Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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29 May

Marlins 7, Braves 3 (by coop)

ALL STREAKS MUST END: BRAVES LOSE;
MARLINS WIN.

Is the lead-in music for all mlb.tv broadcasts the same? I swear the Marlins pre-game shtick is the same as the Braves, only the stadium being erected is that thing in Miami instead of the Ted.

Here’s a cheerful thought: the Braves will not always suck. Someday we fans can aspire to mediocrity. There will be better days. We just saw two good ‘uns in a row. May we have three, please?

I like Preston Wilson. The Marlins color guy is coherent, speaks concisely and enunciates each word, and is neither Chip nor Joe. I also like Marcell Ozuna, despite his recent travails afield; and Christian Yelich is no slouch. I’d rather have Julio than either of them. Both? Call me. Let’s talk. Otherwise, Julio’s mine, and you can’t have him, Miami.

At game’s start, Julio looks every bit the ace. I sometimes forget he’s still a kid. And he’s a bargain. Teheran’s pitching well. If he stays healthy, we have ourselves a pitcher; but that pitcher’s throwing a ton of pitches in the second. Thankfully, he gets a 6-4-3 GIDP to end it. Chase d’Arnaud looks smooth at short and runs like a deer. Erick Aybar delenda est.

Brag on him, and Chase boots one. With two out, Martin Prado walks. Now there’s two on for Yelich, and Teheran can’t find home plate. Freddie Freeman’s good play on a hot shot down the line keeps the Fish scoreless through three. Runs, please.

Gordon Beckham looks good in a Braves uni. One thing: Gordo’s not Aybar (Delenda est!), but he hit like him to end the third.

Julio’s hurt! Whew! He’s okay. No, he’s not. Come on Snit-for-brains; don’t go all Fredi on us. You’re supposed to protect Liberty’s investment. Who’s driving this train? Ill looms.

Ozuna bleeds one in, and Jason Bour — a large human — walks. I worry about Teheran. Does no one care?

Derek Dietrich’s up. Herr Dietrich bloops one over short to load the bases, and Julio ain’t right. We’re doomed!

Nobody out, bases jammed, and Miguel Rojas
faces the worst Julio I’ve seen lately. This may be the ballgame. It may be Julio’s career too, if Snitker leaves him out there. Snit does, and the Braves don’t turn the 3-6-1 as Teheran doesn’t (can’t?) cover first. One run’s in, and runners are on the corners with one out.

But Jeff Mathis looks at a called strike three, so now only the pitcher stands between Julio and getting out of this mess with only one run scoring. Tom Koehler goes down on strikes and settles for a one-zip lead. Julio Teheran for the Hall of Fame! Great pitching, kid.

Okay. let’s get it back. Freddie comes close, but Yelich catches his liner against the wall in fair territory down the left field line. Jeff Francouer walks to bring up Nick Markakis. I like the
Greek’s chances. Woo-hoo! Neck doubles into the right field corner, moving Frenchy to third; and A.J. Pierzynski ties it with a sacrifice fly to shallow left. Yelich’s throw is abysmal. Adonis Garcia hacks but fails. One all after four.

Julio’s still pitching. I’m an alarmist; but Ichiro flies to left, and AJP catches another pop. I kid you not. That pain in the posterior Yelich’s next and bounces to Freddie. This time Julio covers. He makes it through five, but he’s thrown a gazillion pitches.

Braves fail, and we’re still at ones with Teheran still on the bump. Lo and behold, Rafael Furcal makes a cameo. Furky’s a bit heavier than playing weight — aren’t we all? — but he’s still better than Aybar (Delenda est!). Bour Hawg rips a double; and with one out, that old yaller jacket Herr Dietrich stung a gassed Julio with a long (432 feet) home run to right. The horse is stolen. You pitched well, Julio, but with this team, just well enough to lose.

After that we just waited for the last out. The Braves made some noise, but so did the Marlins. It never got close again, and our Atlanta Braves ended up on the short end of a 7-3 score.

29 May

Gordon Beckham’s Team 7, Marlins 2

Mark down the date: May 28th, the day the Braves clinched their first home series win. They’re still 4-20 at the Ted, but the last two of them came in a row against the PURE EVIL Marlins, and it’s hard for that not to put a smile on your face.

Aaron Blair did pretty well. He’s not as efficient as he might like to be — he needed 94 pitches to go 5 2/3, and he gave up five hits and two walks. But for the second night in a row, Martin Prado came through when we needed him. This time, he was 0-5 with a hat trick and another error. He struck out with a man on second in the first inning and with men on first and second in the second inning, and he grounded out to leave a man on in the fourth. The Marlins left 11 men on base in the game.

Indeed, the Marlins looked more like the Braves than the Braves did. Their starter, big free acquisition Wei-Yin Chen, departed after five strong innings leading 2-1. But then came the bullpen. Jose Ureña gave up a walk, two singles and a double, and all of a sudden, the Braves were leading 4-2, Friday night’s margin. Our old friend Edwin Jackson helped remove all doubt in the seventh, giving up consecutive walks followed by a three-run homer by Gordon Beckham. That was the ballgame.

There were a lot of Georgians in this ballgame. Jackson’s a military brat and was born in Germany, but he went to high school in Columbus; the Marlins’ final pitcher of the night, Dustin McGowan, is from Ludowici, outside Savannah; and Beckham’s an Atlanta boy who went to Westminster. Tyler Flowers is from Roswell, and of course, Jeff Francoeur went to Parkview.

One more against them today. Let’s bust out the brooms.

28 May

Braves 4, Marlins 2

It was a classic Braves game from years past: good pitching, many scoring opportunities lost, but just managing to eke out a victory. Oh, and there was a “Prado,” too:

Prado: Martin Prado has mastered the ability to make horrible plays on defense without being charged with errors — routine ground balls he waves at, “tough” plays that he botches for no reason, the old reliable bad relay on the double play. This leads to the term “Prado”, which is both a noun and a verb: Prado, n. “an egregious misplay that is not scored an error for some reason.” Prado, v. “To commit a Prado”. … The preceding was written by Mac during Prado’s third season in the majors. He’s really gotten a lot better since then. (Added May 6, 2008, edited September 23, 2012.)

The good Williams Perez showed up again, leaving both bad ones behind. They went six innings and did some expert wriggling, managing to yield just two runs on seven hits and a walk. The Braves offense did Braves offense things: Ender Inciarte opened the game by getting thrown out at second trying to stretch a hit into a double. Immediately after that, the next two men got on via a single and a hit by pitch, and naturally they were stranded, too, as were the two men who got leadoff singles in the second. The team actually got 14 hits, but the decisive two runs came in the eighth inning on a line drive that Martin Prado failed to corral.

Bud Norris, Ian Krol, and Arodys Vizcaino pitched three scoreless innings to shut the door. All in all, a good day at the office.

27 May

Brewers 6, Braves 2

Matt Wisler tossed a quality start — six innings, three runs — and this “offense” hasn’t scored more than two since last Friday, so the loss was pretty automatic. They were stunningly inefficient, too. After racing ahead to a two-run lead on a Tyler Flowers homer in the first inning, they left runners on in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and ninth. They managed to get no runs in the 6th, when they had men on second and third with one out; likewise in the 7th, when they loaded the bases with two outs.

After facing a hellishly difficult schedule in the first month, these two paragraphs from the AP recap sum up basically every pitcher we’ve faced in the last three weeks:

[Wily] Peralta (3-5) gave up seven hits, two runs, two walks and struck out four in 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander began the game with a 6.99 ERA and a .363 opponents’ batting average in nine starts this year, and he was 1-8 with a 5.77 ERA in his past 13 road starts.

But against the weak-hitting Braves, Peralta commanded his mid-90s mph fastball with relative ease in his last four-plus innings to improve to 2-1 with a 1.65 ERA in five starts against Atlanta.

26 May

Brewers 3, Braves 2

(I started typing this recap before the game ended. At the conclusion of this writing, the game was tied 2-2 after 8 innings. I attest under penalty of perjury that the only thing I changed was the inning in which Milwaukee took the lead.)

The Braves received another solid pitching performance from a young pitcher, this time from Mike Foltynewicz. He struggled with the walks, but he pitched 5 2/3 giving up one run and recording seven strikeouts. After going through 937 relievers, mostly getting one out at a time, the Braves coughed up their 2-1 lead.

Erick Aybar, miraculously, recorded two hits, and Gordon Beckham hit his first home run. The Nard Dog continues his ways and grabbed a couple more hits tonight. Inciarte had an encouraging night, getting a hit and collecting three walks.

After Arodys Vizcaino recorded a scoreless ninth, the Braves would not score again. In the 13th inning, Casey Kelly gave up the lead, and that was all she wrote.

The Braves are now 2-19 at home, and I hate this team.

24 May

Brewers 2, Braves 1

On the docket for a Tuesday night home game: A pitchers duel filled with missed opportunities and base running blunders. Julio Teheran started for the Braves and pitched brilliantly, racking up 12 strikeouts (four of them in the 2nd inning thanks to a wild pitch) in 7 innings and only allowing 3 hits. Unfortunately, one of those three hits came off of Ryan Braun’s bat and ended up in the seats for the first run of the game.

Teheran’s Brewer counterpart, Jimmy Nelson, held his own, allowing only 4 hits in six innings and recording 8 strikeouts. He kept the Braves off the board until the 5th, when Mallex Smith tripled home Erick Aybar for the Braves lone run. The Braves had appeared to be in good position to score a couple in the 2nd with a bases-loaded, no-out threat, but they managed to Barve the situation up and let Nelson off the hook when Aybar lined into a double play and Teheran hit a soft grounder to 2nd to end the inning.

The Brewers tried to Barve the game up, too, by running into an out at 3rd when the ball was hit in front of the runner, and getting a leadoff walk in the 8th picked off, but no one can Barve like the Braves can, and they managed to secure the loss with little effort.

Bud Norris came out of the bullpen to relieve Teheran in the 8th and started walking guys, which isn’t the greatest relief strategy in the world. He got the pick off on the first one, but a stolen base and base hit allowed the second one to score and gave the Brewers the lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

The Braves are now 3-4 since Snitker took the reins, dropping back below .500 under him for the first time since last Tuesday.

The Brewers haven’t won a series on the road this season. This is their lucky week—welcome to Atlanta, boys.

I know he scored tonight’s only run, but this will never not be needed: Aybar delenda eat.

24 May

Assignment: Compare and contrast* today’s teams to the disasters of the past. (by Bledsoe)

*(Hey, every high school teacher and/or college professor in the world —€“ lose this phrase. Compare means hold two things up and talk about how they are alike and how they are not alike. It includes “€œcontrast.” A pet peeve.)

How does it compare to today?

What’€™s the same?

Well, the pitching and the defense, obviously. Erick Aybar is Andres Thomas 2.0. And, well, the offense too, to mention it.

The callup of mediocre AAA players to replace mediocre big league players is resonant too. Reid Brignac, Chase d’Arnaud€™, and Matt Tuiasosopo would fit right in in the late 1980s teams.

What’€™s different?

The most obvious difference to me, and one that a commenter pointed out earlier, is that we were utterly in the dark about the future. In those days, kids, there wasn’€™t this world wide interwebs thingy. Your sources were scouring daily boxscores and maybe the weekly Sporting News if you were a real diehard. Information about drafts and minor league systems was 1) virtually impossible to come by and 2) mostly meaningless rah-rah PR garbage from the team itself. Baseball cards (!) and their minor league stats were actually a valuable source of data nearly unobtainable for the average fan. Hell, when USA Today came out it was a jawdropping increase in the amount of information in the world — we were like the monkeys with the bone in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

So, in those bitter ’70s years, we didn’€™t know that Murph, Hubbard, Brett Butler, Steve Bedrosian were in the pipeline and would prove to be stalwarts of the Brief Shining Moment in 1982. And I for one certainly didn’€™t have any idea of how in the late 80s, Bobby Cox was assembling the best scouting organization in MLB and acquiring great players along the way like Glavine, Smoltz, Avery, Wohlers, or Justice, and invaluable role players like Klesko, Stanton, or Mercker.

What we did know was that we were terrible, and with Ted running the show, either actively meddling or passively ignoring, it seemed a good bet we were always going to be terrible. As a result, being a Braves fan was like being a coal miner in one of those British movies from the 1940s. You went grimly to work every day, maybe there was a cave-in killing several of your friends, maybe not. Then you got up and did it again, until you died from black lung.

So I would say that today’€™s situation is a little better than that. We have much better intel on what is in our pipeline. So we know there are good pieces on the way.

In terms of the management-fan relationship, the current situation feels a lot closer to the late ’80s than the late ’70s. The late ’70s was incompetently trying to get better. The late ’80s was just benign neglect. This is perhaps non-benign neglect. Management clearly does not give a fig for fielding a team that is competitive or even watchable. I do not believe that there are only two options for a baseball team, the first being trying to make the playoffs and the second being playing as the Washington Generals.

(Aside: I will never be convinced about the Holy Grail of the No. 1 pick in baseball. Sure, we got Chipper at No. 1. But we wanted Todd Van Poppel. After Bryce Harper went No. 1 in 2010, the Mets got Matt Harvey at No. 7, Chris Sale went 13th, and Noah Syndergaard went 38th. Mike Trout went 25th in 2009. Wholesale tanking isn’€™t necessary, and it isn’€™t worth the costs in damage to the franchise, both in esprit de corps and reputation, and karmic damage to your loyal fans. Superior scouting and outdrafting the opposition is where the game is. Tom Glavine was a second rounder; so was Greg Maddux.)

So, in that regard, today is easily worse. The utter disregard for the fanbase is more insulting today than ever, I think. And the internet provides not only more hard data for us to digest, but ample opportunity for us to read these front office jokers’€™ repeated overt lies about their intentions and the “€œgame plan.”

Watchword: Intentional.

There are some real advantages to having a human for an owner. Even if that owner was batpoop crazy Ted Turner.

If you had asked me at the beginning of the season if this was the worst Braves team of my lifetime, I would have said no. Without hesitation. The Opening Day roster featured a legitimate star at 1B, an above average right fielder, a budding WAR star in CF, a sophomore 3B who seemed to be a real major league hitter, and a seemingly rejuvenated catcher who had put together a .300 season and good gamecalling. (Add Erick Aybar, who in 2015 was a league average SS.) Even given how suspect the rotation and bench were, that seemed to me to be the bare skeleton of a major league team. I predicted 70 wins. We may not reach 50.

Will this team top the 106 losses of 1988? We shall see. But this team is obviously in contention to be the worst Atlanta team ever, and unless something dramatically shifts, that’€™s likely to be so. And it’s not necessary that it be so in order to engage in active rebuilding. We seem to be not merely throwing the baby out with the bathwater, we’€™re throwing the tub away too.

23 May

Fredi Gonzalez – One of Atlanta’s Best, Other Than Bobby (by AtlCrackersFan)

You may not think so now, but Fredi Gonzalez was one of the better managers in Braves history.

With history written daily, a first attempt at placing Fredi Gonzalez on the continuum of Braves managers reveals both the weaknesses of distorted sample sizes and the difficulty of measuring a manager’€™s contribution to a team’€™s record. For example, Gonzalez served as Atlanta’€™s 17th manager, the 10th who managed for at least a complete season. However Bobby Cox managed 24.560 of the 50 seasons since the team arrived in Atlanta.

Gonzalez stands a distant second on the Braves managerial roster, with just 5.228 seasons served as manager, 847 games managed, 434 wins, and 413 losses. By comparison, Cox’€™s two stints as manager totaled 24.599 seasons, 3,860 games, 2,466 victories and 1,713 losses.

Of the five Atlanta managers with a winning percentage, Gonzalez stands fourth behind Cox (.6392), Joe Torre (.5288), and Billy Hitchcock (.5238). Fredi (.5124) and Lum Harris (.5040) round out the top five.

Statistically, among all men who lasted a season or longer, the average Atlanta manager served for 4.834 seasons, 770 games and 434 wins. In reality, only two of the 10 qualifying managers exceed the average, Cox and Gonzalez. The median for the 10 qualifying managers provides a more realistic picture of Atlanta’€™s managerial experience: 2.201 seasons, 354 games and 151 victories.

Over the entire history of the Braves franchise, Gonzalez served as the 47th manager. His Braves record places him 8th in seasons managed, 6th in games and losses and 5th in victories. (19th- century skippers John Morrill and Harry Wright managed more seasons than Gonzalez, but many fewer games.)

Thirty-two of the franchise’€™s managers lasted for a season or longer. (Five of them managed but a single season.) The average for those 32: 4.194 seasons, 625 games and 323 wins. The median was 3.000 seasons, 453 games and 194 victories.

While these numbers provide a perspective of where Gonzalez resides on the roster of Braves managers, they do not provide a full picture of the dichotomy of his first four and one-half seasons and the last half season. After three seasons with 89, 94 and 96 wins, the 2014 Braves finished 79-83. As late as July 7, 2015, Atlanta’€™s record stood at 42-42. But over last 115 games Gonzalez managed, the Braves compiled an unbelievably bad 34-81 (.296) mark.

For the five complete seasons Gonzalez managed, the Braves exceeded their Pythagorean win-loss record by a +11 mark, including a remarkable +6 in 2015. In reviewing the rosters over the five seasons, the Braves lost Chipper Jones (retirement), Brian McCann (free agency), Jason Heyward (traded before a contract year) and Craig Kimbrel (trade). Gonzalez also dealt with the final year of Derek Lowe, the Dan Uggla and Melvin (BJ) Upton contracts and lack of commensurate performance, and Shelby Miller‘€™s dismal season.

Looking backwards, only Freddie Freeman (five seasons) and Jason Heyward (four seasons) provided any stability among the position players. On the pitching staff, Kimbrel’€™s four seasons and 185 saves provide the best example of stability. The decline of the Braves reveals itself more clearly in the pitching staff. The 2011 team overcame Derek Lowe‘€™s 9-17 mark, similar to Shelby Miller‘€™s 6-17 last season. In both 2011 and 2012, Tim Hudson led the team with 16 victories. The next three seasons, Julio Teheran was the team leader in victories, but a decreasing number: 15 in 2013, 14 in 2014 (tied with Ervin Santana) and 11 in 2015.

Season Wins Pythagorean ∆ˆ† Position Starters WAR Top 4 starters IP Players Used Pitchers Used Saves Leader
2011 89 4 14.3 695.2 45 21 46
2012 94 2 28.9 671 41 21 42
2013 96 -2 21 740.1 44 21 50
2014 79 1 16.4 793 39 20 47
2015 67 6 12.3 642 60 37 24

For comparison’€™s sake, three other Division winning Braves€™ teams compiled the following comparables:

Season Wins Pythagorean ∆ Position Starters WAR Top 4 starters IP Players Used Pitchers Used Saves Leader
1996 96 2 21.8 865 42 18 39
1982 89 4 20.3 781.1 39 17 30
1969 93 5 22.7 948.1 39 18 27

As a side note, Phil Niekro led the Braves in victories and innings pitched in both 1969 and 1983, while Hank Aaron accounted for almost one-third of the starters WAR in 1969, with 8.0.

Perhaps Gonzalez didn’€™t manage as well as the team performed during his first four seasons, but shortly into the 2015 season the front office had obviously run out of pitching staff luck in identifying and signing good pitchers from the cast-off pile, unlike prior seasons when Santana and Pat Maholm provided the staff with innings and stability. Injuries to Brandon Beachy, Kris Medlen, Gavin Floyd and Mike Minor contributed.

While many criticize Gonzalez for varying reasons, including wearing out the bullpen, being overly conservative, not using the running game and not adjusting to the trend of repositioning players on defense, this overlooks the constantly changing roster from season to season.

By comparison, Cox had the luxury of three starters (Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz) eating innings year after year. Gonzalez averaged one starter per season pitching more than 200 innings. While Cox’€™s Braves roster changed every season, the rate of change didn’€™t equal that of the past five seasons, and the ‘€˜90s Braves didn’€™t have dead weight contracts like Lowe, Uggla and BJ Upton.

The last 115 games of Gonzalez’s tenure represent as bad a stretch as any Braves manager has encountered. (The 1909 and 1911 Boston teams posted .291 and .294 winning percentages for the season.) That said, in time, I think Fredi Gonzalez Braves tenure will be looked upon favorably when compared with other Braves managers not named Cox.

Note: The seasons managed calculation is the number of games managed divided by the number of games played. If Atlanta only plays 161 games in 2016, Gonzalez’s fractional season managed would increase slightly. The basic WAR data and Pythagorean Formula results came from Baseball-Reference.

22 May

Phillies 5 (by coop)

Braves lose 5-0. Here’s how:

Top 1: Braves go meekly, three up, three down. Freddie Freeman strikes out looking on a slow curve one pitch after blasting one long but foul.

Bottom 1: Odubel Herrera splits the gap in left center for a stand up double. Flyball to deep center moves him to second. Casey Kelly’s fooling no one early. Maikel Franco flies to Ender Inciarte in short left, Herrera holding at third. Tommy Joseph lines to Nick Markakis in right. Leadoff double comes to naught, but every Phillies batter hit the ball in the air.

Top 2: Braves seem to be in a hurry to leave Philly. Six in a row set down on only 20 pitches. What is the lowest number of pitches ever thrown in a perfect game?

Bottom 2: Cameron Rupp lines first pitch into the right field bleachers, barely but sufficiently clearing the fence near the foul pole. Freddy Galvis grounds to Freeman, Kelly covering. Tyler Goeddel triples to left center, and Kelly keeps the overthrow at third out of the dugout. The pitcher grounds out, but Peter Bourjos singles in the Phils’ second run. Herrera walks. Cesar Hernandez grounds out pitcher to first to end the inning, but two runs score. Ball game?

Top 3: Woo-hoo! Daniel Castro bloop ends perfect game and no hitter. Can we score? Kelly can bunt. Jury’s still out on whether he can pitch. Mallex Smith pops to center: two outs. It’s up to Inciarte. His pop to right ends the threat.

Bottom 3: For what it’s worth, Castro plays a decent shortstop, making the routine plays and making accurate throws. Hey, in dark days you appreciate small proficiencies. Good inning for Kelly. Get him some runs, boys.

Top 4: With one out, Freeman singles. Markakis, the cleanup hitter du jour, ends all hope by grounding into a double play.

Bottom 4: Galvis lines a triple into the right field corner to start the fourth. Kelly plunks Goeddel with a slow curve to the top of the helmet. So far, this is not Kelly’s dream start. Jerad Eickhoff’s grounder high over the mound plates Galvis and moves Goeddel to second. Bourjos fans for the second out, and Kelly drills Herrera in the rump to put Phils on first and second. Franco ends the inning by grounding to Freeman unassisted, and only the one run scores. Leadoff triples are hard to pitch around, and Kelly cannot.

Top 5: Three up, three down on a hand full of pitches. Eickhoff is odds on to win the NL Cy Young.

Bottom 5: Franco doubles. Kelly’s start is inauspicious so far. With one out, Cameron almost decapitates Kelly with a liner up the middle. Fortunately, Franco has to hold up in case the Braves made a play, and can only move to third; and Kelly channels his inner Houdini to escape further damage. Tough inning, but Philadelphia does not score.

Top 6: Braves trail 3-0 with 15 12 outs remaining. Now is the time, gentlemen, if you mean to compete in this game. Somehow the Braves mount a challenge, bringing Freeman up with two outs as the potential tying run. Freddie’s line drive to first ends the threat. Phils 3, Braves suck.

Bottom 6: With Eric O’Flaherty pitching, the Phils put runners on the corners with two outs, ending EOF’s day. Alexi Ogando — everyday Alex — gives up a two run bloop single to end the inning. Unusual. Phillies pad lead to 5-0.

Top 7: Moribund Braves offense is still dead; but A.J. Pierzynski breaks his bat for a two out single, and Castro singles him to third with his second hit of the day. Kelly Johnson ends all hope with a broken bat dribbler to first.

Bottom 7: AJP stretches his streak of caught pop fouls to four. Eickhoff ends his day with seven shutout innings, and Ian Krol keeps Philadelphia off the board. Still 5-zip, Phils.

Top 8: Six outs remain. Will they suffice? Nope. Hector Neris gives up a single to Ender with one out, but Chase d’Arnaud and Freddie fail. It looks as if the Braves have a flight to catch.

Bottom 8: Krol avoids decapitation into a double play. Bloodshed averted. No deaths, no runs and three outs to score five to tie. Good luck.

Top 9: Braves go meekly, then home. I’d say they need tomorrow’s off day, but they were off today. Come on, Super Two deadline. I’m sick of losing with the same tired cast.

22 May

Braves 2, Phillies 0

An emergency session of the Georgia State Legislature met late Saturday afternoon to discuss a repeal of O.C.G.A. § 32-1-1, the section of the Georgia Code that prohibits winning streaks by the Atlanta Braves. They struck it down just in time for first pitch.

Last night, the Good Williams showed up and twirled a magnificent game, giving up two hits and no runs in 6 1/3 just five days after giving up nine hits and six runs. let’s keep these two and get rid of the other two.

As usual, the offense was firing on no cylinders, mustering four hits against “Adam Morgan,” another one of these anonymous Phillie second-year starters who have been stymying our offense for the last twenty years.

(Exhibit A for me is Dave Coggin, who was 10-12 with a 4.52 ERA in a total of 199 innings pitched over three years before getting sent back down to the minors for good in 2002. Against the Braves, Coggin was 2-1 with a 3.13 ERA. But Kyle Kendrick may be the worst of all. He has a career ERA of 4.63, but it’s just 3.41 against us. Against all teams other than the Braves, Kyle Kendrick’s career ERA is 4.76.)

Fortunately, last night, barely any offense managed to be just enough, because after Perez left the game, Ian Krol, Jason Grilli, and Arodys Vizcaino closed out the game in perfect fashion, retiring all eight men
they faced, half by strikeout.

All of the game’s scoring occurred in the second inning. This is the play-by-play:

Francoeur singled to right.
Markakis walked, Francoeur to second.
Flowers flied out to right.
Inciarte doubled to left center, Francoeur scored, Markakis to third.
Aybar hit sacrifice fly to center, Markakis scored.
Inciarte stole third.
Perez grounded out to shortstop.

Bring out the brooms!

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