ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Braves at Giants – 08/19/2003
Jeez, if Barry Bonds doesn’t hit in the clutch, I’d hate to see what he’d do if he did. Bonds led off the bottom of the tenth with a homer to end the game. Ray King, who theoretically is supposed to get lefties, took the loss.
The game never should have gotten that far. The Braves had a 4-2 lead in the seventh off of Javy’s two-run homer, and it was 4-3 with two out, two strikes on Andres Galarraga, and a runner on third. And trying to “waste” a pitch, Trey Hodges threw a slider to the backstop. Maybe Javy should have caught it, but it was a wild pitch, tie game.
The Braves’ other two runs came on solo homers, Giles in the first and Sheffield in the fourth. They never trailed in the game until the end. It’s really the sort of thing that drives me bananas. They didn’t mount much offense other than the homers, garnering just three other hits, one walk, and one HBP. Andruw is clearly struggling and was 0-4 with two strikeouts; they really should give him a rest.
Russ Ortiz was good enough to win, but his no-decision wasn’t a perversion of justice or anything. He allowed the first three Giants runs, walking five and allowing six hits, with only four strikeouts in his return to San Francisco. He needed 119 pitches in seven innings. Hodges, other than his wild pitch, was pretty good, allowing just the one baserunner.
The next middle-of-the-night game involves Reynolds against Jesse Foppert, two guys with ERAs over five. So it will probably be 2-1, that’s the way things have been lately. It’s on ESPN2 if you’re outside the SportsSouth area… The Braves’ magic number is 26 with losses by Philadelphia and Florida. Those teams suddenly have a problem of their own; the left-for-dead Expos, who are now just four behind the Phillies. Between the wildcard and the Central, there are eight teams in the NL within five games of each other, all trying for two spots.
To be fair to Hodges, that’s a ball Javy should have blocked. But instead of getting his body in fron of it he just tried to backhand it. But you still gotta wonder about the pitch selection. In that situation you shouldn’t throw anything that could result in a wild pitch, especially when you’re only trying to waste one anyway. Galarraga has been known to chase high fastballs, so why not just throw one up and in and see if he chases?
Also, why in the world didn’t Bobby bring in Smoltz to face Bonds? I know it’s easy to second-guess the move now, and King had done well against Bonds before, but I think when you’re facing the best hitter in the world with the game on the line, you should always go with your best reliever and worry about the save later.
When Cox brought Smoltz in to face Pujols last week and Smoltz gave up a jack, a lot of people here bitched that he should have stayed with Ramirez. You can’t have it both ways. By the way, Bonds was 0-for-6 lifetime against Ray King (not a huge sample I know, but then neither was the 0-for-3 Pujols was against Ramirez).
“Come on, Dorn, get in front of the damn ball! Don’t give me any of this ol?i> bullshit.”
That was such a lazy play. When your pitcher throws an 0-2 slider off the plate, how can you not be prepared to get your body in front of it? With the tying run on third, no less! Being slow to react and then just reaching for it with the backhand is inexcusable. And even that should have been enough, since the pitch hit the dirt after it had already gotten under his damn glove. God, what a sucky play.
I think Javy was surprised. Maybe he shouldn’t have been, but it looked to me like he thought the ball was finished breaking. Remember, he was already set up way outside. Maybe he should have blocked it, but it was a split second decision.
But I agree with Steffen, that’s poor pitch selection against Galarraga, who can’t get his bat around on high strikes anymore.
As for whether King should have faced Bonds or not, I think at this point in the season Cox is trying to figure out his bullpen. With the Giants a possible postseason opponent, I’d prefer Bobby try out King in a BOnds matchup now. I think he’s trying different guys in different roles to see where they’ll succeed, given the large cushio the Braves have in the standings.
Perhaps I’m confusing his strikeout with Aurilia’s, but didn’t Galarraga wave at a slider on the very next pitch? He’s a hacker, and for pitchers who don’t have an overpowering fastball, a slider breaking off the plate has always been the way to go.
It wasn’t the next pitch, but your right that Hodges easily struck out Galarraga on a slider two pitches later. The pitch selection was fine, Hodges has a pretty weak fastball so there is no need to risk using it when his good slider is very likely enough to get Galarraga. If Javy gets his butt out there, Ortiz is sitting on 18 wins right now. It was good to see Hodges put in a tight situation, but very sad to see it ruined by a lazy play. That’s the kind of thing that can keep Ortiz from getting his 20 wins.
As easy as it is to second-guess other aspects of the game, you have to just sit back and admire Bonds. I sometimes think it’s silly the amount of times he is intentionally walked, but then he goes and does something like that, making me think we should have just pitched around him for a third time. The man is just amazing. It’s almost like he’s just toying with the game itself.
Putting Pedro Feliz behind Bonds is just begging for the IBB.
So, who do we want to win the other divisions/wildcard races ?
OK Joshua, I’ll bite…
NL Central — Two words: Houston Astros. Past postseason collapses against Atlanta, aside their pitching stinks and they’re as home run dependent as the Braves.
Wild Card — Anyone but the Marlins. Looks like a repeat of 1997 all over again.
AL Divisions — Doesn’t matter. We’ll cross that bridge when/if we get to it.
Robert: That is not entirely correct. The slider Galarraga struck out on was actually in the strike zone or close to it, while the wild pitch was way out of the zone and in the dirt. Now if Hodges has confidence in his slider and wants to get him on 0-2 than that’s fine, but he was clearly trying to waste one. As Mac said, Galarraga doesn’t exactly have Gary Sheffield-type bat speed, so I don’t think he could get around even on a mediocre fastball if it’s at the letters and inside. So in my mind, that would have been the spot to go to if he wanted to waste a pitch.
You are correct Steffen that the pitch that struck out Galarraga was in the strike zone. If my earlier post implied it wasn’t, I apologize. My point was that Hodges has a good slider that should be good enough to get Galarraga at this point in his career. On the other hand, Galarraga was hitting almost .300 coming into this game so there must be some pitch he can hit. I think he would have a pretty good chance at Hodges’ high 80s straight fastball.
Robert: Let’s not forget that Javy was the reason the Braves were ahead to begin with. He hit a 2-run homer, he gave up 1 on the wild pitch; that’s still +1. Ortiz gave up the other one on that gopher ball he served to Jose Cruz in the 7th. Ortiz is just as much to blame for the blown win as Javy.
Robert: There was nothing wrong with your earlier post. The slider is Hodges’ best pitch and that’s the pitch he should try to get him with. I was just saying that if he wasn’t trying to get him on 0-2 anyway, why risk a wild pitch by bouncing one in the dirt? Of course I don’t want him to challenge Andres with a fastball. The pitch I was talking about is the fastball waaayyy up and in, you know, the type of pitch that Vinny loves to strike out on. That’s a pitch that with the exception of Gary Sheffield and maybe a few others nobody ever hits, especially not a 42-year old. Maybe you can get him to chase it, if not it still sets up the slider on the outside corner.
Nah, we want the Cubs to make the playoffs. If we can’t beat a team with the likes of Goodwin,
Glanville, and Womack, then we don’t deserve to
win the pennant.
Certainly a good point jlp. I certainly hadn’t forgotten Javy’s homer, I would just expect a catcher to block that ball last night. As a former pitcher, if my catcher calls for a slider away and then is slow to react when it’s in the dirt, I’ve got to wonder what’s going on. Trey looked quite frustrated afterwards, I’m sure mostly with himself but it had to be a little bit of his catcher letting him down. Certainly just a blip in Javy’s otherwise epic season.
Steffan, I agree that a fastball up and in to setup the slider away is certainly a good strategy (as long as you don’t hit him). I really think in the back of Trey’s mind last night was the 0-2 hanger he threw to Mordecai in Flordia that cost them the game. He had to be thinking “Don’t hang it”. So he puts a little extra on it and it’s ends up in the dirt. Such is the life of a pitcher.
Man, I could just talk about pitching all day.
Maybe I remember it wrong but it seems to me like the pitch in question didn’t bounce at all, at least not until it was past Javy (under his glove), and the problem Javy had was that he was slowly moving out to block a pitch that he could have caught in the air by backhanding it? To me it was clearly a passed ball, but judging from what everyone else is saying I must have been watching a different game…
Good point about Hodges Robert. I really think he shouldn’t have been pitching in that situation in the first place. He’s not setup man. If you want to use him out of the bullpen, use him as a long reliever.
What I still don’t understand is why Bobby didn’t bring in Smoltz in that situation. I mean, you have maybe the best closer in the NL sitting on the bench begging to get some work, and you just let him watch how some lesser reliever gives away the lead (not all by his own, but still)? Why not even let him go two? He’s only pitched 3.2 innings all month! He needs to get some work!And regardless of the standings, this was an important game against a possible playoff opponent that the Braves certainly would have liked to win.