– MLB – Recap – Expos at Braves – 03/31/2003

Ugh, that was awful.

Greg Maddux gave up four runs in the first and the Braves never recovered. Maddux pitched well enough after that, giving up only an unearned run. But the bullpen managed to give up five in the last two innings, which pretty much ended any chance at a comeback. Ray King threw 11 pitches, eight of them balls, to two batters; Roberto Hernandez walked two more and allowed two hits relieving him; and Jung Bong allowed three runs in the ninth to make the score really ugly. These are supposed to be the good middle relievers, mind you. I miss Remlinger already.

I have to “watch” these day games on Gamecast for the most part. So rather than being a couple times removed from the Braves’ decision making, I’m more like three or four times, and “What the heck was he thinking?” moments pop up even more often. In this case, the game more or less ended in the seventh inning. The Braves were trailing 5-1, but the Expos’ starter Tony Armas was out of the game. Javy Lopez (pinch-hitting for Blanco) singled and Matt Franco walked. The Expos brought in a new reliever, and Rafael Furcal singled… And with one out and the best hitters on the team coming up, Javy Lopez, the slowest man on the team, tried to score from second on a single to center. He was out, Fick (hitting second, for reasons only known to Bobby) grounded out… and the Expos got three runs in the next inning to put the game away. And Sheffield walked and Chipper singled to lead off the eighth, Sheffield later scoring. Just boneheaded baseball. Down four runs that late, the value of an individual run is pretty low versus the risk of an out.

You can blame that one on the new third base coach or the baserunner, but the other “What the heck is he thinking?” moment is squarely on Bobby’s head. With two out in the eighth and two runs already in, runners on first and second, Bobby had Hernandez intentionally walk Jose Vidro to load the bases. Hernandez promptly walked Ron Calloway to make it 8-1.

Tomorrow is an off-day thanks to this goofy Opening Week schedule. Horacio Ramirez will make his Major League debut Wednesday against the Expos’ Tomo Ohka.