Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

Scarred, but smarter.

29 Apr

Deus ex Machina Braves 11 Bewildered Brewers 3

‘Something that suddenly enters the story and…solves everything’.

Hits.

The twenty hit Braves

shall have no further need for saves

their winning margin so abundant

the bullpen now becomes redundant.

The idea that we might only have a three run lead going into the ninth in some strange game is patently absurd. We are a machine, a hitting machine. And we play great defense too. As of now, clearly, no one can touch us.We shall maintain this level of total superiority until the ASB and then extend Snit for a minimum 5 years. The Kemp statue shall be carved from a block of solid Carrera marble and placed in deep right field- at the top of a slope.

What finally has brought us to this Nirvana? Tonight’s game.

It started badly for the pitcher. Garcia got into all sorts of trouble in the first – lead off double, walks, hit batsman, the lot but a double play meant he exited only one run down.He then pitched well till he got to the fifth where another botched performance again only cost one. By this time we had 5 on the board, a number we would shortly more than double. So who did what?

We have to start with Kemp. 3 home runs, the first Brave since Tex 9 years ago. Such a relief to see him through his injury and back on the boil. A naysay, any one? Flowers, again, had multiple hits, 4 in his case. Nick and Freddie 3, Inciarte/Garcia/Dansby 2 each. The kid’s two included a so much needed homer down the line in left. Wisler finished it, looking decent.

So that was it, simple but profoundly symbolic. Again, never been done in the last 9 years, the twenty Braves hits. We’ll surely sweep tomorrow and go undefeated till the All Star Break. After we rest up I suggest a restart with a 6 game losing streak. Nothing fires us up like one of those. We also won’t need any saves for those, either.

29 Apr

Streaking Braves 10, Bud Selig’s old team 8

What a good win–probably the most satisfying of the young season. I know it’s still very early—not even May yet. No one game means a lot. As Earl Weaver said, “This ain’t a football game. We do this every day.” And after all, our Braves are still just 9-12.

Nonetheless, many good things happened in this game. Let’s take stock:

• The Braves twice overcame a 4 run deficit. The largest deficit they had previously overcome this year was 2.
• They now have won three games in a row. (They have certainly been streaky. They earlier had a five game winning streak. Remember, they’ve only won nine games total. They have also had a five and six game losing streaks.)
• They have scored 25 runs in the last three games. Shades of last August and September.
• They are only two games out of the second wild card spot! (Although that’s true, it’s also absolutely meaningless at this stage.)
• Freddie won the game with a ninth inning home run. What a delight he is to watch.
• Ender, after a very poor couple of weeks, had a very good game. 2 hits, including a double, 2 runs scored, 3 driven in.
• Kemp had a two out, bases loaded, game tying 3 run double, just when it looked like the Braves were headed toward a blowout loss.
• Suzuki had a game tying pinch hit single in the 8th (who says we have a weak bench?)
• Our newest bench bat, Lane Adams, had his first major league hit and stolen base. This guy is not really the answer, but what a good story. He was drafted out of high school in 2009. Persistence pays off.
• Of course we do still have a terrible bench, but at least when Bonifacio made his now obligatory pinch hit out, the Braves already had the lead. If I see Goodface pinch hit in a high leverage situation again I may break the television.
• Dansby didn’t have a hit, but he did walk twice and score twice. Seriously, that is very good news. I’m still a believer, and I do think some of his early troubles have been bad luck, but his strikeout to walk ratio so far has been my biggest concern. Before last night it was 22-3. If that doesn’t change dramatically, he is in for a dreadful offensive season.
• Backend of the bullpen was dynamite. Collmenter, Ramirez, Johnson—nine up, nine down, with 2 K’s apiece.
• Teheran pinch ran, scored a run, and didn’t get hurt. But I’d rather have Bonifacio pinch run and let Julio pinch hit.
• We roughed up their “ace”, some guy named Chase Anderson, and increased his ERA by a full run.
• We scored off their previously unhittable reliever, some guy named Jacob Barnes. His ERA went up by over 2 runs.
• We cooled off their slugger, some guy named Eric Thames. He did go 1 for 4, but no homers and all of his triple slash numbers went down. (Is he for real?)

Not everything was good. Big sexy once again served up some meatballs. When his command is off even a little bit, he is very hittable. Jacob Motte (didn’t recognize him at first without the beard) gave up a two run homer in his Braves debut.

But enough of the bad news. We’re on a winning streak. Face some guy named Jimmy Nelson tonight. Let’s make it four in a row.

27 Apr

Braves 8, Mets 2

That was weird. They piled on early, and actually won a game by more than 3 runs for only the second time all year. They were up 5-0 after the first, and when the dust was settled, the 8 runs of support was a rare sight: Julio Teheran has only received 8 runs of support in 6 starts since the beginning of 2015 (68 starts). Good for that guy.

Teheran was mostly sharp, but ran into some trouble in the 7th and couldn’t get through it. He still threw 2/3 of his pitches for strikes, and Eric O’Flaherty pitched a scoreless 2/3 of an inning. Matt Wisler came in relief for two innings, and he was also sharp, dialing it up to 96 and throwing 17 of 26 pitches for strikes. He didn’t walk anyone, and he gave up one hit and no runs.

The offense managed to pump out 16 hits, with 3 extra base hits being doubles by Tyler Flowers, Ender Inciarte, and Jace Peterson. All told, 6 guys in the lineup had multiple hits.

We really should do this more often, and not just to the Padres, especially considering the Pads are now 9-14, which means they’d be almost a .500 ballclub if not for the Braves. When you face the back end of a rotation even as good as the Mets, the Braves have to be able to pound them. 5 regulars in our lineup now have OPSes of .750 or higher, and if Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte can get going, then that’s a lineup.

Afternoon game! 1:05 start.

25 Apr

Rainout

The Braves have found two surefire ways to avoid a loss during this young season: play the Padres, or get rained out. The latter was what they implemented tonight. That, coupled with yesterday’s off day, has granted Braves fans two straight calendar days without a loss. We are getting spoiled.

The Braves will make up this game in September and attempt to kick off this series against the Mets tomorrow night. They have now made more trips to New York this season than they have to Atlanta, and it’s the end of April. One day, this month will end, and the Braves will get to play some games in Atlanta. Novel idea, I know. Until then, enjoy New York fellas.

23 Apr

Phillies 5, Braves 2

It looked as if the Braves were going to lose another close ballgame to the Phillies, but the Braves bullpen took care of that silly notion, as 3 consecutive Phillie home runs in the bottom of the 8th helped turn a 1-1 pitchers duel into a 5-1 Phillies lead.  Cesar Hernandez, Aaron Altherr, and Odubel Herrera did the honors for the Phillies; Hernandez and Altherr off of Arodys Vizcaino, and Herrera off of Ian Krol.

The aforementioned pitchers duel featured Mike Foltynewicz for the Braves and Zach Eflin for the Phillies.  Foltynewicz was terrific, going 7 innings and allowing only 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 earned run, while notching 9 strikeouts.  The Phillies played a bit of a Sunday lineup, but Folty passed the eye test, with good command and effectiveness of both his curveball and changeup.  Eflin was even better, (unadjusted for Barveness) allowing only 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 earned run in his 7 innings.

Matt Kemp plied his useful skill in the 7th for the Braves first run.  The Braves scratched across another run in the 9th and actually had 2 subsequent shots with the bases loaded, but the the hole was too deep, and ultimately the Braves lost to the Eflin Phillies 5-2.

The Braves are now 6-12, have lost 6 in a row, and have a 2-9 record on the road.  Beginning on Tuesday against the Mets there are 6 more road games to endure before returning to SunTrust Park.  If the road woes don’t turn around this week, it will be interesting to see the effect on the long awaited SunTrust revenue boom, if the Braves drop so far out as to depress even the greatest optimists before the home schedule even begins in earnest.

The funniest thing I ever heard about Philadelphia:  “Philadelphia, known as ‘The City of Brotherly Love’ ever since Benjamin Franklin invented sarcasm in 1767, is the largest city in Pennsylvania and a suburb of New York.” – Mac Thomason.

Welcome to Philadelphia game thread: July 5, Braves at Phillies

23 Apr

‘For now they kill me with a living death’ Braves 3 Phillies 4

A little over the top but, dear me, PLEASE. Just when we thought we had taken advantage of some crazy errors and base running by the Phils in the eighth and ninth and had then been rescued from the brink of yet another one run loss by  Phillips’ 2 out homer to tie…and Dansby had bump started and scored the go ahead run in the top of the tenth…and JJ had runners on but with two vital outs in the bottom of that innings…a double was laced off the right field wall to score the tying and winning runs. Yeah, done that.

So no more narrative, it’s redundant . Instead some thoughts on individuals, there is plenty to like.

GARCIA …great outing, much his best, pretty much perfect for 5 but then tired and left things up in the 6th when i thought Snit was slow to take him out. Even so we were still tied going into the 7th, 2-2. That was hardly a typical performance you would expect from a number five starter. Good for him.

ENDER…how strange this game is…2 for his last 23 or something, seemingly out of confidence again after his earlier heroics at STF…he has looked these last few nights like he did at the beginning of last year…but then, when he broke out, he sustained it and had a terrific second half, no streaks there. He is so important as lead off for us – Freddie’s solo home runs really infuriate. Ender is a plus plus asset for us,may he refind his touch and soon.

ADONIS…I’m biased, i like him but, sure, if and when we can get a leftie up from Gwinnet then a platoon, sure. His defense has greatly improved after a shaky start, I like him because he hits the ball hard, to all fields. With men on base i shudder too, just a little more elevation please. Picture perfect play with Flowers tonight on the caught stealing at 3rd.

FREDDIE…he’s a rock, on base four times tonight. Three were walks though, we need Kemp to get going to stop that. And a couple on in front please.

KEMP…there’s not much subtlety as to how they are pitching him – away, away, away.(When he had his hot start did he ever hit hard to right field?) The one time when a breaking pitch to the outside broke back over the plate was the first time i remember him hitting a solid line drive, to CF for a single.

NECK…nothing tonight but he has been a rock lately. Was anyone else surprised though that he made seemingly no real effort to catch the line drive to his left that won the game, gave up on it? Or was the camera angle deceptive, reducing the lateral distance between him and the ball?

PHILLIPS… Well, how many of us were quite wrong in this department. Lovely tying homer. He is making solid contact. Comic cuts incident defensively late in the game when first he and then Dansby could not get the ball out of their gloves to make an easy out. Back to back, successive plays.

FLOWERS…total respect for this guy…pending some future phenom arrival he is a major asset to this club in his all round play. Even throwing out base runners, the throw to third tonight to Adonis was perfect. I bet it surprised you as much as it did me. He is another rock in our line up.

DANSBY…Some smiles in the dugout tonight with Freddie after a line drive deep to the wall in RCF had been brilliantly caught to thwart him yet again. And then he scored the go ahead run in the 10th. He is coming round, can you imagine the pressure, what it feels like to be carrying the Number Two tag while you endure a horrible April. The smiles, his very much included, made my day.

BULLPEN…For a change the bats didn’t lose the game tonight, the Pen did. The three usual suspects were all just a tad ugly , not their usual metronomic selves, but they got away with it until JJ allowed two on with two out and then left an outside pitch up. Short and sweet.

 

PLAY OF THE NIGHT, the HaHa Department.

By our esteemed opponents who, generally, have fielded brilliantly.Dansby on first, late, one out, ground ball to second baseman. He had the choice for the sure out at first.

But, suddenly, mirabile dictu, he saw what he took to be his short stop streaking to cover third from what would be an outrageous attempt by Dansby to continue to third. So he threw a bullet across the infield to third base, perfect throw. But no one was there.

Except the grateful Dansby, a few seconds later,  as the errant throw to nobody ricocheted away off the fence.

We needed that memory, to fight the numb ending.

22 Apr

Philadelphia 4, Atlanta 3

In a battle of pitch to contact starters, the Phillies’ Jeremy Hellickson “outduelled” the Braves’ Bartolo Colon last night as Atlanta droppred its fourth straight contest to fall to 6-10 on the year.

Colon allowed 11 hits and four runs in his sven innings of work, while Hellickson allowed Atlanta 2 runs on three hits – Adonis Garcia singling after an Ender Inciarte double in the 4th, and a Freddie Freeman no-doubter solo shot in the 6th. Garcia then led off the 9th with a solo shot off Phils closer Hector Neris through a rain shower. Then after a 24 minute weather delay, the Braves made it interesting with two out – with a Nick Markakis single followed by a Brandon Phillips single. However, Tyler Flowers was unable to seal the deal, striking out after a long battle.

Jamie Garcia, with his more hits allowed than innings pitched goes tonight, looking to get back on the winning side.

20 Apr

The Nationals Are Stupid Meanyheads.

We’re probably not going to beat these teams consistently. Or… inconsistently. The Nationals, who must delenda, added onto their already stacked roster by taking a big chunk out of their farm, and they’re in supreme “win now” mode with Bryce Harper heading to New York soon. They should be beat us.

Julio Teheran couldn’t find the zone, and when he did, the ball was hit very hard by Bryce Harper. Whatever. He’s a good pitcher, and Bryce Harper is a great hitter. Nothing to be ashamed of there.

Tip your cap. They’re a good squad, and they should be.

19 Apr

No Longer Perfect at SunTrust

The Braves started 5-0 at Turner Field twenty years ago, but only 4-0 at SunTrust this year. This proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Turner Field was clearly the superior ballpark of the two. Now we know.

The Nationals rolled into town and looked at the Braves’ modest winning streak, laughed, scoffed and said, “that’s cute; why don’t you try playing ball with the big boys?” The Braves tried, and failed. Ah, San Diego, when can we see you again?

Mike Foltynewicz drew the short straw and had to pitch against Max Scherzer, admittedly a hard assignment on the best of days. Folty actually pitched pretty well, faltering only in the 5th when he gave up three hits and a walk, good for two Nationals runs. Over the rest of the seven innings he pitched, he scattered only two hits and three walks, and looked pretty dominant out there. If that Folty can show up more often than not, he’ll be fun to watch for years to come.

Eric O’Flaherty relieved him in the 8th, and he gave up two doubles and a run in 2/3 of an inning before Luke Jackson came on to finish the inning. Jackson then pitched the 9th in perfect fashion to hold the Nationals to only three runs on the evening, a feat that is to be lauded.

The problem lay not with the Atlanta pitching, then, but with the offense having to face Mad Max. They could do pretty much nothing against him over his seven innings, scraping together only two hits and striking out seven times. They finally broke through against the Nationals bullpen in the 9th, when Freddie Freeman and Brandon Phillips collected singles off of Blake Treinen and Tyler Flowers walked to load the bases. A walk to Kurt Suzuki forced the lone Braves run in, before Shawn Kelley entered the fray and quickly got the final two outs to end the threat and the game.

And that was that, a 3-1 loss against the Nationals at home against their ace. It could have been much worse, and the Braves would have been hard pressed to make it much better. Toss that one in the loss column and hope for a better result tonight as Julio Teheran faces off against Joe Ross in his season debut. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then, so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the Braves can win a few against Washington this year.

Nationals delenda est.

18 Apr

The kid comes through and the operation becomes complete: Braves 5, Padres 4

We have discovered that the San Diego Padres are a very much not good team. Have we discovered that the Braves might be good? Probably not, but I think it is fair to say that they meet the Gus Czinski standard: “We don’t suck.”

Frequently, an endeavor meets a critical moment. A point when success can be complete, or struggle can continue. Eventually, we got to that point last night; but first, the preliminaries.
Jaime Garcia started off rough with 3 straight hits, then rocked along nicely until the 7th. Jose Ramirez took over and finished that one.

The hitter of the night overall was the big cheese, the one in charge. You know him as Freddie Freeman, but I will call him Major John Howard. Major Howard hit 2 home runs and 2 doubles. At end of 7, Braves 3, Padres 2.

Then Arodys Vizcaino had an uncharacteristic appearance. After 2 strikeouts, he kind of had a meltdown. So, we can compare him to Wally Parr. Clearing the fixed gun emplacement, but then pushing the electric trigger, causing a shell to fire, and hitting a nearby hospital. Arodys then gave up walk, home run (which put the Padres in front by a run), his own throwing error (on a tough play) and another walk. Luke Jackson came in and finished the inning up.

Major Howard came back to tie it in the bottom of the 8th. His second home run. Brian Snitker went with Jim Johnson in the “non save situation” and he was good.

So, in the bottom of the 9th, Adonis Garcia out, Kurt Suzuki single, Anthony Recker out. Not exactly the start of a rally. D’Arnaud had come in to run for Suzuki. then Emiliano Bonifacio hit a double (who knew?). The Padres walked the ever dangerous slugger Ender Inciarte to load the bases. Now, “the kid” faced his challenge (Dansby Swanson). In this moment, did the kid show the fortitude of Sergeant Charles “Wagger” Thornton. One of 5 P(rojector), I(nfantry), A(nti), T(ank) guns was operational after the gliders crash landed just after midnight on June 6, 1944. Thornton was assigned the task of taking that forward to prevent a tank counterattack. A PIAT was effective against a tank according to the “book” at 100 yards, but no fool who had ever used one would trust it at more than 50 yards. And, within a few minutes of Thornton hiding behind the low stone wall at the front of the Café Gondree, what probably were some old French model tanks (Thorton said it was a German Mark IV) turned toward the bridges. Thornton would get one shot. So, at 50 yards, he hit the lead tank. It exploded over and over for in excess of an hour. The remaining tanks pulled back to wait for reinforcements. Steven Ambrose has called this “the most important shot, in the most important engagement, in the most important battle, in the most important war, in the history of the world.”

Well, our Thornton didn’t do anything quite that important, but his walk off single was a big step forward for him and his club.

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