Sean Newcomb was Sean Newcomb. As a big leaguer these past couple of months, he’s been the same pitcher he was in the minors after the Braves acquired him. He can look so sharp– but also so very frustrating. Uncle Joe Simpson said in the pregame that one of the keys to success for Newk is to be efficient. Well, no ****. He’s one of the least efficient pitchers you’ll see, and last night was no exception.
He threw 101 pitches in his five innings of work. But his problem, at least last night, was not a failure to throw strikes. 71 of his pitches were strikes. He struck out 7 in his 5 innings of work. Seven of the 8 hits he gave up came with two strikes. Well, that’s at least 14 batters with a two strike count, and there may have been more (I haven’t checked). Newk is so very frustrating because he isn’t putting batters away, even with two strikes, and he can’t seem to put a team away in an inning when he has the chance. Several of the two-strike hits were bloopers and grounders that found a hole. The Cubs did not hit very many shots off Newk. He did walk 3, including one with the bases loaded. That was a very frustrating run (it counts as “unearned” because Jace booted a grounder with two outs to extend an inning). To be fair to Sean, C.B. Bucknor called a very tight strike zone. Even Kyle Hendrikcs, who never walks anybody, walked 3 in his 6 2/3.
It doesn’t help my emotional reaction to Newk that we traded a generational talent to acquire him. And Simba, as you know, is having a career year at the plate. And I assume you also heard that for the rest of this year, Andrelton and Brandon Phillips will be the keystone combination for the Angels. Good for Brandon. I hope the Angels make the playoffs and go far when they do. Not so much for the ex-Braves they now have (includes also J-Up, which I assume you also heard). I just want to see Mike Trout in the playoffs.
After Newcomb left the game, Motte gave up a two run homer to Kris Bryant, and Wisler gave up a run to keep the game just enough out of reach. Bryant’s homer was right into a 25 mile an hour wind, and it still almost left the stadium. He’s really good.
Offensively, the Braves couldn’t do much with Hendricks. Albies had 2 hits, a walk, and an RBI. Love this kid more every day. Nick Markakis had two hits, but then, as Joe always reminds us, he is a professional hitter (I guess as opposed to all the amateurs on the team). And Lane (“Wayne”) Adams had a pinch hit homer. According to Chip (again, I didn’t check) that was the ninth pinch hit homer for the Braves this season, one short of the team record of 10, set in 2010. (Now that was a fun year— tons of walkoff wins in Bobby’s last year–the bench included Folk Hero Brooks Conrad and Eric Hinske, who is now a hitting coach with the Cubs.) It’s hard to imagine that this team, whose bats off the bench in April and May were Bonifacio and D’Arnaud, could have such a strong bench now.
Day game at Wrigley today. Folty on the mound against his home town team.