Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

Scarred, but smarter.

15 Jun

Braves 13, Nationals Bullpen Stinks

There are two things we definitely learned about the Nationals and Braves: the Braves can score runs with the best of them, and the Nationals bullpen is completely terrible. The Braves have not much room to talk as there have been glaring weaknesses with even some of the best Braves teams of the last two decades, but how does a contending team give this little care to its bullpen? But I’m not crying; the Braves took 2 of 3 in Washington from the division leaders.

But what is even more impressive is that the Braves produced 13 runs with only one long ball. Kurt Suzuki accounted for the lone home run, but 5 lineup regulars each had multi-hit games. Brandon Phillips had the first 4-hit game since Ender’s 5-hit game a week and a half ago. We were starting to get worried. Kevin Seitzer really deserves a lot of credit.

Good Julio showed up again, this time limiting his Nationals Park home run allowance to one. But a big point is that Julio got 9 groundball outs to just 3 fly outs, and when he can finally keep the ball down, he could get back on track. All told, he pitched 7 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 2 ER, and 3 K. 4 out of 5 and 5 out of 7 of his previous starts have been of the quality variety (though the other starts were real clunkers), so maybe he’s getting back on track as we speak.

On pace for 72 wins… your Atlanta Braves!

14 Jun

Nats 10, Braves 5

Bleh.

So much for capitalizing on the inspirational come-from-behind win on Monday. Let’s win the series tonight.

Natspos delenda est.

13 Jun

“The Benghazi Handicaps” : Braves 11, Nats 10

A see saw affair. Braves lead. Nats lead. Braves lead. Nats lead. Braves climb a little. Braves lead. Braves hold off Nats. Braves win.

One good pitcher that the Braves have frequently owned is Steven Strasburg. So, when you DO have his number (and get 3 runs in the first) you figure you have a good shot. Then, by the end of the second, you are down 4 to 3. Then, in the third, up 6 to 4. Mike Foltyneweicz just didn’t have it. He left trailing 7 to 6 and one more of his scored, obviously. Strasburg came out after 5 and the battle of the bullpens went to the Braves. The capping blow by Tyler Flowers with a 3 run homer in the top of the ninth to turn a one run deficit into a 2 run lead. Jim Johnson gave up a run but got the save.

Benghazi Handicaps is a term a British officer used to apply to the “Battle in the Western Desert.” The “western” part meant “west of Cairo and Alexandria.” Handicaps as in the horse races. When you look at a map of Egypt and Libya you will notice that the coastline gradually moves westward from Alexandria until just past Benghazi when it curves southward, then later westward. Just after the fall of France, Italian forces in Libya moved into Egypt as far as Sidi Barrani. The British were VERY outnumbered. While the Italians waited for supplies to catch up, the British attacked. The Italians retreated along the coastal road and railroad and the British sent a light weight motorized force diagonally across the desert to try to cut the Italians off. This took them to a place called El Agheila. For the next 2 years this was repeated over and over. Axis advances and utilizes the desert route to cut off British. Reverse. Reverse. Each time a side advanced, their supply and air support was strained and they couldn’t hold on defensively, let alone continue the offensive. This continued until The British Advance from El Alamein. That time, “Operation Torch” had taken most of French North Africa leaving Axis supply and support lines strained even more than the previous times.

11 Jun

Mets 2, Braves phone it in.

(Insert subtly understated lede and/or atrocious pun here)

(Insert brief synopsis for those who haven’t read the box score yet here)

(Insert some short analysis here.  Be alternately optimistic and realistic.)

(Insert next game here)

(Insert played-out gimmick here)

IMPORTANT: Review checklist before publishing!!

 

10 Jun

GAME 2 Braves 1 Mets 8……………Et tu, Brucus?

More of the same I’m afraid, rather more so because Wisler, though ‘decent’ was not as good as Newk and EOF was particularly bad at the tail end.But most of all our offense was anemic. 2 runs on the night, the total over 54 outs.

 
Having walked the very first batter he faced Wisler settled in and looked ok for the first, scoreless, 4 innings. Then the white flag went up. He stayed on through 6 and left 4-0 down. It was not a performance without promise I thought when you consider some of the starting pitching we’ve been putting up with this season. Keep him up I say, t/with Newk of course. Awful offense, what’s happening?

 

Why Brucus? It was he who got to Wisler with a 3 run homer in the fifth. He did not help his cause by walking the lead off man, Conforto. He ended up walking three in all, acceptable at this stage??

 

So that’s that. I present for your edification and consolation a 60 year old recording of Rock ‘n Rolls most visible first band for those of us in Europe. When they came our way it was all considered very ‘naughty’, wicked even by  parents who approved unmuzzled Police German Shepherds being marched provocatively up and down the screaming aisles. Oh we were so grown up.

 

Relax, have a cup of coffee!l

10 Jun

GAME ONE..BRAVES 1, METS 6….. WE’RE STILL STANDING

Yes. We’re still standing.

If someone had offered you the choice before today’s game of losing it but Newcomb having a great debut or winning it but he was poor would you really have had to take much time deciding?  No. And that’s what we got. A terrific outing from our new guy through 6 1/3 innings, an offense stifled by the excellent Gsellman and a blow out finish to wrap it up.

Sean’s opening innings, his opening PITCH was pretty amazing. Lovely slow curve biting into the first two batters who both took it. His bearing on the mound impressed, he stayed calm and cool throughout(except for his error, rushing the throw ,on a comebacker, to second for an easy double play) Fastball mainly in the low nineties but that’s not his main weapon. It’s there when hitters start obsessing with dealing with his curve and become easy prey.It was a terrific debut, without qualification. With all the fuss beforehand about his walks he had only one unintentional.

Newcomb finished after 6 1/3 with 4 hits, one walk, one run (unearned, his error). 7 strike outs. Wow, we were so happy. It’s pretty fairy tale stuff when you stop to think about it. Who cares we lost the game, we gained immeasurably more.

Things that happened during the game. We stayed down 1-0 seemingly for ever unable to hit Gsellman. Brandon eventually hit a solo homer in the 8th but by that time they had added a second of the rubbishy Jackson who then went on to load the bases in the 9th and give up a grand slam to the returning, and ailing, Cespedes. Game over.

Our defense was poor, sloppy, 2 errors. Drop the embargo on Camargo, what is Snit playing at? Listen to the sound of the ball off his bat, more than half the time. All time feeble pinch hit from Matt Kemp. Matt A, go oppo field more, you’ve plenty power there. Ender, another fabulous catch in right center!

We shall return. We’re still standing.

10 Jun

Bravos 3, IWOTM 2

No one can deny that Dansby Swanson has been a big disappointment so far in 2017. His BA has mostly been below the Mendoza line, and his defense hasn’t made anyone forget our late departed Simba.

Well, he silenced those critics last night, didn’t he? Seriously, Dansby did have a helluva game; his performance was the difference between a win and a loss. It turned out to be an unlikely pitcher’s duel—a matchup of two struggling starters, Julio Teheran and Matt Harvey, in the new Launching Pad (Cobb County edition). The Bravos were training 1-0 in the bottom of the 6th when Swanson scorched a two-out, two run scoring double to left. To show what little respect Dansby has garnered among opposing teams, the Mets had intentionally walked Danny Santana (!) just ahead of Swanson.

The Mets tied it in the top of the 7th on a Travis D’Arnaud homer. It remained tied until the bottom of the 9th, when Swanson hit a routine single up the middle. At least Curtis Granderson thought it was a single and did what center fielders routinely do on such hits. Dansby never stopped running, though, and slid safely into second just ahead of Granderson’s hurried throw into second. So the winning run is on second with one out. Young Rio Ruiz pinch hits for the pitcher. Terry Collins did what any competent manager would do and brought in a lefty to face Ruiz. Snit showed a lot of confidence in Ruiz and let him face the lefty (perhaps because Teheran was unavailable as a right handed pinch hitter). Rio hung in against the lefty and hit a groundball through the opposite side. Dansby raced home and the celebration ensued.

In addition to his offensive heroics, Swanson made a couple of terrific plays in the field, one a diving grab to his left and another throwing out a runner after going to his knees in the hole. Someone asked in the game thread if Swanson is coming around. Who knows? For what it’s worth, I think we will continue to see improvement at the plate. I’m not making predictions, but I’ll guess his BA ends up somewhere between last year’s .302 and his current .215 (which is a lot better than it was when this month began). I do love the way Swanson runs the bases. He never trots, and he seems to have a great sense of when he can take the extra base.

The other big story of the game is the start by Julio. Only one run, that a solo homer by Granderson, in 6 innings. That makes four very good starts in a row by Braves pitchers. The weak link all year for this team has been the starting pitching. Actually, another weak link has been the performance of the some of the bullpen. Not singling anyone out, but they throw with their left arms and the names begin with K and O. Last night, Snit brought in both EOF and Krol in leveraged situations to face left handed batters, and both got the job done. If the Braves can get these kinds of efforts going forward, this team may strengthen its hold on second place! Don’t scoff at that—we are ahead of the Mets, and that is a decided blessing in a troubled time.

Speaking of pitching, today marks the major league debut of Sean Newcomb. I’m excited to see him. As you all know, he has perhaps the best pure stuff of any of the Braves thousand or so pitching prospects. He also can be reminiscent of another Nuke, namely Laloosh, in his inability to find the strike zone. Let’s hope instead he has a career like an earlier Newk, the great Don Newcombe. In his career, Don Newcombe won the ROY, MVP, and Cy Young awards. He also led the league in fewest walks per nine innings three times, averaging fewer than 2 walks per 9 innings. Something to shoot for!

07 Jun

Braves 14, Phillies 1

Hey, not bad!

Mike Foltynewicz continues to be the most valuable pitcher (squeeking out Jaime Garcia by .1 WAR), throwing 7 strong innings, no runs, two walks, four hits, and four strikeouts. His last 2 starts have produced 14 innings and zero earned runs. This is the Folty we all love to see.

Offense broke out of its mini-slump with 14 runs on 12 hits and 6 walks, with one big hit being a three-run homer by Dansby Swanson, who also added two more base hits. One came on a funky play that involved a hard grounder off the pitcher and an acrobatic elusion of the first baseman. With a little power lately, he’s inching over that .600 OPS after a terrible start (and two subsequent slumps). Markakis also had three hits, and Ruiz had 2 walks, but the hits aren’t quite falling. At least he’s not Adonis Garcia. Inciarte contributed two hits of his own, and Big City added another home run. The offense really poured it on in the later innings as 10 of the runs came in the 7th and 8th.

When the game was still slightly in doubt, Jose Ramirez pitched a scoreless inning, and in mop up duty, Luke Jackson gave up a run in the 9th.

On Saturday, for just one day, we will have 4 starting pitchers aged 26 or younger. And on that one day, we will have 15 players on the roster that are 28 or younger. A youth movement could be coming.

07 Jun

Phillies: 3 Braves: Cap Tippin’

The first pitch was, by far, the coolest thing that happened at SunTrust Park Tuesday night:

Other than that, the Braves just had to do a whole lot of cap tippin’. Aaron Nola was on, limiting the Braves to one run on five hits in eight innings. He got six strikeouts, and the Braves could never really figure him out. They tried to mount a modest rally in the 9th, but it fell short.

Jaime Garcia held his own and pitched a pretty good ballgame. He went 7.2 innings and gave up three runs on eight hits, striking out four. He’s lowered his ERA to 3.21, and has been one of the bright spots in the rotation. He was just plain outpitched tonight.

This game fell into the 1/3 every team loses on a season. It happens. If the Braves can win the next two, they will split this series. If they can win just one, they will at least not get swept. It’s the small joys in life you have to focus during rebuilds. Somehow, the Braves are still in a tie for second place in the division. The NL East is absolutely wretched.

Losing-against-terrible-teams-like-the-Phillies delenda est.
Natspos delenda est.

06 Jun

Brewster Buffalo Bartolo: Phillies 11, Braves 4

Last night, at 6 p.m., I remembered Major Howard and the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. That was a highlight before considering this debacle of a Braves game.

Coppollella took a risk. The last 2 years 42 and 43 year old Bartolo Colon had been an ABOVE AVERAGE starting pitcher. But, baseball history is littered with guys that suddenly dove off the cliff.

The Brewster Buffalo was the “navalized” version of the P 35 fighter plane. The P 35 competed in the Bendix Cup airplane races in the late 1930’s. It was the first steel frame and skin, monoplane fighter of the United States Army Air Corps.

But during the desperation of a war of total industrial commitment, technology can become outdated at an extraordinary clip. By 1941, Gen. Claire Chennault had already pointed out to the Army Air Corps how the P 35 could not handle the Zeros (but, how with the right tactics, P 40’s could).

Last Saturday marked the 75th anniversary of the most crucial day in the Battle of Midway. As the first Japanese air assault came toward Midway, the Marine flyers on the island entered their planes to defend their base. 20 of the 26 planes were Brewster Buffalos. Only 7 of those made it back to Midway and only 2 of the 6 F4F’s. The Buffalo never saw a serious front line fighting role again. The time for the Buffalo had gone.

And thus after taking advantage of the Mets by not bidding for Julio Franco when his ageless magic was ready to decline, the Braves and Mets have gotten even with the Braves bringing on the Bartolo Colon of the expired date. By the time Colon got 2 outs in the 4th, there were also 7 runs in. I haven’t checked Win Probability Added tables, but I am guessing that at a 7 to 0 deficit, the Braves had a 5% chance (assuming they were playing somebody as bad as these Phillies).

Are there any good takeaways from this one. Johan Comargo needs to be on a Major League roster. Luke Jackson may be pretty good.

By the way, Eric O’Flaherty is another Brewster Buffalo.

So, is the Fast Carrier Task Force sitting to the northeast ready to come in or not? Maybe Lucas Sims can be a Spruance.

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