Florida 5, Atlanta 4

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Braves at Marlins – 09/12/2003

Normally, you want to get into an opponent’s bullpen early. The first inning — even if on an injury — is great. But the Braves, after getting three runs (two on a long homer by Andruw) off Brad Penny saw him leave with two out in the inning with an elbow problem. And the Marlins bullpen held the Braves to one run in 8 1/3 innings. This keeps happening. Even if the relievers aren’t too good, the Braves can’t seem to hit them.

Mike Hampton went seven decent innings, throwing 107 pitches and allowing two runs. But Jaret Wright showed why he was disposed of by the Padres, allowing two runs in the eighth, the second on a wild pitch, to tie the game. And Ray King allowed a run in the ninth to lose it. Pathetic.

The Phillies lost to fall to 1 1/2 behind the Marlins… Russ Ortiz starts tomorrow night.

8 thoughts on “Florida 5, Atlanta 4”

  1. I think your assessment of Wright’s appearance was too harsh. He did allow two runs, but did not look that bad in doing so. He had good velocity and movement, but had some command problems which were his undoing. He only gave up one hit (a lead-off double on a decent pitch to Pudge), but the walk to Conine is what really hurt. If he gets Conine, he gets out of the inning with zero or one run scoring, and then we are seeing Cunnane instead of King in the 9th.

    If/when Smoltz returns, I am somewhat encouraged by the reconstituted bullpen. Wright and Cunnane appear to be reasonable options to get the game to Smoltz when the score is close. They certainly are a big improvement over the usual cast of suspects we have seen this season.

  2. I think you’re right about Wright,his pitches moving and sinking and the past ball was just a bad bounce off Lopez. My question for Mac is, If Wright turns it around, will he be a candidate for the rotation in 04?

  3. The jury is still out on wright. In around 5 innings this year, he’s given up 2 runs for the braves. This is an insanely small sample size. Factor in his absurd ERA prior to coming to the Braves, and Leo Mazzone notwithstanding, I’m still skeptical.

    Even if he does turn it around, however, I should hope that the Braves would look elsewhere for rotation help. Jaret Wright is a decidedly average pitcher (below average, even). Even Mazzone has limits.

    ERA+ for his career:

    Year Ag ERA+
    1997 21 108
    1998 22 102
    1999 23 83
    2000 24 107
    2001 25 70
    2002 26 29

    In only two of those years (98,99) did he pitch over 100 innings (192 and 133 respectively). He’s always had control problems. He’s had injury problems, if I recall.

    I would hope that the Braves would look to an interior rotation solution, or even Millwood, or keeping Maddux before they would turn to Wright.

    List of pitchers I would try before Wright, just off the top of my head (in no particular order):

    Wainwright (even though he needs another year in the minors)
    Millwood (I’m not sure he needs to be resigned, he might not be worth it)
    Vazquez (ditto)
    Skip (why not?)

  4. Mac wrote:
    >Even if the relievers aren’t too good, the >Braves can’t seem to hit them.

    The relievers lost this game, not the hitters. After the game the manager said, “That’s one you’ve got to win.” And he wasn’t thinking about the offense. After all, the Braves had a one-run lead going into the top of the 8th, and then Gary Sheffield got a two-out rbi, so the Braves were leading 4-2, with six outs to go. Wright and King pitched very poorly.

    Kirk wrote:
    >(Wright)did allow two runs but looked good in doing so.

    You’re being much too kind to Wright, Kirk. Managers want relievers who don’t allow the first batter to reach base, and who don’t walk anyone. Unfortunately, Wright did neither. I hope Wright and Cunnane pitch superbly for the rest of this year, but they do not have a track record to support this, especially in pressure situations. Yes, I know Wright was once a promising pitcher, but that was some time ago.

  5. Kirby, in modern baseball if you score four runs you’re going to lose more often than not. Teams are scoring about 4 1/2 runs a game, remember. Moreover, if the Braves had gotten just one or two more runs in the middle innings they might have knocked the Marlins out rather than leaving them hanging around. This wasn’t the first time this year that the Braves have knocked the starter out early and then lost the game, and there have been many games where they’ve had to use the pen to hold close leads that started out as big ones.

    Wright’s whole problem is control, remember. He was throwing hard in SD, but he’s suffering the standard post-TJ surgery loss of control. And any time his control is shaky it’s worrisome but not unexpected. I think long-term he has to be a reliever, because he simply doesn’t have the ability — and never did — to go six-seven innings consistently.

  6. Mac wrote:
    >In modern baseball, if you score four runs >you’re going to lose more often than not. Teams >are scoring 4 1/2 runs a game, remember. >Moreover, if the Braves had gotten just one or >two more runs in the middle innings they might >have knocked the Marlins out rather than leaving >them hanging around.

    But in this *particular* game, the hitters gave the relief pitchers a two-run lead, with 6 outs to go. The relievers allowed 3 runs to score before even recording 5 outs. The batters did their jobs. Hampton did his. Wright and King lost the game. When Cox said that this was a game the team had to win, he was thinking about a two-run lead provided by the hitters, that the relief pitchers couldn’t hold.

  7. I’ve been wondering along the same lines of Aaron’s comments above. It’s hard to say for sure–folks have been predicting his downfall every year due to control problems and regularly high pitch counts. Yet every year he seems to contradict the CW but continuing to perform adequately. I do wonder, though, if he’ll be able to keep it together (get it back together?) in the playoffs. At this point, I don’t know what you can do other than cross your fingers and hope (although, now that I mention it, seems like that’s all I can do anytime anyways).

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