Atlanta 9, Montreal 1

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Expos at Braves – 09/24/2003

Russ Ortiz had a good start, albeit one complete with his usual control problems, and the Expos are mailing it in. Ortiz walked four and struck out two in only five innings; I’m sorry, but that’s not going to work on a team that’s not playing out the string. Walk two guys in front of Sammy Sosa and see what happens. On the good side, Ortiz didn’t allow any runs and gave up only three hits.

Rafael Furcal had three hits, scoring twice and driving in one. The Braves had twelve hits in all, built a big lead with five in the fourth and three in the second, then emptied the bench. The Braves set franchise season records for doubles and hits in the game.

Darren Holmes allowed the lone run, but he’s on the playoff roster anyway. Ray King had a good inning, Mercker allowed a hit, Gryboski faced two guys and got them both, and Cunnane struck out the last batter. I think all those guys will be on the postseason roster, but Bobby could go nuts and take Hernandez.

The Marlins have all but clinched, three games up on Philly and Houston with four games to go. They can clinch tonight. The playoff situation appears to be Chicago or Houston (the Cubs are up one right now) at Atlanta on Tuesday, Florida at San Francisco. The Braves are one up on SF, even in the loss column, for the best record in the NL.

29 thoughts on “Atlanta 9, Montreal 1”

  1. ESPN reports that Braves manager Bobby Cox said Wednesday that Ortiz (21-7) will be followed by Mike Hampton (14-8) and Greg Maddux (15-11).

    I am quite surprised. Is anyone else?

  2. I’m talking about for the NLDS, by the way

    And I’m surprised that Hampton is 2 and maddux is 3. I can’t argue with ortiz in the 1. I remember someone here wrote that if they were to choose then they would have put hampton at 1 a few weeks back. it’s just funny that bobby is actually doing it. he is usually all about putting maddux in 1 or 2

  3. I figured he’d do that to break up the righthanders. If he goes to a four-man in the NLCS, (assuming we get that far!) he could insert Ramirez after Maddux to go RLRL. I, personally, would have gone Hampton-Maddux-Ortiz, but you can’t very well make the 21-game winner your third starter. Even if he’s really your third best starter.

  4. I’m not sure it matters. All 3 are capable of outstanding starts and equally capable of stinking up the joint. I’d say this one is a toss up that will be easy to criticize should Ortiz suck. And easy to praise should they win.

    The makeup – and use – of the bullpen is far more critical, IMO.

  5. all of a sudden I take back what I said last week when I said you guys were overworrying about the cubbies.

    man, I can’t decide who we should pull for right now. for the astros or the cubs? after our quick exits the past few years I am pessimistic about facing every team. dusty baker beat us up with his giants last year in the NLDS. I’m all of a sudden pulling for the astros (even though I bought cubs nlds tickets incase they made it so I can see the braves)

    Also, Mac – what are the main injuries that face the team. Personally I am crossing my fingers that maddux’s leg is okay (after his last outing) and that vinny castilla is okay. vinny is really a big big part of the braves team even though I know you never liked JS’s decision to bring him in. He is a great fielder at 3rd and man that guy was hitting very well against the cubs. put it this way – he is the best braves hitter in the 8th spot

  6. Ortiz eats up innings while Maddux rarely goes past six. With the bullpen being questionable, I think Bobby wants to have Ortiz and Hampton go first and hope they can go seven, so that the pen will be rested when Maddux inevitably goes 5 or 6. I hope he isnt affraid to use ramirez as a setup man and not just in mop-up duty.

  7. I don’t think Vinny’s any worse than Mark DeRosa, or any better. If he can’t go, that weakens the bench, though, making Jesse Garcia the first infielder off.

    Ortiz isn’t really an innings eater, at least not an effective one. He throws too many pitches to go more than seven. The same, to a lesser extent, is true of Hampton. Of the three, Maddux is in my opinion the most likely to get through the eighth in a tight game. He leads the staff in innings pitched (by one over Ortiz) and all three have the same number of complete games — one.

  8. Does anyone know what the NLDS schedule looks like? It seems that games 1 amd 2 in Atlanta will be the early starts. The other first round games will be in New York (which Fox always puts on prime time) and the West Coast (San Francisco and Oakland), which probably will not be required to start at 10:00 a.m., local time. (Selig wouldn’t be that stupid, would he?) That leaves Atlanta for the 1:00 EDT starts on Tuesday and Wednesday, right?
    What if the Cubs and Houston have to play off for the Central championship? Do you think MLB would do the right thing (for the winner of that game) and move the Yankees’ game to the afternoon on Tuesday? Or is the Red Sox-A’s series scheduled to start Tuesday and the Yankees on Wednesday? I’m trying to plan hotel and airplane arrangements as I am coming in from Chicago.
    (If the Braves play the Cubs, I guess Fox will put their Friday game on prime time; rather than SF-Florida.)

  9. I don’t think I’m really answerng your question here…but yeah, I definetely did hear lastnite on ESPN that game 1 of the NLDS will be at 1pm Eastern…I was kinda surprised because a week back they said it would be at 8 eastern and now it’s at 1 eastern…

    I just spoke to some guy in my office who writes/religiously follows the cubs. and it’s funny because he said that his analyst buddies and him are really really scared to face the braves. they think that the braves have a strong edge over them because of sheffield

  10. Apparently Mac is just baiting me to post today, so I’ll bite…

    Stats for the last two seasons (when Greg’s K rate dropped off the charts and he became the extreme finesse pitcher we see today):

    Maddux: 412.2 IP, 5.98 IP/GS
    Ortiz: 426.6 IP, 6.37 IP/GS

    So this statement:

    Ortiz isn’t really an innings eater, at least not an effective one.

    Is weak at best. (He has over 1000 IP in the last five seasons. If that’s not an innings eater in today’s game, what the hell is?) And the only basis for this statement:

    Maddux is in my opinion the most likely to get through the eighth in a tight game.

    is the fact that Mac likes Maddux better and really wants it to be true. (Number of times pitched into the eighth inning this season: Maddux 3, Ortiz 8)

    Mac’s mind-numbing negativity aside, I would like to congratulate Russ for his monster season. He was the rock of the pitching staff early in the year when the other starters faltered, and was a model of consistency throughout the year. Having him in there to eat innings early in the year allowed Bobby and Leo to nurse Maddux and Hampton back to full stregth. He was deserving of his All-Star bid and deserving of the Game 1 start. Plus you’ve got to like a pitcher that can hit (2 HR, 10 RBI, 703 OPS)

    When the Braves met the Giants in last post season, Russ Ortiz was the difference (2-0, 2.19 ERA). If they meet again this season, I think Russ Ortiz will be the difference again.

  11. I said it was my opinion. My feeling — and yes, I like Maddux better, mostly for all he’s done but also because I think he’s a better pitcher than Ortiz right now — is that he’s capable of catching lightning in a bottle and putting up one of those games. You know, 8 innings, 78 pitches, 60 strikes, 4 hits, all of them singles, no walks. It’s an efficiency thing. Ortiz might pitch into the eighth, but every time he’s gone more than seven this year it seems he needs to be bailed out because he needs 130 pitches to get that far.

    At the same time, I think Ortiz is the pitcher mostly likely to put up an NLCS or WS MVP performance, because he’s sort of a power pitcher and is more likely to have two consecutive good starts against the same team than Maddux or Hampton.

  12. Maddux is in my opinion the most likely to get through the eighth in a tight game.

    is the fact that Mac likes Maddux better and really wants it to be true. (Number of times pitched into the eighth inning this season: Maddux 3, Ortiz 8)

    I look at it this way – Ortiz is more likely than Maddux to build the kind of pitch count early that would preclude his going deep into a game. Maddux often leaves games earlier than he could – somewhat precautionary, usually – but is capable of going deeper than he often does.

    Put another way – I assume any of these starter will be allowed to throw up to 120+ pitches if a game demands it. I think Maddux’s 120+ will usually take him further than the same number from Ortiz.

    Colin

  13. Robert – So you are saying that, on average, over the past two seasons, Russ Ortiz has lasted only one out more per outing than Maddux? That hardly proves your point that Ortiz is an innings eater.

    Using your same time period (2002-2003), this is more telling to me:
    Maddux 1.22 WHIP
    Ortiz 1.32 WHIP

    That’s a larger difference than one out per game.

    For me to congratulate a pitcher on a monster season, he would not have to lead the league in walks as Ortiz does this year. Don’t get me wrong, I love having Ortiz on this team, but aside from his win totals, I don’t see him coming anywhere close to a monster year.

    Russ is an innings eater because he never gets injured – which is great – not necessarily because he is effective while in the game.

  14. I’m getting psyched, but i hope it’s not the case that both of the first two games are in the daytime. I know that the Braves are good in the day (for what that’s worth), but I really wanted to see them! Now i’m gonna be forced to be useless at work and wrestle with the four-minutes-late GameCast. I would call in sick, but my boss and I talk baseball a lot, so he’d know exactly what’s going on :)

  15. My boss has a TV in his office. I’m going to start working on him about this, I think. It’s on ESPN, right? On the main network I think I could swing it, but ESPN2 is channel 40 and I don’t think any of our TVs can get that.

  16. I plan on just skipping 6th period and going home to watch it. They’ll understand, it’s Ortiz vs. Prior…

  17. Why don’t u guys just use MLB.com TV? I can’t download it at work for some reason. I have not used it but hey if it’s only 99c like someone here said then I’m sure you can pull it off by keeping other windows open at the same time. I’ll be okay cos I’m quitting my job at the end of this month. However what kinda sucks is that this year I don’t have ESPN News. ESPN News is an awesome channel if you guys can get it. It shows all the post game news conferences live. Especially in the playoffs, it rocks!

  18. Stats for the last two seasons (when Greg’s K rate dropped off the charts and he became the extreme finesse pitcher we see today):

    Maddux: 412.2 IP, 5.98 IP/GS
    Ortiz: 426.6 IP, 6.37 IP/GS

    Stats for the last three months (I can make use of multiple endpoints, too):

    Maddux: 100 IP, 6.25 IP/GS
    Ortiz: &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp 97.1 IP, 6.08 IP/GS

    I’d also question your use of the mean. Maddux has pitched at least seven innings more often than Ortiz, despite which his mean is .15 lower. The Maddux rain games and the unique characteristics of each’s worst starts would seem to explain the disconnect.

    Maddux is in my opinion the most likely to get through the eighth in a tight game.

    (Number of times pitched into the eighth inning this season: Maddux 3, Ortiz 8)

    Did you think people wouldn’t notice what you did here? Mac said “through the eighth,” and you countered with “into the eighth,” giving Ortiz credit for all the times he went out for the eighth, got knocked around, and had to be relieved. Using “through the eighth” instead of “into the eighth,” Ortiz leads 4-3, not the 8-3 which you claimed (incorrectly, I might add).

    Mac’s mind-numbing negativity aside, I would like to congratulate Russ for his monster season. He was the rock of the pitching staff early in the year when the other starters faltered, and was a model of consistency throughout the year. Having him in there to eat innings early in the year allowed Bobby and Leo to nurse Maddux and Hampton back to full stregth.

    Model of consistency?

    Apr/May/Jun – 3.37 ERA, 6.39 IP/GS
    Jul/Aug/Sep – 4.35 ERA, 6.08 IP/GS

    You’re right, for the first three months, he anchored the staff. But there doesn’t seem to be any sense in giving him the nod out of gratitude for what he did months ago, when you admit that Maddux and Hampton are back at full strength.

    When the Braves met the Giants in last post season, Russ Ortiz was the difference (2-0, 2.19 ERA). If they meet again this season, I think Russ Ortiz will be the difference again.

    I’m not sure what his performance in two games against the 2002 Atlanta offense has to do with how he’ll perform against the 2003 San Francisco offense. Anyway, I’m of the opinion that Tom Glavine was the difference (0-2, 15.26), and I’m pretty sure he won’t be a factor this year.

  19. Maddux 1.22 WHIP
    Ortiz 1.32 WHIP
    That’s a larger difference than one out per game.

    Is it? Maybe I’m conceptually off here. But I see a difference of one tenth of a walk/hit per inning pitched. Isn’t that then one walk/hit for every ten innings pitched? Or less than one per game?

    Colin

  20. Lots of good critism here. I knew there would be when I posted it, so let’s address some of it.

    Robert – So you are saying that, on average, over the past two seasons, Russ Ortiz has lasted only one out more per outing than Maddux? That hardly proves your point that Ortiz is an innings eater.

    The IP/GS stat was more to address the idea that Maddux is more likely than Ortiz to pitch farther into the game. Ortiz on average pitches longer into the game. The argument I’m hearing now is that this is because Maddux is fairly disinterested in 100 pitch regular season outings, but can turn it up a notch now. I suppose this is possible. My argument of 1000 IP in the last 5 years was more meant to refute the “not an innings eater” arguement.

    My good buddy Rivers wrote:
    Did you think people wouldn’t notice what you did here? Mac said “through the eighth,” and you countered with “into the eighth,” giving Ortiz credit for all the times he went out for the eighth, got knocked around, and had to be relieved. Using “through the eighth” instead of “into the eighth,” Ortiz leads 4-3, not the 8-3 which you claimed (incorrectly, I might add).

    I guess it’s how you look at it. To pitch eight, you’ve got to answer the bell for the eighth. Russ did that eight times, Greg three. That’s all I’m saying here. It’s certainly true that Russ needed relief in 4 of the 8 times he made it to the eighth. The Braves won 3 of the 4 games (the fourth being a 2-1 loss to Seattle where Russ gave up two in the first) so it didn’t cost them anything. I’d sure rather have King, Gryboski and the other arsonists down there only have to get 1 or 2 outs before Smoltz instead of three.

    I think Maddux’s 120+ will usually take him further than the same number from Ortiz.
    Maddux hasn’t had a 120 pitch outing in years, I sure hope now isn’t the time we see if he’s got one left.

    And finally, Brad wrote the silliest response…
    For me to congratulate a pitcher on a monster season, he would not have to lead the league in walks as Ortiz does this year.
    and
    Russ is an innings eater because he never gets injured – which is great – not necessarily because he is effective while in the game.
    Yes walks are bad, but it’s ok if you don’t give up hits. Russ is fourth in the NL in batting average against (tied with Nomo, who does this same thing) which allows him to be effective. It’s called effectivly wild and yes it is real thing (see Nolan Ryan).

    Of course the idea that Russ isn’t effective while in the game is ridiculous. He’s 18th out of 50 NL qualifiers in ERA (#50? Shane Reynolds of course) after being 23th last season and 7th the year before, so while not dominent, he certainly has to be called effective.

    Thanks for all your feedback. Russ is one of my favorite players, but now even I’m tired of talking about him.

    Aside: Anyone know what happed to Grybo last night? I assume he hurt something since Bobby pulled him with two outs, nobody on in the ninth last night with a eight run lead.

  21. I’m not saying Ortiz didn’t have a great season – I think he did. It’s just my opinion that it isn’t a “monster” season for a pitcher. 18th in the NL in ERA is great – I’m glad he’s on my team – put him in the top 5 and then I’d go for monster.

    I know I’m reading too much into your description Robert, just having a little fun. But then again, Ortiz isn’t one of my favorite players, so we each have the bias thing working for us! ;)

    Nice job on all of your posts Robert.

  22. Maddux hasn’t had a 120 pitch outing in years, I sure hope now isn’t the time we see if he’s got one left.

    Doh! That’s what I get for relying on memory. Ithought Maddux had had a fairly high pitch count game late last season after he’d been on lower counts most of the year. But that was strictly relative – 100+ pitches, but not as high as even 110.

  23. I dont know why, i had assumed the Giants played tonight to account for the “extra” game they have before the end of the regular season, but they are off. They merely have a double-header on Saturday. Which bring up the old concept of how tired they could potentially be in the division series. If they do end up having to play in the make-up game in New York on Monday, they could end up playing 7 games in 8 days by the second game of the playoffs, including 3 straight travel days. crazy eh?

  24. I guess it’s how you look at it. To pitch eight, you’ve got to answer the bell for the eighth. Russ did that eight times, Greg three.

    I think there’s something to be said for knowing your limits and not trying to scratch out one more inning when you’re running on fumes. I’m not gonna open up the game log again, but Ortiz has been lifted mid-inning with a high pitch count something on the order of a dozen times.

    I’d sure rather have King, Gryboski and the other arsonists down there only have to get 1 or 2 outs before Smoltz instead of three.

    I’d rather the arsonists weren’t entering the game with one out and two on, but I suppose there’s room for disagreement.

  25. The only thing Gryboski’s done of any use this year is sometimes get out of other pitchers’ jams. It’s not an exaggeration — or not much of one, anyway — to say that every bit of his 2003 value is tied up in stranding or erasing other pitchers’ baserunners. I don’t want to look through the logs either, but I’d bet Gryboski is at least partially responsible for two or three of those 21 wins.

    King, on the other hand, should never come into the game with runners on base unless there’s no other choice. But I think he’s been pretty good as an eighth inning man.

  26. I like game logs, so just to complete the story here are the four games where Russ started the eighth but didn’t finish.

    5/8 Braves 5, Rockies 2
    Leading 5-0, Russ starts the eighth by getting Payton to pop up, and then the wheels start coming off. Walk to Kapler, single by Mark Sweeney, Helton hits into a fielder’s choice, but another walk to Preston Wilson loads the bases and after 131 pitches Bobby has seen enough. Unfortuanately Bobby selects Ray King (SNCIGWROB)for this two out, bases loaded situation. Greg Norton gets a two run single before Roberto comes on to finish the inning. Certainly seven shutout innings dictated he would answer the bell in the eighth so the issue didn’t seem forced there. Plus it was the tail end of a doubleheader.

    6/13 Mariners 2, Braves 1
    A Furcal error in the first gives the Mariners two and it’s 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. Ortiz retires McLemore and Boone but then hits Edgar and Olerud singles. 125 pitches is enough, so Trey Hodges comes in to get the final out. Another situation where the pitch count seems to have caught up with him before he could get the final out in the eighth.

    6/29 Braves 2, Rays 0
    A pitching duel between Ortiz and Sosa and it’s 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth. Ortiz retires Marlon Anderson and Javier Valentin to get two quick outs but then Antonio Perez beats out an infield hit. Dispite Russ only having thrown 95 pitches and having retired the previous nine batters before the infield hit, Bobby is not messing around in a 1-0 game. Smoltz comes on to get the last four outs.

    7/9 Braves 6, Mets 3
    Finishing a sweep of the Mets, the Braves lead Glavine and the Mets 5-2 going into the eighth. Cedano and Timo both single to start the eighth though and the Mets are threatening. Ortiz gets Wigginton to pop up before leaving with 112 pitches thrown. Bobby goes to – get ready to cringe – Ray King (SNCIGWROB) who promptly allows a run scoring single to Burnitz. But here comes Grybo who gets Jason Phillips on a DP to end the threat.

    So what have we learned? We’ve learned that Ray King did his part to try a make sure Russ didn’t have a 20 win season. We learned that sometimes pitchers tire in the eighth when thier pitch count gets high (a revalation!). We learned Bobby has a shorter leash depending on the score (another shocker!) Basically we learned nothing we didn’t already know, but I still enjoyed looking back.

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