Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

Scarred, but smarter.

17 Sep

Mets 5, Braves 1

No one is interrupting any regularly scheduled broadcasting to bring us this developing story, but the Braves are now eliminated from the wild-card chase.

The Mets first 2 batters scored off Julio Teheran, effectively ending the game, as the Braves would manage only 4 hits. The lone Braves run was gifted in the 7th by Amed Rosario, whose consecutive errors led to a Jace Peterson ground out RBI.  Jose Ramirez uncharacteristically allowed 3 runs in the 8th, presumably to keep the final score from being misleadingly close.

Johan Camargo had 2 of the Braves hits, and A.J. Minter looked dominant in 1 1/3 innings of relief, striking out 3. Rex Brothers struck out his batter; Brothers now has 29 K’s in 19 1/3 innings, and an ERA of 7.91. Go figure. Asdrubal Cabrera had the big blow in the 8th, with a 2 run pinch hit homer, and Robert Gsellman allowed 3 hits and the unearned run in his 7 innings.

Teheran settled down after the shaky 1st, allowing only 2 hits and a walk in his final 5 innings.

The Braves drop the series 2 games to 1, and remain a game and a half behind the Marlins in the battle for 2nd place in the East. The Nationals (delenda est) come to town on Tuesday.

The 2nd funniest thing I ever heard about New York: Watch Danny Heep

16 Sep

Braves 3 Mets 7.. It’s De-lightful, it’s De-licious, it’s De Grom.

When was the last time you saw a baseball game which contained three back-to-back-to-back doubles? This was the highlight of our game tonight  which says two things. That it was the Mets who hit them, in the third, is a good indication our man RA did not have it today . And as these were followed in the bottom of the inning by a 25 second 1, 2, 3 outs by the Braves hitters this was not exactly  a game in which the result was in any doubt .

The Mets must have enjoyed blowing up their 8 game losing streak against us . Jacob de Grom, the last man standing in a ravaged rotation, reminded us what a class starter looks like. He went seven, Freddie hit him hard twice, nobody else squared him up. Our kid phenoms looked particularly lost all night, it wasn’t pretty. 101 pitches of this quality were a lesson for all of us.

Which leads us back to RA. After the three doubles in the third we were down four. Then 5 in the fourth.He was done but in no sense had he given up at any time ,  gutting it out as he always does. What he also seemed to do at an early stage was to abandon the primacy of his knuckler. There seemed to be as many fastballs in his mix which suited the Mets hitters just fine.

With Dickey out the bullpen blues hit again with Sims pitching 2 ineffective innings and getting hit hard in the process. You wonder what he made of de Grom, looking at him all night. Good old Lane Adams cheered us all up driving in two runs in the bottom of the ninth off a very wobbly Ramos. Which made the final score look better than it deserved to be. This was Jacob De Grom’s night, he dominated and controlled the game. Which is ok in the circumstances, not the end of the world, just a salutary reminder there are pitchers of whom we have not the like. But he helped set our sights, who from our motley  young arms will one day pitch like that? At least one, surely!

16 Sep

Friday Night Championship Wrestling – Atlanta 3, New York 2

The Sean Newcomb Tag Team Experience was on full display last night, and the results were mostly pleasantly surprising. The Mets stepped into the STP Squared Circle for a mano-y-mano Death Match with Atlanta. Newcomb only went 5 1/3 innings, but he allowed just seven base runners on 6 hits and one walk (which we will get to shortly) and struck out 8 to pitch just well enough to get the pin.

The Good Newcomb opened the game with a couple of strike outs in the first two innings, and looked sharp. The only damage was an Asdrubal Cabrera single to left. But Newcomb was pitching efficiently, not getting into deep counts and not nibbling at the corners. That is the type of starter that can, if not make us forget Andrelton Simmons, can at least every fifth day, take the sting out of the trade.

The Braves opened the scoring in the bottom of the second when Dansby Swanson scored on perhaps the strangest play of the season. With one out, Swanson was on third after a Rio Ruiz single, and David Freitas grounded out to third on a slow roller that scored Lt. Dans. But, Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki interfered with Freitas’ swing when his glove hit the bat. I was sure the incompetent ref was going to look the other way and miss the blatant cheating, but surprisingly, the home plate umpire immediately signalled the interference. He sent Swanson back to third, Ruiz to second, and Freitas to first. But Snit came out, and after a short discussion, he opted to take the result of the play, exchanging the second out of the inning for the run.

However the Bad Newcomb tagged in after the run, and gave it back in the top of the third, when he allowed a lead-off double to Gavin Cecchini, who was sacrificed to third, and driven in on an infield dribbler by Jose Reyes. In the fourth, Cabrera collected another lead-off double, and was driven in two batters later by Dominic Smith. It was at this point, with Good Newk straining in the corner, that Bad Newk managed to score the tag, and Good Newk came in and proceeded to clear the ring striking out the next five Mets hitters in a row.

In the bottom of the 5th Nature Boy Freitas collected a lead-off double of his own. Ender Inciarte singled him home. Ozzie Albies worked the crowd into a frenzy and Mets pitcher Rafael Montero for a walk. Montero wild pitched them to second and third, intentionally walked Freddie Freeman, and gave up the go-ahead sac fly to Lane Adams.

However with one out in the sixth, Cabrera snuck up and hit Good Newk over the head with the steel chair, collecting his third hit of the night, an infield dribbler that Swanson couldn’t do anything with. Plawecki then used a suspicious foreign substance on his bat to collect a screaming single to left. While he was celebrating Bad Newk got the tag, and after a brief rally, getting to an 0-2 count on Smith, he was distracted the Mets’ ring manager, and nibbled his way to a walk. The bases were loaded, with only one out…and Oh..My..God..

Is that Dan Winkler’s music??? YES! It is! Winkler comes in and boom – a tailor made DP – Ozzie to Dansby to Freddie. OK, so it’s not as poetic as Tinker to Evers to Chance, but it sure was sweet at that point.

After that, the Braves’ pen put the Mets into a Figure Four, locking up their offense for the remainder of the game. Jose Ramirez with a perfect inning and a third. Sam Freeman ALMOST letting the Mets reach the bottom rope to break the hold, but managed to pull them back with two on and two out in the 8th to escape damage, and Arodys Vizcaino closing it out in the 9th.

All in all, it was refreshing to see Good triumph over Evil. But tonight, the Mets send in the Belt Holder – Jacob deGrom to pitch. But, To Be The Man, you gotta Beat The Man, so let’s hope R.A. Dickey is up to his old self and bamboozles the Mets.

14 Sep

Order Restored to the Universe—Natspos 5, Braves 2

Leading into Thursdays game with the Nationals, our Braves had, remarkably, trounced the Natspos in consecutive games. Tuesday our erstwhile ace Julio shut out the powerful Natspos lineup, while the Braves scored 5 off Gio Gonzales, who has an ERA of around two and a half. Wednesday, even more incredibly, the Braves scored 7 off Max “Cy” Scherzer, whose ERA is even lower than Gio’s. And to top it off, Luiz Gohara, in only his second big league start, pitched six strong innings, only allowing one earned run. (His ERA after his first start was over 13.)
I was starting to wonder if I had somehow fallen down a rabbit hole or through a looking glass to a different world. Perhaps the reality I have always known and relied upon is only an illusion.

For Thursday, Dusty Baker penciled in a lineup that reminded me of one of those Bobby Cox Sunday getaway lineups. The Nationals have four hitters with OPS of over .900: Zimmerman, Rendon, Murphy, and Harper. None of the four were in the lineup. Harper is still on the DL, trying to get back in time for October; the other three were just getting some rest as the Nationals get ready for October. The number 3 hitter in the lineup was Wilmer Difo, he of the career OPS of .714. On the mound was Tanner Roark, whose ERA is about four and a half.

So of course the Natspos beat the Braves. Not much to report here. The Braves could do next to nothing with Roark. The big exception was a two run homer by Albies. The kid is for real. Roark went six, and the Nationals now excellent bullpen (remember how awful they were the first half of the season?) shut the Braves out for the final three.

Foltynewicz started and only went four, giving up three runs on four hits. He apparently sustained a cut on one of his right fingers, causing him to leave the game. It’s a shame, because we really need to see if Folty and the other young pitchers can start to go deeper in games. It’s also a shame because Snit next turned to Matt Wisler, who did what he does in every outing—give up a couple of runs.

Still, the Braves just took 2 of 3 from the Nats and finished the season in Nationals Park with a record of 6-4. If only everyone else played the Gnats the way the Braves do in D.C., the Natspos really would delenda est. The Braves return home Friday for the last homestand of the season.

14 Sep

Braves 8, Gnats 2

This is a game you really want to see from a rebuilding team. 21-year old Luiz Gohara gives a strong 6 IP with only 71 pitches, and 23-year old Lucas Sims, 23-year old Daniel Winkler, and 24-year old AJ Minter. The offense was highlighted by 20-year old Ozzie Albies, 27-year old Lane Adams, and players who could play a role in our future like 31-year old Tyler Flowers and 32-year old Matt Kemp.

Gohara pitched well in his second career start, limiting the Nationals to only 2 runs, 1 earned. But most importantly, the previous mentioned pitch count and 6 K/0 BB ratio meant his start was very efficient. He’s currently one of the hardest throwing LH SPs in the game, and if he can pound the strike zone, then he’ll be really good. I do wonder if this workload he’s under (123.2 IP across all levels, up from 69.2 IP last year) catches up to him next year. But the bullpen put in 3 scoreless innings with 6 K’s and no walks. The Nationals may be gearing up for the playoffs, but they were still throwing their ace and they had their full lineup in.

Lane Adams has been a revelation lately. 27 years old, has never been given a shot, but now has a .912 OPS in 77 PAs. This month, in small sample, he’s hitting .375/.524/688.

It’s good to win one or two.

13 Sep

Braves 8, Nationals Present

For Julio Teheran, Nationals Park is the antithesis of SunTrust Park. It is too bad for him, then, that he pitches for the Braves, but it’s nice for Braves fans to have him go into Washington and shut the Nationals out time after time. Another shutout performance from him over seven innings earned him his 11th win, and brought his record to .500 for the season. Would that he could learn to successfully pitch at home!

Julio’s mound opponent was none other than Gio Gonzalez, he of the 2.68 ERA this season. With the Nationals in the fine-tuning for the postseason portion of the year (a postseason that will, hopefully, be over in three games), the Braves offense went out and torched Gonzalez for five runs over five innings, and then tacked on three more against the Washington bullpen, just because they could. Three of the Braves runs came on a Freddie Freeman home run, as Freddie proved once again that he loves hitting on his birthday. He ended the evening 3-for-5 with two runs scored, and looked like he was having fun at the end of a lost season. He’s so easy to root for. And he’s in his 7th season in the major leagues and only 28. I feel old.

Because the Nationals clinched on Sunday, this was the first game of the season the Braves have played that literally meant nothing. Stomping the Nationals and Gio Gonzalez is always nice, though, even when it is completely meaningless.

Nationals delenda est.

10 Sep

Braves 10, Marlins 8 (11)

The Atlanta Braves do not quit, bless their hearts.

The Braves scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th to force extra innings, and Lane Adams hit a 2 run walk off homer in the bottom of the 11th to give the Braves the series 3 games to 1, and to formally eliminate the Marlins from the N.L. East race.

Arodys Vizcaino went 2 innings to get his 2nd win in as many days, and Tyler Flowers had 3 hits and 3 RBIs. Ozzie Albies and Johan Camargo each went 2 for 4 to raise their batting averages to .282 and .302 respectively, and Rio Ruiz had a critical 2 out single in the bottom of the 9th, driving in 2 to tie the score.

The Marlins jumped on R.A. Dickey for 3 runs in the 2nd; the Braves answered with 5 in the 3rd. Dickey could not hold the lead however, and left with the score tied after 5, having allowed 6 hits, 3 walks, and recording 5 strikeouts. Jose Ramirez allowed Dee Gordon‘s 2nd home run of the season to break the tie in the 8th, and the Marlins scoring concluded against Matt Wisler, who was allowed to record an out in the 9th, presumably to piss off the Nationals.

The Braves finish the homestand at 4 – 3.  Off Monday, then at Washington Tuesday. Nationals delenda est.

The 4th funniest thing I ever heard about Miami: is irrelevant.

09 Sep

Saturday, Saturday…Let’s walk the line…Braves 6 Fish 5

 

We had yet another turgid first three innings tonight which did not augur well for what might follow. Stanton hit a beautiful solo screamer to CF but no-one blamed Fried for that. What did disappoint was the  lack of sharpness in his control, the little movement in the air and mediocre velocity. The third inning showed he set them down one, two, three but it was deceptive- two outs were line drives to the outfield and one ground ball rocket to short. Sure enough the fourth caught him out.

With two outs he was yanked with a line of 3.2 IP 6 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 3k. and we were in familiar trouble. But we came back in fine style right away cutting the deficit to one. Both teams had single runs in the fifth so when we scored another run in the sixth we were level for the first time. Miami were held scoreless by our somewhat erratic pen and so it was until the melodramatic bottom of the 9th when Ender coaxed a bases load walk off walk from a somewhat flummoxed young Miami reliever. We win.

Roll of Honor.

Matt Kemp, defensive play of the game at a crucial moment and doubled off the runner.

Juan Camargo..HR and 3 runs driven in. And Chip stop bitchin’ about his base running goof THREE TIMES later.

Kurt Suzuki   no homers tonight, just three important base hits particularly one  leading off the bottom of the 9th.

Freddie and Ender both had 2 hits and a run driven in, Ender’s being the game winning walk.

Dansby  No hits but 3 important walks, the last one crucial.

Ozzie   only 1 for 5 but it was an important double that scored a run in the 4th inning fight back.

Sims  he did a commendable job coming in early in the 4th when Fried had just been knocked around all over the place. His control, pace and movement all looked better than what had gone before. The pen, two words, see above.

09 Sep

Miami 7, Atlanta 1

Atlanta finally snapped its one game win streak last night as Jose Urena outpitched Mike Foltynewicz and the bullpen surrendered four runs in the ninth to fall to the Marlins 7 to 1.

Freddie Freeman hit his 25th homer in the 4th for Atlanta’s only run. Urena allowed only singles to Tyler Flowers and Ozzie Albies, to go with three walks and 5 strikeouts. Urena made up for his gopher ball to Freddie, by driving in his first run with a RBI single in the second.

Folty walked only 1 to go with his six hits allowed, including a solo shot to Derek Dietrich, in his six innings of work. He didn’t pitch poorly, but, he did pitch just badly enough to lose.

Max Fried tonight looks for his second win in as many starts.

08 Sep

Braves 6, Marlins 5

Apologies to all for the belated recap. Some unplanned-for developments have delayed me. Those developments also kept me from seeing last night’s game, which at least makes my task of recapping easier.

On the other hand, it appears that I missed watching one of the more satisfying games of the past several weeks. Come from behind walkoff win in the ninth against our division rival the Fish, helping to put a stake through the heart of their fading wild card hopes.

Last week I wrote about how frustrating Sean Newcomb can be. His overall line last night was similar to many of his outings—7 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings pitched. Obviously we will need better from him if he is to become a reliable major league starter. But the good news is that 4 of those hits came in the first 6 batters in the top of the first, leading to 3 first inning runs. Newk did not allow a run in the next 4 innings, which led to the Braves not being blown out and having a chance to get back in the game. I’ve been critical of Newcomb, but I’m a long way from writing him off. He may yet figure this out—and he’ll get a pretty long leash to try to do so. His recovery last night may be something to build on.

Several other good things in the game: 2 more hits for Ender, 2 more for Suzuki (including the walkoff game winner), 2 more for Dansby (his OPS is up to .663). Another dinger from Kemp and another big pinch hit from Big City. And Ozzie, after making a crucial error in the 8th, and being hitless until his last at bat, had a huge double in the ninth to drive in the tying run.

Given what’s bearing down hard on South Florida, it’s understandable if the Marlins (and the rest of us) have more important things on their minds and hearts than baseball. But these teams play again tonight with Folty on the mound for the Bravos. I’m praying for Miami but I hope the Braves crush the Marlins.

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