Mike Hampton had another good start in a series of good ones. As has become a pattern, he was perfect through three (he’s had a no-hitter into the fourth at least five times this year) before hitting a wall in the middle innings. In this case, it was a double followed by a single (the batter was thrown out at second by Andruw) to score a run. The Braves already had a 3-0 lead, and Hampton settled down from there. The stat line shows eight innings, five Ks, just three hits, two walks, and 99 pitches. I am impressed with how he’s come along, and it’s possible he’s actually an asset. All I really hoped for was that he wouldn’t hurt the team, but he looks good.
The Braves got all their runs in the first five innings again. I’m somewhat concerned about how the Braves of late seem to hang up their bats against even mediocre relievers (Joe Roa tonight). It didn’t matter in this game, but it did last night, and could come back to haunt them. Right now, you have to hope they break through against the starter.
Chipper homered for the second day in a row, a leadoff shot in the third. Vinny broke out of a slump (no, not Vinny!) with a two-run homer to cap the scoring in the fifth. Furcal went 4-5, and he and Giles both scored twice. All the Braves’ position players had hits, including Matt Franco, who started at first for some reason, maybe just to get him playing time. Sheffield now has a 17-game hitting streak.
Kent Mercker pitched the ninth in his Atlanta return, allowing a hit and a walk, but no runs. He faced a bunch of righthanders, but if Bobby is going to use him that way I doubt he’s going to succeed. Kent’s pretty much a specialist at this stage. To make room, Jung Bong was sent to AAA. I had a suspicion that might happen, that Bobby would prefer to have the righthander he doesn’t know if can pitch yet, Cunnane, over the lefty Bong, whom he’s lost confidence in.
But the big news is that Roberto Hernandez was placed on the DL. They say it’s a “strained left hamstring”; I suggest Boom-Boom Bobby has the same thing Mark Wohlers had in August of 1998: “Inability to pitch”. Trey Hodges was activated from the DL to fight Cunnane for mopup innings.