“Oh, those bases on balls!” For the really old among us (Blazon? Coop?), we remember this as the regular lament of announcer and Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch, the Fordham Flash. Frisch was an announcer for the Braves in the late 30’s (they were then known as the Boston Bees). To tie this lament even closer to our Braves, the manager of the 1914 Miracle Braves was George Stallings. According to legend, when asked by his physician why he had a bad heart, Stallings replied, “Bases on balls, doc … those damned bases on balls.” I also seem to recall Ole Ernie Johnson using this lament occasionally—but my memory is not to be trusted.
Oh, you want to hear about the game? The Marlins had 11 hits, the Braves 10. But the Braves outscored the Fish 8 to 4. The difference? The Braves received 7 bases on balls, while Braves pitchers walked no batters.
Folty is clearly the Braves’ best pitcher this year. That’s damning with faint praise, since the rest of the starters have ranged from disappointing to abysmal. Still, Folty seems to have turned a corner. He had one bad start, but otherwise has been quite consistent. Command was always going to be an issue with him; with 6 walkless innings, his walk rate is under 3 per 9 innings. We’ll take that. And for those who care about such stats, he got his first W of the season.
Offensively, Tyler Flowers was the star, with 2 hits (including a homer, 2 runs scored, and 4 batted in). I know he’s not really as good at the plate as he’s been for the Braves for over a year now. Or is he? Most of the rest of the lineup was productive—Kemp had a couple of hits, Phillips drove in 2, Freddie had a double and walked twice (his OBP is .462!). Even young Dansby had a hit and a walk and a run scored. He’s going to be fine—even if not ROY as most everyone on this blog (including me) predicted in the preseason. I’m especially encouraged that he is now walking at a good clip over the past two weeks.
Offense is not the Braves’ problem. If the Braves are going to win more games than the last couple of years, however, they will have to get better starting pitching. Folty is part of that; just as importantly, Julio needs to get back on track. He takes the hill tonight in Miami. One or two of the one year contract old guys needs to step it up, but truth be told, I would very much enjoy seeing any of Lucas Sims, Sean Newcomb, or Patrick Weigel taking some turns later this summer (or even Wisler—haven’t given up on him yet; even Blair had a good start last week, but I’m not expecting much there). And the AA starters have been pretty terrific—we won’t see them in the big leagues in 2017, but I suspect management may be aggressive in bringing them up as early as 2018.