Paul Who? Shane Reynolds took a no-hitter into the fifth and a shutout into the eighth, wound up pitching 7 1/3 innings of probably the best start the Braves have gotten this year, and picked up his first win as a Brave. He wasn’t under much pressure, as the team scored seven runs in the first two innings to chase Brandon Duckworth. Reynolds has now pitched 12 1/3 innings as a Brave and given up a single unearned run.
On a tangent, though I can’t say if Reynolds will continue his success, his start — and the work of John Burkett before him, and Dennis Martinez before him, and so on — show, once again, the folly of the Paul Byrd acquisition. Pitchers like this — veterans of roughly Byrd quality — are available every year in spring training and the first month of the season. There’s no reason to spring on a multi-year contract for one.
Offensively, the Braves scored their eight runs without the benefit of a homer. Their first three runs came two on an Andruw single and one on a groundout by Johnny Estrada. (Estrada was brought up from AAA when Robert Fick was placed on the DL, and was inserted into the lineup. I don’t know if it’s because he’s the regular until Javy returns or if it’s just because Blanco played last night; I hope it’s the former.) I’m a firm believer in the three-run homer as the basis for an offense, but it’s nice to have other options.
Andruw had a perfect day, 3-3 (all singles) and two walks, driving in three and scoring two. Matt Franco got the start at first and had three hits, and Furcal, Giles, and Vinny all had two hits apiece, Vinny a triple! The lone dark spot was that Gary Sheffield’s hitting streak came to an end, but he did score two runs.
Chipper missed the game after getting a cortisone shot in his left shoulder. He thinks he’ll be back Tuesday. (Tomorrow is an off day.) The Braves and Phillies are tied 1 1/2 behind the Expos for first. The Expos and Reds are currently tied 5-5 in a rain delay… The next series will be a three-gamer in Atlanta versus the Cardinals, should be a good one.