No trip to Coors Field could be complete without a game in which 18 runs are scored and without at least one incredibly cheap home run. The Braves trailed 7-5 going into the eighth, but rallied with two out for six runs on just four hits.
Jesse Garcia had one of those hits, a two-run single to put the Braves ahead 9-7, and had three hits on the day. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s still Jesse Garcia. The Braves also got three hits combined from the “leadoff men” DeWayne Wise and Hollins. (Rafael Furcal was out with a injured finger suffered in his boneheaded steal attempt in the first game, but did pinch run.) The only Brave starter to not reach base was Marcus Giles, who oddly seems to hit everywhere but Coors Field.
John Thomson didn’t seem to be pitching badly, but couldn’t escape the Coors Effect. (Every time he gets away, they pull him back in.) So he winds up going 6 2/3, giving up seven runs, and his ERA goes up more than a run to 4.01. Two of those runs came on one of the cheapest homers I’ve ever seen — the cheapest, I think, since Sid Bream’s check-swing job in Denver all those years ago. He did give up a legitimate homer to Vinny Castilla. Nitkowski got the win, and Reitsma and Smoltz finished it off.
The Braves try to win the series and finish the trip at .500 tomorrow, with Horacio Ramirez going against Shawn Estes. I expect Horacio will finally get some run support.
Garcia has been an excellent defensive player, a mediocre hitter, and a good pinch runner. What more would you want from an inexpensive backup infielder?
No point in arguing, he can’t make a post without insulting every braves player imaginable.
So at least the Braves get to greet the month of May with a winning record (barely). I can’t say this isn’t getting frustrating though. When we pitch well, there’s no offense. When we score runs, we give up a huge inning. Even this win was a tough one to watch. Yeah yeah, Coors field and all that…but still we surrendered the lead twice and barely held it down in the ninth. Even our breakthrough inning looked more like a breakdown on the part of the Rockies.
At least the Marlins and Phillies obliged us by losing today. I’m hoping the Marlins prove themselves to be late season burnouts a la Kansas City, but the Braves need to get warm soon. I looked at the first month of last season to find some encouragement. Looks like the latest the Braves had a .500 record last season was 9-9 on April 19 about the time they kicked it into high gear. It’s not too far past that point yet, but a series win on Sunday is something this team could really use right now. Not that I’m panicking. Yet.
I remain optimistic. The Braves always seem to start the season slow. I admit that this team’s performance and management’s decision making is frustrating so far, but it isn’t all that bad considering: (in no particular order)
1. it is early May.
2. the whole divison sucks so far.
3. the team leader and most consistient offensive performer is on the DL and some players (Ortiz, Hampton, Smoltz, LaRoche, Furcal, Marrero, Cunnane) are not living up to their potential and very few are overachieving (Garcia and Giles–who wont hit .400, more like .330).
4. J.D. Drew has not suffered a season ending injury yet.
5. we are only 2 1/2 games out.
6. the Phillies have not fired Larry Bowa yet.
7. the Mets and Expos still exist.
8. we own the Marlins so far.
Mac – that’s interesting about Giles, and almost exactly true. Looking at his career OPS by ballpark, his OPS in Coors is fourth lowest of any park he’s ever played in, 194/275/306 in about 40 PA (not sure if that already includes today). Below that are Pro Player Stadium (182/270/218 in 60+ PA) and then two ballparks in which he’s had less than 20 PA each (Bank One Ballpark, Safeco Field). Weird.
His favorite park in small sample is Hiram Bithorn – 5 of 10 with 2 HR and 2 doubles.
Didn’t Giles hit his first HR in Coors? A granny off of Hampton to win a game? I think he was demoted the next day. Maybe he’s afraid to hit well in that park.
I believe that was at home against Hampton…
Yeah, it was…Retrosheet has the box…Tuesday, May 15, 2001 (N) at Turner Field.
I was unpleasantly surprised that Juan Cruz did not find himself in either game of a doubleheader yesterday…
Alfonseca: 10 appearances, 10.2 IP, 5.91 ERA
Cunnane: 6 appearances, 9.0 IP, 8.00 ERA
Nitkowski: 10 appearances, 7.1 IP, 3.68 ERA
Cruz: 4 apearances, 9.0 IP, 1.00 ERA
The reluctance to use Cruz, a player we traded some prospects for, is baffling. Many in Chicago felt that they’d rather have the young Cruz than Greg Maddux in the twilight of his career, yet we never use him.
Also, Kevin Gryboski comes under a lot of fire on this site. Granted, he needs to do a better job of keeping inherited runners from crossing home, but he has put up some impressive numbers so far.
Gryboski: 11 appearances, 10.2 IP, 0.84 ERA