Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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06 Oct

Atlanta 7, Houston 1

ESPN.com – MLB – Box Score – Astros at Braves

John Smoltz saved the season. He gave the Braves another valiant effort, 93 pitches in seven innings of one-run, seven-hit, five-strikeout baseball. And he adopted Brian McCann as his personal catcher, getting the rookie into the lineup where he belongs, and where he hit a three-run homer in his first postseason at-bat in the second inning. If a second-inning hit can be clutch, that was.

Smoltz gave up a run in the first on three weak hits. Actually, the Astros didn’t really hit the ball hard until the seventh, when they got a two-out double and a rocket that Chipper snared for a groundout to end the inning. Between the second and the sixth he shut the Astros down. After a leadoff hit in the third, he got fourteen of the next fifteen and retired the other on a double play.

All the Braves’ runs came with two out. Andruw singled and Francoeur walked in the second, but Langerhans just missed a double foul, then struck out. McCann took the first two pitches for balls, then unloaded to right field to make it 3-1.

In the third, Furcal and Giles made outs, but Chipper walked and Andruw singled again, and LaRoche doubled in the gap; the outfielder tried to make the diving catch, which let the ball go to the wall and Andruw score.

They missed a chance in the fourth, but Clemens left after the fifth, relieved by Backe — meaning that the Astros are going with a three-man rotation. In the seventh, the Braves got two runs off of Qualls. Furcal reached on an infield single which the pitcher threw away, but was called out trying to make it to third on the error (he was safe). Then Marcus singled, Chipper grounded out but Biggio couldn’t make a clean play, letting Marcus go to second. Andruw had his third hit of the day to score him, and went to second on the throw. LaRoche was walked and Francoeur singled Andruw home, but was thrown out in a rundown.

Reitsma allowed a weak leadoff single in the eighth (seriously, the Astros didn’t hit the ball hard much at all) and then got the next three. Farnsworth pitched the ninth even with the big lead.

Day off, then two in Houston. Oswalt versus Sosa to lead off. The Braves have generally handled Oswalt well in the past, and beat him up in his one game against them this year. The Cards are up 2-0 and have about a 95 percent chance — at least — of winning the Padres series, probably in three.

111 Responses to “Atlanta 7, Houston 1”

  1. 1
    Kirk Says:

    A gutty performance by Smoltz. Thought for sure he was going to flame out by the 5th, but he got his pitch counts under control. It’s a pleasure to watch a pitcher who throws strikes. By the last couple of innings, the Astros didn’t even bother to take any pitches, they knew it was useless. When Reitsma gave up the lead-off bloop single, I know I felt the same as everyone else — here we go again. You could tell he was pumped when he got the next three guys. Farnz was lights out as always. It was good for the guys to see Lidge in a situation where it didn’t matter, and to make him work some. Should help at least psychologically when it counts later. The whole evening turned out better than could have been expected. Let’s keep it going.

  2. 2
    Jonathan Says:

    Good, good game. Good for getting confidence back, good for the fans. Saturday, Sosa has the chance to come up huge again. I think (for what it’s worth), if the Braves win Saturday, Thomson starts Sunday (basically, hoping to close it out, but banking on Sunday’s game) in game 4, with Hudson starting game 5 if necessary, with Smoltz available for game 5 on short rest if Hudson struggles like he did yesterday.
    Good to see the “sunny” Alex tonight :-)

  3. 3
    JoeyT Says:

    I really, REALLY like the Saturday matchup. Here’s the BA/OBP/SLG lines on every Braves starter who’s faced Oswalt (the top five in the order):

    1) Furcal .375/.444/.625
    2) Giles .455/.455/.727
    3) Chipper .231/.286/.308
    4) Andruw .538/.538/.615
    5) LaRoche .286/.286/.286

    Other than Chipper, that’s some pretty severe ownership.

    The only Astros player with more than 5 ABs against Sosa is Palmerio .250/.333/.250. Sosa can even be a little shaky and pick up a W.

  4. 4
    Stu Says:

    A couple of points:

    1) I still think Backe is the Astros’ starter in Game 4 if they’re up 2-1. This was his day to throw on the side, anyway, and he only pitched an inning and didn’t throw many pitches.

    2) Not trying to put a damper on everyone’s parade–I’m reinvigorated myself–but Farnsworth still seems to be having a little trouble locating his fastball. He was fine tonight, and it may not matter against this Houston lineup, but I think, if we’re fortunate enough to make it to later rounds, it could be a potential problem.

    Enough of that, though. Go Braves. Go Smoltz. I’ll sleep well tonight.

  5. 5
    Brian Says:

    Great performance by Smoltz but his body language made it obvious that he is hurt pretty bad…which makes tonight’s game even more meaningful. Solid win for the Braves from both ends. Gammons can now shove Lane straight up his “you know what”. And Larry “I’m utterly ignorant” Boa can take Berkman out for a “cry on my shoulder” dinner date. I’ll give it up to Kruk and Brantley for having faith in the Braves machine. Anyway, I’m going to keep things close since there is still a lot of baseball to play…

    Brian

  6. 6
    sansho1 Says:

    Great, great game to watch — we grabbed it by the throat and never let go. Smoltz was great, and because we scored some runs Cox wasn’t tempted to leave him in too long. McCann’s HR was just the tonic we needed (and if I may say, kudos to Clemens for his gracious postgame acknowledgement). I hope the BP guys saw Chipper’s play against Biggio.

    According to the FOX guys, Backe’s inning of relief came in his day to throw on the side, so he may yet be the Game 4 starter. Go Braves!

  7. 7
    Smitty Says:

    We beat them and sent them a message. Lidge didn’t look sharp either. Our whole season was set up for tonights game. Langerhans, McCann, and LaRoche will be in the line-up from here on out (maybe Julio get’s in against Andy.)

    That play in the 7th was the best play I have ever seen Chipper make and was the first ball I have seen him dive for in about two years. THe bare handed play he made in the 3rd on a wet ball was also great.

    The Braves played with a swagger that I haven’t seen them play with in years. Chipper, Andruw, Smoltz, McCann, Francoeur all looked fired up like they knew they were going to win. This attidue will carry over to the next game.

  8. 8
    jenny Says:

    As this board’s resident sap, I must say that the expression on McCann’s face after that home run made my day and I probably would have still been in a good mood even if we lost. Congratulations, Brian, on hitting your first postseason HR in your first at-bat and off Roger Clemens nonetheless.

    This was a great game to put me in a fabulous mood going into my birthday tomorrow (finally 18, yes!) and really give the team a lift. Smoltz was awesome, although I thought I saw him flexing his shoulder a little bit around the 5th or 6th inning.

    Momentum heading into the Tin Can Pit of Hell that is Minute Maid Park. I really hate that place. I hope we come out of it alive.

    Who thought it was a good idea to put a HILL in center field, anyway?

  9. 9
    Smitty Says:

    The Astros looked dead tonight and the Braves rookies got a huge confidence boost. I got super pumped after Chipper made that play and came up fired up. I fired up Chipper means good things.

  10. 10
    matt in boston Says:

    holy hell.

    i’m unbelievably excited right now. this is definitely a different team. i don’t know what the rest of october holds, but for now, this is sweet. mccann just said in the post-game interview referring to the blast off of clemens, “it was neat.”

    i love it.

    i really believe ATL would have 2, maybe 3 world championships if smoltz was able to stay a starter.

  11. 11
    rb from across the country Says:

    The results in the seasons he did start speak differently.

  12. 12
    'Rissa Says:

    The Braves official website says Saturday’s game is on both Fox and TBS. I didn’t think TBS could show any postseason games. What’s up with that?

    Great game today. Smoltz was awesome, the rookies pumped, the Jones’ and LaRoche getting big hits and everyone getting to Roger Clemens. Go Braves!

  13. 13
    Garbanzo Says:

    1.) I believe the strange man wearing a Braves uniform standing next to Bobby Cox all night was Rocket Wheeler.

    2.) If Orlando Palmeiro’s facial problems are not natural, I suggest he adopts the markings as his permanent look. It makes it infinitely easier to root for a backup player if he’s striped like a zebra.

    3.) I was born clairvoyant, and the following prophecy came to me after my fourth beer: Oswalt does not scare me. I think we can score 4 runs at least off him in Saturday’s game. Sosa will pitch 5-2/3 innings of excellent baseball before walking two men in a row and being replaced. If the bullpen doesn’t implode, we’ll win the game. My powers are usually more specific but as I said, 4 beers…..

  14. 14
    Another Alex R. Says:

    I agree with absolutely EVERYTHING Alex R. said tonight. There was only one thing I want to add: Andruw Jones is my MVP. He now has 3 RBI this series, all of them with runners in scoring position, and 4 hits overall.
    That at bat in the 7th said it all. He took a couple balls but flew open on two outside fastballs, fouling them off weakly. Then–on the very next pitch–he kept his body closed, stayed with the pitch, and drove it into right-center for an RBI single. That’s the kind of intelligence and willingness to work hard that we’ve been waiting for him to add to his talent ALL THESE YEARS. He’s finally arrived, and he’s the Most Valuable Player in the National League.

    What a great victory! Hot damn!

  15. 15
    jcc Says:

    Last night they showed the same coverage on TBS and ESPN I believe.

    I really hope that Langerhans and McCann earned their way into the roster for Pettitte’s next game. They just bring too much to the table to sit on the bench for Jordan and Estrada.

  16. 16
    urlhix Says:

    Smitty, Smoltz must have read your post yesterday about pitching the game of his life. Good call. Got any words for Sosa?jenny, Happy B-day! Believe me, it only gets better. I’m 36 and I’m amazed at how much I enjoy life more and more with each passing year. Live in the moment and celebrate where you are going.Garbanzo, I wonder if we are going to see Rocket on the bench in the future. He sure has done a great job in Rome. I wouldn’t mind seeing BJ going down to manage in the minors for a few years, actually.

  17. 17
    urlhix Says:

    AAR, AJ stepping forward in the batters box and anticipating the slider in the 7th really speaks volumes about his maturity as a player. Now if he would only run out routine ground balls…

  18. 18
    jenny Says:

    Thanks, urlhix, but I think being 18 will be just fine. I don’t want to grow up too fast. I also wouldn’t be getting wads of cash from my parents if I was 36, which I got today.

  19. 19
    Ben Says:

    What a game.
    It was nice to be sitting in my living room on an october night watching a game on Fox from turner field without having to turn it off and go to bed with my heart broken. hahaha.
    After they said that Frenchy played video games for 5 hours after we losed yesterday.. It hit me.
    These kids aren’t scared or going to go down without a fight. Maybe im just excited and im going to get my heart broken again. haha. but.
    Get ready for a heck of a ride.

  20. 20
    Clark Says:

    Perfectly called game by the Braves tonight. I think it’s time we all pay homage to the DIPS gods in hopes of another win on Saturday…then it’s Backe vs. Thompson for the series. I like our chances in that one.

    The way we ended the season after we clinched was almost the perfect ending. LaRoche got back on track, Kolb did himself in, and we got some rest for some key players. Struggled a bit yesterday but when we started scoring runs late, I think we turned the whole series around.

    Big game Saturday night!

  21. 21
    David Remy Says:

    I can’t get over how patient the Braves were at the plate. If they continue to show this discipline, working the counts deep, drawing walks or hitting their pitch, it won’t matter who the Astros run out there. Everybody was thinking, making adjustments. (Very proud of Francouer in that respect.) For once, they didn’t press. (Actually, I think they played fairly loose last night after about the third inning.) This is the approach that wins games.

    Talk about “presence.” Smoltz–what a gamer!

    Now if the Braves could only get some bloop singles to fall their way, they’d be in even better shape.

    Go, Braves!

  22. 22
    drew Says:

    I like how playing five straight hours of video games is suddenly a sign of how determined I am to my day job. I mean…I always knew it was, just glad to see it recognized.

  23. 23
    walter soebcheck Says:

    I’m so happy right now. I feel like I just slept with a supermodel, discovered a cure for herpes and won the lottery all at once. Right now, I’m drinking Carlo Rossi, and not because I’m miserably depressed, it’s a celebration!

  24. 24
    Garbanzo Says:

    Eddie Perez has to manage for this organization as well. He could make an Ozzie Guillen-like leap to MLB manager.

  25. 25
    kc Says:

    Awesome game by Smoltz considering his health condition. He defines what superman means in baseball.

    I really like what I saw tonight. The things which amazes me in the first two games are that 1) the defense has been very good, and 2) we are getting good performances from Furcal, Giles, Chipper, and Andruw. I remember last year when Giles, Drew, and Chipper went into a collective slump (well, Chipper played with one healthy hand kind of hurt). Seems to me that they are playing loose and are very excited.

    Andruw is proving that last year’s playoff was no fluke. As everyone saw tonight, this team is very different from the previous ones. At the end, it’s all about Smoltz. I can’t say enough about John. Go Braves!!!

  26. 26
    NMS Says:

    ROCKET!!

    Thats awesome that they “called up” thier low A ball manager.
    This guy managed Boyer, McCann, Francouer and Davies in Rome a few years ago, maybe the Braves felt it’d be nice to have him around for those kids’ sakes or just as a thank you for a job well done.

    Wheeler’s a blast to watch too…he’ll look like the meanest SOB going after some ump and then go throw kids Bazooka bubblegum between innings.

  27. 27
    kc Says:

    Francouer’s comment on MLB.com:

    “After looking at just six pitches in four at-bats on Wednesday, I really surprised myself by seeing 20 pitches in three at-bats against Roger. With it being our first time facing each other, we might have been just feeling each other out. I kind of surprised myself with that kind of patience.”

    Frenchy, we were not surprised, we were shocked.

  28. 28
    creynolds Says:

    I was thinking last night that if Steve Lyons hadn’t pulled his pants down on the field that day, he’d be selling insurance or used cars somewhere. It’s really too bad, but that’s the way it goes. Better than Brantley, I guess.

  29. 29
    Alex R. Says:

    Good Morning Everyone!

    Several Comments:

    1. First, and most important, happy 18th Jenny! She’s one of the best & most loyal posters in here & last night’s win made it feel like ALL our 18th birthdays (even though I am 30!).

    2. John Smoltz. Me likey.

    3. I slept well for the first time in ages (I am an early bird to work almost always and I am later then I have been in a while…even my wife noticed how happy I was)…I slept well not just because of the win, because of all the little things I saw last night that added to my zeal this morning.

    4. High Pitch counts. BEAUTIFUL (to quote Tony Bruno on XM 143). Jeff Francouer walking. Adam LaRoche taking pitches. Even MARCUS(!) worked a high pitch count. There are such things as good outs and if you force a pitcher to waste 10 pitches on you & you still get out–THAT’S OK, BOYS!

    5. Brian McCann & Ryan Langerhans. Vindication is one of the greatest feelings in the world. The difference in your abilities & the Braves lineup in general with you kids vs. Estrada & Jordan is truly, night & day. I know Ryan didn’t have any ribbies but he had a few hits, high pitch counts and still played A+ defense. What more can you ask for in a 26 year old left fielder. I just pray to God that these kids stay in there, AS STARTERS, against Pettitte in either Game 4 or Game 5…whenever he shows back up. I am not sold Bobby will still think this way but he needs to watch the tape of this game again today to see that playing these kids HAS TO HAPPEN…hell, look at MY attitude alone. I feel like a different person today with these guys playing.

    6. The big 4 of the Astros, Lidge, Clemens, Pettitte & Oswalt…not that intimidating. Really talented, for sure. Capable of still shutting us down…absolutely. BUT, with Langerhans & McCann in there and the entire lineup 1-8 TAKING PITCHES, even the most intimidating pitches can tire and be hit and be had. The most impressive thing I saw last night besides Brian’s homer was that meaningless bottom of the 8th against LIDGE…even Brad Lidge on plenty of rest looked very human because the Braves WORKED THE COUNT.

    And in keeping with the theme of high pitch counts, Kelly Johnson’s pinch hit appearance…high pitch count & walk. Followed by Furcal…high pitch count and walk. Lidge’s meaningless 8th took him over 30 pitches to get through.

    This is GREAT NEWS.

    The bottom line is I hope every single Braves watched & re-watches a tape of this game. If the Braves play like THAT in Houston, we can win this thing in 4. The liklihood is Houston gets at least 1 at home and this thing likely goes 5 games again, but we have a far better chance now of going on a winning streak if we remember all the good big & little things we did last night.

    Today is a good day to be a Braves fan for the first time in a LONG time.

  30. 30
    Laurence Simon Says:

    I’m just shocked that the Astros managed a single run in support of Roger. That’s so out of character for them.

  31. 31
    doubledawg Says:

    Can anyone give a good reason for Jordan to be on the roster? If its just sentimental, then I wish Bobby would’ve pulled Ron Gant out of that lame studio show and added him to the roster. That would have been pretty sweet. Watching Jordan play pettite’s double the other night reminded me of when they drug John Glenn’s old ass into space a few years back. The “right stuff” has a freshness date and I thing Jordans was ’03.
    I loved seeing the young guys back in. As I’ve said before, everyone has been waiting for the year when we dont make it, when the pitching is finally too old, chipper is too brittle, Jon makes a mets type move, but this new blood really gives me the sense that its not stopping anytime soon. Its the spirit of 1991. If there is a game 5, if its during the day, I’m gonna kick bud selig in the neck.

  32. 32
    Alex R. Says:

    Game 5 would be Monday, which is Columbus Day and most people’s offices are closed. I can’t speak for everyone but I would assume that day Baseball Monday should be no problem because NO work?

    Still, the Braves are better at night it seems.

  33. 33
    Tanto Says:

    I’m not sure if the bandwagon can take this many people rushing back onto it.

    I, too, was really enthused by this game. It’s the best playoff game the Braves have played in years, in my opinion — even in the ones they won, they barely pulled it out or won despite playing like crap. This was a very “solid” win — they led for almost the whole game by a large margin, having great ABs up and down the lineup against good pitchers.

  34. 34
    50PoundHead Says:

    Well, I work Monday.

    Anyway, night and day–on a lot of levels–as Alex described it.

    Crisply played. Timely hitting. They played with an urgent confidence (if that isn’t an oxymoron).

    Hudson and Sosa should watch the tape of the job Smoltzie did. Throw these guys strikes and we will win.

    In my only negative comment of the day, it must be hell watching Morgan Ensberg play 3B all season. The guy is a good hitter, but he is not a very good 3B.

  35. 35
    sansho1 Says:

    In my only negative comment of the day, it must be hell watching Morgan Ensberg play 3B all season. The guy is a good hitter, but he is not a very good 3B.

    He also has an abnormally small head….

  36. 36
    Alex R. Says:

    Yes, but at least Ensberg doesn’t have the weird “tar” scars like Orlando Palmeiro!

  37. 37
    W.C. Says:

    HOW BOUT THEM BRAVES!!!!!!!!

    Just like everyone else has said Langerhans and
    McCann must be in there the rest of the way. Last night proved it, and when Reitsma came in last night, I screamed at the t.v., and Why can’t he throw a first pitch strike? His first pitch to every batter he faced last night was a ball. Well enough complaining, We played AWESOME last night and hopefully we carry this momentum to Houston and win 2 and get ready for the Cards.

    GO BRAVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. 38
    CJ Says:

    It is possible that Orlando Palmeiro is attempting a conversion to a feral cat-like creature. I saw this show on the Discovery channel a few weeks back where several people (read: freaks) underwent multiple plastic surgeries to ‘transform’ themselves into their favorite creature. Perhaps Palmeiro believes he should have been born a tiger and is finally taking matters into his own hands.

  39. 39
    joshq Says:

    I too slept with such peace last night. I got chills when Chipper made that diving play and he and Smoltz were pumping their fists. I can’t remember that kind of excitement from a braves team in recent history. The last few years they have just seemed to be going through the motions. This year the vets are playing with a chip on their shoulder (everyone talking about how they’ve only won 1 WS) and the rookies are playing like they have nothing to lose.
    Great time to be a Braves Fan!!!

  40. 40
    Marc Says:

    It was a good, solid win, the most dominant postseason win in several years. I loved that they got a couple of runs late to put the game away and bolster a shaky bullpen.

    I don’t understand why everyone takes it personally when the ESPN guys pick against the Braves. It’s just an opinion. It’s not like they somehow affect the game. It seems like every fan thinks announcers are biased against their team. And, unfortunately, they have been correct the last few years.

    I know no one wants to hear this, but what reason is there to think the bullpen won’t implode on the road like it has all year (other than blind hope)?

  41. 41
    'Rissa Says:

    Monday’s game would be at 8:00 if the Braves have to go home and play it. So, would that help or hurt attendance?

    Jenny—Happy Birthday! I turned 18 a few weeks ago, so welcome to the club. I’m glad for your sake the Braves won a great ballgame last night. I’m sure this day would have lost some of its sweetness if the Braves were flying into Houston 0-2 right now. I know we’re all glad that didn’t happen!

  42. 42
    snellville jones Says:

    Because Sosa and Thompson will pitch complete game shutouts. Because Sosa and Thompson will pitch complete game shutouts. Visualize!

  43. 43
    Alex R. Says:

    Snellville,

    I think Thomson ONLY pitches on SUNDAY if Sosa wins tomorrow. If God forbid Sosa loses, you can expect to see Tim Hudson ready on Sunday, despite the short rest.

  44. 44
    Clark Says:

    I wonder if you’ll hear any comments from the group at BP about Chipper’s porous defense at 3b after his one handed putout of Tavares on a bunt attempt early and then the diving stop in the 7th?

    My guess is no.

  45. 45
    creynolds Says:

    This is totally out of the blue, but I know there are several UGA grads out there who may know who I’m talking about…

    I’ve been in a rather retrospective mood lately, and I wanted to express gratitude to a particular professor who was a big influence on my life: Dr. Max Miller of the Sociology Dept. I knew that, at best, he had retired so I contacted the Department Head (Dr. William Finlay) via email this morning. He informed me that Dr. Miller had passed away roughly 10 years ago. Just in case anyone knew him, I thought I’d pass it along. And since I don’t keep up with any former classmates and don’t participate in any other internet forums (although I know this is techinically a blog), this was the only way I could think of to pay any sort of potentially meaningful tribute. He was a great teacher, and to the best of my ability to tell, a wonderful person.

    Thanks for humoring me yet again… now back to the happy Braves talk!

  46. 46
    ryan c Says:

    i guess some good things come out of these hurricanes after all. my girlfriend’s law school which was supposed to be taking place at loyola of new orleans has been transferred to houston for the semester. so, i get to go watch the game saturday. i am super excited. i havent been to a postseason game since game 1 of the 95 world series. great win last night. i absolutely love this team. they are playing with an intensity that i have not seen come out of atlanta in a while. go bravos.

  47. 47
    snellville jones Says:

    If Hudson pitches Sunday, who pitches Monday? I know Smoltz would volunteer, but I don’t think he could go. I’m afraid that Thompson pitches Sunday no matter the outcome of Saturday’s contest.

  48. 48
    creynolds Says:

    Good column by Jayson Stark on the McCann homer last night. I don’t believe it requires an Insider subscription.

  49. 49
    Alex R. Says:

    Snellville,

    Smoltz went 93 pitches last night and especially with the game being at NIGHT Monday, Smoltz would be ready. Both he & Hudson can pitch on 3 days rest and considering the alternatives, iI am fine with it.

    Ideally? Sosa wins tomorrow, we start Thomson on Sunday, he wins, we close out…or even if he loses, a fresh Hudson wins on Monday and Smoltz pitches fully rested game 1 in St. Louis.

    Re: UGA–creynolds, I am a UGA Grad, Class of 97 but was not familiar with Dr. Miller. Sad news. As for thsi weekend, besides GO BRAVES, HOW ABOUT A BIG GO DAWGS FOR SATURDAY? (and I realize there are some Vols/Braves fans on here but, hey, sorry, LOVE MY DAWGS)

  50. 50
    creynolds Says:

    I don’t watch much NCAA football, but I think I’m going to tune into that one. It should be a great game. I was raised an Auburn fan (although I’ve regressed to “fair weather” status) because my mom’s entire family went there, but I haven’t forgotten the Dawgs. Living in TN, I also hope to have some basis for harrasment of my friends and neighbors :) Sick ‘em!

  51. 51
    Stu Says:

    This is the best defense Georgia will play this year. This will be the game that tells me how good Shockley is. I predict a Tennessee victory.

  52. 52
    JB Says:

    I would like to point out that we won this one despite not getting a single call from the umps.

    The old braves teams would let that get to them and distract from playing the game.

    I hope the Astros offense keeps stinking up the joint.

  53. 53
    Alex R. Says:

    Re: Ump’s calls.

    I know I am alone here but watching the game on my 50 inch HD TV, I have to say I don’t think we deserved any of the calls. The Furcal thing was a toss up but I am normally a conspiracy theorist…not this time…the Braves won anyway so we should savor the win.

    And my Dawgs will win on Saturday. I respect the Vols’ defense but Georgia had 2 weeks to prepare, tool, and re-tool for this game and this will be the 3rd game in 2 weeks for the Vols.

    Look what happened to Boise State the last time Georgia had a ton of time to prepare for one team. I think we go into Sanford North and get one.

  54. 54
    Another Alex R. Says:

    Just to say what others have said before–happy birthday Jenny!
    And happy belated birthday, ‘Rissa!

    My birthday’s in November, so I never had the pleasure of a Braves win on my b-day. Jenny, you lucky so-and-so, you.

  55. 55
    JoeyT Says:

    Really? Of the four questionable calls that went against the Braves, I thought three were completely wrong, especially the one against Furcal at third, who was clearly safe.

    The only one that looked right was when LaRoche left the bag.

  56. 56
    Stu Says:

    I agree, JoeyT, I thought the same thing on all 4 calls, Furcal’s slide in particular.

    And Alex, if you think there’s any comparison between Boise State’s defense and Tennessee’s, then my friend, I can’t help you.

  57. 57
    Alex R. Says:

    Another Alex R.,

    (by the way, love your name/handle…makes me laugh everytime!)

    My birthday is January 28th so the best I can hope for in terms of Braves news is possibly signing a big free agent.

    Paul Konerko would make a really nice birthday present. I would even accept a lesser present like Danys Baez & Aubrey Huff!

  58. 58
    JoeyT Says:

    My birthday’s in November, so I never had the pleasure of a Braves win on my b-day.

    On my birthday this year, I made the epic voyage into Atlanta (it’s pretty far) to see Hudson pitch. This was back when I thought he’d be the Braves’ ace for the next few years. I was a huge fan of his at the time, and he ended up winning the game, which made me happy. However, his lackluster performance sowed the seeds of doubt, which eventually blossomed into feelings of “eh”.

  59. 59
    Stu Says:

    On my 10th birthday, my parents let me stay up late, so that I was able to watch Charlie Liebrandt give up a homerun in the 11th to Kirby Puckett in Game 6 of the ’91 Series.

  60. 60
    Alex R. Says:

    Stu,

    No, I am not ‘comparing’ Boise & Tennessee on defense…did I say that? I added the caveat that I RESPECT Tennessee and they are always, always a tough opponent. I don’t like them, I HATE Fulmer, but I RESPECT them…like the Astros.

    That said, Boise does have a VAUNTED offense but with a lot of prep time, we prepared beautifully and destroyed them. Yes, I know the teams are very different but I think the biggest weapon on offense for Tennessee is Riggs and coaches will have a game plan ready for Riggs and Claussen.

  61. 61
    JoeyT Says:

    Ouch, Stu. That’s a horrible story.

  62. 62
    Stu Says:

    But my whole point, Alex, is that preparing for Boise State and preparing for Tennessee are two entirely different undertakings. Playing against slow white boys vs. playing against a team with a roster full of top-five recruiting classes. Of course they’ll plan for Riggs and Clausen (presumably, they’ll attempt to shut down Riggs and make Clausen–and the most talented 5-deep receivers unit in the country–try to beat them). But unless you think UGA’s defense is going to pitch a shutout, I think you have to be concerned about the UGA offense against Tennessee’s D.

  63. 63
    creynolds Says:

    Buck’s “and we’ll see ya tomorrow night” still echos in my head as a painful reminder of the single most deflating moment in my baseball fandom. I guess the second would be the Nixon bunt in ’92… primarily because that’s exactly where the Burns’ baseball documentary ends.

  64. 64
    creynolds Says:

    I guess if it weren’t for “Baseball”, the Lehritz homer would be a very close second. It just doesn’t stick in my head quite as much as “the bunt”.

  65. 65
    jenny Says:

    Thanks for the birthday wishes, guys! I just woke up (my present to myself was sleeping through my 8:30 class, haha) and there are birthday messages all over Facebook, AIM, e-mail, and now here. It’s great!

    Another great present would be for the Red Sox not to get swept out of the playoffs tonight and for the Yankees to go down 2-1. Is anybody listening up there?

  66. 66
    Stu Says:

    I remember building a Lego Pirate Ship–that thing was awesome. I remember my mother crying–CRYING–when Puckett hit that homer. Our cat–that my mom had had since before she married my father–died two days later. Looking back on it, I suppose my 10th birthday may have been my worst ever. Although that Lego Ship was pretty freaking cool.

  67. 67
    Alex R. Says:

    While Georgia MAY not pitch a shutout, Stu, I would like to point out that the great offense of Tennessee managed just 7 points against Florida (who gave up 31 to Bama) & to be fair, has not looked that overwhelming all year.

    Tennessee may win the game, it’s a close one, but they are not going to score a lot…if the Vols win, it will be like 13-10 with the defense playing out of their minds.

  68. 68
    Alex R. Says:

    Stu,

    Sadly, on my 11th birthday, January 28th, 1986, the Spaceshuttle Challenger crashed killing everyone on board.

    Sadly, your 10th birthday story depresses me more. Gosh being a Braves fan can be PAINFUL.

  69. 69
    snellville jones Says:

    Why Konerko, Alex? I mean, I like him, but aren’t we already logjammed at the corners? Does that mean we send LaRoche AND Marte packing and hope Chipper can play third for the next three or so years?

  70. 70
    snellville jones Says:

    Unless, of course, one of Marte or Konerko go play leftfield with Langerhans to spell tham against tough righties.

  71. 71
    Alex R. Says:

    Snellville,

    While I am now going to be the first one to stand up and applaud the effort the last 5-6 weeks of Adam LaRoche, it would be insane to prefer LaRoche at 1st over Konerko. Konerko is a stud. LaRoche is very solid at times. Big difference.

  72. 72
    ice Says:

    i would take brian giles if he was willing to take a discount to play with his bro…led the league in walks this year.

  73. 73
    snellville jones Says:

    I’m not saying just LaRoche, I’m saying LaRoche and Marte. I mean, we can’t keep the best prospect in our system at AAA for the rest of his life. (Although I guess that’s what Philadelphia would have done with Ryan Howard if Thome hadn’t gotten hurt.)

  74. 74
    Alex R. Says:

    Marte doesn’t have a choice right now…I am fine with moving Chipper to 1st but honestly, I am so happy with his play at 3rd base these days I hate to move him right now and Marte’s bat is not there yet.

    Me thinks we should have Marte spend 2006 in Richmond, keep Chipper at 3rd and either spend the money to keep Furcal or get a stopgap and sign Konerko.

  75. 75
    doubledawg Says:

    We have a lot of first base options. Besides LaTool, i think its time for Chipper to watch some Fred McGriff videos, or better yet, get personal training from the Crime Dawg. I was on pins and needles watching those fist pumps, I wanted to scream, “not with your throwing arm” at smoltz and crossed fingers and toes that chipper walked to the dugout under his own power.

    The name may give it away, but I too am a UGA alum. My own sociology degree came in ’02, so your Prof. was no longer teaching. But, its kind of you to toss kind words out into the cosmos.

    As for post-season signs, I think that if are money is not going to Furcal, we should look towards Giles. Although, I must point out, both of the Giles brothers have seen their power numbers drop in the “piss test era”. I had the privledge to sit next to the dugout last week, first seat on the rail to the right, and it was amazing how hoped up marcus was the entire game. Everything from high fives to doing the mexican hat dance for the players on the bench. I’d like two Jones and two Gillies to help carry out pitchign next year.

  76. 76
    bwarrend Says:

    Great game by the Bravos. It’s so refreshing to hear everyone being excited about them. They played good enough offensively to win game 1, but the pitching just was not there. I believe Houston’s weak hitting has been exposed (they only had 11 hits to go with the 10 runs they scored Wed. and only 4 extra base hits so far.

  77. 77
    Alex R. Says:

    I would be fine with signing Brian if we needed him.

    Honestly, with what I am seeing IN HOUSE from Langerhans and Francouer, why spend the money in the outfield? First base and Shortstop will be the issues to address this offseason with the other positions settled basically.

    Also needed to be addressed: Aquiring a trustworthy lefthanded starter (or maybe Chuck James is ready?) and of course, adding 2 strong arms to the bullpen.

    I know he won’t be cheap but Billy Wagner would certainly fit!!!!

  78. 78
    snellville jones Says:

    Personally, I don’t understand the misconception that Marte’s bat isn’t there yet. Marte has handled every level presented to him. During his time on the major league roster he /crushed/ nearly every ball he hit, they just weren’t been finding holes. Given the oppurtunity, I believe Marte would produce at least as much as Konerko over the course of three years at a fraction of the price. I’d put the money on Furcal.

  79. 79
    creynolds Says:

    It is kinda scary to commit to a rookie at the outset of the season. But, then again, Betemit would be a more than competent backup plan if we do re-sign Furcal… or find a replacement for him. I’m glad that Nomar obviously can’t play short anymore. With the temporary relief from Hampton’s salary, he would otherwise be a logical short-term target. Not logical to me, but possibly to those who make the call.

  80. 80
    Alex R. Says:

    With so much emphasis placed on our defense, I don’t think there would have EVER been consideration for Nomar.

  81. 81
    the_fatdaddy Says:

    i know it has been written here before, but how much do we owe Hampton next season and how much of that will be covered by insurance?

  82. 82
    JoeyT Says:

    The Braves owe Hampton 11.5 M of his 13.5 M salary next year. Reportedly, 60% of this is covered by insurance.

  83. 83
    snellville jones Says:

    Not to mention the idea that the team had been putting money aside. Not that I place a lot of stock in that.

  84. 84
    Smitty Says:

    happy Birthday Jenny

    My birthday is on October 23. I am sure we would all like to see a Braves win on that day (Game two of the WS in an American League park.)

    urlhix- here is the advise I want to give Sosa.
    Hold them to three or less runs and we will win. This October the Braves are hitting the ball. Even in the loss we scored five runs, that in its self is a good sign. A seven run break through last night and all the momentum is oon our side.

    Alex, I am going to the game on Saturday. As a Vols fan I must say the best thing UGA has going for them in this game is the fact they have a better offensive coaching staff. Randy Sanders is a dumb ass!

    So agins Jorge, hold them to three runs baby and we will win!

  85. 85
    John David Says:

    For the record as to Chipper diving for balls, he hurt his shoulder diving for a ball in Cincinnati on August 2 in a game that was already decided. His defense and all around effort have been superb all season, as has the entire team’s. Surely today, after last night’s two defensive gems, is not the time to cast even mild backward-looking aspersions. Let us strive to purge that negativity to which Smoltzie referred in his postgame interview on Fox. May the Chop be with you.

  86. 86
    Stu Says:

    Sorry, I’ve been away, so this isn’t being discussed anymore, but I just can’t let it go…

    Alex, you’re right, the UT offense was atrocious against Florida. They woke up against LSU, though. Once Fullmer finally decided to stick with one quarterback (and the one he chose is the one who won’t make critical mistakes), they have looked a lot, LOT, smoother. I’m not saying I’ll be surprised if Georgia wins, ’cause I won’t. I’m just saying Georgia hasn’t played anyone half as good as Tennessee yet this year, and this will be a tough game. You’re right that they have 2 weeks to prepare and Tennessee’s playing its 3rd game in 12 days, and that could be a factor. Typically, though, I think you have to favor the team with the better defense, particularly when that team is playing at home, in a stadium that will be full of 108,000 people wearing orange.

    As for the Braves, I think Giles would be a fine addition. He wants to play for Cox and with Marcus, he could play left field, and he would make a great addition in the middle of our lineup, giving more protection to the Jones boys and taking a little pressure off of Francoeur. I love Langerhans, but I think he’s ideally your fourth outfielder and a stellar back-up/defensive replacement. If there’s a way to get a Dunn or a Giles–or someone who can play out there and hit in the middle of our lineup, which Langerhans can’t–I think you go for it.

    All that said, though, I’d still make Farnsworth and Furcal my priorities (in reverse order), only worrying about anything else after those guys are re-signed or are sure to sign somewhere else.

  87. 87
    Another Alex R. Says:

    Any chance we could get Roy Halladay?

  88. 88
    Ben Says:

    HUGE GAME TOMORROW.

  89. 89
    Kyle S Says:

    It sounds like I might have been the only person here who went to the game last night. No one has said anything about the weather! We got very lucky that the predicted half inch of rain stayed away for the most part. My buddy and I got a little soggy but damn was it worth it!

    The crowd wasn’t great (46k, lots of empties in the upper deck and even around where we were sitting) but it was mostly loud. Of course, everyone left to beat the traffic so there were only 25k tops left at the end of the game. That’s incredibly embarrassing to me.

    Smoltz consistently got the loudest applause of anyone (and deservedly so)! I was glad the rumor I heard about the shape his shoulder was in apparently had no foundation. Still, he was constantly “shaking it out” throughout the game; I don’t think he’ll be ready to go on three days’ rest. Moreover, would y’all really rather have Huddy on 3 days rest than Thomson on full rest? I’m not sure which I’d rather, but it’s far from a slam dunk either way.

    Hopefully, last night’s game showed Bobby that the kids aren’t automatically going to buckle under pressure just because it’s the playoffs, and we’ll be spared from another Estrada or Jordan sighting.

    Everyone say a prayer for Jorge Sosa tonight. We need the game of his life starting tomorrow.

  90. 90
    heehaw Says:

    from baseballnotebook.com on 2006:

    National League East: The Braves are expected to remain at around the $80 million level, but they have $55.5 million committed to just four players in 2006 – Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Tim Hudson and Mike Hampton. That will make it difficult for the Braves to be major players this off-season, especially if they attempt to re-sign Furcal. The Marlins have just $38 million committed so far for 2006; they spent roughly $70 million this season, so they could be quite active. The Mets spent well over $100 million this season, and with a new television network on the way – along with Mike Piazza’s $15 million contract gone – they should once again make an off-season splash. The Phillies don’t figure to go any higher than the $95 million they spent in 2005, so if they re-sign Wagner it’s hard to imagine any other bold moves. And if the ownership situation in Washington gets resolved before November, it’s possible that the Nationals could go much higher than the $50 million they’re currently spending.

    Do we really owe $55.5M to these 4? I thought Chipper makes $16M, Andruw $13M, Hudson $4M and Hampton, net of insurance, $4.6M.. for a total of $37.6M ?

  91. 91
    drzachary Says:

    Kyle, I could argue that more of the crowd in my (our) section left due to brawling than due to the rain. Did you see the old guy try to strangle that 20-something drunk kid about 4 rows behind where you said you were sitting? I fear for my life when the elderly run amok.

  92. 92
    ermoore Says:

    Alex R., I generally dig your comments, but Boise State?! Please! Boise State is SO overrated UGA could beat them on an hour’s rest AFTER losing to UT this Saturday. Seriously.
    UGA’s extra week off could just as easily mean they come out dull and unfocused. Their biggest advantage over UT is that our special teams play is beyond atrocious. I would suspect Phil Fulmer of having hired Adam Bernero (he had to go somewhere, and baseball clearly wasn’t working for him) to coach our special teams except that I happen to know we just don’t have a special teams coach.
    Clausen maybe ain’t the pedigree of Shockley, but he’s proven that when he’s the sole QB he (and even Sanders, who does suck) can get it done (case in point, TX A&M last year). We’ll find out if Shockley can get it done Saturday.
    Anyways, I can’t wait till kickoff tomorrow. I won’t be surprised when Georgia wins, but I like our chances. Go Vols!!!

    And why such animosity towards Phil Fulmer? I mean, I could understand it from an Alabama fan, but Georgia?

  93. 93
    seamus Says:

    Rafael Furcal has purportedly let it be known he would be willing to play second base for the Mets. Furcal will be a free agent after the postseason. The Mets want to upgrade the position , even if that means buying off Kaz Matsui’s remaining contract.
    Source: New York Daily News

  94. 94
    Dix Says:

    doesnt Hudson’s new contract kick in next season for about 11 million avergage.

  95. 95
    seamus Says:

    Hudson made $6.75 million this year plus a $10 million signing bonus. He will make salaries of $4 million in 2006, $6 million in 2007 and $13 million each in 2008 and 2009. His extension contains a $12 million mutual option for 2010 with a $1 million buyout. If the option is exercised, the deal would be worth $58 million over five years or about $11.6M/year.

  96. 96
    Stu Says:

    No, Dix, as I recall, his extension was arranged such that he was paid a relatively small amount this year and next, and the year after that (2007) is when he’s due the big bucks. That 4 million figure is right, I believe.

  97. 97
    sansho1 Says:

    As Jim Morrison once said: “You cannot petition the Lord with prayer!”

  98. 98
    seamus Says:

    $55.5M less $6.9M Hampton insurance = $48.6M owed to Chipper, Andruw, Hudson, Hampton in 2006. I think Smoltz makes $8M next year so that is $56.6M among 5 players.

    Assuming the payroll is $85M, we have $28.4M remaining. Furcal will probably get 4 yrs/$40M so $10M/yr. That leaves $18.4M.

    Thomson (has a 2006 option), Farnsworth, Julio, Jordan and Perez are the other free agents. Assuming we ONLY sign Farnsworth for I have no idea, maybe $3M/yr ? That leaves $15.4M.

    Giles made $2.35M this year and Reitsma got $1.65M. Assuming that is constant next year, we are down to $11.4M.

    $5.1M will cover Sosa ($1M?), Estrada ($460k?), LaRoche ($350k?), Mcbride, Betemit, Devine, Boyer, Davies, Franceour, Johnson, Langerhans, McCann and Orr (all $316k).

    $6.3M is left over for 3 new middle relievers and a leftie starting pitcher to complete the 25-man opening day roster.

  99. 99
    Kyle S Says:

    Dr Zach – there were a couple of fights right near my seats. First, a huge Astros fan got thrown out for something. Then, the guy who was responsible for getting him thrown out got booed by some other fans. Next, someone dumped beer on someone else and a drunk kid (sitting right behind us) got thrown out. Finally, there was another big fight further back and up the left field line but we couldn’t really see what was going on. So I’m not sure which fight you’re referring to, but you’re probably right to attribute them to people leaving.

    Good to know I wasn’t the only one at the game. Did anyone see the 10 year old kid snag the foul liner on the last or second to last Astros hitter? (That was hit 2 rows down and 4 seats closer to home than us). Great catch!

  100. 100
    Another Alex R. Says:

    Rafael Furcal playing second base for the Mets would be the worst possible career move he ever could make–worse than Jose Canseco’s idea to throw nothing but sliders as a joke in the bullpen one day and blow out his elbow, because Fooky would end up with a big-money long term deal which would make him untradeable. Mike Piazza’s the only free agent the Mets have signed in the last 10 years (except for Cliff Floyd’s fluke career year of staying healthy this season) who has hit there. Mo Vaughn and Bobby Bonilla hit like Tsuyoshi Shinjo once they came to Shea.

    Just put Raffy in the Big Apple second sacker graveyard with Carlos Baerga, Roberto Alomar, Kaz Matsui. (Might as well throw in Mariano Duncan.)

  101. 101
    Another Alex R. Says:

    Farns will command much, much more than $3m a year. Closers are premium nowadays, and even if he hasn’t gotten to deserving Billy Wagner money, he’ll still command offers of $8-10 million a year for three years. Ryan freaking Dempster just got $15 million for 3.

  102. 102
    sansho1 Says:

    Those examples of free agents performing poorly at Shea have more to do with the Mets’ propensity for signing big, slow sluggers already in their 30s than with the ballpark. Shea is a pitchers park, to be sure, but someone with Furcal’s skill set should be able to do okay.

    Man, I hope that doesn’t happen.

  103. 103
    drzachary Says:

    Kyle, yeah.. I was sitting probably 5 rows directly behind the guy responsible for having the big, red-shirted white Astros fans tossed. Then the two black guys (Astros fans too?) started booing him, and I thought he was going to provoke another fight.

    I’m not sure what started the fight with that drunk kid (who was one row in front of me I think), but when he was leaving, I saw that he had nasty red welts on his neck. Probably deserved it :)

    All in all, an exciting time was had by all! About as exciting as when I had to help restrain a Braves fan from attacking a group of Cubs frat boys, er, fans in the 2003 NLDS.

    That little kid snagging the foul ball was amazing. I put my hands up in front of my face and shrieked like a little girl when I saw it coming my direction.

    Anyways, it is cool to know that other Bravesjournal people were there, at least one.

  104. 104
    Alex R. Says:

    To answer any earlier question, I HATE Fulmer because Alabama is my 2nd favorite team after Georgia.

    Frankly, I would hate Fulmer even if I was indifferent to Bama because he’s a pretty hateable guy…sorry again to all the combo Vols-Braves fans on here…not trying to start a fight, just being honest. I love my Dawgs, I love Bama and I love my Braves. I hate Fulmer and the Vols, I hate the Gators.

    Look, sometimes sports makes STRANGE bedfellows…I have heard Chipper Jones is a HUGE Gators fan…but I love the guy because he represents my Baseball team. I love Frenchy but he almost played football at Clemson. I am also a huge Spurs fan and John Smoltz, who I love more then anyone was a HUGE Pistons supporter.

    The whole dichotomy is fasincating to me. I mean, there are all my ‘guys’ but switch us to other sports and we are enemies…I know there’s several Vols fans on here but I am happy that we can at least share love for the Braves and for the SEC.

    But let me re-state this…I still loathe Fulmer. This is something Mac and I agree on 100% as Bama is his #1 college football team.

    Re: UT offensive coordinator–I don’t know a ton about him but I frankly don’t love either of your Quarterbacks. The best QB in the SEC is Brodie Croyle by a country mile but I would rather have DJ Shockley then Claussen or Ainge. I love Gerald Riggs Jr’s game but I don’t see him having a huge edge over our guy Thomas Brown (plus, we have 3 studs in the backfield along with Danny Ware and Kregg Lumpkin).

    For UT to win this game, home field has to play a factor and the biggest reason why UT could win would be stupid turnovers and penalties by my Dawgs. Honestly…the team that protects the ball and holds it long will gut this win out. I could wish for a 41-14 game like we got in Knoxville in 2003 but I know those kinds of games only come once every 20 years in this match-up.

  105. 105
    seamus Says:

    so in the off-season we really have no shot at doing anythg more than signing farnsworth and attempting to sign furcal

  106. 106
    creynolds Says:

    Trades. Estrada, LaRoche, Thomson, Sosa, etc.

  107. 107
    Trace Says:

    Am I the only the one that realized this? When we throw strikes, the Astros can’t hit the ball. They batted about .250 all season. Most of that comes from Ensberg who’s the only guy that’s hurt us so far in this series. We can just pitch around him, cause he has no protection behind him. We lost game 1 because we walked 9 batters. JUST THROW THE BALL OVER THE PLATE!

  108. 108
    creynolds Says:

    Can’t pitch around Ensberg if Bobby continues to insist on walking Berkman.

  109. 109
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Personally, I think Phil Fulmer is Beelzebub. But then, I’m an Alabama guy. I’d rather beat Tennessee than Auburn, and it’s not particularly close.

    The Astros only have three good hitters; their fourth-best hitter is probably Palmeiro, whom they sit on the bench half the time and has never been confused for Stan Musial anyway. They ask you to pitch around Ensberg with that bunch. Yet it’s Berkman who gets the kid gloves. I don’t get it.

    One of the BP drones is now insinuating that the Astros would have come back if Biggio hadn’t dived into first base, by the way. I don’t think he even would have been safe.

  110. 110
    Marc Says:

    Mac,

    That’s silly, he wasn’t saying the Astros would have won if Biggio had slid, he was simply making the point that Biggio might have been safe if he hadn’t slid and that sliding into first base is generally not a good idea. That’s a long way from saying or even insinuating that they would have won.

    Geez, people here take everything that analysts say as a personal attack and they read all sorts of sinister anti-Brave meanings into the most innocuous statements. This blog is becoming like Washington, DC.

  111. 111
    Kyle S Says:

    dr zach – my buddy and I were directly behind the guy (wearing a green jacket, had a kid with an airbrushed face and his wife with him) who got the red-shirted guy tossed. I had a red t-shirt and braves cap, buddy had a polo buttondown and braves cap. We probably saw you when we turned around after the beer got dumped on that kid.

    I was definitely standing up to get out of the way of that foul ball. When I was little, I went to a Cards-Braves game at AFC – good seats too, 108 row 15 or so, inside the first base bag. Felix Jose lined a foul ball right off my 10-year-old shoulder. Ouch.

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