Atlanta 2, St. Louis 1

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Cardinals at Braves

The Braves (pace Tony LaRussa) apparently bitched their way to another win to take the series from the Cards. That’s the only explanation, because there’s no way that the team with ten hits and five walks should lose to a team with four hits and three walks. But that’s what happened.

Smoltz somehow managed, in a game in which he struck out only one batter, walked four, and allowed nine hits, to allow just one run. Don’t ask me how he did it, but he did it. Reitsma finished the seventh and pitched a one-hit ninth. Kolb walked Albert Pujols, which isn’t such a bad thing, and got three outs to finish.

The Braves got their runs in the sixth. To that point, they’d had only one baserunner, and that was Smoltz on a two-out single in the third. Betemit led off the sixth with a single and Smoltz sacrificed him to second. Furcal, who’d looked hopeless earlier, doubled him home, and Langerhans — not only starting but hitting second! — singled Furcal in, thereby guaranteeing another week of pinch-running duties. The Braves got two more baserunners in the seventh on LaRoche’s single and Andruw’s walk, but couldn’t get them home. Chipper hit for Betemit (thereby bringing Orr in to play third) even though Betemit had a hit already. I don’t get it.

Monday off, then a two-game miniseries with the Marlins. Florida is losing right now, which would mean the teams would be back in a virtual tie for first. ESPN has it as Hampton versus Leiter, then Hudson versus Burnett, meaning Ramirez is being skipped.

28 thoughts on “Atlanta 2, St. Louis 1”

  1. Smoltz was able to hold them to one run by being a good pitcher. Sometimes your stuff just isn’t working at its best and you got to make due, and that’s what seperates the best from everyone else. A less experienced pitcher would have been in deep trouble, but Smoltz is smart enough to get people out even without his A-game.

    You don’t want to have to do that kind of battle every game, but you can in fact win a game without striking 10 people out.

  2. You’re right Grst. It looked to me like Smoltz’s slider and fastball were as good as usual, but he didn’t have the great splitter going. That, or the Cardinals weren’t chasing it.

    You’ll take it any time can scored five runs and win two straight against what should be the best offensive club in the league.

  3. Only one walk for KolBB and against Pujols, he’s on a roll.

    I thought Skip and Pete made a good point when they talked about how only quality, experienced pitchers can manage games when they don’t have their best stuff. Smoltz maintained control during the game even as he struggled, something Skip appropriately claimed didn’t happen for Smoltz as a much younger pitcher.

    I agree with pinch-hitting Chipper for Betemit, even though Betemit had a hit earlier. We needed to bag this game for Smoltz and for our morale, so bringing in Chipper gave us the best chance to break it open. Maybe Betemit would have benefitted from the experience, but I don’t think anyone’s holding their breath anymore for this guy. I think Bobby was trying to get the most out of his patchwork lineup today, regardless of the effect on a player’s future.

    Good move to skip Ramirez. Our games against Florida are currently our most important, so why not pitch our two best starters?

  4. This is one of those unreliable, subjective observations, but I really like the way Langerhans looks out there. I know he hasn’t produced very much yet (partially a function of opportunity), but he had a sweet-looking swing on his single, and his technique in the outfield looks flawless to me. I see a lot of discipline in his approach, and it’s a pleasure to watch. Hopefully it will translate into better results soon.

  5. Someone must have given Langerhans a copy of the pictures. I agree with sansho1. Purely subjective but Langerhans has a quick compact stroke and is a smooth fielder.

    By the way wasn’t it a Betemit walk that led to him being sacrificed to second so that Furcal could double him home?

  6. –This is one of those unreliable, subjective observations, but I really like the way Langerhans looks out there. —

    Better stick him behind the inferior Jordan and Mondesi for another ten days so he can observe the panache that comes with gritty veteran resolve.

    What do you do with one of the best outfield prospects in the game? If you’re Bobby Cox,use him as a pinch runner.

    What do you do with the best hitting prospect in the minor leagues? If you’re the Braves keep him down there while Wilson Betemit plays third base.

  7. The Braves are 15-10, in a virtual tie for 1st and what are most people discussing? How Bobby has mismanaged a situation or player. Amazing! He sticks with Kolb rather than go with anyone else (none of the others have held the closer role that I know of) and he gets criticized while all Kolb does is go out there and hold the best offensive team in baseball two days in a row.

    Again, give the Braves and Bobby Cox credit for taking the series against the Cards while not having your best player in any of the games and having two “unreliable” players in the outfield. I guess a guy with 14 RBIs is pretty unreliable.

    The Braves played great fundamental baseball over the weekend. That’s what got them the two wins.

  8. Langerhans will see more playing time, don’t worry. I think Bobby and Co. will bring him along the same way they did LaRoche last year, and I think that seems to have worked out pretty well.

  9. I guess the sky wasn’t falling after all.

    Maybe people will someday begin to trust that cox actually knows what he is doing.

  10. What do you do with one of the best outfield prospects in the game? If you’re Bobby Cox,use him as a pinch runner.

    I like Langerhans, but that’s a bit of stretch. If he has Todd Hollandsworth’s career, he’ll be lucky.

    What do you do with the best hitting prospect in the minor leagues? If you’re the Braves keep him down there while Wilson Betemit plays third base.

    What sense would it make to bring up Marte for 10 days, thereby starting his service time clock and burning an option, especially when he hasn’t yet proven he’s mastered hitting at Triple-A? (He’s .264/.333/.448 through Saturday).

  11. –especially when he hasn’t yet proven he’s mastered hitting at Triple-A? (He’s .264/.333/.448 through Saturday).–

    Untranslated to the bigs, that exact line would place Marte 5th on the Braves in terms of OPS, and 5th in ISO.

    Marte’s stats from last year adjusted to the Bigs would place him fifth on this year’s Braves in OPS (ahead of himself in AAA, and behind Chipper. Giles, and 23 PA Betemit), and third in ISO.

    I fail to see what this guy has yet to “prove” down in AAA.

    Of course (full disclosure) Betemit leads the Team in ISO and is second in OPS which somewhat undermines my argument, but that was compiled over only 23 Plate appearances.

    As for Langerhans, his translated ISO from last year would place him Behind only Chipper (and the 23 plate appearance Betemit) on this year’s team.

  12. — The Braves are 15-10, in a virtual tie for 1st and what are most people discussing? How Bobby has mismanaged a situation or player. —

    The Braves have been very lucky to win some of the Games they’ve won so far. Yesterday’s game is a case in point. In addition, in many of the games they’ve lost, they’ve squandered pitching performances that in most instances translate into a win.

    I’ll take the luck, but I’d rather have the Braves hitting and leave less to chance. As it is, the team has virtually zero margin for error.

  13. I’d be interested in hearing what your definition of “luck” is. That seems to be a common rallying point for people here, yet when I look at Cox’s history, “luck” is not the first word that jumps to mind.

    The fact of the matter is our hitting will improve, and thus so will our record. If we are 15-10 now, think how many we’ll win out of 25 when we’re firing on all cylinders.

    The talk about Marte is stupid. You don’t waste talent like that in a backup role. It’s better for his development that he play every day in the minors rather than being a backup in the majors. We’ll bring him up when we got a solid spot for him. Can he play right field yet?

  14. I think that by “luck” they partly mean that the Braves’ record is better than their overall performance — ie, the stats. It’s not, really. They’re 15-10, and their Pythagorean record is 15-10. They’re 6-5 in one-run games. They’ve won exactly as many games as they’ve should.

    BTW, Andruw has now passed Estrada to be the second-best player in the everyday lineup after Marcus. Well, third-best after Marcus and whoever’s playing third that day — Orr and Betemit have both been better.

  15. The comments are pretty amusing, considering Atlanta’s record. I’m playing Atlanta in a dynasty in MVP 2005 on the PS2, and the entire team isn’t hitting (mostly because of my lack of skill at the difficulty setting I chose and my free-swinging ways), but the team’s record is 11-5 or so, playing about a week behind real life.

    Still, it is pretty curious why Langerhans isn’t getting more playing time. Jordan certainly would be able to handle the role of veteran off the bench, but on the other hand, I doubt Mondesi could.

  16. Actually, by “luck” I meant the probability of winning a game conditioned on scoring 2 runs, or a more general test would probably be the probability of winning a game given that you score less than 1 standard deviation below the league mean r/9 innings?

    I think its interesting that the Braves Pythagorean record is the same as their actual record adds evidence of the outstanding job their pitching has been doing.

    I don’t have evidence to support this, but I would guess most times a team scores 2 runs or less (irrespective of the run differential) it loses. Expecting a team to win while scoring that few runs puts unfair pressure on the pitching.

    As for Marte, in my ideal universe, Marte would play thrid everyday and Chipper (who is not a good fielder) and Langerhans would play the outfield.

  17. You want to move Chipper to the outfield again? Did you know that his foot is banged up? Why put him back in the outfield and risk more damage to his legs? Marte or not on the team, Chipper is still the Braves best offensive player. Putting him in any situation where he might get injured, so that a rookie can take his spot is absolutely ridiculous. Marte will get his shot, but to tamper with Chipper’s production this year, in order to give Marte that shot, doesn’t help the team.

  18. I don’t know that there is any evidence that someone would be more likely to be injured in the outfield than at third base. By your logic, the team should move Chipper to 1rst base, which personally I don’t think is such a bad idea, as I would prefer Marte in the lineup to Laroche.

    Your point of messing with Chipper (the teams only real hitting threat) is a good one, and I’ve thought about it. Chipper obviously wants to play third, and he’s earned the right. That said, there isn’t much arguing for him to stay there (he is a below average fielder) other than his personal comfort.

  19. The whole Chipper at third base/outfield thing, and the quality of his defense, has been discussed here ad nauseum. Literally, I’m feeling sick to my stomach at the thought of another time around. Just remember that Chipper’s injuries of the last three years were to his hamstrings, which will get much more of a workout in the outfield than at third base. And he’d have to run more on his foot, as well.

  20. You stat guys kill me sometimes.

    I tend toward the scouting end of the equation, but I will readily admit when I think the other side has a point.

    But Langerhans as one of the best OF prospects in the game? Puh-leez.

    That short compact stroke manages to strike out at a fairly hefty rate throughout his minor league career. Oops. I forgot Ks don’t matter to you guys.

    I admit Langerhans should probably be getting more ABs. I didn’t like either the Jordan or Mondesi signing.

    But a lot of you guys have Langerhans half way to Cooperstown.

    Creg is right. Langerhans looks like Darren Bragg with a bit more power to me. Before you dump on me, look at Bragg’s best years in the mid-90s.

    Langerhans is a “maybe” 800 OPS guy.

  21. One guy says that Langerhans is one of the best outfield prospects in the game, and you tar us all with the same brush? Get a grip. Langerhans is an okay player and better than Jordan and Mondesi are now. .280/.350/.450 won’t win you any MVP awards but it’s okay for a guy who doesn’t make much money.

  22. I mentioned Langerhans’ batting stroke and outfield technique because I found them aesthetically pleasing and repeatable, a sign of discipline AND good teaching. This, in addition to his track record of production in the minors, leads me to believe that he’s got a good chance to be productive. I’ll throw as many numbers up on this board as anyone, but please tell me how what I said is a “stat guy” observation.

  23. I think they’re referring to me sansho1, not that there is anything wrong with being a “stat guy” in that to be being a “stat guy” implies applying emperical evidence to your argument.

    Actually, if anything the point of contention stems from me not being enough of a “stat guy” and engaging in hyperbole when I over-praised Langerhans.

    Still, I think everyone on the board is in agreement that we’d all like to see Langerhans in the everyday lineup in place of either Jordan or Mondesi.

  24. Do you think Langerhans can put up the production that Jordan has so far? Give me a break. Jordan may not be hitting for average, but I again point out that he is hitting .360 with RISP. Think Langerhans can do that? Not this early in his career. He doesn’t have enough patience to wait for a pitch when the game is on the line. Jordan isn’t Barry Bonds, but Langerhans isn’t even Jordan yet or he would be in there instead of Jordan.

  25. I think that by “luck” they partly mean that the Braves’ record is better than their overall performance — ie, the stats. It’s not, really. They’re 15-10, and their Pythagorean record is 15-10. They’re 6-5 in one-run games. They’ve won exactly as many games as they’ve should.

    I agree, that’s what I was getting at. They’ve won what they’ve should have won, and thus there’s nothing lucky about it. And, given the fact that I believe their offense will improve (I could really care less if I convince anyone of this, I bleive it will happen) I have little concern for the outcome of this season. We will win the division, I say it now I say it proud.

    As to the other discussion: Langerhans is fine player and I like his swing most of the time, but earlier in the season it was looking really ugly. He was flying way open and his results were reflecting this. It looks like he may have corrected it so we’ll see if that holds. If it does and Mondesi continues to scuffle I’d like to see Ryan move into a bigger role instead of Mondesi…but I think the issue needs more time for an accurate judgement.

  26. I think anyone in the majors is capable of going 9 for 26 with RISP at any point in his career. I appreciate that Jordan has contributed in these situations to this point, but can’t you tell by watching him day in and day out that he’s no longer the player he once was? Nobody in the lineup has hit the ball with less authority more times than Jordan, except for Mondesi.

    I won’t get into the tired “clutch hitter” debate, but if you think he’s capable of producing much more in the clutch than in normal situations, why not make him a pinch hitter, and let Langerhans get all those 2nd inning ABs when Jordan is popping weakly to second base?

  27. Unfortunately, Jordan is actually more productive in the earleir part of the game. 9 of his rBIs came in the early innings. Jordan is doing a serviceable job and he’s cheap so why not keep him in there?

  28. OK, you caught my overgeneralization. As I said, I appreciate that Jordan has had some big hits. I happen to think Langerhans would be better over the course of a season.

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