Vinny Castilla is stealing my jokes! After the incredibly torrid Marcus Giles went 5-5 last night (all singles), Vinny interrupted an interview to say, “He’s not playing tomorrow.” Marcus has nine hits in a row, an Atlanta record, one short of the league record, and has raised his batting average 29 points in the last five games.
Ironically, it was Vinny who had the day off last night, with DeRosa playing third. It was a mixed bag. Mark had two hits, one a double, but also committed two errors on plays Vinny probably makes routinely. Every Brave starter had a hit, and Sheffield and Russ Ortiz both homered. Ortiz hit a rocket off of Roy Oswalt leading off the third; Oswalt immediately left the game with an injury. Without him, the Astros’ rotation is in even more dire straits than the Braves’ bullpen. The Braves had 18 hits, and you’d expect more runs than six from that, but they hit into four double plays.
Ortiz was solid, not spectacular. He had some control difficulties and walked four (three strikeouts) but allowed only five hits in 6 1/3. If the bullpen were well rested — or any good — he probably would have been pulled after six, because he was laboring, but stayed on and would up giving up an inherited run. Gryboski, of course. Ray King managed to get out of the inning. Darren Holmes, who is definitely the setup man now, pitched a sharp eighth, and Smoltz nailed it down for save 39. The bullpen threw 19 pitches, 16 for strikes, in 2 2/3 innings. Nice patience, Astros.
Phillies and Marlins won; the Braves lead stays at a season high 11 1/2 over the former, who are one up on the latter for the wildcard. If the Braves played .500 the rest of the way, they would finish 98-64, and the Phillies would have to go 40-17 to tie… The Braves, with their recent flurry, have scored 610 runs on the season, which not only is the best in the NL, it’s better than anybody but the Red Sox and Blue Jays in the AL.