News flash: The Houston Astros are a pretty good team. There just might be something to that 57-win mark they have posted this season. The Braves came into this game on a good roll. They had gone 7-3 in their previous ten games, a span that included a west coast trip where you’d normally be pretty happy with a .500 mark. A quick perusal of the standings yesterday showed that a few teams were also 7-3 over that span, but no team was any better than that. Basically, the Braves aren’t a great team, but recently they’ve been no slouch either.
And the Astros came in and dominated them in every aspect of the game. Actually, demolished might be a better descriptor of the night’s events. They had five multi-run innings, and scored in all but three frames. Brian McCann was the only regular to not record a hit, and Carlos Correa was the only one to not record multiple hits, but he doesn’t really count because he left in the 4th inning with an injury. The Houston pitcher got four at-bats, and he only pitched six innings. How can you compete with that?
Sean Newcomb really couldn’t. His run of quality starts came to an abrupt end, after he had given up 10 hits and 2 walks while recording only 10 outs. He left with the bases loaded after 3.1 innings. Luke Jackson relieved him and allowed two of those inherited runners to score, to bring Newcomb’s total runs allowed for the evening up to 7. He nearly pulled off the Triple Grybo, but a rare 3-1-2 double play, confirmed upon review, kept him from achieving that feat.
Something must have gotten into the water the Braves pitchers were drinking, because all of them struggled with a deplorable lack of control all night. Jackson gave up three runs of his own in the 5th, and our Chief Sibling allowed two in his two innings of work. Ian Krol pitched a clean inning for the home team in the 8th, but Jason Motte gave up a grand slam in the 9th to ensure the bullpen did not end the night on a high note. When the dust had settled Houston had crossed the plate 16 times, knocked out 19 hits, and drawn 5 walks. To say it was an impressive evening would be an understatement.
The Braves finally got on the board with three runs in the 7th and another in the 8th, showcasing their refreshing ability to score in the late innings. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to make the final score go from utter annihilation to mere humiliation. I mean, 16-4 is better than 16-0, right?
Freddie returned to the lineup, playing 3rd for the first time in his major league career. He collected a hit in his first at-bat, and Adams had two hits of his own on the evening. Their combined batting average will have to make up for the limited range the Braves will have on the infield for the duration of this little experiment. That the move to third wasn’t just talk really does cement Freddie as the new Chipper, especially if the move was truly his idea as everyone claims it was. Chipper worked out in left field because Andruw played next to him, and even as Andruw’s range started to diminish, he could still help make up for Chipper’s presence in the outfield. That makes me wonder—what if this Freddie move had taken place while Andrelton was still at short for the Braves? The thought is a tantalizing one (or maybe it’s just I still haven’t gotten over that trade. I miss watching Andrelton’s defense on a nightly basis.)
The Braves just need to weather the last game of this two-game set against the Astros and head into D.C for the weekend series playing like they have over the past few weeks. Wouldn’t it be fun to wreak a little havoc on the Nationals’ home turf to close out the (unofficial) first half of the season?