ESPN.com – MLB – Box Score – Mets at Braves
Ryan Langerhans might have earned the full-time left field job. Not only did he go 3-4 with a walk, but more importantly he drove in the game-tying run with a ninth inning double and the game-winning runs with a two-out, two-run single in the tenth.
Tim Hudson was strong, going eight and allowing just two runs. But he screwed up in the first inning, in kind of the opposite of Marcus’ scoring from second on the swinging bunt in the previous game. With nobody out and a runner on second, Matsui hit a little chopper and Hudson was so intent on looking the runner back he waited too long to throw to first, allowing Matsui to reach; both runners later scored.
It looked like it would cost the Braves the game, as they could get only one run off of Glavine, Furcal driving in Langerhans with a two-out single in the fifth. Tom’s record against the Braves isn’t very good, but it seems like when he does pitch well he pitches very well. But he left in the eighth, and in the ninth the Braves rallied off of Looper.
Francoeur hit a ground rule double leading off. McCann couldn’t get him to third, but it didn’t matter, as Langerhans doubled him home. He was stranded, this time.
Boyer had pitched the ninth, allowing a double, but that was it. The tenth was another bullpen meltdown, though it could have been worse. Reitsma got the first man, then allowed a single and a walk, then left with a strained hamstring. Bobby then chose to bring in… Brower? Huh? Brower allowed a single to load the bases. Foster came in and allowed a pinch-hit single to the immortal Chris Woodward, but only one run scored. And then Ramon Castro lined into a double play to shortstop. You can’t have much faith in the pen after that.
Still, unlike the Reds finale the game was still close; the Mets left Looper in. Chipper singled, and Andruw was hit by a pitch, then Julio walked. Bases loaded! Looper out for Shingo Takatsu. But Francoeur fouled out to first, and McCann popped out. So Langerhans came up and singled, the Joneses score, game over, Mets season all but over.
The Marlins pummelled the Natspos, and the Astros beat the Phillies. The lead is 6 1/2 on Florida, 8 on Philadelphia, which suddenly has lost five in a row. If the Braves went .500 the rest of the way, they would wind up 92-70, and the Marlins would have to go 18-5 (.783) to tie. The Braves take today off as they begin the last extended road trip of the season, ten games in Washington, Philly, and New York. Ramirez-Loaiza Friday night on Turner South, though it will also be carried at least in some places on ESPN.
A few points.
One, Langerhans has earned himself an everyday job unless he goes Adam LaRoche on us. Sure, his batting average is only .252 but A) he’s been very clutch and B) Kelly Johnson and particularly Todd Hollandsworth are far WORSE options. You could do a lot worse then having a Langerhans in the 6, 7, or 8 hole.
Two, speaking of said LaRoche, Julio continues his solid work of the key hits and taking a lot of walks. Julio being such a veteran seems to always KNOW when the Braves need him to come through and he usually does. He doesn’t have fabulous numbers, just solid, but he’s such a good influence on the lineup.
That said, it was pointed out that Calvin Pickering was DFA’d by the Royals. Now the Royals shouldn’t be DFA’ing ANYTHING, however, considering the Braves have a black hole normally at first (LaRoche) and the only player of quality is age 47, they may want to consider taking a cheap flyer on Pickering who has power and a really good career OPS. I mean, if we had a Todd Helton or Carlos Delgado, that’s one thing but we are mostly talking LaRoche who I hate, hate, hate…he just stinks.
But againm unless the Braves do smartly notice the availbility of a cheap player like Pickering and these are the 2 options, I think we are OBLIGATED to play Julio as much as possible. The nightly 0 for 4’s are killing the Braves (from Adam), particularly when Bobby exacerbates the situation by batting this turkey 5th and causing Andruw Jones more intentional walks then even Bonds would see.
One more thing to discuss: the playoffs.
There’s been all this talk on ‘Baseball Tonight’ and on sports radio about who will win the NL Wild Card…Houston, Philly, New York, Florida, or the Natspos?
The in-your-face logic of the situation was presented yesterday on sports radio.
The Astros have just 6 (well 5 now after last night or maybe even 4?) games left with teams that have WINNING RECORDS. The Marlins, the next most logical Wild Card contender? Have 20 or 21 games left with teams with winning records.
So the bottom line is there simply no way possible for the Astros to not take the Wild Card. As much as I desperately want to avoid Houston and that freaking trio of starters in the 1st round, I don’t see any way for an NL East team to stay in the hunt.
I mean, it’s simple mathematics. Houston has a whole bunch of games left with teams like the Cubs, Pirates, Brewers and Reds, while the NL East teams, all 5 being good, all play one another constantly. It’s why on one hand the Braves lead at 6 1/2 still isn’t set in stone, but assuming the East teams (including the Braves) all beat up on one another equally from here on out, then we stay around we are now…the Braves winning the division and every team in the division going around .500 the rest of their games…
which means as long as Houston can stay above .500 the rest of the way against teams like Cincy and Pittsburgh, (and say even split with ‘better’ non playoff teams like the Brewers and Cubs, plus they do have 1 series left with St. Louis and you figure they will win at least 1 of those 3 games, possibly 2 since the Cards motivation isn’t there right now) then the Astros by all logic will win the WC.
With that said, unless my calculations are off, then the NL Playoffs should look this way: The Braves & Astros and the Cards & Padres. (which is why it would have been great for an East team to make it with the Braves and then we get the Padres who may have owned us in the regular season but don’t have the pitching or the post season experience and I think we win that series).
Still, in a possible series with Houston, we need lights out pitching from Smoltz, Hudson & Sosa. The fact is, outside of Morgan Ensberg and maybe Lance Berkman, the Astros don’t have a nightly threat so it is possible for the Braves to really shut them down…the key is trying to get at least 2 runs of the Astros starters and that maybe all it takes. Still, it’s a series (2nd year in a row and we always seem to play them anyway though we used to own them) that scares me and honestly, if I was a betting man and saw that we played Houston, I think this could be another 1st round series and out.
The danger in Houston is that Ensberg really CAN win games with just solo homeruns.
I’m 100% with you on Julio and have been for weeks. Sure, his numbers are just “solid”, but solid is far, far superior to the alternatives.
And your matchup in the football league this week is ridiculous. You have that guy dominated at every position except #3 WR and maybe kicker (due to your matchup).
Did anyone else hear that “interview” with Smoltz on ESPN2 last night (I think it was the 3rd or 4th inning)? They were trying to talk to Smoltz about everything he and the team have done for the hurricane victims, but Brantley wouldn’t shut up. I think he (Brantley) broke his arm patting himself on the back for all the hard work he has personally done for the hurricane victims.
Mac, one minor correction: Francoeur’s double to lead off the ninth inning was not of the ground-rule variety.
Also, another important advantage the Braves have with Langerhans in there is his far, far, far superior defense.
And yes, the Astros terrify me.
You think so on the f-ball thing?
The only ‘questionable’ area on this team (I am in 3 leagues so I have to sort in my brain here) is back-up at running back…Chris Brown could split carries (hopefully Travis Henry gets hurt) and Ronnie Brown may get his PT screwed by bong boy, Ricky Williams. Ohter then that, I feel pretty good that my team is loaded.
How about your match-up?
Pickering is an awful first baseman, so I don’t think the Braves would consider him even though he can mash.
Houston has 6 games remaining against teams above .500 (4 vs. Marlins, 2 vs. Cards). Other games are 7 vs. Cubs, 6 vs. Brewers, 4 vs. Bucs. The odds are certainly in their favor, but their lead is small enough and their offense is weak enough where it is still in the realm of reasonable possibility that they could falter. Florida is only one game back, and if Houston plays .500 or worse, it is certainly possible that the Marlins could catch them, particularly if the Astros lose the series with the Fish.
I think what’s so aggravating and annoying about Houston, is that they have this ridiculously good trip of starting pitchers that are hard to score runs off, but unlike other teams, it’s like they haven’t even TRIED to field a decent lineup…sure, they have Ensberg & now a healthy Berkman, but it’s almost like Houston was ‘daring’ everyone from the beginning that you can’t match our starting pitching so we can field pretty much any lineup we want and still beat you.
Plus, I have a ton of family in Houston so there has long been a Braves vs. Astros mantality in our minds. I really dislike them and loved owning them in the Playoffs…until last year happened.
I think we are in deep, deep trouble if we play them again. I would rather deal with St. Louis.
Re: Pickering, I’m with Kyle S. here. He’s strictly a DH type, and I can’t imagine the Braves would put him in the field.
Alex, I agree with everything you said on Langerhans, on Franco, and on Houston. I think we have been talking about these three points for a month now, but they are becoming clearer by weeks and days toward the end of the season.
In respect of the wild card race, I trust the Braves will definitely not be slumping to a point to lose that six games lead, and I hope the Marlins get hot at the same time to beat out the Astros to win the wild card. Well, I never like the Marlins and the wild card winner combination, but I want the Cardinals to face tougher competition in the first round…
LaRoche: NO bat, good glove = Rico Brogna
Pickering (potentially): average glove, big bat = David Ortiz or somewhere near (if he finally got to play everyday…the numbers and builds are similar)
Uh, Gee, I dunno…I would take David Ortiz over Rico Brogna and Travis Lee. That’s what we have right now. Thank GOD for Julio and his ageless wonderment or we’d be stuck with laRoche every night.
I am telling you…the only chance the Braves have to sustain inning to inning rallies is putting ‘big slow’ Adam LaRoche on total LOCKDOWN. He’s a CANCER.
I think now would be a good time to see how well Hollandsworth can play first base. You know, spell Julio for a while.
Well, Alex, Bobby is just giving Adam three consecutive off days by starting Julio two straight nights. We will see LaRoche again in Washington batting fifth, and I am only hoping for the best.
Pickering’s not that good. He’s capable of average-plus offense for the position, but let’s not go overboard. He’s had 264 career AB in the majors and hit .223/.329/.428. And he weighs 300 pounds.
Just a game or two, nothing more. See how he checks out, maybe give Hollandsworth a little more time to bring his bat around.
Absolutely. I was rooting for the Phils throughout their series with the Astros! Too bad they got swept. Now there ist simply no way to avoid the Astros in the DS, and there is simply no way we can beat them in a 5 game series. 7 games maybe, but not 5.
Of course there is. The Braves will just have to win some 1-0 and 2-1 squeakers.
Frank, why are you being so pessimistic? I am sure the Braves can beat the Astros, but I would prefer an easier matchup with the Padres. Gotta have confidence man…
Yeah, the Padres were sure easy for the Braves this year. Man, they’d be a good matchup!
Atl vs Houston, 2005: 5-1
Atl vs Padres, 2005: 1-5
I kind of like the Astros idea.
So we’d rather play the team we’re 1-5 against than the team we’re 5-1 against? Am I missing something?
By no mean Jake Peavy is easier than Clemens, Oswalt, or Pettite, but the Padres’ rotation is one deep vs. the three deep pitching rotation of the Astos.
Despite his excellent performance last night, I don’t think you will see Langerhans as the starting left fielder the rest of the way unless he continues to shine. I think Cox regards him as a 4th outfielder/defensive replacement type, and it seems unlikely that one great performance will change his mind. Remember, it was just the previous game Tuesday night when Cox double switched with Langerhans to put him hitting AFTER the pitcher. Cox is at his best managing the clubhouse, so he will start Langerhans for the next game or two. If he didn’t, there would be a lot of grumbling. But if Langerhans puts a couple of O-fer’s up there, he will be back on the bench. They won’t have nearly as much patience with him as with KJ.
Someone needs to say it, so I will.
The magic number is 15.
The magic number is actually 17. Florida is now in second.
Eaton’s pretty good, too.
Andy Marte or James Jurries are probably better bets than Cal Pickering at this point – at least they can both move.
Pick had a good line in Omaha this year (.275/.384/.528, actually very close to Marte’s line in Richmond) but:
a) he was in a hitter’s league
b) he has a .485 MLB OPS this year
c) he struck out 130 times in 335 AAA at bats, or a staggering 39% of the time
The track record of people who strike out that much in the minors is not good. Dallas McPherson is an example of such a player (his average this year is something like 70 points lower than his AAA average was last year) and Pick doesn’t even have the same power as McPherson.
Well, the Braves played the Astros when the Astros were in the deep slump, and the Padres played the Braves when the Braves were slumping. Reguler season match up records are one thing, but the Astros being a better team than the Padres is a fact.
We last played the Astros on May 8. At the conclusion of that series, their record was 11-19. They bottomed out on May 27 at 16-31. Since then they are 26 games over .500. When we got swept by the Padres in their park in May, they were playing their best ball of the season. Their overall record at the conclusion of that series on May 18 was 25-16. They peaked at 33-19 on May 31. Since then they are 14 games under .500. Houston is the better team now, and their big three rotation is deadly in a short series. I’ll take my chances with the Padres.
Eaton has something similar to what Thomson has, though apparently not as severe. At any event, he’s made just three starts since coming back. He went five against the Rockies (in San Diego) allowing four runs/three earned, and had a minimal quality start (six innings, three runs) against the Brewers. Last night, he went six and allowed just two runs in Colorado.
The thing is that the Braves haven’t been beaten by Peavy. Winning pitchers in the Braves’ five losses to San Diego:
Linebrink (relieving Stauffer)
Reyes (relieving May)
Seanez (relieving Astacio)
The Braves have faced the Padres six times, haven’t had to face their ace, only once had to face a good starter at all, and are 1-5. Go figure.
Yeah, I agree Mac, I have no clue how the Braves managed to lose to Park and Astacio in the last homestand. I refuse to believe that will happen again!
Couple of remarks
– games last night were great, seeing Biggio smash the 3-run shot off of Wagner in between Langer’s two clutch at-bats was great baseball. It was amusing that the announcers on ESPN2 were saying that Bobby was managing like he knew whatever he did wouldn’t matter, because the Braves were going to beat the Mets at Turner, although it wasn’t amusing to see Brower come out for Reitsma.
– With Reitmsa getting dinged up, maybe they will shut him down for a week and let his arm rest. He needs it.
– Langer deserves to start a few more days, he had a very good offensive night, we already know he’s the better fielder, and he showed excellent patience. Drilling those two shots to the same place was sweet, but sweeter still was the Mets reactions to seeing their season basically end. Love seeing their hopes crushed!
– With Andruw getting nailed last night in the 10th (and that one smarted a bit, he was yelling when he spun around), he should blow past 50 dingers this weekend if Mac’s theory keeps holding up.
– Hollandsworthless is a great name, Stu, I can’t believe he swung at a 3-0 pitch outside. What a pinhead.
– The BP postseason odds for the Astros to win the wild card is up to 55%, but with their offense, they can easily struggle against the “weaker” teams left on their schedule. However, Berkman is heating up, so that could help. The series against Florida should decide it, but I’m not ready to hand it to them yet.
– My loyalties will definitely be split in the divisional series if the Astros hold the wild card, the good thing is that a team I like will definitely be in the NLCS.
And finally, got a spot left in your fantasy league, or is it too late? 🙂
I’ll take Houston for the Wild Card. We matchup well with them and Gardner is a dolt. No Beltran to save them this year. The team that scares me is the Marlins (even though I know we wouldn’t see them until Round 2), just a dangerous team with their frontline starting pitching and the potential for a Cabrera or Delgado to carry them.
As someone who’s been beating the drum for Langerhans for months, last night was obviously very fulfilling. While I don’t expect he’ll play every single day from here on, I expect he’ll get the important at bats in October which is what really counts. It’s also nice that Bobby has now correctly identified the Franco-Langerhans-McCann lineup as his best.
As bad as our bullpen is, we have two reliable pitchers (Boyer, Farns) and a functional lefty (Foster) and that’s all you need most times in the post season.
nyb is right. Beltran killed us last year. IF they don’t have Carlos we probably win in 4 games. The Rocket is hurt and Andy P. is a pitcher I think we can handle. Oswalt is scary though.
Bagwell will probably play which will hurt them more than help. Plus, their bullpen out side Lidge, isn’t all that great.
What is you guys’ take on McCann now? He got off to a good start, but his average has been nosediving lately – it seems like he’s turning into LaRoche in the clutch. Estrada is having an off year (maybe he had a fluke year last year and is on target for his career), but he appears to be the better option right now.
TD- what about that throw to nail Beltran? Estrada couldn’t make that throw if he was 5 feet from Chipper.
Somebody spell me on this, but I think Estrada actually has a pretty good throwing-runners-out percentage (whatever it’s called) this year.
this year, Estrada has thrown out 24 of 70 basestealers for a 34% rate. Not amazing, but a hell of a lot better than the 16 for 86 he was last year!
McCann’s 3/17. So, Estrada looks better in that so far.
And Estrada did block the plate well the other night. Guess he has been seeing his sports shrink.
I think McCann has a better arm, but his foot work is bad. That was one hell of a throw last night.
(Been away the last several hours at meetings)
Anyway, with the regards to the “logic” of the fact that the Braves are 1-5 vs. San Diego and 5-1 vs. Houston, it’s already been pointed out that a) Houston was horrific when we faced them in Houston and B) we got beatend by pitchers such as Chan Ho and Astacio so that qualifies officially as DUMB LUCK.
It would be equivalent to Adam LaRoche facing Clemens in the Playoffs and going 4 for 4 with 2 doubles, a homer and a triple. I suppose it COULD happen but the statistical probabilities of a loser amoeba like LaRoche ‘killing’ the best pitcher in Baseball are slim to none.
That said, I am with the folks on here about taking my chances with the PADRES. The regular season, in case most people haven’t realized is MEANINGLESS other then to get you there…examples include multiple ‘wild card’ world champions and the fact that Beltran could be pedestrian in 2004 and then become Willie Mays in October. Anonmalies.
The main point that was made which I agree with is that Smoltz-Hudson-Sosa facing Peavy-Eaton-and I dont even know vs. facing Clemens-Pettitte-Oswalt isn’t even comparable. Yes, I think the Padres offense is slightly better overall but no that great. Frankly, Morgan Ensberg is better then anything the Padres have anyway.
I used this example before but my favorite Basketball team, the Spurs, in their last two championship seasons, 2003 and 2005, faced first round opponents (the Suns in ’03 and the Nuggets in ’05) that won the season series, 3-1. There was Duncan injuries and other factors that led to those regular season losses, but whatever…the Spurs beat both those teams 4 to 1 in the 1st round and even did that while losing the opener of each series.
That’s why you have to throw the regular season out except in terms of setting your rotation and who should hit…because we all need to remember Adam LaRoche’s regular season so he doesn’t PLAY.
And if you want a lefty hitting fifth right now Bobby, go with Langerhans.
I agree that McCann’s slump has become noticeable.
Has anyone asked where the great Terry Pendleton is in the midst of all these painful slumps?
Good question, Alex. I’ve been wondering about him as a hitting coach. It’s really hard to quantify stuff like that.
JC, are you bored? Need something to kill time? How about the Pendleton effect?
JoeyT, I’m the opposite of bored right now. My blog has been crickets for the past month. I’m slowly digging out of a big project, but a study of Pendleton as hitting coach would be a long way off. However, my first inkling is that TP is good for one thing: wiping your ass.
…I’m exaggerating, but I can’t pass up the line.
Agreed that Langerhans seems like the best option for LF — offensively there’s not a whole lot of difference among him, Johnson, and Hollandsworth, but he’s a much better defensive player. Has anyone else noticed that KJ plays about 20 feet from the warning track most of the time? There are some hidden singles in there that a more confident OF would get to easily….
Don’t forget the yards of neighbors you don’t like, JC.
Julio will be the co-host and subject of This Week in Baseball on Fox, 12:30 PM Eastern Saturday before the 1 PM Braves broadcast (unless, like me, you’re in the Pacific time zone and thus will be getting inane cartoons instead). TinyURL’d link here, but it’s originally from MLB.com.
Apparently the program was going to show him going through his legendary workout routine (yoga and all), but his elbow injury precludes that, so it’ll be lots of footage through the years.
What the Fu@#! You think just because Houston only plays 4 or 5 games the rest of the way they are a shoe in. Do you not realize there are only 2 teams outside the NL East with winning records? Just because a team has a losing record doesn’t meant shit. This is the major leagues. Every team has quality players on it, some more than others. Each team will mostly be playing inside their own division these last few weeks. Schedules don’t mean as much as you’d like to think. Houston is 31-29 against the central this year, Florida is 28-27 against the east. That is bascially the rest of their games this year.
Its not that big a deal. Simple mathamatics you say. There is no reason to believe what sportswriters or radio commentators say that much better than the avgerage fan. On the other hand the hardcore fans not just of one team but of the sport in general have a good understanding. Most of the time these boards are educated insightful people, including this one. That is why I don’t give a crap what sports radio or baseball tonight thinks, its just entertainment and some fairly obvious comments on injuries and speculations….ala jerry seinfeld.
Alex, in this case you are smoking to much weed, let the season ride out without writing in stone that the wild card is over even though houston has a one game lead with 22 to play… its just sickening…. you probably give up with 2 outs in the 7th inning if the braves are down by more that 1 run.
Alex has been taking a lot of heat recently, and he has agreed to calm down his language. So, can we all just get along and be nice to each other?!
I know we are all bored on the Braves’ off-day, but let’s stay calm guys and gals…
Do you guys realize that Millwood is having a better season than Hudson? I like Hudson a lot, so this is surprising when I just checked Millwood’s stats, and he is pitching in the AL…
I don’t think bad of Alex or anything, I’m just flabergasted that people just throw all this mumbo jumbo out there as simple math, and think unproven biased opinions are somehow worthy of being presented as more, its disturbing and frustrating. I do however enjoy reading these posts and love that everyone expresses themselves..nothing wrong with being passionate…