Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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01 Oct

Detroit 6, Atlanta 2

Annnd THAT’S the difference between playing a team just running out the schedule (*cough* Phillies *cough*) and playing a team that is desparate for a win like the Tiggers.

Miguel Cabrera was bouncy, bouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun – with two absolute bombs off Matt Wisler, and Pooh and Piglet (Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton) also homered. The game really wasn’t in much doubt, although The Heffalump (Matt Kemp) made it interesting with an 8th inning homer of his own, but it wasn’t enough on this blustery night to find our way out of the 100 Acre Woods.

It has been an interesting season, and the last month has sparked some hope for next year. I’m looking forward to it.

Caio, y’all!

30 Sep

Braves 5, IWOTP 2

The Phillies aren’t good. They’re 70-88 this year, and over the last five years — the five years since they traded for Cliff Lee and won 102 games in 2011 — they’re 360-467. They are bad. They’re ahead of us in the standings this year, but they’re closing out the year by getting swept by us, and that’s a very gratifying way to close out the year. Our boys may be bums, but as long as they’re better than Philly, there’s at least a bit of pride salvaged.

So tonight, Josh Collmenter had another remarkably effective night. He’s had three starts in a Braves uniform, and they’ve all been good: 5 IP, 2 ER; 7 IP, 2 ER; 7 IP, 1 ER, with a combined 16 strikeouts and 5 walks. I don’t get it — he’s 30, has an 85-mile an hour fastball, and was literally released outright by the Diamondbacks in August after spending his entire pro career in that organization. Then he spent a month in the minors with the Cubs, who then released him, and then he came here.

TD may be right: he’s the second or third best starter we have right now. And as welcome as the second-half offensive resurgence has been, that’s clearly the biggest concern for the Johns in the front office.

But the offense has been legitimately nice. Dansby Swanson hit a homer; he’s now hitting .300/.353/.442. And then there was the eighth inning. Dansby got a leadoff walk. Kemp doubled him home. Nick Markakis got an intentional walk, Anthony Recker got himself hit by a pitch, Jace Peterson hit an RBI single, and Rio Ruiz got a two-run single. That four-run inning broke the Phillies’ backs.

By the way, Kemp before the trade: .262/.285/.489
After the trade: .289/.343/.525

Getting out of Petco really helps.

Mauricio Cabrera came on in the top of the eighth with Freddy Galvis on first, a 1-1 tie score, and two outs, and I wouldn’t have thought that would have been the situation for a rookie with a massive control problem. He came on, threw two straight balls to Caleb Joseph, and Galvis stole second. At that point, he threw a slider for a strike, buried another slider in the dirt and got his man to swing and miss, and then he threw a high 99-mile an hour fastball that Joseph fouled straight back.

Finally, he threw a 99-mile an hour fastball more or less down the middle, and Joseph hit it pretty well, but right to Mallex Smith in left, and the inning was over. He didn’t blow him away on three straight pitches, but if anything, he did something even more gratifying to see: he got into a tricky situation, threw strikes, and something good happened. I like this kid a lot.

29 Sep

Barves 12, Phils 2

The boys are on a roll. The Phillies are no great shakes, but after a big comeback win, it’s really nice to beat the snot out of them. The Phillies are in a similar spot with us, and knocking around their starting pitchers makes me feel bad about our plight.

Mike Foltynewicz did ok. He went 5, gave up a run on a wild pitch, and but only allowed 5 base runners and got himself 5 K’s in his first start back and last start of the season. He should be penciled into any 2017 rotation. Jose De La Cruz and John Gant provided some long relief, and Chaz Roe closed it out. I’m sure we’d have seen Folty go more than 81 pitches if he didn’t have so much time off, but it was good to get some guys some work in a blowout.

The offense, of course, beat them like a drum. Daniel Castro got a rare start and made the best of it with 3 hits. Mallex got another start in the outfield, this time for Nick Markakis, and while he didn’t get a hit, he worked a walk and scored a run. He did have a call overturned on a ball that he almost beat out. Dansby freakin’ Swanson got another two XBHs with a double and a triple, and he’s pretty dreamy. Matt Kemp went yack city again. Ya know, pretty much everyone did something positive offensively.

Rio Ruiz got his first career hit on a triple that was misplayed in center. This was my first good look at his athleticism. He runs pretty well for a third basemen, and he appears to be in such good shape that it’s hard to believe that there was a time where John Hart had to tell him to shed a few.

That makes it 15-9 in September. Go Barves.

28 Sep

Braves Most Comebackiest Game of the Year

Julio Teheran just did not have it. Kicking off the final homestand at Turner Field against the Phillies, he surrendered a first inning grand slam to Ryan Howard (yes, he of the .192 batting average this year, who always finds a way to kill the Braves), and then allowed two doubles and two singles in the second inning for two more Phillie runs. With the run support (or lack thereof) that Teheran has gotten this year, a 6-0 deficit after two innings pretty much means you can turn the game off, confident in the outcome.

On the other side of the diamond, Jerad Eickhoff was doing his best to make that outcome a reality. He retired the first 11 batters he faced, and seemed to be rolling merrily along. Freddie Freeman finally got to him in the 4th inning with a solo home run to extend his hitting streak to 29 games, the longest in the majors this season. I’ve said it once but I’ll say it again: this team does not deserve him. He’s on such a roll right now the end of the season will be quite inconvenient for his personal stats (although with a new baby at home, I’m sure he’ll welcome the family time).

Mother Nature then stepped in and handed the Braves a great favor—a nearly two-hour rain delay that knocked both starting pitchers out and breathed new life into the home nine. When the teams returned to the field, the Braves bullpen dominated and did not allow a run over the last five innings. Their efforts gave the team the chance to make a most improbable comeback.

In the 6th inning, Inciarte and Freeman both drew walks, and with two outs, Markakis singled to knock Inciarte in. Tyler Flowers followed with a three-tun home run, a no-doubter to center field, to get the Braves to within one run of their foes.

Following an uneventful 7th inning, the Braves offense kicked it into gear again. Freeman led off the 8th with his second hit of the game, and moved to third when Flowers doubled with one out. Daniel Castro drew an intentional walk to load the bases, and then Dansby Swanson struck out for the second out and it looked like the Phillies might wiggle out of the jam. Mallex Smith, making his first start since his return from the DL, ensured that would not be the case and came through with a base hit to tie the game on Freeman’s third run scored on the evening.

Bonifacio then got in on the fun with an infield hit to short to push across go-ahead run, and suddenly a most improbable comeback was complete. Jim Johnson came in and closed out the game with a perfect 9th, and the Braves secured their eighth win over their last nine games, a 7-6 victory over the Phillies.

Who is this team, and what have they done to the real 2016 Braves?

Well, that’s a wrap for me for the 2016 season. I was convinced after the first inning I was only going to have a tale of woe to relate for the Braves final Tuesday game, but instead they gave me gold. It’s been real and it’s been fun, but I can’t say the 2016 season has been real fun. Let’s do it all over again next year, only maybe with a few more Ws and a lot fewer Ls. If the Braves can pick up next season where they are leaving off this season, that could actually become reality. What fun a winning season would be!

25 Sep

Rest in Peace, Jose Fernandez. You left us too soon. (by coop)

To an Athlete Dying Young
By A. E. Housman

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

Today, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears.

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s.

We’re all day to day. Enjoy now.

24 Sep

Atlanta 3, Pure Evil 2

70 and 92 or Bust!

Do you think Snit has a life-sized picture of John Malone and takes off a piece of clothing for every win?

21 Sep

Braves 4, Mets 3

After the start to a season that made 100 losses feel inevitable, some wins are more fun than others. This seemed like a loss before it started. Bartolo Colon for the Mets, but Ryan Weber for the Braves. Weber didn’t do anything to erase the fears as he gave up a 2-run homer to Asdrubel Cabrera in the second. Another homer, this time by Rene Rivera, made it 3-0, but the Braves came back as they have been able to do often in the second half of this year. Backup catcher Anthony Recker hit a screaming liner for an opposite field home run, and Matt Kemp then tied it up with a sac fly in the 8th.

But after Brandon Cunniff, inexplicably, started his second inning of work, the Braves made big plays. Kemp, in the bumbling, stumbling way that only he knows, robbed, it appears, Yoenis Cespedes of a home run, keeping a ball in play that seemed to be leaving the yard.

In the 9th, Jace Peterson led off with a single. After Dansby Swanson was knocked to the ground by a brush-back pitch, he hung in there for a sac bunt. Emilio Bonifacio, surprisingly, moved Peterson to third on a flare single to left, and our man Ender Inciarte tapped a grounder past the pitcher to score the go-ahead run. In the bottom of the 9th, Jim Johnson struggled. A single to Brandon Nimmo and Travis d’Arnaud brought Cespedes back to the plate. This time, he hit a ball that was undoubtedly destined to the leave the yard, but Inciarte pulled off a game-ending, home-run robbing catch that had shades of Otis Nixon’€™s Catch against the Pirates.

Ender’s Catch

What a game!

21 Sep

Braves 5, Mets 4

Julio Teheran did not have his best stuff, but he made what he did have count. An RBI double to Asdrubal Cabrera in the 3rd was all the damage the Mets could muster against him. He only recorded one strikeout on the night, but he also only allowed five hits. He retired 15 of his last 16 batters and put his team in an excellent position to win.

For the first five innings the Braves offense could get nothing going to help out their pitcher. Then a mini offensive explosion in the 6th and 7th reversed the tide and gave the team just enough runs to win.

Inciarte and Garcia singled with one out in the 6th, and Freddie walked to load the bases. Kemp followed with an RBI blooper to center field, which the Mets defenders conveniently watched drop between them. Markakis then coaxed a bases loaded walk for the second run of the game, but that was all the Braves could muster that inning.

Even though they had a one-run lead, the Braves offense did not go into hibernation mode. Swanson led off the 7th with a base hit, and Inciarte followed a Teheran strikeout with another base hit of his own. Garcia then hit a no-doubter into the left center field stands to put the Braves up 5-1.

The Braves ended up needing every one of those runs, when Jose Ramirez relieved Teheran in the 8th and had to be relieved himself after giving up two runs and only recording two outs. His third run came around to score after he left the game, but the Mets comeback stopped there, and the Braves eked out the 5-4 win.

Of note on the evening, Freddie’s on-base streak has now reached 40 games, and his hitting streak now stands at 24. Kemp’s 6th inning RBI puts him at 100 RBI for the season. He’s done a lot better in a Braves uniform this season than I originally expected him to.

This offensive wave the Braves have been on recently has been fun to watch. As wretched as this season has been, it has had its enjoyable moments that have saved it from being a total loss, and a win like this against the Mets on my birthday goes a long way in my book toward redeeming the season as a whole. I have an almost affectionate opinion of this team at the moment.

Let’s keep playing spoiler. It’s kind of fun.

20 Sep

Seven: Braves 7, Mets 3

[our movie reference is to a grisly murder mystery. The murders are based off of the 7 cardinal or deadly sins espoused by the medieval Roman Catholic Church. We won’t add in the two “lost sins,” or go deep into that, but there is a parallel.]

The Braves entered this one on what appeared to be the short end of the pitching matchup. Noah Syndergaard is known by the mythical name “Thor.” Aaron Blair had not had a really good start at the Major League level all year. In fact the pitching matchup maybe caused some ENVY.And the Snit led Braves sometimes win with those kinds of odds. We can no longer assume “Of course we lose.” Well, the Braves did the hammering.

Thor shut down the Braves in the first. But Aaron matched him. In the second, Nick Markakis singled by bouncing one off of Thor to Rivera. We will call that play SLOTH. Tyler Flowers and Jace Peterson walked, thus bringing up Dansby Swanson. Well he singled, but only one got in. Then, Blair popped up, but Ender Inciarte singled to bring home another. A quick 2 to zero lead.

After a first inning walk, Blair went straight through the Mets through the Mets until the bottom of the fourth. Meanwhile, the Braves got a solo home run from Freddie Freeman in the 3rd and Hugs drove in 2 more in the top of the 4th. After Kemp got a single, Thor was done in favor of our old farm hand Sean Gilmartin who stopped the train wreck. In the bottom half, Blair gave up a two run homer to T. J. Rivera. So at end of 4, still comfortably ahead Braves 5, Mets 2.

The Mets Fans expressed their ANGER by beginning to trail out gradually over the next few innings. Not exactly what they came to see.

We all have PRIDE that Blair got a two run Quality Start by making it through 6. Then, Mauricio Cabrera came in and went through an inning with one hit and no strikeouts.

In the top of the 7th, the Braves went all in for GLUTTONY. Freeman, Flowers, and Peterson got on and Dansby drove the first two in. Thus 7 to 2 after 6 1/2. Mets fans’ ANGER really got going now.

Jose Ramirez looked a little shaky in the 8th, but no runs. Jim Johnson gave up a leadoff double by James Loney, but that was all.

I LUST for a team that can do this regularly. Maybe next year. . . .

18 Sep

Braves 6, Nationals 2 (by coop)

The Atlanta Braves defeated the Washington Nationals 6-2 on this soggy Sunday to win the final Turner Field Series against their hated rivals.

The Braves scored first in the second on an RBI single by Jace Peterson, then extended their lead to 3-0 in the fourth. Jace walked, then scored on Dansby Swanson’s double over Bryce Harper’s head. Dansby then scored on Adonis Garcia’s single, the first of three runs Adonis drove in on the day.

Matt Wisler pitched five and two-thirds shutout innings before Trea Turner’s triple and Jayson Werth’s double ended his scoreless streak. Then the rains came. After a one hour, seven minute delay, Werth scored the second run, which was also charged to Wisler. That cut the Braves margin to 3-2 afterfive and a half.

The Braves bats boomed in the sixth. Dansby walked, Emilio Bonifacio singled, and both moved up on Ender Inciarte’s sacrifice bunt. Adonis singled in both runners, then scored himself on Freddie Freeman’s 40th double of the season. After six complete, Braves led 6-2.

Shae Simmons had a 1-2-3 seventh; and with Rio Ruiz due to debut as a pinch hitter for Simmons, the rains came again. The field was a quagmire, both teams had flights to catch, but Cowboy Joe West decided the game should continue. What an anal sphincter that crew chief is.

Even assholes relent. The game was called. Braves win.

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