Wait, can the Rockies stay for a few more days? I’ll miss them… The Braves swept the series behind Russ Ortiz and some early runs, getting five in the first four innings, then held on. Gary Sheffield scored twice and drove one in, and every Braves starter except Julio Franco (including Ortiz) had a single hit.
Ortiz (7 2/3, 2 ER, 6 K, 4 BB) threw a ton of pitches, 131, with 74 of them being strikes. Yes, it was a double header and you don’t want to tire your bullpen, but Bobby had three relievers he didn’t use at all in the series. Not surprisingly, Ortiz tired in the eighth, King came on to allow two more inherited runners to score, and Hernandez got out of it.
Then, even more foolishly, Bobby sent John Smoltz back out there to get another save, even with a three run lead and three relievers gathering cobwebs in the pen. Why couldn’t Jung Bong or Trey Hodges finish the game? The only explanation is that Bobby thinks that maximizing Smoltz’s save totals is a more important goal than maximizing the number of times he can use his best reliever with the game in doubt.
On the other hand, Smoltz might have already been getting warm in case Hernandez couldn’t get out of the eighth. In which case, forget I said anything.
The Braves now have a two-game lead over Montreal. Next up is a real challenge; the defending NL champion Giants, owners of the NL’s best record and the league’s best player. Should be fun.