You’d have to say the most significant thing about last night’s game was the start delivered Jaime Garcia. Jaime went 6 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out 5, giving up only 4 hits with 2 walks. He was consistently sharp throughout, around the plate and down in the zone. 59 of his 82 pitches were strikes. Garcia’s ERA is now down to 3.58. Skeptics have pointed out that his peripherals have not been as good as his results so far, but this start was excellent by any measure.
Matt Cain was just about as good for the Giants. Cain and Garcia were two of the best starters in the league in the first years of this decade. Although both have fallen on hard times the last few years, they both pitched like it was 2011. The Braves offense only managed 7 hits against Cain in 7 innings, but in the fateful 7th, the Braves scored both runs of the game on a single play.
Which brings me to the most satisfying thing about the game. In the top of the 7th, the Braves had runners on first and second with two outs and the pitcher spot up. Garcia had pitched really well at that point with a very low pitch count, but this may be the one opportunity to break through in a scoreless game. Do you pinch hit? In almost every game so far this year, the first pinch hitter off the bench has been Emilio Bonifacio, no matter how high the leverage. You all know the results: Bonifacio is one of the three or four worst hitters in the league—and I’m including pitchers. If Snit had gone to Emilio in that situation, I would have broken my television. Really, you have to empathize with Snitker there. What do you do? Bonifacio has an OPS of .391 (WTF?!!) So I guess you then turn your attention to Danny Santana. His OPS as a Brave is .312! Jace was on the bench, but as much as I like Jace, his numbers are pretty awful (OPS .571). So Snitker let Garcia hit for himself.
Result: Base hit to left! Flowers lumbered home from second, the throw to the plate hit him and trickled up the first base line. Swanson, as is his wont, hustled all the way and scored from first. Good call, Snit.
One of the odd things about Garcia hitting for himself is that Snitker took him out in the bottom of the seventh with two outs and a runner on, and still only at 82 pitches. Reminiscent of the way Fredi would let a pitcher hit for himself and then quickly give him the hook. (Was there a Braves Journal term for that?) I used to complain about that then. With this bench, you’ve gotta be happy any time the pitcher hits for himself.
The 2017 version of O’Ventbrel (Ravizson? Ramcainoson? Sorry—we’ll have to come up something better than that) finished the shutout without giving up a hit. Seriously, those three at the backend of the pen are not in the same category as the legendary trio from 2011, but they have been really good.
Not much to talk about on offense. Tyler Flowers had two more hits and scored the winning run. Fun fact: The Braves’ catchers have together accumulated 1.7 WAR Flowers 1.0, Suzuki .7). Buster Posey is having a terrific year, but the Braves’ catchers WAR of 1.7 is better than the Giants’ catcher WAR of 1.6 (Posey 1.9, Hundley -3).
This Braves’ team has been good enough to play at least .500 ball on offense, and the bullpen, especially the back three, have been quite good. The big question mark has been the starting pitching. We’ve now had a couple of very good starts in a row from Julio and Jaime. Folty has been the best starter by most measures. He goes tonight with a chance to reclaim the team starter ERA lead from Garcia.