For whatever reason, the Braves seem to own Josh Beckett this year. They got all six of their runs off the Marlins’ ace, including five in the first two innings, and held on from there behind a second straight good start from Russ Ortiz to pull to two back of Florida in the division.
Rafael Furcal had three hits and scored twice, and J.D. Drew had his second homer as a Brave. Adam LaRoche is starting to look like the doubles machine we’d been hoping for, with a two-run double in the third that really opened the game up… DeWayne Wise started again in left. I should point out that despite the triples, he’s still only hitting .235 with no walks. Of course, except for Marcus Giles (who had a hit and two walks) none of the Braves’ hitters is exactly lighting it up.
Ortiz had a good Ortiz start, going 6 1/3, allowing one run, and striking out six, but also walking six. Normal. Gryboski, Reitsma, and Smoltz finished it, and none of them allowed a baserunner… Attendance in Florida was 32,477. That’s higher than the attendance in any of the games between the teams in Atlanta. I’m just saying… Hampton versus Penny tonight.
I just want to go on record as hating the catcher-cam that TBS has been using on its Friday Night Braves X-Tra coverage. I get sea sick watching it. However, the outcome of the game was great.
As 6-1 games go, that was a fairly stressful contest.
Bobby seemed to think so too, using his three top bullpen guys to finish out the game.
I’m not a bit surprised that attendance is down (again). If you increase ticket prices (last year) and let your best players go (this year) – then that’s what you get and that’s what you deserve.
Oh come on, attendence has been down for years, don’t try and blame the front office for the fact that braves fans can’t even support their team in the postseason.
Smoltz threw an 8 pitch inning last Sunday, a 14 pitch inning on Wednesday, and a 9 pitch inning last night. Smoltz is going to pitch when he wants to this year, remember?
Smoltz thinks it will cause less stress on his arm to pitch regularly instead of doing things like going 8 days without pitching and then pitching three nights in a row, and it appears Bobby and Leo are going to go with him on this one. I’m sure there will be some games this year where we’ll be gritting our teeth when Smoltz isn’t available for a few save opportunities, but I’d rather have a few nail-biters than Smoltz on the DL from injury due to erratic use.
I find the Bill James “use your relief ace in the most high leverage situation” idea appealing, but I’m not convinced it would work in practice simply because of human nature. Baseball players are like many of us. They like to know their job, their role, their duty. Take last night for instance. Smoltz was available in the 7th to come in and get out of that jam with runners on and one out, but Bobby brought Gryboski in instead. Why? Because that’s the situation Bobby likes to bring Gryboski in for. That’s his role and everyone knows it. If Bobby brings in Smoltz, roles are changed, toes are stepped on, confidence is lost. Later in the game, Smoltz came in and pitched a low leverage inning. We got the win, Smoltz got some work in, and Gryboski’s confidence remains high as a go-to guy with runners on and a groundball double-play needed. I’ll take it.
I hate when people throw the term genius around, so let’s just say Bobby Cox knows what he’s doing more often than not. Examples abound. Bobby made sure he got ejected last week after Marcus Giles. Giles knowing that Bobby has his back keeps his confidence where we need it to be: high.