Where to begin? The game? Eh, typical. The Braves fell behind 2-0 in the fourth with a combination of some shaky pitching from Derek Lowe — who was otherwise excellent — and shaky umpiring from the men in blue — who were not otherwise excellent. They got a run back in the sixth when McCann singled in KJ, but after loading the bases with two out (Prado hit a little swinging bunt to reach) they couldn’t get the run in as Francoeur (typically) struck out on a pitch that nearly hit his feet.
The tied it up in the next inning as Blanco reached on a bunt single and Chipper, pinch-hitting righthanded after not starting, doubled him home. But again, they couldn’t get the hit to get them over the top. Inning after inning neither team could, with the Braves blowing more chances, until the eleventh. In his second inning of work, Bennett walked the leadoff man, who then went to second on a flyout to left field when Diaz’s momentum carried him away from the play. He went to third on a grounder past Chipper, then scored on a miserable little flare hit off of O’Flaherty right over Chipper’s head. It was really a bad rally. The Braves went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.
Meanwhile, lots of stuff happened before the game. I’ll have longer posts about some of them over the next few days. The first big story was that the Braves released Tom Glavine, apparently at his request when they said that he wouldn’t be called up. The Braves have said that they didn’t think that Glavine would be effective, and I agree — which is why they shouldn’t have signed him in the first place. They handled this pretty badly.
Then they announced that Kris Medlen was moving to the bullpen and that Tommy Hanson would make his first start on Saturday. Hanson was kept in the minor leagues for essentially financial reasons, slowing down his arbitration clock. Basically as soon as they were pretty sure he wouldn’t have Super 2 status in two years, they called him up.
Then Jorge Campillo was placed on the DL, and the Braves called up Brian Barton from Gwinnett. Barton pinch-ran for Francoeur tonight; he stole second, but the umpire called him out anyway. He’s fast, his bat is questionable, and he’s a pretty good outfielder. He shouldn’t get too comfortable, because he’s likely going to rejoin the AAA team tomorrow, or Saturday at the latest.
For as the game began, word broke that the Braves had pulled off a major trade, sending Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Morton, and Jeff Locke to Pittsburgh for centerfielder Nate McLouth. McLouth was the Pirates’ token All-Star last year, and though his numbers this year are a little disappointing, a lot of that’s bad luck — and he still has nine homers, or four more than anyone on the Braves. It’s a good deal; none of the players sent to Pittsburgh is really likely to be a quality major league regular. I have severe doubts about Gorkys’ bat, as he still hasn’t developed any power, and strikes out about as much as Schafer. Morton is most likely a fifth starter or middle reliever, though he is pitching well at AAA. Locke has a lot of upside, but has been struggling, and I estimate has no more than a fifty percent chance of ever pitching in the majors. McLouth immediately becomes, by far, the Braves’ best outfielder. He will probably lead off tomorrow, though I would use him in the five hole — or cleanup, if McCann rests after catching 23 innings over the last two days. Either Blanco or Barton will certainly be sent down tomorrow to make room — though it would be great if it’s Francoeur, or if Norton were put on the DL — with the other likely to be sent down on Saturday when Hanson is activated — though it would be great if the Braves went with eleven pitchers for awhile just to see what having a full bench is like.