Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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30 Jun

Tribe 3

The Cleveland Indians are no longer welcome here. The Indians, who now have won 12 straight (and have not lost since the Cavs won the Finals), had their way with Atlanta, sweeping them before they had any idea what happened.

Someone named Joel De La Cruz started the game. You may remember him from such films as “The 27-Year Old Non-Prospect” or “€œWhy is He Here: The Story of the Braves Rebuild”€, or perhaps the critically-acclaimed “Journeyman”. At any rate, Peanut had speculated that Folty would make the start, but he’s not quite ready to end his rehab assignment. De La Cruz actually pitched fine, going 6 IP and giving up 3 ER, mostly off a two-run single just out of the grasp of Adonis Garcia’€™s glove.

There were some good things: Jace Peterson had two more hits, increasing his OPS to a very respectable .739 OPS, including a .357 OBP now out of the lead-off spot. Since he was re-called, he’€™s hitting .348/.421/.500. Nick Markakis had two hits and now has a .276/.310/.381 line in June. Certainly not great, but a stark improvement over the .190/.294/.250 line he turned in in May.

Ian Krol, Mauricio Cabrera, and Casey Kelly continued their good work in the pen with three scoreless innings. Mauricio Cabrera touched 103 on the gun last night, and the consensus from everyone is that if he can hit the strike zone on the regular, he will be big in the pen. Surprisingly, he is not someone that had been talked about much by the prospect gurus and by people on here, but he has been on the 40-man all season and clearly someone the Braves have had plans for.

Perhaps more importantly, Ozzie Albies was sent to AA to work at 2B with Dansby. After a pretty woeful mid-May to mid-June, Ozzie had really started to hit over the past couple weeks. He still is making far too many errors to be a big league second baseman, as he’€™s made 20 errors already between Mississippi and Gwinnett. Hopefully the chemistry will begin to develop.

The one team in baseball that we can always be excited about playing is coming to town, the Miami Marlins. After some really positive momentum built over the past several weeks, the buzzsaw of the Indians took some wind out. Hopefully the Marlins, as they’ve been in the past, will be the cure to what ails us.

28 Jun

Indians 5, Braves 3

Well, that could have gone better. The Indians have now won 11 games in a row, and the Braves have run into them at a bad time. They took a 2-0 lead in the 1st off Matt Wisler, who I thought was pretty lucky to only give up those 2 runs to start the game. He then settled down and pitched pitched pretty well, finishing the game on a strong note and picking up 9 strikeouts over his 6 total innings.

The Braves offense, meanwhile, appeared to have phoned it in before the first pitch. They were no-hit until the 6th inning, when two consecutive hits led off the inning and later came around to score and tie the game. Wisler was off the hook for the loss, and the Braves showed they hadn’t totally forgotten how to hit.

The game continued to roll merrily along until the 9th, when Arodys Vizcaino tried to keep it tied and failed miserably. He was shouldered with the loss when he got two outs and gave up three runs on two hits and two walks.

The Braves got the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the 9th, after Jace Peterson hit a solo home run and Freddie Freeman tripled. Sandwiched between them, however, was Ender Inciarte and a reviewed call at first that could have gone either way, but looked like a tie to me (which used to go to the runner. Now it goes to whoever the replay guys in New York feel like it should.) Had Inciarte gotten on, the outcome of the game may have been different. I’m not even sure why managers are bothering with replay any more this season, since it’s been obvious for awhile now the calls are only going to be upheld. Replay has turned from a waste of time that could potentially help get the call right, to just a waste of time. MLB should just scrap it if the umps are going to fight back like this and render the whole system pointless.

Watching Francisco Lindor play shortstop this series has been nothing but a delight. His instincts are so Simmonsesque that for a few short moments he made it seem all was right again with the baseball world in Atlanta. Brilliant shortstop defense is truly something to behold. I got engaged this weekend to a man I knew was a keeper when he not only bought a Braves hat and started wearing it everywhere for me, but he also started making a noise of disgust whenever we watched a game together and Aybar was shown on the screen (something he picked up on without any commentary from me). Watching Lindor play tonight was almost enough to let him see what playing shortstop in Atlanta used to mean. Ah, the good ol’ days.

Aybar delenda est.

28 Jun

Last of the Mohicans: Braves 3, Other Native Americans 8

[The more common Hollywood movie pits European people against Native Americans. However, this movie has a theme of competition between portions of the Native American community over how to deal with these immigrants.]

Just as we have become familiar with the 2016 Braves, early on we become familiar with Chincachgook (Chief of the Mohicans, think Nick Markakis), Uncas, (son of Chincachgook, think John Gant) and Nathaniel Poe (or Bumppo as in the books).

Then, we are introduced to Magua, who seems to want to help the Europeans. Think Mike Napoli. Really quickly, you find out he is not your friend when he drives in Lonnie Chisenhall with two outs. In other words, he had an ambush in motion.

It gets us out of order with the movie, but as Uncas falls near the end, so John Gant succumbs to injury and leaves the contest in the second inning. This appears to be the dreaded “oblique injury.” Not quite as bad as an Algonquin war club to the head, but a DL visit is likely, thus allowing the Braves to audition another young pitcher. In other words, the casting calls go on and on.

Nathaniel (Nick Markakis) is able to save the daughters of General Monroe from Magua. In other words, he hits a sacrifice fly to tie it at 1.

But Tyrell Jenkins (General Munro) can’t hold the fort and surrenders to the French and Indian forces. That is Tyrell gives up a Lonnie Chisenhall 3 run homer. A few weeks ago, you absolutely knew after that it was over. Now, you think there might still be a struggle.

Major Heyward (Tyler Flowers) shows his heroism (hits a solo shot to tie it at 1 in the bottom of the third) in assisting the daughters and the Mohicans in escaping Magua’s second ambush.

But Magua’s second ambush continues as his tribe adds another run in the 7th. Mauricio Cabrera makes his first appearance and gives up a single to let an inherited runner score. He prevents further damage without any strikeouts. Neither does he walk anyone. Who was able to use a shape shifter to cause Mauricio to disappear and be replaced?

As we near the end, the wise sachem (Hunter Wendelstedt) is called on to settle the dispute. Wendelstedt becomes the home plate umpire after Jerry Layne gets rocked by a foul ball.

After the battle, with Uncas dead, Nathaniel and Chingachgook mourn, like Braves fans.

27 Jun

Guess That Stat UPDATE (by Bledsoe)

So the Braves record, as of this writing, is 26-49. That means the season is officially 46.3% over.

You may remember our Guess that Stat contest. Time to see how the contest is shaping up, so you can figure out how far off your guesses are off the pace.

If my math is right, the prorated, and rounded, season end projections are:

1. Braves wins 56
  PRE-SEASON ESTIMATE: 69
     
2. Francoeur HRs 6
  PRE-SEASON ESTIMATE: 5
     
3. Dansby Swanson PA 0 (alas)
  PRE-SEASON ESTIMATE: 70
     
4. Olivera RBIs 4
  PRE-SEASON ESTIMATE: 63
     
5. Wisler Ws 6
  PRE-SEASON ESTIMATE: 9
     
6. Freeman IBBs 19
  PRE-SEASON ESTIMATE: 17
     
7. Garcia unintentional BBs 15
  PRE-SEASON ESTIMATE: 17
     
8. Foltynewicz GS 13
  PRE-SEASON ESTIMATE: 12
     
9. Team HRs 80
  PRE-SEASON ESTIMATE: 105
     
10. Number of new players on 25-man roster* Currently 9
  PRE-SEASON ESTIMATE: 12

* The operative date is August 15, but as of now there are 9 players who weren’t on our opening day roster.

Still a horse race. But I am clearly not going to win.

26 Jun

Braves 5, Mets 2 (by coop)

Bud Norris, Freddie Freeman and Adonis Garcia led the
Atlanta Braves to a 5-2 victory over the defending National League champion New York Mets.

Norris had his best outing as a Brave. He went seven, fanned eight and threw only 88 pitches, 61 of them strikes. Freddie Freeman led the offense. In fact, for seven innings, Freeman was The Offense. His first inning opposite field home run was the only run in the game until the Braves busted it open in the bottom of the eighth. Freddie ended the day with the homer, a double, a single and a walk in his four plate appearances.

Norris was relieved by Jim Johnson in the eighth.
Johnson retired the three Mets he faced without incident, and the Braves led one-zip going into their half of the eighth.

Ender Inciarte started with a single, was balked to second and stole third as Freeman walked. Nick Markakis singled in Ender, bringing up Garcia with two on and nobody out. Adonis had hit the ball hard but at
them all game, but this time he smashed a three run home run to give our Braves a 5-0 lead.

The Mets rallied for two off Alexi Ogando in the ninth,
but Arodys Vizcaino ended the drama and saved the game. For the record, both Freddie and Adonis played
well afield as well as at the plate, and Bud’s outing enhanced his trade value. For teams needing a middling starting pitcher, this Bud’s for you.

25 Jun

The hand that fed you…Mets 1, Braves 0 …… by blazon

Teheran/De Grom in a rematch tonight after Sunday’s JT one hitter. Julio makes his 16th start, de Grom has not won in his last nine. Reyes in the background, signed today, you’re welcome to him.  Soon both teams could be evenly matched, one DV offender each.  Robles most fortunately indisposed after his personal shut out last night, we do not get along with him either but for more generous reasons. But Addison Reed is just who we need. But where is Jenkins?

(Coppy on Twitter, frank but not bitter, used a term for JT quite new to me -‘ almost into right arm status for us now’. Have to assume he means THE right arm pitcher, what else? Strange way to word it, surely he’s not saying he’s the best RH Pitcher in baseball is he? We already knew he’s our best so what?)

Under way, 97 degrees. Both teams in Negro League unis.

First. Nick saves the day, fine catch at the wall, one on. Adonis less than Olympian attempting pop up catch earlier.Inciarte walks, steals, stranded.

Second. Alderson says, guess what, he met PERSONALLY with Reyes-you would hope so! The horrible Loney l/off single.Brother D’Arnaud repeats his off field slap. First and Third but the pitcher’s up.Pitching in the bottom of the second Rosenthal won’t stop talking about his loss of velocity and earlier release point. Video from ASG seems to prove his point.

Third. JT hits Granderson. Cespedes singles with one on,(Aybar again shows limited range to his left) C thrown out lollygagging into second by Garcia- hey ho! Man on third, 2 out. Walker flies out. JT singles, Jace hits into DP. Still scoreless.

Fourth. Fine catch by Bonifacio gets Loney. Rosenthal tells the great story of Julio being signed age 16 for 850K. The  10 member family living in house with one bathroom. 100 times the average annual wage in Cartagena. Gets them 1,2,3. We have 1st and 3rd, 1 out but our third DP nixes that. Nice interview with Mrs D’Arnaud, lovely lady, musical family.

Fifth.  1,2,3. Julio 7 in a row. We also 1,2,3. Turns out our 3 DP’s were in consecutive innings -miscreants Jace/Aybar/Garcia.

Sixth. JT at 70 pitches, 3 K’s..gets them in order incl 2nd strike out of Cespedes who R calls the best low ball hitter in the game. We load the bases with 2 out on a Markakis single but they hold Julio at third-he had got on with his second single. Questionable call to say the least with 2 out. Adonis hit a hard grounder strisght to the third baseman. Should be said that whereas we have 3 bats with multiple hits against DGrom Freddy has not caught up with him all night, so far!

Seventh  Jt unaffected by exposure on bases gets them in order. Rosenthal comes across as giving very detailed analyses of hitter’s hot zones where you must not go. Interesting. Boy, this getting tight as DeGrom too gets us in order.  Who knew we were playing the Marlins at Fort Bragg over the holiday weekend? Not me but had Fredi still been in situ he could have been at obvious risk near the range or up on the rookie’s first parachute drop.

Eighth  WOW! Julio hits the 100 pitch mark and finds 2 out trouble after giving up his first hit since the 3rd plus a stolen base, Cabrera threatens with 2 out and Granderson on second. Full count strike out settles that. Great finale for Julio’s special night. DeGrom meanwhile is his match tonight. Still not at the 100 pitch mark he’s gotten stronger as he went along. Amazingly it turns out he’s never gone beyond the 8th inning. He will tonight.

Ninth. Here comes Vizzy. Revenge!  We get a great double play. How sweet it was and that left Only the Loney who duly obliged us. No ninth for DeGrom-stupid i call that, Blevins to Freddy who could not handle DG all night. Freddy lead off single, erased on Nick ground out. Blevins gives way to the aforementioned Mr Reed. He closes out the innings with a magnificent catch by Granderson off Flowers. Free baseball, Chip will be pleased.

Tenth.  JJ pitching. Lead off single by Flores. WOOHOO!!  De Aza pops up a bunt and while he beats himself up JJ lets it drop and we get two, yeah! But we can’t hit Reed who’s on his longest outing of the year.

Eleventh.  Oh, Kelly. He takes Alvarez out. Well. The first XBH of the game. The hand that feeds you etc… bounced on top of the wall and over. Bullpen scoreless streak of 23 plus innings snapped. Withrow walks Cespedes with 2 out, our first walk of the night. 3 out and we have the top of the order up against Familia.

How apropos. DP number 4 closes the game out after a Jace l/off single, Inciarte bunt and of course they walked Freddy. Nick couldn’t get it through. Fine game, terrific starting pitching. In this year of painful experimentation I’ll take that if I have to. And – Norris/Bartolo tomorrow?  Fun.

 

 

25 Jun

New Yrok 8, IWOTB 6

Aaron Blair continues to hold down first place on the ‘Most Likely To Be Sent To The Suburbs When
Mike Foltynewicz Is Ready To Return’ List – giving up 8 runs to the Mets in 4 1/3 innings. It has
become obvious that Blair just hasn’t figured it out (whatever ‘it’ is) yet, and cannot consistently get
MLB hitters out. His ERA now stands at 7.99 for the season. And even in a ‘Let’s see what we got
here’ year, that’s not gonna cut it.

However, after spotting the visitors an 8 run lead, the Mets’ Steven Matz had A Full Blown Episode
of his own in the 5th. Giving up a 6 spot to the Braves, aided a bit by Yoenis Cespedes’ loss of a
Nick Markakis flyball in the gloamin’, an Adonis Garcia two run double, and a Brandon Snyder pinch
hit three run dinger.

After that, both bullpens shut out the opponents and the game ended at 8-6, albeit, not without
some ninth inning drama. After Tyler Flowers lead off the 9th by ripping a Juerys Familia fastball into
left for a single, and the suddenly sprt corpse of Erik Aybar took one off the arm for the team,
Chase d’Arnaud came up to bunt the runs into scoring position. After the entirely predictable Pop Up
the 97 MPH Fastball Which The Mets Flubbed But Turned Into The Cheapest Double Play EVAR, Jace
Peterson struck out to end the game. But the ball escaped Travis d’Arnaud, and his throw to first
was headed into right field except that James Loney somehow dove for the throw, made the snag
and dragged his foot across the bag.

Kudos to the pen, which has now strung together a 21 2/3 inning scoreless streak. They’re actually
starting to look like a MLB caliber group. And give credit to the offense, which down 8-0, didn’t roll
over and play dead. Unfortunately the hole was too deep to climb out of.

24 Jun

Braves 4, Mets 3

Matt Wisler turned in an Aaron Blair-like version of a quality start: 6.2 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs, 4 walks, and just 1 strikeout. But the bullpen — Dario Alvarez, whose ESPN player card still shows him in a Mets cap, and who I have already started calling Daario Naharis in my head; Jim Johnson; and Arodys Vizcaino, who almost certainly will not be in Atlanta in August —€” held fast, and then the offense did two things that I did not think that the offense could do.

This is how ESPN described the Braves runs in the fourth and sixth:
•€ A.J. Pierzynski singled to center, Nick Markakis scored.
•€ Pierzynski doubled to deep right center, Markakis scored.

No, I know — I didn’t believe it either!

And then Casey stepped to the bat, and a new folk hero was born:

•€ Adonis Garcia homered to left (391 feet), Freeman scored.

If there’s something better than hitting a late-inning Mets-killing homer, I don’t know what it is. Happy Friday, everybody.

22 Jun

Fish 3

All good things must come to an end.

John Gant pitched five brilliant, no-hit innings. He really blanked them. But he also allowed a six-hit inning that resulted in the only three runs of the game. He ended up with five strikeouts and no walks, but that meltdown inning was his undoing. Ian Krol got three strikeouts in an inning and a third, and we got our first taste of Tyrell Jenkins when he pitched the first inning of his career. Not bad; he gave up a hit but didn’t allow a run. At the end of the day, while one would love to win a lot of games, just seeing our developing pitchers turn into major leaguers is a consolation.

The hitters, of course, didn’t do anything. But hold on tight as Erick Aybar had two more hits, and has brought his OPS above the .500 mark. If he can bring it above .600, we may very well get another A-ball lefty.

Perhaps the only noteworthy things are that Mike Foltynewicz is throwing to live hitters and should be back soon, Gordon Beckham should be back next week, Manny Banuelos is rehabbing, and Julio Teheran is still a Brave.

21 Jun

Jace 3, IWOTM 2

At the risk of sounding like I’m taking credit for something over which I have no control…I’m going to take credit for something over which I have no control and point out that since I poured my Braves angst over a lost game and season into a parody of the greatest baseball poem ever written and humbly submitted it to the best Braves blog on the web, the Braves have yet to lose a game. Had I known the effect it might have, I would have written that much sooner. My bad, guys.

Since this was a game that had events worth recapping, I will actually recap the events of the game and save further recapping shenanigans for when we need a distraction from the baseball.

Bud Norris started and pitched into the 6th inning, giving up a couple of runs but keeping his team in the game. The first run he surrendered came at the hands of his mound opponent, Jose Fernandez, who managed to do several Jose Fernandez things in the game like allow a dinky 1st inning hit and then mow the Braves down for six more innings without mercy. He looked like vintage Jose Fernandez, and the Braves managed to do all of nothing against him.

David Phelps relieved Fernandez in the 8th, and the Braves decided to prove to their fans that just because it’s 2016 and they had a five game winning streak didn’t mean that we can’t have nice things, like a six game winning streak. Emilio Bonifacio, fresh from having been successfully called up from the minors, singled to lead off the inning. Jace Peterson was so inspired he deposited one over the right field fence, a no-doubter line drive that tied the game and reminded the Marlins that the Braves absolutely own them.

Following an uneventful 9th inning, Jace got down to business again in the 10th and singled with two outs to score Chase d’Arnaud, fresh off of an off day poolside concert, from third.

Arodys Vizcaino came in in the bottom of the 10th and was tasked with getting three outs to continue the winning streak. He made it as difficult as he could, giving up an infield single and walk to lead off the inning and then facing the heart of the Marlins lineup. Back-to-back-to-back strikeouts later, the Braves were shaking hands on the infield at Marlins Park and celebrating going an entire week without losing a game.

If the Braves can repeat this past week 11 more times this season and pull off a 70-19 run, I’m going to have to start drawing parallels the 1914 Miracle team and be tempted to allow myself to hope. Hee. Hee, hee, hee. Repeat this week 11 times and draw parallels to the 1914 team. I crack myself up.

The winning streak is at six. Even though it’s a lost season, this week has been fun in a totally unexpected sort of way. I’m not sure how these guys managed to pull it off. Should they try for seven tomorrow afternoon?

Aybar delenda est.

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