Atlanta 4, St. Louis 2 – MLB – Recap – Cardinals at Braves – 04/23/2003

<SARCASM>What is wrong with Greg Maddux? Sure, he threw seven shutout innings before being lifted. What, he couldn’t throw a complete game? What a has-been! And he allowed three hits, for God’s sake. He’s obviously hanging by a thread. And sure, he didn’t walk anyone, but he did hit the first batter of the game, even if that batter was leaning into the pitch! We should have kept Glavine instead!</SARCASM>

The Braves got on top early with back-to-back solo homers by Marcus Giles and Gary Sheffield, then the offense pretty much went into hibernation. Maddux wasn’t bothered, and it looked like all he’d need.

I’m not sure why Greg was pulled after seven innings and only 76 pitches (54 strikes) but it was probably his call. Roberto Hernandez, in the setup role full-time now, it seems, gave up a hit but kept the Cards scoreless to keep the game 2-0. In the bottom of the inning, Giles drove in a run with a single and Sheffield one with a sac fly to make it 4-0.

I was unable to watch the game on TV, but I assume John Smoltz had already gotten ready starting in the eighth. Bobby held him back and sent Darren Holmes out there. Six pitches later the Cards had a walk and a homer and it was 4-2. Smoltz came in to get the save, and though he made it exciting — a single and a walk, and runners at second and third with two out — he got the job done.

My question is why Bobby didn’t send him out there to start the inning. Sure, it wasn’t a “save” situation, but John had already warmed up. It wasn’t like this was going to be a day off, so they might as well have used him, unless padding his save totals is a goal. He has eight now… The Expos are losing to the Diamondbacks late. If that holds up, the Braves will move into a first place tie. The Phillies are winning, and if that holds up too they’ll be in the tie as well.

Mike Hampton starts tomorrow, so Estrada and Blanco better limber up — they’re going to be blocking balls in dirt all night if the last Hampton start is any guide. The Cards’ best pitcher, Woody Williams, is going tomorrow. Williams so far this year is 3-0 and hasn’t been scored on.

10 thoughts on “Atlanta 4, St. Louis 2”

  1. BTW, that Sheffield “sac fly” was one of the hardest hit line drives of the season that Edmonds had to make a nice play on.

    Sheff is just in a total zone right now.

  2. Yeah, he’s freakin’ nailing the ball. Oh, but he’s a big bust, and he must be unhappy.

  3. Thanks to the DirecTV baseball package, I can tell you that you are correct in your assumption Mac. Smoltz was warmed up and ready prior to the 9th but sat down due to Cox’s management-by-save-rule use of his bullpen. Is there any other purely statistical rule that dictates player usage the way this one does? I can’t think of one.

  4. OK, so we complain when Cox brings Smoltz into a three-run game because, despite the fact that it’s a save situation, it’s low-leverage. Then, when Smoltz doesn’t come into a four-run game, the complaint is “Oh, that Cox, he won’t use Smoltz when it isn’t a save situation.” It’s lower-leverage than the three-run games people bitch about! It’s not using him in high-leverage, non-save situations that makes Cox a slave to the rule, not his refusal to use him in a situation we should feel comfortable with Esteban Yan cleaning up.

  5. On the second thought, maybe it wouldn’t be the worst idea to let Maddux make the start on his regular rest. Ramirez will get plenty of starts when Hampton implodes.

    Anyway, with the way Maddux started the year getting lit up and with the way he keeps pulling himself from starts despite low pitch counts, does anyone else feel that there may be some kind of injury situation with him that no one is talking about? It’s the only thing that makes much sense to me. He was rolling last night, bottom of the order due up, low pitch count, and still hit the showers.

    Whatever the situation with Maddux is, he seems to be getting it under control which is good news considering the money he’s making.

  6. My point is that once Smoltz has warmed up, he should pitch. It’s not a day off any more. Remember, it was a two-run game when he got ready, and in the top of the eighth Hernandez had let the tying run come to the plate. It’s when the Braves are leading 4-1 in the eighth and he gets up anyway that I have a problem.

  7. Why has nobody mentioned the lack of production so far with Chipper. I know he is not 100%, Has he lost is stroke or is April always a bad month for him?

  8. I think the reason no one has mentioned why Chipper hasn’t been producing is because Sheffield, Furcal, Andruw, and Giles are producing better than they did last year, and Chipper isn’t relied on the way he was. Also, we’ve had more things to complain about. The bullpen’s sucked, Maddux isn’t earning his money, Hampton and Byrd have been/are out. The Braves should be better than last year if Sheffield and Jones hit better than they did last year, Chipper stays the same, Furcal continues to work the count, and Giles becomes a factor in the lineup. A lot of the reason we lost so much last year was because we just didn’t scratch any runs across. Our pitching might not be as strong as it was last year, but it’s strong enough if our hitting continues to be like it has been.

  9. >A lot of the reason we lost so much last year

    Atlanta won 101 games last year, most in the National League. True, they did it with essentially a two and a half player offense but they didn’t really lose that much last year.

    Unless of course you were talking about the playoffs. In which case I would totally agree.

  10. aarghh! Gryboski strikes again! I can’t think of another pitcher in recent memory who was so maddeningly frustrating. Half the time, he comes into a jam, and gets an inning-ending double play…magic; other half of the time, he gets lit up like Brad Clontz in his prime (or Steve Reed that one year against lefties). It wouldn’t be so bad if he just totally stunk. I know that is contradictory, but…

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