Atlanta 1, Houston 0 (12 innings)

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Braves at Astros

So we find out exactly how well the Braves have to pitch to win now — twelve innings of shutout baseball. Difficult. Ryan Langerhans, freed from the bench only because Brian Jordan’s knee was acting up, hit his first career homer in the twelfth, and the abhorrent Mr. Kolb managed to not allow any runs in the bottom of the inning, and the Braves got a win.

Tim Hudson was amazing, going nine and allowing but four hits and a walk while striking out nine. His ERA for the season is now .82. And he didn’t get a win, because the Braves kept leaving runners on base. They had runners second and third, none out, and the bases loaded, one out, in the seventh, and couldn’t score. The leadoff man reached in the eighth, and got as far as third, but didn’t score. Chipper doubled leading off the ninth, and was still at second when the inning ended. Jordan led off the tenth with a hit; Orr, running for him (I still don’t know why it wasn’t Langerhans, who came in in this spot anyway) was erased on a double play. Marcus doubled with one out in the eleventh, and stayed at second.

In fact, this was largely Andruw’s fault. Deep into one of his patented slumps, he went 0-5 with three strikeouts and generally looked as much like a major league cleanup hitter as he does Paris Hilton. He’s hitless on the trip after starting the season pretty well. Estrada had one hit, and Julio was 0-5. So though Marcus was 2-5 with a double and Chipper 3-4 with two doubles, neither of them scored. The Braves were held to two walks, both intentional.

Reitsma pitched the tenth and got into major trouble, loading the bases with none out. (I’m still not sure what Chipper was doing on the single that let the second batter reach. It went right through the hole but it looked like he was covering third.) But he got a lineout, a groundout to him, and a groundout to Furcal to end it. Sosa was magnificent in the eleventh, getting the Astros in order and striking out two. Kolb was shaky as usual in the twelfth and walked one while getting behind 3-0 on the next batter. He missed some pitches so badly — like three feet outside and high — that I think he’s probably hurt, because otherwise you don’t make pitches like that.

Okay, kids, be nice to the substitute while I’m gone. I’ll check in from time to time if I can find a connection.

26 thoughts on “Atlanta 1, Houston 0 (12 innings)”

  1. You may be right about Kolb. Did he throw anything other than muscled fastballs? You can’t pitch in the majors without a second pitch not to mention if you don’t have any idea where your first pitch is going. Sosa has electric stuff but locating it on a consistent basis looks rough. Pray for Leo. Reitsma looks like garbage from the stretch, worse than normal.

    While I am worried about the Braves offensive struggles they did in fact face Clemens and then the amazing Brad Lidge. I’ll take this win. It’s going to be a long year if the bats swing at everything what with the tough pitching in the NL east this year. I’ll be at the DC game on wednesday.

  2. I have the feeling that the failure of the Braves to score any runs in these last 2 games could keep Hudson from winning the Cy Young (not deserving but winning).

  3. Sosa – scouting and observation over statistical analysis. Lousy career stats except last seasons bb/so ratio but electric stuff. He can pitch that good consistently then he may move up on the bullpen food chain.

    Jordan looks better than Mondesi does right now. Never would have thunk it. Maybe Langerhans gets a couple of starts if Jordan’s knee is sore.

    Kolb – what a high wire act. If Scott doesn’t strike himself out on that high fastball it would have been here we go again.

    Andruw is just well, Andruw. Still a sucker for that low outside stuff and the fastballs around his eyes. Wider stance and all.

  4. Found your site and I enjoy the remarks. I was amazed at the arm strengh of Furcal on the play from the hole.

  5. I think the Astro who swung at the third strike (AKA “ball four”) over his head (was he protecting the runner going to second?) probably saved Kolb’s career, or at least his career with the Braves. I leave it to you to decide whether that’s a good thing.

    Before that gift by the Astros batter, Kolb appeared to be on the verge of a total Mark Wohlers-ian headcase meltdown. If Kolb had walked that guy and helped the Astros to a win, I’m pretty sure Cox would have lost any remaining confidence in him, and no GatorAid cooler in the Braves’ dugout would have been safe.

    The situation was just that close to devolving into one where Kolb had only two pitches in his arsenal: (1) a Nuke Laloosh, behind the batter, Durham Bull-braining, backstop splatting wild pitch or (2) a totally grooved, down-the-middle-then-over-the- fence “fastball.” Career meltdown was just that close.

    Do you think that Garner meant to torture the Braves (and their fans) by sending that runner and allowing the batter to swing at ball four, ensuring that Kolb would stay in the game and on the team?

  6. After the Philadelphia game Sunday night, Kolb complained about his fastball. He said he couldn’t get it over the way he wanted to, something like that. Mac may be right: Kolb may be injured.

  7. did anyone see Kolb’s comments in yesterdays AJC following the loss Sunday? He sounded like a player whose head is completely screwed right now.

  8. I think a lot of people have over looked Furcal in the field this year. He has made some great plays and not kicked any easy rollers yet. He isn’t hitting and thats why the Braves aren’t scoring. If he can get on base we will score runs, but he is making up for his lapse at the plate in the field.

    Threee Braves have played in every game this year; Chipper, Andrew, and PETE ORR! No that is a stat.

  9. Furcal made an amazing play, but his .190 average has to go. And he has made a couple of errors.

    One thing I loved in the broadcast was the replay of Langerhans homer from an angle at which you could see the Houston dugout. Garner wasn’t even paying attention; for some reason it just looked funny. Ryan took ’em all by surprise. Way to go.

  10. I dunno. I think Kolb, barring any injury, will settle out. At least I think it’s a little too soon to be burning him in effigy. We’ve had other players get off to really slow starts and turn out ok. Give the man the benefit of the doubt and just hold your breath in the ninth for a little while. I was glad Bobby put him in tonight. He is the closer.
    What worries me a little more than the closer are the other guys in the bullpen, though Sosa looked great tonight and Reitsma redeemed himself.
    What worries me even more is our offense. I know eventually we’ll snap out of it, but we’re in a nasty division and a bad start could be fatal. Furcal and Andruw have got to produce. Towards the end of the game last night, whenever Andruw would come up with runners on, I threw up a little in my mouth. Obviously Jordan and Mondesi are short of the level of production one wants from one’s corner outfield spots.

  11. Smitty, I was thinking the same thing about Furcal’s defense. He just seems more settled on balls hit at him this year and getting himself into position to throw rather than just trusting his arm and rocket one past the 1B.

    It looked like Kolb was flat out overthrowing to me. You can’t bring one up there at 96 mph if you are hurting.

  12. I really liked the way Sosa pitched last night. It was if he could smell the uncertainty in the closers role. He only really has two pitches, 96 mph smoke and an 86 mph changeup. He worked Biggio pretty hard with those two pitches though. If he could add a pitch, I don’t know how likely this is considering he already recent conversion, he could definitely close.

    What about making Kolb the 6th starter should anything happen to the starting 5?…just joshin’.

  13. Smitty, I was thinking the same thing about Furcal’s defense. He just seems more settled on balls hit at him this year and getting himself into position to throw rather than just trusting his arm and rocket one past the 1B.

    He has looked better on D this year. Maybe it’s because he’s not wearing himself out this season by doing all that pesky baserunning.

  14. I think that ultimately Kolb will be an adequate, though not great, closer. Going berserk over a couple of bad games seems a little extreme. Obviously, he got helped out a lot, but to say that Bobby would have ditched him after one more bad game seems to misunderstand how Bobby Cox manages.

    The bigger problem is the offense. The Braves are pinning a lot on Andruw this year and I just don’t see any difference. He still flails at pitches and just doesn’t seem to have any clue. You can complain about Jordan, but at least he is a professional hitter who has good at bats. He had a great AB against Wagner the other day. This seems to be beyond Andruw. I’m sure he will end up with his typical stats (.260, 30 hr, 90 rbi), but that’s not good enough for a cleanup hitter, especially given how streaky Andruw is. People keep saying that it’s not fair to compare Andruw to Willie Mays; I don’t expect him to be Willie Mays, but it would be nice if he could hit better than Joe Mays.

  15. 2 great pitchers and a great result. Don’t forget Clemens has allowed 0 runs in his last 2 starts and has nothing to show for it either. The pitching has become incredibly competitive this year. Could MLB’s new testing be the culprit or benefit, depending on which side you are on?
    Something’s up when 2 Braves starters have ERAs under 1.00 (Hampton and Hudson both at 0.82) and the Marlins’ team ERA is 1.79 although they are 7-6.

  16. “… to say that Bobby would have ditched [Kolb] after one more bad game seems to misunderstand how Bobby Cox manages.”

    I think you’re right. I concede that I was exaggerating a bit. But I do think that if Kolb had blown that one in the way he seemed to be headed, the psychological fallout (his and the team’s lack of confidence in his effectiveness) would have lasted for a while. It just seemed that for a time there, a really bad dream was unfolding. I do recall Smoltz several times letting runners on base, and creating dicey situations, in his closer appearances. It’s just that you always had the feeling that Smoltz could get out of it with a K or two.

  17. What about using a line-up like this…

    Furcal
    LaRoach/Franco
    Chipper
    Giles
    Andrew
    Estrada
    Mondy
    Jordan
    Pitcher

    or…

    Furcal
    Estrada
    Chipper
    LaRoach
    Giles
    Mondy
    Andrew
    Jordan
    picher

    or even

    Furcal
    Andrew (thought he strikes out too much to be a #2)
    Chipper
    Giles
    Laroach
    Mondy
    Estrada
    Jordan
    pitcher

    Just some thoughts.

  18. Kolb’s comments after Sunday’s game:
    “I don’t know if I’m fighting myself mentally or what I’m doing right now,” a dejected Kolb said. “There’s a serious personality check that has to happen within myself. I need to fix it.”
    “I’m a fastball pitcher without a fastball right now,” Kolb said of his control problems. “I don’t know where to start, and I don’t know how to fix it yet.
    “I can’t find anything right now. I’m battling myself, I guess.”

    Not exactly the resilient “closer mentality”.

    Colin

  19. I don’t see any reason to move Giles out of the 2 spot. Furcal-Giles-Chipper will be the perfect 1-2-3 when Furcal gets his hitting back on track.

  20. It’s too early to be jumbling the lineup. The Braves are hitting a nifty .177 with runners in scoring position so far, lowest in the NL. That, of course, will average out over time and the offense should be ok. The offense will never be great because they don’t walk, but with this pitching staff, and ok offense will go a long way.

  21. “I’m a fastball pitcher without a fastball right now,”

    That would make him a batting practice pitcher.

  22. I agree with Colin. I’m really sort of disconcerted by Kolb’s psyche after two bad appearances. You would expect him to exude more confidence. This doesn’t bode well, although I still think he will be adequate. But this is not a guy I can envision coming in to a playoff game with a one run lead (gulp!) Of course, got to get there first.

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