Atlanta 5, Philadelphia 3 – MLB – Recap – Phillies at Braves – 06/24/2003

Everyone who thought that Javy Lopez would be tied for the major league lead in homers on June 25, raise your hands. I thought so. Javy hit two more last night, both solo shots — a game-tying shot in the fifth and an insurance run in the seventh. In between, Andruw hit one out to dead center, scoring Chipper in front of him.

It was an oddly pitched game. For the Braves, Russ Ortiz started out doing a Shane Reynolds impersonation, allowing ten baserunners in the first three innings. He managed to strand seven and get a double play, allowing only two runs, but he was lucky. His control was all over the place and it seemed he wouldn’t be in the game much longer. But then he turned around and retired the Phillies in order in innings 4-6. Just strange. He gave way to Ray King in the seventh after a double.

For the Phillies… I don’t know what to say about Kevin Millwood. He allowed seven hits and one walk in seven innings, which is pretty good. But in addition to the three homers there were three doubles, plus two home run balls pulled back by outfielders. And he didn’t strike anyone out. I didn’t get a real handle on his velocity, but he wasn’t blowing them away with his fastballs, and the Braves picked on his slider all night. Since the no-hitter and the rest of the fast start, Kevin’s been in free-fall. For those who think that the Braves would be better off with him instead of Greg Maddux, his ERA is now 4.07, Maddux’s 4.31 heading into a start tonight, and you know Maddux’s trend of late.

Marcus Giles finally got a hit, a double (he later scored) in the first. But then he went right back to hitting weak grounders and popups and generally getting himself out… Andruw also had an infield single to go with his homer. It came on a 3-2 pitch that I thought was ball four. His homer was also on a pitch a little away from him. We criticize him for swinging at outside pitches, and rightly so. But when that pitch is just a little outside, he often hammers it. The homer last night was like a lot of his homers; he hit it slightly off the end of the bat to center, I think “%@^!@! he got under it!” and 420 feet later it lands next to the camera in center field. For all that I’m sick of Joe Simpson talking about how the Braves should hit to the opposite field (hey, Joe, if you know so much about hitting, why’d you hit .242 for your career?) he has a point about Andruw, who doesn’t need to pull the ball to hit homers.

8 thoughts on “Atlanta 5, Philadelphia 3”

  1. I agree with most of your commentary, Mac, but the comment about Joe Simpson (“if you know so much…”) is a bit odd. I mean, there is a difference between knowing what to do and being able to do it. Or do you think all of us, including you, who like to hang out online posting criticism should shut up and let those who “have played the game” do all the talking?

    It seems the Braves have had lots of guys like this over the years. Two (Murphy and Andruw) are among the best power hitters around when they are going the other way. Unfortunately, it ain’t as easy as just deciding to do it.

  2. It’s a philosophical thing. It’s my belief that for most hitters the Harry Walker style of hitting that Simpson is advocating turns them into players who do nothing but hit singles. Even in his playing days — even if you could hit singles thirty percent of the time, instead of a quarter like Simpson — that wasn’t good, and now it’s a disaster. His commentary on Andruw, Marcus, and Javy (to name three of the most obvious examples) over the years has been basically that three All-Star type hitters should try to hit more like Joe Simpson. Javy seems to be doing pretty well pulling the ball this year…

  3. When you go to the plate looking to pull the ball, you commit your hips too early and you get out of sync – that’s when you start rolling over the ball and hitting grounders to third. I don’t care what kind of hitter you are, you have to keep your hands back and hit the ball where it is pitched. You can pull a ball out of the park without going up there with the pre-concieved idea of pulling it, and when you are lunging at the ball you become extremely vulnerable to junk and outside pitches. That’s the way I understand Joe’s criticism. He’s not saying don’t pull the ball, he’s saying don’t get yourself out by committing to the ball too early.

  4. My problem with Simpson is not his wish that everybody hit the ball to right field (although Marcus clearly has power that way); it’s that he doesn’t realize that Giles is in a slump because he’s swinging at every first pitch, not because he’s trying to pull the ball.

    That Harry Walker/Walt Hriniak stuff works for some people — it made Wade Boggs a Hall of Famer — but everyone can’t be Wade Boggs.

  5. Notes on Javy (also posted to teh Braves newsgroup):

    –Now has the highest OPS on the team, 1.078 to Sheff’s 1.074.
    –Third highest OPS in the NL, behind Pujols and Bonds
    –Has an OPS 230 points above the next-highest full-time catcher (injured Piazza not included here)
    –Has had only two full seasons in which he hit more home runs than he has so far
    –Has only 12 walks all season
    –Hit 278/337/358 with only one homer in about 180 PA at home in 2002
    –Is hitting 376/404/906 with 13 HR in about 90 PA at home in 2003

  6. I know a lot of us are wondering when Javy is going to turn back into a pumpkin, but right now I don’t care. I say we enjoy the ride while it lasts. However, it’s a good thing Blanco gives him that day off every five days (he, he, he).

  7. Yeah, good thing he gets to sit tonight with homers in his last two at bats. Wouldn’t want him to get into a rut.

    I will give Joe one piece of credit: He’s right that Bowa should move Lieberthal to the top of the order. Lieberthal has a .390 OBP, Polanco and Rollins are at .328 and .315. If Abreu isn’t comfortable hitting leadoff, the catcher’s their next-best option. But Bowa’s an idiot; you think Bobby is frustrating, be glad we don’t have that bozo running things.

  8. Crap, I’d forgotten Javy would be sitting tonight. Sigh. Well, here’s hoping Maddux continues his strong pitching form of late.

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