I’m starting to like Puerto Rico. The Horacio Ramirez of spring training showed up for seven innings, shutting the Expos out on four hits, before tiring in the eighth, giving up a two-run homer. It was still an impressive start, a six-hitter with five strikeouts, no walks, and a 1:2 ball/strike ratio. If he keeps pitching like that, he’s going to be the Rookie of the Year. I’ll settle for close to that level; I’m not greedy. John Smoltz continues to astound, pitching a perfect ninth for the save.
Offensively the stars were Sheffield and Andruw. Gary homered for the second game in a row, a solo shot breaking a scoreless tie in the fourth. Andruw went 3-4 with a double, driving in the other two runs, both times in the person of Rafael Furcal. Furcal stole a base and is 4-4 for the season.
Due to Robert Fick’s continued absence, Julio Franco played first base, even with a righthander pitching. Darren Bragg played left field; Chipper did pinch-hit late in the game. For some reason, Marcus Giles came on defensively in the eighth. I assume there’s some injury reason considering the Braves’ general lack of faith in his glove.
Russ Ortiz pitches tomorrow in an afternoon game against our old buddy Livan Hernandez. Any Braves fans in Puerto Rico are hereby instructed to make sure Eric Gregg isn’t allowed in the park.