ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Marlins at Braves – 04/07/2003
Boom. Boom. Boom. Sheffield, Chipper, and Andruw hit consecutive home runs in the sixth inning. That was all the scoring, and Russ Ortiz had his first win as a Brave. Ortiz started shakily, especially with his control (see below) but pitched around that and got stronger as the game went on.
The inexplicable Roberto Hernandez loaded the bases in the eighth (I was surprised Ortiz was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh, having thrown less than 90 pitches, but he was on three days’ rest) but the also inexplicable Kevin Gryboski managed to get a double play to get out of the inning. John Smoltz finished it off; he hasn’t been scored on yet this season, having pitched in all three Braves wins and saving two of them.
The Braves drew no walks in the game and had only two hits other than the homers, one each by Lopez and Giles. Vinny Castilla was hit by a pitch, which is always good. The Braves are very home-run dependent right now. They’re 3-0 when hitting one and 0-4 when not. Andruw has hit one out in all three wins.
The Braves now travel to Philadelphia for a three-game series. Kevin Millwood is scheduled to pitch Thursday, with Paul Byrd tentatively listed as the Braves’ starter. Just great. (UPDATE: On the other hand, Byrd might be more likely to pitch than Millwood, who left his last start with a groin strain. Kevin wants to pitch against the Braves, but management disagrees.)
It didn’t happen in this game, but I couldn’t resist commenting on something I heard Don Sutton say in Friday night’s game. Joe said something about a borderline strike and Don weighed in with this pearl of wisdom:
“You know, there are different kinds of strikes. There are strikes, there are tough strikes, and there are near-strikes.”
Yeah, those near-strikes. Otherwise known as BALLS. Idiot. Can’t believe we’re sentenced to a full year of this dipshit.
Going to be heard sometime in May:
“You know, Joe, not all hits are on bad pitches.”
“Yes, Don, I knew that.”
“So, that’s in for the Braves here in the fifth. No runs on a hit, one left on base, and I’ve just strangled Don. Skip and Pete will be back after stadium security detains me.”
Lots of trends we’ve seen in the past held in today’s game. Ortiz is wild but effective. (If his wildness is a problem, I wish Greg Maddux would suddenly develop this problem. I wouldn’t mind seeing a few pitches out of the zone instead of another 82 MPH meatball chest-high down the middle.) The Braves’ offense relies on the homer but not on the walk. And of course Kevin Gryboski continues to be Bobby Cox’s go to man when the bases are loaded and less than two outs. And Kevin came through again today by getting IRod to hit in to a DP. That should extend his stay with the Braves a few more months.
Vinny Castilla was hit by a pitch, which is always good
I’m not sure how to check this, but my guess is that Castilla has swung at the first pitch in at roughly half his at-bats. Hey, I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but he’s a “notorious first ball fastball hitter”, which the Marlin announcers were kind enough to inform me for the 12 millionth time yesterday. Original thought is apparently banned in nearly all broadcast booths. Question: What does a guy have to do to become a “notorious” crappy baseball player?
Furcal is also continuing to get himself out very early in counts, and I fear that as long as his BA stays at least in the upper 2’s, no one is going to do anything about it.
Hey Mac, that bit about strangling Sutton was the funniest baseball related thing I’ve read in months. Thanks.
samuel: Your suspiscion is correct. Going through ESPN’s pitch-by-pitch log Vinny has offered at the first pitch of 15 of his plate appearences. He has taken the first pitch only 10 times, 6 of which were balls, 4 of which were strikes looking.
FWIW, Vinny is averaging 2.65 pitches per PA this season so far; Furcal is actually at 3.74, though that’s below the career high he had of 4.10 his rookie year.