– 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.