Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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

27 Jun

Philadelphia 8, Atlanta 1

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Phillies at Braves – 06/26/2003

Your most precious possession on offense is your 27 outs — Earl Weaver

You know what bugs me? When a team — for example, the Braves — tries to make a great play, fails, and turns a one-run inning into a big inning. Take, for example, last night in the fourth inning of a 1-0 game, runners on first and third, when Rafael Furcal tried to cut down a runner at the plate on a grounder by the pitcher rather than just take the out. He failed, and 2-0 became 3-0, then 4-0. I don’t know the exact percentage, but I suspect your chances of coming back to win from 2-0 down in the fourth are something like four times greater than coming back from 4-0. TAKE THE OUT. Mike Hampton, in particular, depends upon his defense, and bad defense will kill him.

Offensively, the Braves loaded the bases in the first on walks, but Javy Lopez struck out looking to end the inning on what I thought was ball three. (Where are you, Questec?) Since patience had failed, the Braves — after making Randy Wolf throw forty pitches in the first — decided to start swinging at everything. Pitches a foot outside, or cap-bill-high, or in the dirt. I don’t think they swung at anything behind them, but I wouldn’t be surprised. After three walks in the first, they had only one more the entire game. And they had only five hits, only one of them an extra-base hit — a double.

The Braves are officially slumping. Hopefully, a visit to Tampa will help.

8 Responses to “Philadelphia 8, Atlanta 1”

  1. 1
    Ken Says:

    When I saw Furcal turn to throw home, I yelled “Oh No!” followed by several other phrases I won’t list here. 8th inning or later in a 1-run game I would understand him trying to make that play but not in the 4th.

    Concerning the offensive slump, don’t forget that 12 of our last 15 games have been against Oakland, Seattle and Philly. Some pretty good pitching there.

  2. 2
    Creg Says:

    Boom-Boom is back, baby! The Braves activated Roberto Hernandez after the game, sending Jason Marquis back to Richmond.

    I figured Marquis might stick around with the way Trey Hodges has been getting rocked lately. This still leaves the Braves with a major decision when Paul Byrd is ready to return (or does it?)

  3. 3
    Creg Says:

    Boom-Boom is back, baby! The Braves activated Roberto Hernandez after the game, sending Jason Marquis back to Richmond.

    I figured Marquis might stick around with the way Trey Hodges has been getting rocked lately. This still leaves the Braves with a major decision when Paul Byrd is ready to return (or does it?)

  4. 4
    Matt Davis Says:

    I don’t have a problem with throwing home. He’s a major league player and should be able to make that play. If he hadn’t double-pumped he would have had the guy by a step or two. He had to charge in on the ball, so throwing home is easier than throwing to 1st, and they had the force at home. He just f*cked it up, that’s all. Decision, good – execution, bad.

  5. 5
    Rhett Says:

    Matt, you’re right- Furcal could easily have had the runner at home plate with a good throw. But the risk of not getting him is too high, and I think the conservative decision of taking the easy out (and the throw to first would have been an easy out) is the right one that early.

    Too bad he had to double pump.

    I also get frustrated by the lack of appreciation for what was going on in the first. When you get the bases loaded on walks, it shouldn’t open the door for free-swinging! That’s counter-intuitive. You keep on doing what’s working. Let Wolf hang himself. Aaargh!

  6. 6
    Colin Says:

    I think this game essentially ended on the strikeout call to Javy. That was just a brutal call, especially with Javy showing such great patience to work the count like the other hitters had done before him. I really thought Wolf wouldn’t make it to the fifth inning. But after that call the hitters became more aggressive, not knowing where the strike zone was going to be. Can’t say I blame them for that, but with Wolf wild around the zone, they had nothing to hit.

    Chipper was especially bad last night about swinging away early in counts; however, it struck me later that this was the first time in a few weeks he was batting righthanded, so maybe he didn’t want to take too many swings.

    It was a painful game to watch, though.

  7. 7
    Ken Says:

    My point (and I believe Mac’s too) on Furcal’s throw home is that he’s got the pitcher running to first and Tomas Perez breaking from third on a slow roller and if he throws to first that’s two out and you’re down 2-0. If you then get Rollins out (admittedly easier said than done lately), the inning’s over. Yes, Raffy’s a major-league player but part of being a major-leaguer is knowing when to attempt the tough play and when to take the out at first.

  8. 8
    Mac Thomason Says:

    How often can you make that play at the plate? Remember, it’s not a force out, nor is it a play where Javy can get set and block the plate. And a catcher’s mitt is not a good glove for a tag; how many times have we seen a ball bounce out when Javy or another catcher seemed to have it? It’s a tough catch to make. I doubt that, even with Furcal’s arm, that play is made more than a quarter of the time with a fast runner.

    Let’s not forget that if he made the throw to first, first base would have been open and Hampton could have pitched to Rollins more carefully.

    I agree with Colin. Who knows what happens 3-2, but the Braves were never seriously in the game after that call. (And it was low. Box mentality; on most hitters that’s a strike, but Javy’s taller than most.)

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