Chicago 4, Atlanta 2

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Cubs at Braves – 09/30/2003

The Cubs got what they wanted: a close, low-scoring game with an ace pitcher keeping them in it, then a chance to break on top against a tiring starter and/or the bullpen. Russ Ortiz walked a tightrope for five innings, but fell off in the sixth. He almost caught himself. After loading the bases on three singles leading off the inning, Ortiz struck out pinch-hitter Randall Simon. He then got another ex-Brave, Paul Bako, to hit a potential 3-6-1 double play ball to first, but Robert Fick couldn’t pick the ball up and they wound up with only a 4-1 groundout and a tie game. Then Kerry Wood doubled home two. (Something I forgot to mention in the preview; both teams have outstanding hitting pitchers, the Cubs in particular.) Then Wood came home on a bloop single by another ex-Brave, Kenny Lofton.

All the Braves were able to do against Wood for the first seven was a solo homer by Marcus Giles in the third. But before that, they seemed to be working Wood pretty well, drawing a couple of walks and hitting some balls hard. After the homer, it looked like the Braves got homer-happy and were swinging away too much. For the next three innings, the Braves got only one baserunner, Vinny on a walk, and struck out five times.

They still had one more shot in the eighth. Suddenly they started working the count again and loaded the bases off Wood with one out. Then another ex-Brave, Mike Remlinger, came on and seemingly got out of it with a DP, but Chipper was called safe at first, scoring a run. (The replay sure looked like he was out, but it’s very hard to judge on those plays because you can’t actually see the ball hit the mitt.) Andruw walked to load the bases again, but Javy fell behind Kyle Farnsworth 0-2, then hit a hard grounder right to short. They got the tying run to the plate in the ninth against ex-Brave Number Five, Joe Borowski, but couldn’t get anything else.

Marcus left the game after tripping over first base in the sixth. He indicated that it’s just “bumps and bruises”. For some reason, Jesse Garcia came on, only to be pinch-hit for by DeRosa in the eighth… Julio Franco hit for the pitcher in the bottom of the ninth, against a righthander, with Bragg and Estrada on the bench. (Matt Franco was used in the eighth.) I don’t know why.

Obviously, the Braves need a win tonight. Down 1-0, the odds are about 2:1 against them. If they lose game two, it’s more like 8:1 or even 10:1. The good news is that the Cubs will send up Carlos Zambrano, who seems the pitcher the Braves match up best against and who seemed clearly tired down the stretch. The bad news is that Mike Hampton is the Braves pitcher, and he’s the guy the heavily righthanded Cubs match up best against.

22 thoughts on “Chicago 4, Atlanta 2”

  1. Historically, what has let the Braves down most in the postseason has not been offense or the bullpen, but defense. Same again here, with a heavy dose of impatient approach at the plate against a guy known to be wild. (Although Wood was _on_ last night.)

    What the Braves need as much as good games from Hampton and Maddux is for Gary Sheffield to hit, instead of just running his mouth to the local paper about being willing to play for Tampa. Granted, his postseason hitting for the Braves would fit right in with the Devil rays, but he needs to just step up and own a few games. Chipper too. Andruw needs to get out of evil-swing-at-anything mode.

    Ortiz was rough last night indeed, but he wasn’t going to accomplish much with the heart of the order absolutely sucking wind like they did last night.

    Oh, and kudos to every in the bullpen who came after Ray King, and a slap in the face to Bobby for running King out there with a runner on base.

  2. Pingback: Off Wing Opinion
  3. Just a disinterested effort from the Braves last night. The defense, as Colin pointed out, was just awful. Giles butchered a double play ball in the third that should have ended the inning. Instead Russ had to strike out Grudz and Sosa to get out of a jam. Andruw misplayed Karros’s fly ball in the fourth to set up the first bases loaded, no out situation. Ortiz somehow got out of that. Then of course Fick blowing another double play in the sixth, which proved to be too much to overcome. Julio makes that play. I thought Russ battled out there as well as he could considering his defenders played as if the team were still playing out the string.

    On offense, despite that fact the Turner field in October at night is a terrible home run park, everybody was swinging for the fences. Capped perfectly by Furcal’s two ridiculous swings against Borowski in the ninth. Chipper especially seemed to be swinging as hard as he could at every pitch offered.

    The only good news was that the team seemed to wake up and understand the urgency of the situation in the eighth. We can only hope that carries over to the rest of the series, because if they continue to play the listless brand of baseball they played for the first seven innings last night, they will be playing golf by the weekend.

  4. I don’t think they get it…NO LIFE. They just always LOOK the same- no urgency, no hustle, no everything is on the line kind of attitude. I don’t care if we lose, I just want them to play like it’s the last series of their lives.

  5. It’s that Ed, and it’s also playing smart. I mean Sheffield seemed to be trying to hit every ball last night back to his place in Tampa. Contrast that with Moises Alou cutting down his swing a getting a couple of singles to center. Just stupid baseball, and very painful to watch if your a Braves fan.

  6. Y’all hit it on the head. It was painful to watch. At the beginning of the game I told my fiance that the one thing I didn’t want to see was infield errors, and especially Mr. Fick I’m looking at you. He fields that ball cleanly and it’s still 1-0 with the pitcher leading off the next inning (that is of course unless he threw it into center field).

    But the hitting too, was so hard to deal with. In one respect, you have to say Wood had the game of his year (I was about to say the game of his life til I remembered he struck out 20 and walked none once). But the Braves were just not taking advantage of their opportunities, namely that he was throwing a bunch of balls. I remember one point where two Braves (i forget who) made outs on consecutive 2-0 counts. C’mon guys! I did like the 8th inning; it really looked like they were getting into it, but a little too late.

    I just don’t know how much more of this I can take — we’ve lost 8 of our last 11 playoff games! We’re not gonna get any sympathy from anyone, but it is not easy being a Braves fan these days. I liken their postseason performance to what Mac says is the worst kind of loss — where you come back to tie the game (ie, make the playoffs every year) only to lose it when it really counts.

    It’s hard to even get up for tonight’s game. Even if we win, we still have lost home-field “serve”. But what the hell, I guess i will just slog through this depressing day at work and hope that we come out firing tonight. If we can even the series, Friday’s Maddux vs. Prior game will shape up to be the kind of contest all baseball fans dream of.

  7. It was embarassing being at the game last night and being taunted, mocked, and outcheered in your own stadium.

    I sincerely hope we can right the ship tonight, and then leave it to Maddux in Wrigley, where he has pitched very well historically.

  8. I can’t believe there were so many Cubs fans at the game last night. If I lived in Atlanta, I’d be at every freakin’ game, cheering and yelling until it makes me hoarse. Please, if you’re in the Atlanta area, take yourself out to the ballgame tonight and make some noise for the Braves! They’ve had an awesome, exciting season and they deserve your support!

  9. I agree with swizzle-stick. Maybe I’m just having a bad day because of this non-scandal the media is hyping on the Bush Administration or maybe I’m just tired of feeling like it’s the SSDD with the Braves. Sooner or later this history of failure (almost like it’s pre-ordained) has to chip away at the team mentally. Maybe the curse for the Braves (like the Sox trading Babe) is the Leyritz home run in 1996/97 (I forget the exact year since I blocked it out mentally). It just seems to me that the Braves NEVER find that catalyst when they need it…Where’s our Leyritz?

    Lastly, it was pathetic to see all those Cubs fans there last night. I’m very envious that their fans care that deeply enough to make the trip!!!!

  10. I dont think that many Cubs fans made the trip. I think most of them were so-called “long suffering Cubs fans” that live in Atlanta.

    Almost every Cubs hat and jersey was brand new, prompting me to yell “Make sure you take the tag off!” to every so-called Cubs fan that walked by.

  11. I dont think that many Cubs fans made the trip. I think most of them were so-called “long suffering Cubs fans” that live in Atlanta.

    Almost every Cubs hat and jersey was brand new, prompting me to yell “Make sure you take the tag off!” to every so-called Cubs fan that walked by.

  12. you gotto call it like it is. even though it was a very close play and the umpires don’t have the luxury of instant replay, jones was clearly out on that potential double play in the 8th inning of yesterdays game. can’t fault the umps or anyone else for that matter it was a bang bang play. jones looked like he was out because he was out. but then again he wa safe because he wasn’t call out.

  13. 4-1, 4-2, 4-0

    What difference does it make unless you’re a Cubs fan? The bottom line, if you’re a Braves fan, is thay they lost UGLY.

    Regardless, Cubs fans can cheer all they want becuase sooner or later you’re going to play a team more disciplined and hungry than the Braves.

    Ed

  14. Yeah Chipper was clearly out, not that it made a difference. I seemed pretty obvious even at regular speed. Maybe, like me, the ump was so startled to see Chipper actually run out a ground ball hard he blew the call.

  15. That wasn’t great….it’s bad enough we lost, but to have your own stadium overflowing with the opposition’s fans…I was ashamed to be a Braves fan. We can cheer forever about college football, but when it comes to baseball, we’re silent. I heard the last four innings on the radio. You would’ve thought they were playing at Wrigley.

  16. I actually liked all the fans. It actually looked like Turner Field was a hot postseason atmosphere. Who knows, maybe the atmosphere at Wrigley — sure to be unparalleled — will spur the Braves on to perform well. They seem to like their backs against the proverbial wall.

    Well, i have been depressed most of the day because of the game last night, but I feel like taking a shot at giving you guys an optimistic outlook here, simply because I feel a kinship with a lot of you guys after reading everyone’s posts all year. We don’t get any sympathy, but it has been hard to be a Braves fan over the past few years.

    My boss, a Yankees fan (i work in Manhattan) was talking today about the playoffs and his way of looking at it (obviously a yanks-inspired viewpoint, but still valid) is very logical: There are a maximum 19 games in today’s postseason. For a team to win the World Series title, that team merely has to go 11-8. Granted, you have to time those wins. But I think that is a pretty good way to put a loss in perspective. Going 11-7 over the remaining 18 possible games shouldn’t be that hard to do, at least in theory, for any playoff-caliber team.

    If the Braves lose tonight, obviously they are in a big hole. But before last night I was pretty confident about the Cubs deficiencies, and I still think that a number of them are valid. Kerry Wood proved me wrong with his hitting last night, but their lineup has more holes than ours. We only will face Prior once. And we have four more games in which to win three. Maybe this year, the Braves are going to need all their games. Remember last year? We lost game one in the same fashion (although it was TO ortiz, not behind him). But we went on to win the next two and put ourselves in good position. If the Braves are able to pull themselves off the mat and do that this year
    (meaning, up 2-1 after Friday) I give them a good shot at moving on.

    Basically, the point is, it’s not over. I feared that it was after watching last night, but that’s just succumbing to thinking about the past. You can ream me if the Braves get swept, but I think we all owe it to ourselves to turn on ESPN with a bit of optimism in our hearts tonight, and let’s see if Mike Hampton and company can’t get our team back on track.

  17. Thanks for the post Troy. I’ve been feeling depressed all day as well. Not only because they lost but because the team seemed kind of lifeless as well.

    –Potential Oversharing Alert–
    –You have been warned–

    Compounding the problem is that I’m really into this year’s playoffs since I “missed” last year’s. Last year at this time I was getting married, and between the ceremony and the honeymoon I didn’t see a live inning of the playoffs until Angels-Giants. (And now of course I have to try and juggle the annivesary and the Braves every year. I must be crazy.) I was in one of those pay internet cafe’s in Venice last year when I checked ESPN.com and saw the Braves had lost Game 5 to the Giants. I walked around all day looking like I had eaten some bad pasta. My wife was not amused.

    –End Oversharing Warning–
    –I will now return to my normal biased, somewhat mean-spirited comments–

  18. Good pep talk, Troy. We all needed that. Still, part of me feels angry about all of the Cubs fans at the game. People in Atlanta, if they can, should try to make it to the games in every round, not just think the LCS is a given. I though 2000 taught everyone that lesson painfully enough.

    Ah well…time to get nervous again tonight.

  19. October just gives me an ill feeling. It’s painful to watch, because I know, one way or another, the Braves always get the short-end of the stick. Too professional, too relaxed, bad bullpen, bad hitting, bad defense, bad luck, lack of fan support, they always find a way to break out hearts, don’t they? Do you guys realize the Braves are 6-17 since the ’99 world series in postseason play?

  20. I worked out all the odds a few years ago, though I don’t have the sheet anymore and am doing it from memory. If a postseason game is between two closely matched teams, losing the first game hurts, but you can come back from that… if you win the second game. It’s at least 85 percent against you if you don’t win game two. And that’s not taking into account home parks or psychology or the advantages a team has with its pitching staff when not facing elimination. Realistically, it’s more like 95 percent against you if you lose the first two games at home.

    I didn’t mention this in the recap, but… Why didn’t Smoltz pitch in the ninth last night? (Yes, that again.) I mean, he was ready, and there wasn’t going to be a save situation. Boom-Boom didn’t give up a run thanks to Sosa running the Cubs out of the inning, but still.

  21. I am grateful for this website! Living in Singapore I was only able to follow the game over my computer and I am now glad. Unfortunately, I agree with the comments about 1996 and the last three playoffs: there really seems to be something foreordained about the way the Braves play in the postseason. Right now I am happy for every run….

    Stephen

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