Philadelphia 2, Atlanta 1 (10 innings)

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Braves at Phillies

I hate Dan Kolb. For the second time in less than a week, he had a lead and then started walking people. Against the Natspos, he almost got out of it. Tonight, he might have gotten out of it again except that he not only can’t pitch, he can’t field. After walking the first two hitters of the tenth, he fielded a bunt and had a chance to throw the runner out at third, but instead threw the ball into left field, allowing the run to score. Then he couldn’t pick up the next bunt, either. Gryboski came in and allowed the winning run on a single that might have been an out under normal circumstances. When I’m screaming for Reitsma, you know that Kolb sucks. I’m screaming for Reitsma.

The Braves couldn’t do squat against Brett Myers for seven innings (at that stage, he indeed had given up just two hits) but almost scored in the eighth; Johnny Estrada (who’d hit for Perez) was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Hampton’s double. In the ninth, off of Billy Wagner, Giles doubled with one out then stole third without a throw, but Chipper struck out and Andruw was thrown out at first by a step because he still can’t get out of the box any faster than a tortoise. They finally broke through in the tenth, Mondesi scoring Orr (running for LaRoche) on a sac fly. Even that was tempered by the Braves’ failure to get more. They had runners first and third, nobody out, and Jordan could have stolen second easily (they were barely holding him and the second baseman and shortstop were way off the bag) but he just stood there. I don’t get it. Then Bobby let Kolb, who miraculously hadn’t given up a run in the ninth, hit for himself. He sucked at that, too.

The Good Hampton is still in the house. He only struck out one, but only allowed five baserunners, three hits (only one a double, and Andruw almost caught that one) and two walks. Plus he almost had a game-winning hit. He left having thrown 100 pitches. I’m basically Captain Hook, but I don’t understand why Bobby pulled him on a cool night when he was pitching so well and the closer sucks, especially since he’s a better hitter than half the lineup right now. (Actually, he’s hitting .500 on the season, so he’s better than just about everyone right now.)

Marcus had two doubles; the doubling machine is scraped up a little but functional. But Furcal and the Joneses were all 0-4, and the Braves can’t win doing that. In the last two games of the series, the Braves had five extra-base hits, all doubles, and no walks. You just can’t win this way.

The good news is that I won’t be able to recap the upcoming Washtreal series because my net access is going to be sporadic Tuesday through Thursday nights. Bamadan, a frequent commenter, will step in this time. Maybe, like Creg, he’ll bring better luck. And maybe Reitsma will have the closer job soon; the ESPN announcers were openly saying that the Braves maybe needed a new closer after the game. Here’s hoping.

47 thoughts on “Philadelphia 2, Atlanta 1 (10 innings)”

  1. Guys, I didn’t have a chance to watch the game as I am at work. The one thing I don’t understand is why Cox let Kolb pitched the 10th?! I wouldn’t believe I would be saying this, but the situation cried for Reitsma to pitch to 10th…can any of you able to understand Cox’s decision?!

  2. This loss is on Cox. Why on earth do you not PH for Kolb with Langerhans on the bench with only a one-run lead? The bullpen is rested and Kolb clearly does not have it. Why do you then allow Kolb to stay in the game after walking a batter, two batters…and when the bases are loaded with 0 out you bring in the least capable strikeout pitcher on the team, Gryboski? Even if Cox continues to hold the incorrect belief that Grybo is a double-play machine, that won’t help with 0 out. How was Grybo going to get out of that one? At least let Rietsma go at least 1 K, before bringing him in. I normally like Bobby, but that was bad.

  3. JC, I agree with you absolutely. However, I thought I would at least listen to you guys’ opinion first as I didn’t see the game.

  4. “Why on earth do you not PH for Kolb”?

    Excellent question. It reminded me of one of the stories told by Michael Lewis in “Moneyball” . . .

    “After the game the first question the Oakland A’s’ general manager, Billy Beane, asked his manager, Art Howe, was why he brought in Magnante. Howe’s first answer was that he thought that Mags, the lefty, would be effective against a left-handed slugger like Thome. Which was just more conventional baseball nonsense, in Beane’s view, since Mags hadn’t got anyone out in weeks. Howe’s second answer was that Beane put Mags on the team, and if a guy is on the team, you need to use him. ”

    Maybe Bobby is sick of Kolb.

  5. Back to back crippling losses that we are going to remember in September. Chipper’s terrible baserunning yesterday and then his striking out with the winning run on third and one out tonight have had me yelling at the TV. Your best player needs to do better than that.

    Kolb is a disaster, and our bullpen is a huge problem with no clear solution.

  6. I agree with you guys that no way should Kolb have gone more than one inning. But why was he brought in in the 9th? Isn’t that when you bring in Reitsma (or better yet, leave Hampton in)? Seems to me the closer should be brought in to seal the deal.

    Every mistake Kolb made was mental–esp. lobbing the ball five feet over Chipper’s head. Man, we don’t need another Mark Wohlers . . .

  7. At least Wohlers nailed down the 1-0 win in 1995 Game 6. He may have been a enigmatic closer to some, but I can’t level any ill emotions towards our championship team.

  8. I could only listen to the game, but I also thought that Kolb should have only pitched one inning. Why push our luck? The problem here is with Kolb. Since the second half of 2004 he has been consistently poor. I suppose the good news is that this is a problem which can be identified quickly. I shudder at the solution. I am not sure Reitsma is the answer and I hate to see how many top grade prospects JS will have to part with to get a real closer. Given the strength of the division (nyb is right we may well remember these games in September), the Braves cannot afford to have a weak bullpen.

  9. Good point by Stephen and nyb. We have to win games like this if we’re going to have a happy September and October. Kolb, at least at this point, compromises our ability to do so.

  10. I disagree with some of the comments about Chipper. You could look at any of the top hitters on every team and there will be instances throughout the season where they didn’t come through in the clutch, he can’t do it every time. I mean, even despite going 0-for-4 he’s still batting .348 and is one the team leaders in rbi’s. Offensively, it’s Furcal & Andruw that needs to come around; however, I totally agree with the comments about Kolb. And did anyone see him slamming that gatorade cooler on the ground? I doubt that that sort of behavior is kosher in a Cox/Mazzone clubhouse. I like to see passion, but that kind of stuff can be disruptive for everyone else.

  11. I was just thinking of Mark Wohlers in the year he was, um, having problems. I like the guy (didn’t he get a job as a mechanic during the ’94 strike?), and he certainly was a solid contributor for our team, but I still remember the shaky feeling I got that one year when he couldn’t find the strike zone–sometimes not even the catcher. I’m starting to worry Kolb’s a head case, I guess is what I’m trying to say.

    Same thing happened to me in Little League . . .

  12. “And did anyone see him slamming that gatorade cooler on the ground? I doubt that that sort of behavior is kosher in a Cox/Mazzone clubhouse.”

    I mentioned thsi in the other thread. That crap will surely not fly. I look for him to be traded, like rocker.

  13. In a perfect world, we will be able to trade Kolb for Urbina. However, I am sure we will need to give up some prospects to make this trade happens. If there is nothing we can do through trades, Reitsma is probably our only option at closing games (never thought I would say that!!!), and, as some of you have predicted couple months ago, Kolb will be the eighth inning guy!

  14. This is exactly why I thought it might be a risky idea moving Smoltz to the starting rotation and replacing him with Kolb. Is Kolb the best JS could do? 21K’s in 58 relief innings last year. The guy got lucky it sounds like. Smoltz was a shut the door guy, Kolk isn’t.

    Give Smoltzy the closer role and let Reitsma start. Having Smoltz secure games 40 times a year in the ninth is more important then 20 quality starts during the season.

  15. If Capellan could throw another pitch maybe he’d be closing. That’s obviously a huge exaggeration, but does anyone else find it ironic that we traded a closer who doesn’t strike anyone out for a guy who has the fastball of a closer? Surely Capellan isn’t ready for MLB and maybe he never will be, but trading smoke for craft at the closer spot was very risky. I thought it was a good trade at the time and maybe Kolb will get his ish together, but I think a lot of you were right to be concerned in the offseason. I never expected things to be this bad, even after his rocky 3 for 3 saves early in the season.

  16. If last night’s game has a silver lining–and it’s very hard to find one in light of Kolb’s performance–, it’s that Jordan and Mondesi both came through with some good situational hitting in the ninth. Backing up what Basil said above and what another poster said in an earlier thread, you have to wonder if Kolb’s concentration has deserted him completely. (Well, at least he knew to throw to third base.) Is it his mechanics or his concentration? Maybe it would have been a good idea to put Kolb in to pitch an inning during Friday night’s blowout, I don’t know, but, with the pressure for him to perform mounting now at an almost exponential rate, I expect he’ll crumble.

  17. Ryan, Kolb was the best closer we can TRADE for. Remember we couldn’t spent more than $5M a year on someone like Benitez, Percival, etc. Kolb fits perfectly into our budget and the Brewers are not too demanding on prospect in trading for Kolb. Kolb’s stat two year’s ago really isn’t as bad as last year and we all trust Leo. So, I really had no problem with trading for Kolb. I think the problem is Kolb really can’t handle the pressure of living in the Braves’ world of high expectation of perfect execution.

  18. I wish the Braves had kept Alfonseca. I think his absence will become more noticeable as the season wears on.

  19. David, I couldn’t agree with you more that Cox should have let Kolb pitching on Friday. It’s obvous the guy need to put in some non-pressure situation to work out his confident. I am quite surprised that Kolb didn’t give up a run in the ninth inning today!

    Maybe Cox was spoiled with Smoltz being the closer for the last few years, but Cox really has not been taking care of Kolb as carefully as I thought he should…perhaps r* is right, Cox doesn’t like Kolb much, and maybe Cox is looking for ways to justify a reason to move Smoltz back to the bullpen…

  20. Correction: Jordan and Mondesi came through in the tenth, not the ninth.

    Despite his lack of run support, Smoltz has had success as a starter, so I don’t think Cox will move him to the closer role. If Smoltz’s arm were in danger of falling apart, then maybe. Let’s face it: the bullpen has some big gaps to fill.

  21. I think the team is much better off having Smoltz starting than back in the bullpen. I get the feeling Cox feels the same way about the situation. He’s proven, for now at least, that he can be dominant for 7 innings or more. Unless, as David Remy suggests, something pyhsical forces Smoltz back to the bullpen, we won’t be seeing him trying to close our games.

  22. Well, I was really just kidding. I doubt Smoltz will be moving back to the bullpen as well.

    At least we can say we are still in a better position than at this time last year when we were fielding Wise and Garcia in the starting lineup!

  23. The two non-Kolb things that bothered me most were Jordan not attempting a steal (or maybe even a double steal form 1st and 3rd with 0 outs) and the fact that Chipper watched two called strikes. In a situation where we just need Chipper to put the ball in the air, he can’t do it with the bat on his shoulder. I don’t mind too much if a guy fails in a clutch situation if he is at least swinging the bat. With 0 outs, even if Chipper grounds into a double play we *might* still score the run from 3rd…. put the ball in play.

  24. Okay, let me have it. I going on record as agreeing with Bobby’s decision to pitch Kolb in the 10th.
    Folks, you are or you ain’t. If Kolb is the closer we have, he’s who pitches the 10th. I was disgusted with the results as any of you, but it’s better to get tested now than later. Like the fellow above illustrated from the “Moneyball” book; we hired Kolb to do a job, let’s see if he can do it.

  25. I think Pete Van Wieren said that Kolb’s ERA against the Phillies was above 7.00. Can anyone verify this figure? I understand that Kolb is the Braves’ closer and that he should be allowed to do his job, but after he walks the first batter, that’s it: you call in someone else.

  26. Kolb this, Kolb that…he looks like uncomfortable out their in these tight situations. When it’s his time to shine he cracks. Granted he did bail out in the ninth, but of course the tenth was another story. Sosa should be given a shot at closing. He’s got the upper 90’s fastball. Also why did Chipper just stand there like a tree and not take any hacks off of Wagner. Obviously he fears him or something. Chipper in 14 ab’s has struck out 10 times against Wagner. Also our third base coach Gonzalez is not very good. Sending Johnny home from first, and giving wrong signs to Jordan @ bat. Last year he sent Julio home from first and he was out by a mile. That’s enough from me, I’m just an aggravated Braves fan at this point.

  27. Disappointing loss. I have never been high on Kolb, but let’s ride it out.

    For all of his foibles thus far this season, that was sure a heckuva of an AB for Mondesi in the 10th. As for Jordan not stealing, I thought Morgan did an excellent job in the booth outlining the pros and cons. I hate Morgan as an editorializer, but he is very good (not as good as Jim Kaat) when talking the inside game.

  28. Didn’t see the end of the game. Probably better since my kids don’t need to hear that kind of language from their old man. But just to comment on the guys who pine for Smoltz to go back to the bullpen. No way unless he just can’t start. He is way more valuable as a starter. I just hope that the Braves don’t panic and do something dumb like trade a great prospect for a name closer like Urbina or something. Kolb still has a couple of opportunities to get his stuff in a sock but I’m sure the leash is short.

  29. Eh, I’m not too worried. I mean, if nothing changes I’ll be worried, but the season is young, and roles are still being defined. I certainly think bringing Kolb out was the best option at the time. He had just retired the heart of the order in the ninth, and it would not have been great for his confidence (etc) to pull him after that. The first defensive lapse was horrible, but the second was really kind of an unlucky break.

  30. Kolb didn’t have a problem fielding. It was the throwing that did him in.

    Also, I blame it all on Kolb’s plate appearance. That was his first ever in 175 MLB games, and I think the unusual stretching of his arms caused by swinging a bat at major league pitches messed up his rhythm. (This isn’t a real theory. Laugh!)

    Seriously, I was thinking before Kolb even batted that he should be taken out of the game. Not for lack of faith in him, but for stats reasons: if he had stayed on and won, hooray he wins. But if someone else had stayed on and won, then Kolb would get the win and someone else would get the save. Bonus stats! Plus Kolb had already pitched a rough ninth inning, and it just seemed evident that he didn’t have his stuff.

    Then again, hindsight is usually 20/20. Once the Braves’ bats start working, what little bullpen trouble we have won’t be much of an issue. So while concerns for Kolb’s and the rest of the bullpen’s inability to prevent batters from reaching base are warranted, I’m a little more concerned with all the pressure being on the bullpen when the Braves offense (or lack thereof) is equally to blame.

  31. The sample size is small, admittedly, but I submit that the Braves have 2 more victories this year with Smoltz as the closer. IMHO, no way does he blow the saves that Kolb blew. I find it ironic that Smoltz wants to start, to benefit the team, when in fact the decision has done just the opposite thus far (with an emphasis on the “thus far” part).

    Kolb is a disaster. However, with budget limitations, options are very limited. And I agree that Smoltz can’t be yanked around between the rotation and the pen. That ship, unfortunately, has sailed.

  32. I hear that Rocker is pitching in the Patriot League in NY. I say “bring back The Rock”;)

  33. I’m not too worried about the bullpen. All but the most pollyannaish among us knew the pen would be a work in progress during the season. But the pre-Smoltz bullpen history of Cox, Schuerholz, and Mazzone is to go through a fairly large number of arms in a broad range of roles. But the end result has almost always been a solid group by June or July.

    I am much more concerned about the offense. If things go well, we have a lot of similar parts — right handed mid-power mid-average hitters who don’t walk much. I don’t like the concentration of hitter types as that makes pitching to us a little overly homogenous.

    And that is assuming everything is going well. I’ve been on record being very leery of Jordan / Mondesi remaining level of ability and suspicious of Giles on-going health. This offense needs superior performance from Furcal / Jones / Jones / Estrada or we will struggle to score around the league average. And unlike the history of fiddling with the bullpen until things work out, for the most part, Cox and Crew have been much more patient (or stubborn depending on your point of view) with problematic position players.

  34. Not that I don’t hate Kolb, I do;(I hate the whole idea of a guy with so few K’s in that role) but Wagner wasn’t exactly lights out in either of his appearances. In fact, if we look around the majors right now, ours is not the only pen giving up close games: Rivera, Qualls, Takatsu, Benitez just to name a few have all recently robbed thier starters of a win. Ironically, watching from the stands, it felt as if we were being out managed by Manuel: putting Lofton in, the bunts, base rinning etc. We seemed one step behind every move they made. Of course, none of that would have been of any consequence had K*lb, not walked tw* b*ck t* b*ck.

  35. I agree with bamadan. I’m much more worried about our offense than our pitching(bullpen included). Not only does this group not walk much, they don’t take hardly any pitches. Going back over the past week we’ve had the following:
    Myers 87 pitches in 8 inn
    Lieber 75 pitches in 8 inn
    Loaiza 97 pitches in 7 inn
    Martinez 101 pitches in 9 inn
    All losses by the way and our pitchers all had well over 100 pitches in the same number(or fewer innings).

  36. Chipper did kind of get jobbed by the umpire on his last at-bat, “strike” 2 was clearly inside. What I don’t understand is that Wagner came back to the same spot, with a pitch closer to the strike zone, and Chipper took that one too. I think he’s got a mental thing going there, Wagner just owns him.

    Kolb needs more work, he’s a sinkerballer, and lots of rest means that the sinker doesn’t sink. He tossed some fat pitches in there, and then started overthrowing.

    I agree he didn’t need to bat, Cox was already going to have to move some players around since he had pinch-run for LaRoche, so bat for him and let someone else close it out. I guess the biggest mistake was bringing Kolb in to pitch the 9th in the tie-game anyway – that set everything else up.

  37. I guess the biggest mistake was bringing Kolb in to pitch the 9th in the tie-game anyway – that set everything else up.

    I **vehemently** disagree.

    The best reliever on the staff definitely should be used in the 9th inning of a tie game, even on the road. The most important job in this situation is keeping the opposition from scoring, not waiting to keep them from scoring after you’ve scored. That is my biggest bugaboo about how the LaRussaization of bullpens has changed the game. Regardless of how a “Save” is calculated, pitching in a tied game in late or extra innings is incredibly more important than is pitching with a three run lead in the 9th.

    The biggest mistake isn’t brining in the closer for the 9th of a tied game; rather its making Dan Kolb the kloser and/or failing to address a generally weak bullpen over the off-season.

  38. I’m glad that a few have emerged to support the decision to use Kolb last night. While I was just as frustrated as the rest of you with the outcome last night, we got him to be our ace reliever. Keeping a game tied in the 9th and closing it in the 10th are two of the highest leverage situations you can get. For better or for worse, situations like that are why we traded for him.

    Just as we wouldn’t have benched JD Drew if he started last season like he started this season (0 for his first 22), I don’t think we can give up on Kolb yet. Yes, he’s looked awful, but everyone has bad days. The problem is that as a closer, When he has a bad day, it costs us the game, whereas Drew’s constant 0 for 4s can be lost among other hitting performances.

    I’m very frustrated too. Let’s ride out the storm and hope for the best. There’s not much else we can do.

  39. “…but everyone has bad days.”

    That’s just the problem. On his good days, the score card reads something like this: 6-3,f-8,5-3.
    I think as a “c-loser” it should read something like: K, 1-3, K.

  40. Okay, you guys are right. We should just give up now and put Reitsma in there. Remember how much we loved him last year?

    I agree that it would be much better to have a relief pitcher who strikes a lot of guys out. Funny thing, but most other teams like those guys too. They tend to make a lot of money as soon as they leave arbitration. It would be nice to develop our own Brad Lidge or Francisco Rodriguez, but so far the best we’ve done recently is Roman Colon. Unless you consider Capellan of that mold (and you shouldn’t, because unlike those two, he had no quality breaking pitch).

  41. …well sure if you want to be all pragmatic and realistic about it… :)

    You’re right, of course Kyle S, but it’s hard not to panic a little (even this early), when we, as Braves fans find ourselves in the curious position of looking around the division and seeing the other rotations not only keeping pace with ours, but actually doing better (so far).

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