The Braves exploded for five in the first and five in the fourth, and cruised from there. Six different Braves had four hits, and Javy, Andruw, and Hampton all homered. Javy has 41 for the year, 40 as a catcher, the latter only one off of the major league record.
Julio Franco, who started against a lefty, had the big first-inning blow, with a two-run double. It was an inning I like — six hits, five singles and the double. I know it’s not sabermetric of me, but I feel more comfortable with that than three walks and two homers. The homers all came after the game was pretty much settled — 8-1 when Javy hit his, the other two solo shots later on.
Hampton pitched pretty well. I was going to say that his control was shaky, since he walked four, but he threw 69 pitches, 40 strikes, in five innings. The balls were just concentrated, I guess. He did allow only three hits and one run. Jason Marquis pitched two innings, allowing three hits and a solo homer in his new “just throw the ball over the plate” role. Mercker struggled in the eighth and actually had to have Boom-Boom Bobby bail him out. (Fox viewers = idiots. 11 percent voted for Hernandez as the “If Smoltz can’t pitch” closer.) Darren Holmes had some problems in the ninth, allowing another run. I make some allowances for the blowout — the pitchers were mostly trying to throw strikes and get the game over — but I don’t have any confidence in any of these guys.
A Marlins loss would clinch the division. Currently they’re up 4-3 on the Phillies. Tomorrow is an off day; the Marlins visit Atlanta starting Friday. If the Marlins win the next two games, the Braves could clinch in Atlanta in front of their fans and the six Turner South aliens.