally came around last night against the fierce Floridians with the help of the birthday boy, Chipper Jones. Chipper went 3-3 with a homerun, demonstrating once again why he’s the Braves MVP up to this point, if not the NL MVP. If Chipper can stay this hot through this weekend up at Shea, where he has had huge games in the past, the Braves might be able to make even more ground in the NL East standings.
Another highlight from last night’s game included Brian McCann’s first career triple. Seeing McCann haul around the bases just confirmed why this guy, and the rest of the young Braves are so great. They play the game hard and they play it well. The young guys also seem to have a really good sense of humor about the game. So, in honor of B-Mac’s first career triple, and in the spirit that these guys play the game, there will be a tribute post coming shortly.
As far as pitching goes, Chuck James got the job done with a little help from his friends, but was immediately sent down to Richmond so the Braves could bring up a fresh arm for the bullpen. Glavine is scheduled to go against the Nats on Tuesday, so hopefully Tom will have better luck on the dirt in DC than last time.
Bring on the Mets.
If only it was this easy. The Braves struggled again against the Marlins who are starting to looking startlingly good. How is it possible for the Marlins to continually trade off their best players for prospects and have the new guys immediately produce? Maybe the fact that their players are young and don’t have a whole lot of big league experience will mean that they will fade quick and hard. But I would assume that that’s what everyone thought about the ’91 Braves.
Jeff Bennett put forth another good effort, but he’s showing that he’s just not equipped to handle this kind of work load. Frank Wren should start looking at the possibility that Hampton might never (and I mean NEVER) pitch again for the Braves, and that Glavine’s not as sturdy as the Braves front office might have hoped. Let’s keep our fingers (and everything else for that matter) crossed that Smoltz, Hudson and Jurrjens can keep giving us quality starts.
Chuck James takes the mound tonight with a 1-1 record and a 7.88 ERA. I’m not saying that those numbers won’t get it done, but then again I’m not saying that they will?
It would be nice for the Braves to take advantage of their solid production at the Ted before heading off to face the dreaded New York Mets. The pitching match-ups in New York seem to give the advantage to the Braves, with Jurrjens having the toughest match-up against Righty Mike Pelfrey, whose 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA.
You can’t win ’em all. Even if you are playing the Nationals. The big news was John Smoltz and his 3,000 strike out. Unfortunately the Braves lost, but it’s still amazing to watch number 29 hurl the ball. I keep waiting for his arm to wear out, but it looks as good as it ever has. Maybe the three seasons in the ‘pen is going to give his arm a little extra life in this last part of his career. Let’s hope so. If Smoltz and Huddy don’t stay healthy then the Braves are done. Word is that Hampton is primed to come back any time now, and that Moylen might be able to get by with some extra stretching and TLC, but if the Braves are using that approach as their first option, then things might go south in a hurry.
Tonight it’s the Fish. Hopefully we can take two and keep climbing the ladder on the number one spot in the East.
There’s a lot to catch up on from the past four days of Braves baseball. Some of the highlights include:
-Andruw’s return to the Ted wearing Dodger blue. I was there on Friday, and yes, I booed him. Most of the fans surrounding us (in the cheap seats) booed Andruw pretty hard. Andruw struggled to the point that after his second strike out and running into Furcal in shallow center chasing a fly ball, it almost seemed wrong to continue to boo. Andruw was hitting in the 7 spot, with an average hovering in the mid .100’s and he couldn’t even make a play that he would have made look routine just a couple years ago. As for when Andruw ran into former and current teammate Raphael Furcal, neither could claim that they are unfamiliar with each other or the field. To be fair, there were a number of fans who greeted Andruw with cheers. We just couldn’t hear them up in the cheap seats. From reading pre and post game comments from Andruw I don’t think he expected to get booed, but he seemed to be a good sport.
-The Braves bats are really starting to wake up at the Ted. Maybe it’s that the weather is finally more consistent, and a little warmer. but hitters 1-8 are starting to put better wood on the ball.
-Gregor Blanco is turning out to be a solid left fielder. I’m not usually a fan of platooning players, seeing how it usually affects both players’ confidence and rhythm (and it can’t foster the most clubhouse camaraderie, I would assume) but Blanco is showing that his is a capable big leaguer. If nothing else, maybe this will raise his stock enough for a shrewd move around the trade deadline for another arm or two. I think the Braves will more likely hold on to Diaz, with the way our pitchers are dropping in and out of the rotation and the ‘pen, I’m sure we’ll need some fresh arms for late summer and early fall,
-Hudson’s velocity is back. That’s always a good thing. Smoltz and Huddy are a combined 6-1. If Smoltz and Huddy can stay healthy and Jurjjens keeps progressing, we might just stay in the hunt.
-Philadelphia took one from the Mets and the Cubs picked it up against the NYM last night. Florida is sure to fall off sooner than later, so the Braves are sitting well for the time being.
Back to work against the Nationals tonight. You can take the team out of Montreal, but…
(Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Finally, a ‘W’ in Florida. Smoltz is looking like the unstoppable pitcher of old. Smoltz is finally getting run support, which he didn’t get a lot of last season, and starting 3-0 has got to be a mental boost to Smoltz and the team alike. Not that Smoltz seems to ever have needed to much of a mental boost. Is the new approach to Spring Training that’s giving his arm new life? Has just been the lineups that he’s faced so far, as he told the AJC after Thursday night’s win? What ever it is, keep it coming.
Andruw comes back tonight. AJC.com had a poll about if people are planning to cheer for him. As of right now, 64% said they would cheer, 23% will boo, and 12% will be indifferent. 12% of Atlanta sports fans being indifferent? More like 112%. Ok, I kid, but sometimes it seems that way. Well, I still feel like booing is appropriate. Maybe cheer the first at bat, and then boo him until he retires.
More bad news for the Bravos on the injury front. The AJC is reporting that Peter Moylan is possibly facing season ending Tommy John surgery. Moylan has been a consistent and strong arm, and now new GM Frank Wren is facing one of his first in-season difficult decisions. Will Wren step up and deliver? Or will he just try to patch up the bullpen and hope that we can get by with some warming up bats and good starting pitching?
A few other notes:
-Chipper is up to .443. How are Smoltz and Chipper stepping their games up this much? Is it because they know this might be one of their last possible runs at a World Series?
-The Mets and the Phillies face off in Philadelphia tonight and start a three game series that will hopefully see them split, so the Bravos can make up a little ground on both teams.
Another game, another one run loss. The Braves are now 0-7 in one run games. Tex is only hitting .204, which is sure to change, but will his bat warm up in time? Surely, Chipper can’t hit .404 all season, or can he?
One more day until Andruw Jones makes his return to the Ted sporting Dodger blue. As Braves fans we have had some time to come to terms with the fact the the Braves now operate more along the lines of a mid-market team. Braves ownership hasn’t shown an ability (or maybe a willingness) to spend the money it takes to secure our better players or high profile free agents. This begs the question: should a loyal Braves fan boo Andruw Jones or Raphael Furcal? In the case of Andruw, the Braves didn’t even approach the table in terms on negotiation. Point: Andruw. Andruw is represented by Scott Boras, which means that the Braves probably saved a lot of time by not even pretending to bid for Jones. Point: Bravos. Andruw also had a terrible contract year, which really is the only year that a player absolutely has to perform in (just ask Javy Lopez). Point: Well no one really won on that one, did they? Anyway, is it unrealistic to think that the thought even crossed Andruw’s mind to take a little less and stay with the organization that brought him up and promoted him as one of the game greatest players, all the while his batting average and concentration were fluctuating more than a Tim Wakefield knuckleball? That’s probably a little naive.
One more to go in South Florida.
I can’t say that there was too much to get excited about with last night’s loss in Florida. Jurrjens struggled with location, and the Braves bats were flat.
A few things to get excited about:
– Bobby Cox is still sporting the catcher’s mitt in the dugout.
– Chipper Jones’ bat isn’t showing any signs of cooling down.
– Andruw Jones and Rapheal Furcal are returning to the Ted starting on Friday. Andruw’s only hitting .149, which makes the Braves bats look blazing hot.
Well, the 2008 season is officially underway, and it looks like the Braves roster might be battling the same old demons from last year. The fact that injuries have started to affect the starting rotation and that the bullpen seems to be very hit-or-miss (more “hit” recently, unfortunately by opposing teams) but these issues aren’t that shocking or even completely unexpected. What’s unexpected is how quickly things have started to unravel. True, the Braves are at least staying in games, and being out of first place in the East is just a matter of a couple one run games going the other way. But if we (and I’m of the variety of fans that refers to his or her team as a collective “we”) can’t put the lid on close games, then it looks like it’ll be a repeat of last year with us trying to make up games down the stretch, games that we should have won in the first place.