Your most precious possession on offense is your 27 outs — Earl Weaver
You know what bugs me? When a team — for example, the Braves — tries to make a great play, fails, and turns a one-run inning into a big inning. Take, for example, last night in the fourth inning of a 1-0 game, runners on first and third, when Rafael Furcal tried to cut down a runner at the plate on a grounder by the pitcher rather than just take the out. He failed, and 2-0 became 3-0, then 4-0. I don’t know the exact percentage, but I suspect your chances of coming back to win from 2-0 down in the fourth are something like four times greater than coming back from 4-0. TAKE THE OUT. Mike Hampton, in particular, depends upon his defense, and bad defense will kill him.
Offensively, the Braves loaded the bases in the first on walks, but Javy Lopez struck out looking to end the inning on what I thought was ball three. (Where are you, Questec?) Since patience had failed, the Braves — after making Randy Wolf throw forty pitches in the first — decided to start swinging at everything. Pitches a foot outside, or cap-bill-high, or in the dirt. I don’t think they swung at anything behind them, but I wouldn’t be surprised. After three walks in the first, they had only one more the entire game. And they had only five hits, only one of them an extra-base hit — a double.
The Braves are officially slumping. Hopefully, a visit to Tampa will help.