Ho-hum, another win. 4-3 this time, the Braves (falling back into an old pattern) scoring four early runs and then holding on for dear life. Jason Marquis started, and was “effectively wild” again. He didn’t give up a hit until a fifth-inning solo homer, and allowed only one other before being pulled with one out in the sixth, striking out four and walking two. Like Damian Moss, he’s throwing a lot of pitches to be effective, 94 in this instance with only 53 strikes.
Bobby seems to have a tighter leash on Jason than he does on the other starters. That’s only natural, given his youth and his early season arm problems. I’m generally in favor of managers having a quick hook, but it really looked like Bobby jumped the gun today. He pulled Jason after he got an out (albeit a long fly ball) with only one runner on and the tying run still only on deck. Kevin Gryboski, who replaced Jason, didn’t have anything and got only one out while allowing three baserunners; Chris Hammond had to bail him out.
John Smoltz, meanwhile, saved the game; he’s perfect in his last 22 opportunities. Well, not perfect; today he allowed a hit and a walk, but he hasn’t blown a save. He has 36 so far this year, and the team record is only 39. I added the Smoltzometer over on the left to reflect this. He’s already eighth in franchise history for career saves, which only shows how nobody but Gene Garber and Mark Wohlers could ever last more than a couple of years in the role.
The Braves had a pretty typical win last night, scoring four runs, giving up only one, getting decent starting pitching for six innings then turning it over to the Hammonds/Remlinger/Smoltz group for an inning apiece. It even rained for a couple of hours before the game could get underway like it seems to a lot in the last couple of months. Damian Moss recovered from his two recent poor starts to have a good one, walking one, giving up five hits and one run, striking out four. He’s still using a lot of pitches (101 last night, 58 of them strikes) to get outs, and the Braves don’t have anyone who can go deep into games. Still, seven relievers; I really don’t think they’re overusing anyone.
Andruw homered and walked twice; actually, the latter is a better sign than the former. Throw in Chipper’s two hits, walk, and two runs scored, and for one of the few times all year the Braves got production from all three of the outfielders, because Sheffield of course had another double to extend his on-base streak. (He’s already singled in a run today to extend it again.) Mark DeRosa started at second base, and got a hit, a walk, and an RBI. Javy Lopez and his groin returned to the lineup, and Javy drove in a run with a walk of all things.
The Braves are wearing throwback uniforms as part of some promotion. I don’t have any problem with throwback uniforms, but do they have to be from the 1974 season? It was actually the Braves’ best of the seventies, but 88-74 and a third place finish isn’t particularly impressive. Plus, they’re ugly. Why not from the 1969 division winners or one of the great Milwaukee teams? I’m just saying.
Oddly, three regulars (Johnny Oates, Davey Johnson, and Dusty Baker) from that 1974 team later became longtime, and successful, managers… The Braves are winning 1-0 early against the Phillies. I’ll post later on the result, if nothing happens like a heart attack or a really depressing outcome.