– MLB – Recap – Braves at Cubs – 07/10/2003

Yawn, another offensive explosion… Vinny is the only player in the league who can go 4-4 and still be an easy target for criticism. He already had the single, double, and homer heading into his last at bat, and then hit a high drive to right-center that landed in the ivy with Sosa and the CF having trouble fielding it. It was a sure triple, but he jogged into second. Albert Hall lives. Vinny wound up 4-4 with four RBI, two runs.

In the battle of the Personal Catchers, Henry Blanco soundly thrashed predecessor Paul Bako. Blanco hit his first homer of the season in the ninth and also walked, finishing the day with two runs scored and three RBI. Bako was 0-4 (he did score a run) but is batting a robust .190 for the year, far ahead of Blanco’s .178. (Eddie Perez, however, is hitting .317/.344/.492. Go figure.)

The Braves as a whole had a 13-hit, 6-walk day. The game was still in doubt until the eighth, when the Braves turned a 6-3 game into an 11-3 hitting exhibition. Julio Franco started again against a lefty and had three hits, and even Darren Bragg had a single (okay, an infield single) off the bench. All the position starters except Giles scored at least one run.

Greg Maddux had a minimal quality start, six innings, three runs (two earned), but there were some good signs. He did allow a homer (okay, the wind was blowing out) but struck out seven and didn’t walk anyone. The pieces are there; more than anything he needs to cut down on the homers. Gryboski, Boom-Boom, and Hodges threw shutout innings to finish it. Why is it that the first two guys can have bad outing after bad outing and keep pitching, while if Hodges (whose ERA is still nearly a run better than Boom-Boom’s) has one, he disappears for nine days? Okay, that’s a rhetorical question.

Tomorrow’s game isn’t on TBS or WGN, but Saturday is a Fox network game (at least in the South and the Midwest), Sunday the ESPN night game.