In the eighth, after 22 2/3 innings against the Cubs, the Braves finally got a hit with runners in scoring position. And what a hit it was — a three-run double by Julio Franco to give the Braves a 5-2 lead. The inning started with the Braves trailing 2-1 and the first two batters failing to reach. But Marcus Giles singled, and Dusty Baker went to his bullpen. Three walks later — two by Andy Pratt and one by Kyle Farnsworth — the game was tied, Andruw laying off a low outside pitch 3-2. Julio, in the game after LaRoche left with an injury, worked Farnsworth from 0-2 down to 3-2, fouling off seven pitches in the process. On the thirteenth pitch of the AB, he doubled off the right field wall and Jones, Drew, and Jones scored.
With Smoltz unavailable, Kevin Gryboski got the save, allowing one hit but getting three groundouts. Base12 Alfonseca, who has yet to allow a run this year (!) pitch 2/3 of an inning for the win, and Nitkowski pitched 1 1/3 of perfect ball with two strikeouts. Jaret Wright went six, the first four of which were great, but allowed a home run to Todd Freaking Hollandsworth in the fifth and a sac fly in the sixth, walked four and struck out four. All in all, it was a pretty good start but if he’s going to tire in the fifth…
Furcal didn’t play; DeRosa led off and Garcia played short and hit eighth. The two were a collective 0-7. Furcal, as you’d predict, is day to day. Laroche was 0-2 before leaving after fouling a ball off his foot. I assume he’s day to day too.
Day game tomorrow, Kerry Wood on the mound for the Cubs, Russ Ortiz for the Braves. The Cubs’ bats are really struggling, so it’s a good opportunity for Ortiz to turn it around.
A truly great at bat by Julio Franco. What was most impressive to me was his ability to fight off two nasty curveballs after a steady diet of 97 MPH heaters. You could see Farnsworth becoming increasingly frustrated at his inablity to strike out the old man. At one point (I believe it was between the eleventh and twelfth pitches) Julio pointed the bat at Farnsworth and mouthed, “You have much to learn, grasshopper.”
Just home from the game. Oh the satisfaction of dejected Cubs fans leaving our house.
Julio Franco. Julio Franco. Julio Franco. What a performance. He fouled a 99 MPH fast ball and and 83 MPH curve on consecutive pitches! When he came back to the dug-out from second there were hugs, high-fives, and we’re not worthy’s all around.
The best part of the at-bat was that right before Franco got his hit, Skip said “I would not bet against the 45 year old man.” Beautiful.
Julio’s at-bat was a thrill to watch from the $5 seats in right field with all of the Sosa worshippers. I hate that fans of other teams can come into the Ted and create a hostile environment for the home team, but it’s great to see the dejected faces of the Cubbie faithfuls after we’ve used one of their bullpen cast-offs and a 45 year old man to beat them. I hope Alphonseca and Cruz continue to pitch well. I admit I feel a little bad for Andy Pratt, but not for the Cubs fans. April is a little early to be declaring your team champions.
Boyd said… “fans of other teams can come into the Ted and create a hostile environment for the home team”
I too tire of attending games at Turner where fans of other teams act out in defiance of the friendly atmosphere we Braves fans provide.
Cubs fans are newly initiated to the fan Axis-of JackAss (Yankees, Mets, Phillies) and they are currently the worst offenders, a sad development in Atlanta’s long history of welcoming Cub fans to our home.
Don’t forget.. many stadiums’ welcome for fans sporting the visiting team’s hat is a prompt beat down.
Cubs fans visiting Atlanta during the ’03 NLDS, and this weekend are consistantly showing their willingness to take advantage of the kindness of Atlantans. Chicago should be ashamed.
Hey Mac, I was wondering: If Wright does pitch very well (like tonight) the first two months of the season, and appears to have his stuff back, what will do when Byrd comes back. How can the Braves take one of the better pitchers (again these are all assumptions) out of the rotation?
I would put Byrd in the bullpen and make him earn a spot in the rotation just like anyone else. I might even give Cruz a shot first if Wright falters.
what will do when Byrd comes back
“Reports today are that Paul Byrd has suffered a setback in his rehab, and will continue to make a few more starts in the minors until he build up sufficient strength.”
Lather, rinse, repeat.
The only question that remains is, when will Paul Byrd officially change his name to Godot?
Then again, what if Godot finally arrived, and turned out to be merely Paul Byrd?
Pretty much. Byrd’s not coming back, and if he does he’ll be useless.
Instead of insulting Cubs fans for coming out on the road and cheering loudly for their team, maybe you should be down on fans in Atlanta who don’t come to the games and don’t cheer or pay attention when they do come (until the Obey-a-tron demands them to do so). I just got back from a Red Sox game and the difference is pathetic – people on their feet cheering the whole game etc. – I am embarrassed as usual by the apathy and lack of passion I see in Braves fans by and large.
If you want to see fans paying attention, standing and cheering for a whole game, you’ll see it at a college football game in the south. What do the Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama football programs have in common with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs? They all have over a century’s worth of history in that area and intense rivalries with their neighboring teams. That’s something the Atlanta Brave’s have had little of because of their utter lack of success up until ’91. Ditto for the Falcons. The era of the rabid Braves fan will come when the children who grew up on winning baseball Atlanta instill the same kind of passion in their children that Cubs, Yanks and Sox fans instill in theirs. Keep in mind that Atlanta is a city full of transplants.
And how am I supposed to display the kind of home team passion that you (Matt) are talking about if I DON’T insult Cubs fans? Isn’t that what they do to us?
When “cheering loudly” includes throwing beer and cursing at little children (with their mothers covering their ears in horror) as in the 2003 NLDS, I’ll accept the Cubs fans as something more than collective boors. I guess if the team is mired in putrescence for such a long time, there’s a whole lot of collective overcompensating going on.