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31 Mar

Braves 2, Nats 0

Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals – Box Score – March 31, 2011 – ESPN.

The Fredi Era starts off well, with the Braves getting a couple of early runs and then hanging on. In the first inning, Chipper doubled to right with two out, then came home on a single up the middle by McCann. In the second, Heyward‘s second-straight opening-day first-plate appearance homer made it 2-0. That was enough for the Braves’ pitchers today.

Derek Lowe had good stuff, striking out six and allowing just three singles and two walks through 5 2/3. The Nats’ best chance against him came in the first with back-to-back one-out singles by Werth and Zimmerman, but Adam LaRoche popped up and Michael Morse grounded out to end the threat.

Last year, Bobby often let Lowe work an inning too long, or a batter too long. Fredi didn’t do that this time. When Lowe’s 105th pitch walked Zimmerman with two out in the sixth, Fredi got the hook and brought in O’Flaherty, who allowed a flare single to LaRoche then got out of it. O’Flaherty allowed a double in the seventh, but Moylan got a strikeout to end that threat.

Fredi used Venters to pitch the eighth rather than Kimbrel, even though the Nats had two righties due up in the eighth and (after Venters’ 1-2-3) two lefties in the ninth. Since Werth and Zimmerman, the Nats’ two biggest threats, were in the eighth, that may be a sign. Kimbrel also had a 1-2-3 inning for the save.

The Braves really didn’t do much after the second. They had one threat, chasing Livan Hernandez in the seventh with a hit by McCann and a walk by Heyward, but AAG and Freeman couldn’t get a hit to stretch the lead. Chipper, McCann, and Heyward accounted for all the Braves’ baserunners, with the first two going 2-4 and Heyward 1-2 with a walk.

Off-day (because, that’s why) tomorrow then day games Saturday and Sunday. First place, may it stay that way all year.

66 Responses to “Braves 2, Nats 0”

  1. 1
    Jeff K Says:

    1st Place!

  2. 2
    jorgbacca Says:

    So its Hanson on Saturday, Hudson Sunday, right? Did I hear right that Jurrjens was getting skipped first time so that’d put Beachy Monday and Lowe again Tuesday?

  3. 3
    Alex R. Says:

    As someone who selected Craig Kimbrel in my fantasy baseball draft Tuesday night, I, for one, am not unhappy with Fredi making Kimbrel the full time closer :)

    I think Venters and Kimbrel can be a nasty combo for us. Nice win for the boys, nice first win for Fredi and yeah, definitely improvement on Bobby in terms of when to get your starter out.

  4. 4
    PaulV Says:

    players from both sides of plate have trouble hitting Venters or Kimbrel. Even the Ump could not see ball well for Kimbrel

  5. 5
    CJ Says:

    Now if Fredi can only switch Heyward and McLouth’s spots in the line-up.

  6. 6
    Jeff K Says:

    Yes, Carpenter (MASN play-by-play guy) said that Huddy will start on Sunday so that he’s in turn for the Braves home opener.

  7. 7
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Absolutely key: “Last year, Bobby often let Lowe work an inning too long, or a batter too long. Fredi didn’t do that this time.”

    This is good.

  8. 8
    Smitty Says:

    I have to say the guy on Braves Radio post game, has a great voice.

    Great win. Some nice plays on the infield today. Good to see Chipper going hard out of the box for that first inning double.

  9. 9
    braves14 Says:

    I hate the off day immediately after the first game.

  10. 10
    Nick Says:

    Good game all the way around today. We had our predictable issues with Livan Hernandez, but were able to scratch out a couple early runs. The pitching staff did an excellent job all day of hanging onto the lead. Fredi made the right move in taking Lowe out when he did, and in putting in Moylan to face a righthander. Nothing really to complain about. This game was far more losable than it looked, too.

  11. 11
    spike Says:

    This just in – the Braves postgame radio show team is terrible.

  12. 12
    Nick Says:

    I really don’t know why they did away with the team from last year. There was certainly nothing wrong with it.

  13. 13
    rehabreject Says:

    I gave a mini fist pump at work as I read the pitch by pitch on Heyward’s first AB

  14. 14
    PeteOrr Says:

    The main guy in the postgame show was alright – as Smitty said, he had a nice voice. His partner, however, was godawful. He said about a word per second, and even with all that time in between to think about the next one, it was invariably dumber than the last.

    Braves postgame color commentator has been added to the list of jobs I’m positive I could do better than their current practitioners along with Braves lineup constructor (admittedly not a stand-alone job) and Royals/Astros GM.

  15. 15
    Ray Says:

    Very nice start to the season. I liked how Fredi managed the game, taking Lowe out at the right time, leaving O’Flaherty in for several batters (don’t do that with Sherill though). Good to see Chipper and Heyward carrying their success from ST over to the season. First win of many this year.

  16. 16
    Alex R. Says:

    I’m happy for Fredi for a # of reasons today.

    First, class guy, well liked, easygoing, offered a nice, easy transition from Bobby to him. It seems the players can feel that vibe and of course many already knew him. (including Uggle since they were on the Marlins together).

    Second, because he’s such a class guy and because the owner of the Marlins is such a scumbag and a loser, it irked me what the Marlins did to Fredi last year after Hanley Ramirez acted like a little baby.

    What I also appreciate, which I said at the time of the hiring is that just because Fredi is easygoing and close to Bobby, doesn’t mean he’ll manage just like him. He showed today a KEY difference with Bobby. I’m glad Fredi may get the chance to prove some people wrong.

    Of course, I was probably one of the biggest haters of Bobby’s managing, so just having a fresh face gives me added confidence.

  17. 17
    MikeM Says:

    Good win, good win.

    Over last 3 years the Braves have gone 24-30 against the Gnats. The Phillies went 39-15 vs them over that same period.

    Sometimes being able to crush the underbelly of the league is more important that just hanging with the big teams.

  18. 18
    BenB Says:

    #17 Sometimes being able to crush the underbelly of the league is more important that just hanging with the big teams.

    Best statement that will be made all season. You don’t have to beat the best teams 2-3/3-4. But you better do that to the crappy teams. Thats been our problem the last 5 years or so.

  19. 19
    Alex R. Says:

    Regarding Baseball moving their ‘opening day’ to the middle of the week, a Thursday, this is exactly WHY Bud Selig is the WORST COMMISSIONER IN SPORTS.

    Mac can tell you – I texted him last week – “Hey, I am looking at the Braves schedule – when is opening day exactly?” Major League Baseball has a serious problem if an actual Baseball fan with the Internet is unsure when opening day is. That’s a HUGE PR problem.

    And it completely lessens the importance even more of Baseball on the American sports scene. By taking it away from the traditional Monday opening day, Baseball’s opening feels like a complete afterthought. The Sunday opening night game at least made sense, leading into the Monday games. But moving opening day to Thursday is just SO Bud.

  20. 20
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    PeteOrr, the Royals have an amazing farm system. Not sure you could draft as well as they have.

  21. 21
    Ethan Says:

    @19-…now, managing the Major League roster is an entirely different animal…

  22. 22
    spike Says:

    Saw this snip from Law –

    “Atlanta has the talent to surpass the Phillies, but they keep trying to sabotage themselves, like talking about batting Jason Heyward sixth, moving Martin Prado to left to install Dan Uggla at second, or choosing Brandon Beachy over Mike Minor based on the tiny sample of spring training.”

    but no insider for me, so I can’t tell you what the prediction was.

  23. 23
    Ethan Says:

    Smelky just stole a base and I think hell is actually freezing over here in Kansas City.

  24. 24
    PeteOrr Says:

    I considered that and added Ed Wade as a target to dilute the Moore hate a bit. Still, in the spirit of Fangraphs’ org rankings, I’ll say that Moore should get only a portion of the credit for recent successful drafts, since the GM is just one cog in the front office machine. Props to him for surrounding himself with, and listening to, good amateur scouts though. If only he could do the same with major league scouts and stat guys, the Royals would be set up for a long run of success.

  25. 25
    PeteOrr Says:

    @19 Exactly – he’s shown no ability to gauge pro talent or put together 70+ win teams. Yeah, the young talent influx should be hard to screw up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he finds a way. A few years of Twins level goodness seems like the best case scenario for KC – abundant home-grown talent with a steady stream of face-palm inducing moves related to veterans, call-ups, and trades.

  26. 26
    PeteOrr Says:

    @21 Batting Heyward 6th is the only one of those moves that really seems like self-sabotage. Beachy vs. Minor is a toss-up at best right now, even though I think most would agree that Minor has more potential. But if you’re fairly confident in Minor developing into a #3 or so, then why not try to increase Beachy’s value with some time in the rotation to a.) gain confidence in his ability to actually survive in the rotation, b.) increase his trade value when/if you’re ready to unload him to make room for Teheran/Delgado/Vizcaino, or c.) convince yourself that he can replace Jurrjens if you want to trade him instead (is there really a difference between Jurrjens’ and Beachy’s ceilings? If not, I’d much rather have the non-Boras Client).

    Also, the Prado move seemed really creative. Wren shifted a player internally to move our area of need to a position for which there were realistic external candidates. Law occasionally comes off as the poster child for new-school close-mindedness.

  27. 27
    spike Says:

    @25, I agree, as I posted elsewhere, batting Heyward 6th is silly, but let’s see how long that lasts. If you consider that Prado is actually the 3B heir apparent, the Uggla move makes a ton of sense – it will be much easier to replace a LF than an offensive minded 2B. And while I am no fan of the length of the deal, the price was quite good, and gives the Braves a ton of lineup flexibility when Chipper needs off. Re: Beachy vs Minor, I hardly think it’s “based on … spring training” they’ve had Beachy for 3 years now and he’s done great, finishing with 45ip at AAA with terrific peripherals and a decent performance in Atlanta. It also stops Minor’s service time clock as a bonus, and there are only one or two 5th starter spots for the first couple months. Non-issue

  28. 28
    sansho1 Says:

    The thing about moving Prado instead of Uggla is you know Prado can do it. Martin is a B-minus 2B who might be a B-plus LF. Uggla is a C 2B who might be a D LF.

  29. 29
    csg Says:

    Law is a tool, nothing more.

  30. 30
    PeteOrr Says:

    I’ve got dreams of Freeman hitting enough for left field, Prado replacing Chipper at third where his bat would profile quite nicely, and having McCann take over first when he can’t catch anymore. Young Bethancourt would be ready to catch by this time, of course. Lots of moving parts, but it lets us keep McCann, without whom I couldn’t bear to live, and it leaves lots of cash for a centerfielder, shortstop, or more importantly, a Heyward mega-extension. This could be a 100 win team with a $70mill budget in 2015.

  31. 31
    Covert Says:

    FRANCOEUR!!

    Bought the $15 MLB At Bat Android app and it gives you a free game each day. Today’s free game was Royals vs. Angels. I just turned it on, just in time to see Francoeur go deep.

    Oh, and the Braves won. Good day.

  32. 32
    PeteOrr Says:

    But yeah Spike, I think Law must’ve left Beachy off his top prospects list at some point and now he’s refusing to reevaluate. Beachy wasn’t a first round draft pick, and Law didn’t predict his success, therefore he can’t be successful. It’s just saber-dogmatism.

  33. 33
    Smitty Says:

    Here it is, the shot heard around the world:

    http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?c_id=kc&content_id=13352605&topic_id=8878722

  34. 34
    NickC Says:

    #29, I think your dreams are where that defensive alignment will stay.

  35. 35
    Jeff K Says:

    Surprise! Frenchy hits a HR off a (scrub) lefty reliever. His one strength, other than that smile.

  36. 36
    Dan Says:

    Poor Royals’ fans. Jeff Francoeur always starts hot with a new team (Braves, Mets, Rangers, Royals.) Then he morphs into Jeffy and keeps on playing based on how he started.

  37. 37
    Brian J. Says:

    35- And the Melkiest Man in the World is now 2-3 with a walk. Reality’s going to hurt for Royals fans.

  38. 38
    Brian J. Says:

    … and Frenchy strikes out swinging with the bases loaded and the Royals down by two, helping kill the rally. Nice to know that there are some things in this world you can rely on.

  39. 39
    Mr.Swings@Everything Says:

    Go Braves

    People actually listen to the postgame show? The thing is nine parts commercials and one part mindless drivel. Just skip it and get the recap from bravesjournal.

  40. 40
    Tomas Says:

    Swung at a head high offspeed pitch even.

    Jeffy also threw out a runner at home, making sure he’ll stay in the game for “defense” too.

    Tim Collins pitched the ninth for the Royals, he looks like he’s just about to do a cartwheel when the throws.

  41. 41
    ububba Says:

    I don’t care of Francoeur wins the Triple Crown, as long as he’s wearing that Royals uni.

  42. 42
    Carpool Tunnel Syndrome Says:

    28,

    He’s a jackass and he’s wrong about the Beachy/Minor thing (possibly the Uggla/Prado thing). He’s also a very good writer who knows a lot about baseball.

  43. 43
    Jeff K Says:

    @38 – I neglected to mention his arm – it is legitimate. So he has three strengths.

  44. 44
    sansho1 Says:

    Jeff who?

  45. 45
    Tom Says:

    Give Nate a break. He looked really good in spring training, even when he made an out. Small sample size and all, but he has also hit in the Majors. I have no problem with him in the lineup, especially when I look at the possible replacements.

    And I have no problem with him hitting in the 2 spot either. according to THE BOOK, having a guy hit 2nd or 6th makes little to no difference. I bet the idea behind it is to give Uggly some protection, which might be a good idea. (Of course, THE BOOK also says there is no such thing as protection).

  46. 46
    Dan Says:

    And I have no problem with him hitting in the 2 spot either. according to THE BOOK, having a guy hit 2nd or 6th makes little to no difference.

    Nate McLouth had four PAs and Jason Heyward had three as a direct result of where they were today in the lineup. Don’t mind McLouth playing, especially considering the other options, but wouldn’t it be better for him to have as few PAs as possible?

    How many runs is Heyward going to score hitting in front of Alex Gonzalez?

  47. 47
    Smitty Says:

    @44

    By hitting the ball in the 15th row

  48. 48
    Ethan Says:

    Furcal looks fat. It’s funny that for as much as we talk about Derek Lowe being overpaid, the Peavy and Burnett deals that Wren DIDN’T do would have been excruciatingly terrible in comparison.

  49. 49
    kc Says:

    Well, the only positive putting Jason at the 6 spot is that it makes the lower half of the order stronger, but that can not be the reason why Nate is getting more at-bats than Jason.

  50. 50
    PeteOrr Says:

    I know this was discussed a few days ago, but for anyone looking to watch Braves games on TV without being subjected to Chip, I have found the ideal solution: it’s a combination of a program called Virtual Audio Cable and another called Radio Delay.

    If you’ve got a Gameday Audio subscription or you have a sound card input on your computer, then it allows you to delay the audio by any number of seconds you choose. Today’s Gameday audio was 6.4 seconds ahead of the TV feed, for instance. The Giants/Dodgers game I’m watching now is 2.6 ahead. Here’s a webpage with links to the programs (http://bit.ly/c8qp5X) – I forked out $30 for the VAC program after testing the free trial version. If you’ve got the cash, I’d say it’s worth the elimination of Chip from your life.

    Setup was a little complicated, but I’d be happy to walk anyone who wants to try it through the process, if you can’t figure it out on your own. I consider this a service to the Chip-beleaguered masses. Never forget “Line drive! Base hit! Caught out there.”

  51. 51
    JoeyT Says:

    I have never had a situation where the Gameday audio was ahead of the TV. I have to use broadcast radio to get ahead of the TV. Gameday audio is always a few seconds behind the television broadcast.

  52. 52
    PeteOrr Says:

    Posey, LOL. What a terrible idea and subsequent throw to third to give up the game’s first run. What a detestable bunch of baby-faces the Giants have put on the field this year. Posey (and now possibly Brandon Belt) probably only won ROY because he looks 14 years old. I assume the voters simply mistook Heyward for the 30 year old veteran he looks and plays like.

  53. 53
    PeteOrr Says:

    JoeyT – Radio Delay will work with a broadcast radio plugged into your PC’s soundcard if it’s got a 3.5 mm jack input, if the radio is ahead of your TV broadcast. We’ve got satellite running through a DVR – I’m assuming that sets my video back a few seconds.

  54. 54
    billy-jay Says:

    Can we start the count now?

    Number of PAs that Heyward has missed by hitting 6th instead of 2nd: 1

  55. 55
    csg Says:

    We could just check our record. With Heyward hitting 6th the Braves are 1-0.

  56. 56
    Tom O. Says:

    Mac, it brings me joy to read a game recap from you to start a new season. So pumped that the Braves are back.

  57. 57
    csg Says:

    per mlbtr

    The Braves released left-hander Brett DeVall, a sandwich-round pick in 2008 (40th overall), tweets Matt Eddy of Baseball America. DeVall is still only 21, but elbow troubles limited him to just 160 innings at Class A Rome the past two seasons, according to Eddy. For his career, DeVall has a 3.92 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9.

    The Braves have acquired utilityman Marcus Lemon from the Rangers for a player to be named, tweets Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. Lemon, 23 in June, was a fourth-round pick of Texas in 2006, and has a career .274/.348/.372 line in five minor league campaigns, topping out at Double-A Frisco the past two seasons. He was drafted as a shortstop but began moving around the diamond in 2009.

  58. 58
    sdp Says:

    I can throw as hard as Brett DeVall.

    That’s why he got released.

  59. 59
    billy-jay Says:

    csg, I like your count better.

  60. 60
    BraveFanInChi Says:

    Congratulations to Alabama for their second place finish in the NIT.

  61. 61
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I think we’re missing one important fact: Jason Heyward is the greatest player in the history of whatever.

  62. 62
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I think you’re selling him short.

  63. 63
    JoeyT Says:

    I love how the Royals, by having so many Braves discards, are now ripped as casually as the Phillies and Mets.

  64. 64
    Stephen in the UAE Says:

    A great start to the 2011 season….

    Let me catch up and commend Wren for getting Bullock. Diamond paid off in the end….

    Young and Diamond illustrate some of the best features of the Braves’organization. Finding undrafted players and making them valuable. Obviously, this applies to Beachy.

    At the same time, Devall fits a different less positive pattern: namely, the fact that the Braves have not been impressive with their selections in the upper rounds of the draft. Letting Lee Hyde go prompted me to revisit the 2006 draft. Five years have passed and despite 3 first round picks, the selection of Kris Medlen in round 10 is all (unless Cory Rasmus makes it) that redeems that draft class.

    The great thing is the Braves have other ways of getting talent into the organization….

  65. 65
    Marc Schneider Says:

    Channeling AAR:

    Heyward sucks; he is no better than Jeff Francouer–they both have the same number of home runs and are both on pace for 162. Heyward should have hit at least two so he would be on pace for 324. He did this last year and hit what–only 16 more the rest of the year? And how many guys did he throw out at home yesterday? I tell you-Jeff Francouer is regaining his form. Uggla did nothing; he will probably hit .000 for the year. The Braves only scored two runs–this organization is incompetent, I tell you.

    I sure would have liked to have been at Dodger Stadium yesterday in 85 degree weather. Instead, I was at a convention of lawyers in Washington. Sigh!

  66. 66
    Adam M Says:

    “Regarding Baseball moving their ‘opening day’ to the middle of the week, a Thursday, this is exactly WHY Bud Selig is the WORST COMMISSIONER IN SPORTS.”

    Excluding Gary Bettman–in part because nobody watches hockey in the South–I’d say Roger Goodell is the worst commissioner in sports. No commissioner cares less about his sports’ consumers than does Goodell. Frankly, no commissioner does more to make his sport less accessible to fans.

    MLB.tv alone makes me like Selig more than Goodell. Consider this too: most NFL franchises don’t need ticket sales or, for that matter, the entire 2011 season to remain profitable. Goodell knows that, and yet he is not only exploiting that fact to break the NFLPA but will, when he achieves the latter, make the sport’s profits even more independent from ticket revenue (and thus the fans).

    But moving opening day to a Thursday makes Selig the worst commish ever. Totally.

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