Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

I don’t want them forget Ruth; I just want them to remember me. -Hank Aaron

18 May

Atlanta 6, San Diego 3 – MLB – Recap – Braves at Padres – 05/18/2003

Nothing like a visit with the Inspirational Keith Lockhart to spark a Braves’ sweep. The Braves handled the Padres pretty handily for a four-game sweep. Giles drove in three and Vinny hit another homer, and Russ Ortiz threw a whole lot of pitches. Pretty typical, except for the suddenly red-hot Vinny.

Take that, Bobby: Giles’ first two RBI came on “single” that was actually a misplayed popup. The misplayer? Lockhart, of course, who Bobby just had to have in the lineup for defense last year. Ha. Rasputin did hit a late homer for the Padres which only served to make it a save situation for Smoltz.

A good Ortiz line: 7 innings, 2 runs, 7 hits, 7 Ks, and no walks. And 118 pitches. This is the same sort of thing that Dusty Baker did to Russ in San Fran; I hope he doesn’t break. I think there’s just a little missing there and that he’s just a minor adjustment from greatness, but people have thought that before.

The Braves are now 31-13, a .705 winning percentage. With an Expos loss, their lead in the division is now four, and six and a half over the Phillies. It has to be frustrating for any Expos fans that still exist; in a division where analysts were saying before the season that .550 baseball would win it, they’re playing .614 baseball and falling further behind.

Tomorrow is an off day, then the Braves start a three-gamer with Cincinnati. The Reds score a lot of runs and give up a lot of runs. No team in the majors has hit more homers than the Reds (the Rangers have as many in one fewer game) and only the Blue Jays have allowed more.

4 Responses to “Atlanta 6, San Diego 3”

  1. 1
    Robert Says:

    A 28 year old pitcher throws 118 dominating pitches, gets pulled after seven innings, and it is still referred to as something that the manager “did to him”.

    ~Start Sarcasm~
    It’s good to see this hyperactive pitch count watching thing hasn’t gotten out of control.
    ~End Sarcasm~

  2. 2
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I’m referring less to the game on Sunday than to Ortiz’s last several starts. There have been games in which he was much less dominant and Bobby still left him out there, even with substantial leads. It’s not one game’s high pitch count, it’s the cumulative effect of lots of high-pitch games.

  3. 3
    Rivers Says:

    Now that Mac has expounded on his point, I tend to agree. 118 is at the upper bounds of what I find acceptable for pitchers who aren’t particularly young or fragile, but I certainly don’t think a habit should be made of it. He’s gone 128, 106, 131, 103, 118 in his past five starts, and the 106 is worse than it looks because it only took him five innings to get there, meaning he was getting fewer breaks and “bearing down” more often because he was constantly in jams.

  4. 4
    Robert Says:

    I guess when your team wins almost every game, you have to find silly things like this to argue over. So I’ll do my part.

    One of the benefits of getting Ortiz (aside from getting a guy who was 63-40 the previous four seasons for a rookie who seemed ready to implode) was that he had “proven” that he could handle a heavy workload. Dusty had been “abusing” him for years, but he was still standing and pitching well. Considering Maddux’s fragility, Hampton’s question marks, and the rest of the rotation being in flux, getting a guy that could consistently work deep into the game was a luxury.

    The recent stretch of games looks like this:
    Results: 4-0, 2.23 ERA

    So is this workload out of character for Russ Ortiz? That is, has Bobby worked him differently then Dusty? Let’s look at Russ’s August and September from last year (2002):
    Results: 7-3, 2.64 ERA

    That’s a pretty heavy 11 start stretch. From there it was off to the post season, where he shut down the Braves twice and was in position to win the clinching game of the World Series.

    In 2001, his starts broke down this way:
    0-99: 8
    100-109: 9
    110-119: 12
    120+: 4

    In half of his starts he broke 110 pitches, which is among the heavier workloads in the game. His last four starts he was 3-0, 1.65 ERA, so he didn’t wear down.

    To this point Bobby hasn’t done anything worse than Dusty did. Ortiz has always had a heavy workload and – despite the doomsday predictions over the years – has handled it just fine. In fact he seems to get stronger as the year goes on:

    August: 10-5 2.43 ERA
    September: 9-3 3.25 ERA
    October: 2-0 3.75 ERA

    Compared with his ERA being over 5 in May and June.

    This is all a long way of saying that I think our worry is misplaced here. Bobby is still a long way from working Ortiz as hard as Dusty did, and Russ never seemed to flinch at Dusty’s workload anyway.

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