A happy note on a somber day… The Braves won the opener of a twi-night double header, 8-5. Kevin Millwood didn’t pitch especially well. He gave up only one run, but allowed ten baserunners (seven on hits) in 5 2/3 innings and had to be bailed out in the sixth by the Amazing Chris Hammond, whose ERA after a perfect inning and a third is now 1.02. It was Kevin’s 17th win, and his eighth in a row. He should have three starts remaining.
For the second straight game, the Braves had a player homer twice, this time Chipper Jones. Mark DeRosa, playing second, homered for the second game in a row, had two other hits, and scored four runs. The Braves led 8-2 entering the ninth, but Kevin Gryboski didn’t have it and gave up three runs. John Smoltz pitched a third of an inning to save it; he probably won’t get the major league save record, but did post his 50th of the season and should get the NL record if Eric Gagne doesn’t.
The night game could be interesting. The players who can safely be called regulars (the outfielders, Vinny, and Furcal, plus Blanco) all played. With Javy on the shelf (though he did pinch-hit today), Steve Torrealba will probably have another chance to demonstrate the skills that got him to the major leagues. I’ll let you know if I see any sign of them. Darren Bragg will probably play, and I guess Julio will play Matt in the rotating Francos arrangement. And I suppose Lockhart will as well. If Marcus is still hurt that could keep Vinny (who was 1-4 and raised his average to .226) in the lineup, but I hear Wes Helms has been activated and I think he might play instead.
The Braves own the Mets. Last night, Damian Moss spotted them five runs in the first two innings (the only innings he pitched) and headed into the bottom of the second the game looked like a blowout. It was… for the Braves. They scored three in the bottom of the inning, three more in the fourth to tie it at six, and six in the fifth to make it 12-6. That was the final score. Just to make the celebration complete, Scott Strickland, a Braves’ whipping boy all season, gave up the last couple of runs.
The hitting star was Andruw Jones, who had home runs in his first two at-bats. He homered in four straight ABs going back to Saturday night (he didn’t play Sunday) with a HBP in the middle. He didn’t get thrown at Tuesday, but Gary Sheffield was, and Pedro Astacio was ejected for it. Andruw also had a two-run single, the hit that put the Braves on top. Mark DeRosa and Henry Blanco also had solo shots.
Trey Hodges came on in relief of Moss and pitched three innings to get a win in his first career appearance. He gave up five hits and one run, but he struck out two and didn’t walk anyone. You aren’t going to be very successful giving up 15 hits per 9 IP, but if he can keep the hits allowed down he could be good. Spooneybarger, Holmes, Gryboski, and Ligtenberg finished it.
Skip and Joe spent a lot of time last night talking about a statement of Stan Kasten’s saying that the Braves will cut payroll. I don’t know if that’s true — he’s said it before — but the statement by a financial guy that the Braves lose money is an untruth. The Braves make a ton of money, but most of it is made for TBS, Turner South, and a number of other AOL/TW-owned businesses. They then turn around and claim a paper loss to help MLB in its wars with the players. If the Braves are going to cut expenses, they won’t be able to keep both Maddux and Glavine. They will pay $15 million next season to Vinny and Javy, which would be more than enough to keep one of those pitchers.