Breaking news alert: we’re not gonna win the division. Fortunately, unlike last year, we’re still in the postseason, for at least one more rockin’ game. Kris Medlen’s gonna go for us, and life is good, man. Knowing that we’re in the playoffs sure makes tonight’s stinkbomb a lot easier to swallow.
First of all, you can’t blame Paul Maholm, who was really quite good. In seven innings he allowed just five hits and racked up eight strikeouts against three walks. He would have been scoreless if not for toolsy Pirates rookie Starling Marte. First, Marte hit a Baltimore chop over Chipper’s head; it would have been a cheap double if Reed Johnson hadn’t let it kick past him, allowing Marte to receive a “triple.” Then, in the fifth, Marte hit a leadoff homer. That was it for the Pittsburgh offense.
This was could be one of Maholm’s last starts in a Braves uniform, even if Fredi inexplicably decides to slot him before Minor in a potential playoff pitching rotation. Maholm has a $6.5 million option for next year, and the Braves should probably pick it up. I feel a lot better about him than I feel about Tommy Hanson or Jair Jurrjens, even if Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran will finally be ready to grab a rotation spot at some point next year.
That’s a question for another day, though. I feel about the Braves offense the way Mahatma Gandhi reputedly felt about Western civilization: “I think it would be a good idea.” Then again, according to Wikiquote, Gandhi may never have said this. That would be roughly appropriate for the analogy, because the existence of the Braves offense is also very much in doubt.
Of course, the Braves faced a lefty they’d never faced tonight, so naturally they allowed themselves to be two-hit, despite the fact that Jeff Locke came up in the Braves organization so you’d think they might have been able to scout him or at least figure out how to most effectively razz him from the bench.
Nope. Locke walked five Braves, even walking the bases loaded in the third inning after a Jason Heyward RBI single, but Freddie Freeman grounded out on the first pitch, thoroughly ending the threat — not just for that inning, but for the entire game. The Braves went hitless for the rest of the night.
It’s okay, really. The Braves are 7-3 in their last 10 games, 19-11 in their last 30 games, and are playoff-bound. We’re a good team that’s basically peaking at the right time. Unfortunately, while the pitching and defense is almost unfathomably good right now — the Braves haven’t allowed more than three runs since September 21 — the hitting is a lot iffier. We have the pitching to hang with anyone in October. Then again, we’ve seen that movie before.