Braves 8, Reds 3

ESPN.com – MLB – Box Score – Reds at Braves

Nothing comes too easy, but that was easier than the other two wins in the series. Thomson started and actually pitched well, allowing only two hits and one walk… In 2 2/3 innings, after which he left with shoulder stiffness. It had to be frustrating because the Braves already led 4-0. McCann singled in a run in the first, and the Braves rallied for three in the second, on a homer by Thorman, a Giles single, and an Andruw sac fly.

Enter The Vulture. Villareal pitched well for 2 1/3, allowing just two baserunners on a walk and an infield single. The Braves meanwhile, had stretched it to 6-0 on a homer by Francoeur and Langerhans doubling home Thorman. Unfortunately, Villareal came out for the sixth, and had nothing, getting chased with nobody out after a three-run homer from Dunn cut it to 6-3. Yates came in and got two out, but also allowed a hit and a walk, and the tying run came to the plate in the person of pinch-hitting Griffey.

McBride came in, and went 3-2 on Griffey but struck him out, then stayed in to get them 1-2-3 in the seventh, including striking out Hatteberg. The Braves, meanwhile, pushed it to 8-3 on Andruw’s blast in the sixth, and coasted from there. The dorks in the broadcast booth thought that the scorer might grant McBride the win, but inevitably it went to the Vulture, his eighth.

Paronto and Sosa finished up. Chipper, Renteria, Thorman, and Langerhans all had three-hit days, Chipper with a pair of doubles. Thorman wasn’t supposed to start, but LaRoche was sick and couldn’t go. Everybody had at least one hit.

Now the awful, awful break. Worst of all, Berman will do the Home Run Derby. Fear.

64 thoughts on “Braves 8, Reds 3”

  1. I’m not really looking forward to the break for the simple reason that it may take away from the momentum that the Braves seem to be riding. I hope they can pick up where they left off in San Diego.

  2. Maybe I am just out of the loop, but what the crap does “You’re with me leather” mean?

  3. go to deadspin.com and do a search. It’s actually a funny story that I certainly can’t do justice to.

    And I welcome the break, 3 days away from baseball, recharge the batteries and look forward to a potentially fun second half.

  4. Yeah, if I try and explain it here, it won’t have the same effect..

    Just search it on Deadspin…and read the comments by the posters.

  5. Hola from Mexico.

    I have to pay for the Internet at my Hotel in Cabo but a cheery hello to everyone stateside and nice way for the Bravos to head into the All Star Break with 3 straight series.

    Anyway, looking forward to speaking to everyone regularly next week.

  6. Looking ahead, if we can get through SD with a win or two, we get the hopefully still reeling Cards, then face a huge last week and a half of July with Fla, Phi and the soon to be choking mets. Next two weeks will tell the tale. Go Braves!

  7. The real question with this team is whether or not there is sufficient amount of time to catch and even reeling Mets (if they do reel). If not, wouldn’t it be better to make preparations for ’07 than to make ineffective trades in order to finish 79-85 (or something along those lines)?

  8. [quote]I have to pay for the Internet at my Hotel in Cabo[/quote]

    Ouch. Shoulda gone Motel 6. :D

  9. why can’t you do both? (i.e. prepare for the future & make a run) The way I see it, with all the youth in the lineup, preparations are being made. I think everyone agrees that the pen is the biggest need for improvement, but realistically, how can you improve it with trades? who is out there to get that everyone else in the race would let us get, and once you answer that one, do we really want the guy that no-one else wants.

    Look at the sched past July, August is a dream for a team that needs to make up ground, Pit 6 times, also Cincy again, philly, Was, Fla, Mil. Teams either in bad shape already or that we are chasing. I like the idea of playing to win while there is a chance, this team is built on a legacy of that and it’s worked out pretty well.

  10. The focus should not be on catching the Mets. We are only 6 1/2 games out of the wild card. That should be the goal. It is definitely a reachable goal. If the Mets happen to falter that would be nice but the wild card is in reach.

  11. First, Chipper may not have made the All Star team (just like in his MVP year), but is playing as well as anyone in the league. Not only is he on an incredible extra-base hitting tear, but his defense has been stellar. One senses that he and Smotzie are exerting leadership by force of will, too.

    Second, the Braves get an extra day of break before taking on what is arguably the other hottest team in the NL — the Padres. If you are going to have your momentum interrupted might as well get more rest than the rest.

    Third, McCann and Francoeur are great young players, the latter’s inconsistency being made up for only by his streaks and ability to change a game.

    There is hope. Not just for a wild card, but for catching the Mets. A roster move over the break, especially if it involves Sosa, would be a boost. In a perverse way, it’s good to be the hunter instead of the hunted for a change.

  12. Cletus,

    Love ya, babe. But this team that’s 9 games under .500 ain’t catching the Mets. Not happening.

    Let’s just keep winning series & hopefully it won’t take more than a month to get to .500. If & when we get to .500, we can think about being giddy. Remember, this team is 40-49 for a reason.

  13. ububba,
    there’s always hope. do you guys think anyone would give us a decent pitcher for laroche. i dont see him in the future of the braves organization and seeing thor do the job he did today, laroche is replaceable by someone we already have.

  14. Ububba’s right. The Mets are in the kind of territory that allows them to play .500 ball and still win by a comfortable margin. And, unlike the Braves, they have the financial resources to take on contracts of players, should they need to acquire more pitching or hitting (depending on what breaks down for them). After all, even if we had the talent and desired goods to trade for a player that could make a difference, would we take on the contract?

    It seems to me that the first goal is to find .500. If we find it by early August, we have a chance to make a run at the wild card. And if we are on the right track in late July, it may be time for JS to find some help (even if it is by subtraction). But, if we go through another crappy spell (and it won’t have to be nearly so long as the June episode), we are through even for the wild card. And then, it seems to me, you start making moves for ’07. And some of those moves aren’t designed to bring help necessarily, but to make sure that we get something for players like Andruw and Marcus (by this, I’m not saying I want to get rid of either…but they will be free agents soon and I doubt that the current Braves administration is going to pay for either).

  15. ububba, you’re absolutely right, however the biggest reason we are 40-49 is the pen’s inability to get outs and/or the offense’s inability to push an extra few runs across. I gotta think that it will be easier for a bad bp to revert to bad or even mediocre from terrible. That is the difference between .500 and where we are now.

  16. The Mets may be unreachable barring a total collapse, but let’s shoot for that, and if we come up short we should be right in the thick of things for the wild card. As long as we don’t anything stupid (like, say, trading Roman Colon and Zach Miner for 3 months of a free-agent-to-be reliever) we’ll be fine for ’07 too.

  17. Oh and I agree, we shouldn’t be talking about the Mets, we should be talking about catching the Phillies, then the D’backs etc. The beauty of being the hunter is the target is always infront, and it just so happens to be close also.

  18. Remember, this team is 40-49 for a reason.

    Well, two reasons — bad luck, and an historically bad bullpen: they’re 12-21 in one-run games. They’re nine under overall, and nine under in one-run games. They’ve scored just nine runs fewer than they’ve allowed.

  19. Okay Mac, so they fix the bullpen somehow (maybe it’s just by the sheer force of will exuded by the veterans, Chipper and Smoltz). How do they fix being unlucky? Is there some cleansing ritual? Perhaps, one of our Braves players has unknowling been cavorting with Satan’s spawn (sp?) and ending the cavorting will cure the Braves?

  20. Luck just happens.

    I think that the Braves are “really” a .550 team, as I’ve said; it’s just that they’d have to play .600 ball the rest of the way to think about the WC, and I don’t really see that happening.

  21. I strongly believe the Braves would be over .500 (though not past the Mets) if they had a good closer. How many saves has the bullpen blown? If they had been able to save five games the Braves led in the eighth or ninth inning, the Braves would be over .500.

    And LaRoche isn’t going to be traded, especially when his bat is hot and he is cheap to keep.

  22. Just like ububba…I have hope aswell, but I’m keeping it in check.
    We’re on a pretty good run here, but it wasn’t against the strongest teams around. And our bullpen is still shaky at best..

    But still, there’s been improvement, we’re winning games, we’ve won a couple of series in a row..guys are coming around on offense..

    We’re going into the right direction…. But there’s still a long way to go..and let’s hope we can keep up the good play after the break.

  23. Anyone watch the futures game? i’ve only made it through the first 4 innings so far and so haven’t seen escobar yet (got the rest on Tivo). was really impressed with billy butler, alex gordon, humberto sanchez, and homer bailey (even though he was only throwing 1 pitch).

  24. thorman’s bat is hot as well, he’s left handed, plays first base, and seems to have much more of an upside than laroche. call me looney but trading laroche isnt unquestionable especially knowing thorman can step in there and do a consistently better job (at least offensively). trading laroche or giles seems to be the only 2 rational choices and the giles thing has been discussed numerous times on this thread and i hope its laid to rest for now seeing the offensive spark he’s been providing.

  25. re: Parcells, football is a different game sample size wise. In a 162 game season, a team’s good and bad breaks will tend to even out and give a true representation of the quality of that team. A 16 game season doens’t, especially when you play it with a ball that has point on either end.

    Every time I see a game from Houston, I get upset looking at that tricked up stadium. Why not put a windmill in right and a tiger pit in short center. I really hope someone gets hurt (though not seriously) and they do something about that abomination.

  26. I did not watch the Futures game. But I found the result on the ESPN ticker hilarious:

    USA 8 WORLD 5

    There are so many layers of meaning to that. Some debatable. But still very funny.

    And how sad is it that I actually enjoyed the ESPN Deportes announcers much more when the audio went out tonight then I do the Miller/Morgan crew, and half the time I couldn’t understand what any of them were saying?

  27. Is Thorman even at/over .200 yet? I don’t know what he has done, at least so far, that has some so impressed.

  28. A comment to everyone that’s been ragging on Francouer and saying he’s not a major league hitter.

    Check the stats. In the category “hits,” he’s 14th in the National league.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/stats/bycategory?cat=Batting&conference=NL&year=season_2006&qualified=1&sort=3

    and at LEAST 7 of the guys ahead of him are 1-2 batters who are going to get more at bats than him anyways. Francouer is a 6 batter, 5 on a day Bobby forgets how to manage.

    Obviously, the guy is no Ted Williams. But by playing the way he’s playing, yes he’s getting a lot of outs. But he’s also getting a lot of hits. And so long as hits hits are getting RBIs (Which they obviously are), then I really don’t see the reason to complain. We’re not asking the guy to carry our team, we’re asking him to help us win, which he is.

    I wonder if Adam Dunn gets all the shit Frenchy does in Cincy. Because with Dunn, it’s a matter of XBH or K. And Frenchy’s a good 20 points higher in AVG if I recall correctly.

  29. Oh, and Dan, he’s batting .238 right now after his 3 for 4 game today. It looks like he’s doing the same thing KJ did last year, and Frenchy did this one. Hopefully he can reach similar levels.

  30. Particularly great recap, Mac.

    It sure is nice to go into the break on a plus. I’ll take hope over despair any day of the week. What’s the record for making the post-season in consecutive years? Or do we own that one already, too? Heh.

    Right on, jenny. Many layers of meaning there. Rah, Rah. And the extra innings with Joe were killing our entire household. Even the dogs left the room.

  31. Kruger,

    I don’t believe Parcells’ point was a mathematical one. His point is that you earn your record, good or bad. Woulda/shouldas don’t get you into the playoffs. A “good” 8-8 is the same as a “lucky” 8-8. Doesn’t really matter, does it?

    And my point was that we’re a 40-49 team because, sad to say, we deserve to be one.

  32. ulrhix,

    The Costello/Toussaint show is Tuesday night at the Beacon Theater, which is a very similar venue to Atlanta’s Fox Theater—about 4,000 capacity, great acoustics, not a bad seat in the house.

  33. I’m not knocking Thorman. I really hope to see him become a great player. But I just don’t think he has at this point deserved even half of some of the obsessive praise on various Braves’ sites. Reading the comments about him, you’d think he was hitting over .350 with at least five home runs.

    Before today Thorman’s batting was .184, so it can drop or rise fast at this early stage, which really is just this one good game.

  34. But being nine games under 500, and only 6 1/2 games out of the wild card is not too bad at all. We are in good shape because our bullpen is really starting to look good. I look for big thing from the Braves in the second half.

  35. The bullpen deserves to be nine games under .500, not the rest of the team.

    How can one group of one-inning pitchers suck that much? It seems almost impossible.

  36. “We are in good shape because our bullpen is really starting to look good.”

    What part of that blown ninth inning when the Braves were leading by five runs just a few days ago looked good to you?

    Aside from Ray and maybe Paronto, none of them are reliable. Sosa gives up to many home runs. McBride walks to many and has control problems on probably a fourth of his outings. Yates gives up to many hits and should be in AAA. Villarreal has pitched better but still sucks. And Bobby Cox will never trust Barry it seems and wouldn’t even be in there if Reitsma wasn’t on the disabled list.

  37. Anything’s possible, but I think a team would be crazy to give up a decent pitcher for Laroche. Laroche’s ceiling is relatively low, particularly as a 1st baseman. Was thinking the other day about LaRoche and a comment from somebody a while back describing how when he came up, people compared him to John Olerud. The comparison was and is a bad one, as Laroche’s swing is waaaay longer and loopier than Olerud’s, who had a very quick and compact stroke. His swing is closer to Bernitz than to Olerud. With some ‘roids, maybe Laroche could develop Bernitz power, but I don’t ever see him hitting .300 with his stroke. Just feed him high heat and low change-ups and curves and enjoy the K’s, pop-ups and the perfect DP grounders to the right side.

  38. Aside from the Sosa meltdown on Thursday and the final game against the Yankess, the bullpen has been been well above average. The numbers don’t lie. The past sixteen games I have been impressed with our pen. The only way they are going to become reliable is with confidence building outings. That has happened for the most part. I’m not going crazy over the bullpen. I just think we should give them some well deserved credit for what they have done LATELY.

  39. I guess. I’d still feel better if Schuerholz gets some kind of reliable closer before the trade deadline. Chad Cordero and Joe Nathan appear to be available.

  40. The only real bad actor left in the bullpen is Sosa. Other than him, Ray is a serviceable closer (although I’d still like to improve on him), McBride an OK lefty-getter, Barry looks like a fine long man/ swingman, with Paronto and Yates as middle relievers and Villareal as the guy with inexplicable luck. (McBride’s outings are unreliable precisely because they’re so short- out of 30 games, he’s faced one hitter seven times, and two hitters five times.)

    We have, realistically, LaRoche, Giles, and one of Hudson or Smoltz as expendable assets. I’d make Andruw, Frenchy, or Chipper available for the right (high) price since we have decent replacements on hand for them in Langerhans, Thorman, and Betemit.

    This is now pretty much the same team that won 90 games last year, basically, and that team finished about where it deserved to. This is a .550 team.

    How good does it have to be? The wild card looks winnable with 88 games. So does the division- these Mets look like the ’82 Braves, getting off to a hot start and playing .500 ball the rest of the way. We’d have to go 48-25 to get there. Two out of three the rest of the season. Not impossible, but tough. We’ll have a better read after the San Diego series with their elite pitching.

    And, Bill- note that while Frenchy is 14th in hits, he’s third in at bats and first in outs (at bats minus hits). He’s not in the top 40 in slugging. That is not greatness. That is barely adequacy, if that.

  41. With Dunn, it’s also a matter of walks – hence, his OPS is almost 200 points higher than Frenchy’s. Yes, his average is low and he strikes out way too much, but he’s on pace to score 110 runs, hit 50 home runs, and walk 120 times. If all you look at is average, then yes, Dunn and Francoeur are comparable. But in a way it’s a great comparison, or rather contrast, to show just how much plate discipline Francoeur lacks compared even to some other guys who also strike out a lot.

  42. I watched several games last week and it seems to me Frenchy is making great stirdes in bat discipline. He is working the counts a bit more and laying off of some of those wide strikes, he also has a flair for the dramatic which is encouraging.
    I know many have talked of putting Betemit in the field somewhere, but he scares me out there, he makes poor decisions and has little range. He cant play second, his only spot is third. Do we make moves to put him in, or move him out for bullpen?
    I do not see his trade value either. Think we are pretty much stuck with what we have gang without it being a team altering move(Smoltz, Hudson, Jones(2).

  43. USA 8 WORLD 5

    is awesome, Jenny. That’s my new catchphrase when talking about international politics.

    “The IMF restructured the economy of another West African oil producing nation, leading to a dissolution of trade restraints and the adoption of damaging FTAs? USA 8 WORLD 5”

    I, too, liked the Deportes announcers. I’d totally watch that channel if they just didn’t speak Spanish all the time. I was wondering, however, what happened to the Deportes broadcast when all their announcers were going English language on the mother net. Did they have backup guys, or did Desportes viewers have to suffer through the English feed?

    I’d take Dunn over Frenchy in a heartbeat. Not getting outs is awesome.

  44. I bear part of the responsibility for focusing on Frenchy’s outs, so let me explain. I get tired of people reciting, over and over, the good things he does. The good things are home runs and turning weak infield grounders into hits. (If you want to respond “but he plays great defense,” or “he’s only 22,” go to the kitchen, pull out a frying pan and whack yourself on the head. I understand that he’s young and can play defense. This is an argument about his hitting production this season. ) Clearly, Jeff isn’t challenging records in either of those departments. So, I (and many others) decided to emphasize the other side of the ledger, where he is challenging a record: outs. When you add up all the things he does, good and bad, and weight them according to their run-producing value (linear weights), he has produced approximately 1-run below the average player. Do we normally consider 30HR 100RBI guys average? No, but Don Sutton thinks I’m a numbskull. That’s why Jeff has to learn to walk. To put his linear weights in perspective, Giles, who everyone agrees had a horrible first half, had an LWTS of +5.

  45. Thanks for carrying the torch, JC…

    I agree, Jenny, the deportes announcers are great. My wife started laughing hysterically when rolen hit a home run. Here, approximately, is the call:

    “Fly ball to left field…

    A lo profundo yyyyyyy

    ¡NO NO NO NO NOOOOOOOOO…

    Díganle que no a esa pelota!”

  46. I think the problem with Frenchy is the problem with the offense in general. When they are hot, they will score a lot of runs as they have recently. But they are very susceptible to good pitching that can take advantage of the lack of plate discipline. Frenchy does some amazing things and I do think there is a lack of appreciation of how much talent he has. But at the same time, observations can be misleading–for all the big hits he has gotten, people ignore the rallies he kills or never starts (especially on the road) because he swings at everything. And it’s true of a lot of the team. I’m seeing Andruw have some very poor at bats with men on base. That’s why I can’t get that excited about what the team is doing now. Basically, they have played well for two weeks (better than they have all year and much better than during the 15-5 run. But the starting pitching is shaky, the bullpen has to do a lot more for me to have any confidence in it and the hitting is inconsistent. If they have a good road trip after the break and the bullpen continues to pitch decently, then I will get more excited. The one thing teh Braves really have going for them is that the National League is so weak that it won’t take much to pass them so-called playoff contenders.

  47. Not even good old Jim in Washington is dumb enough to trade Cordero. I think if we are able to get anyone it will be off the Cubs or Pirates.

  48. Damn, just when I thought it was time to write off this year, the rest of the crappy NL lets the Braves back into the WC picture.

    I feel the next ten games will be the determinate of whether the team can get back in contention. If the Braves can go 5-4 or even 6-3 against SD, STL, and PHI (I think those are our three stops), then I believe JS and Bobby will try to win this year, or at least shoot for the WC.

    But what happens if we go 3-6 or worse? Should we pull the plug on this season? I think so, since we’ll be about 2 weeks from the trading deadline, and the pressure on the teams still in the hunt to make their adjustments for the stretch run will be increasing. At that point, I hope JS would consider trading Giles and perhaps even Smoltz or Andruw if he can get the right package for them.

    Ugh. Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in….

  49. Am I the only one who’d like to see what Villareal could do as a starter? Yesterday’s homer aside, he’s seemed to be much more effective in that long relief role rather than as a set-up man, and he can’t be worse than Thomson.

  50. Geez, you’d think Francouer is hitting .200 with 5 HR’s and 27 RBIs at the break. I’m sure there are other organizations (like every other team in baseball) that would love to have this “problem” child that “gets out too much” or “doesn’t walk enough.” I just can’t wait for when the Braves continue this roll after the All-Star break and people are “kissing @ss” to Jeff.

  51. Realistically I’d say the Braves dug themselves too big a hole in June to even win the wildcard. This team doesn’t have the pitching talent that the Braves had in ’91 and ’93 that let them come from way back to win. Even winning 2 out of every 3 games it will take them another month just to get back to .500. Winning the wild card would require teams such as Houston and Los Angeles to have very bad second halves. I don’t see that happening. Looking in my crystal ball, I see the Braves winning something like 80-85 games and finishing 7+ games out in the wild card. (And if the bullpen returns to June form which is very possible, they could easily finish worse than that.)

    The Farnsworth trade was absolutely worth doing last year. The Braves wouldn’t have made the playoffs without him. Unfortunately, he helped throw away game 4 against Houston. Oh well. He isn’t the first reliever who was money in the regular season who failed in the postseason. Would you really have wanted to finish out of the playoffs last year in order to hang onto 2 pitching prospects with no track record of success at the major league level? When you have a chance to win, you have to go for it and not worry about what some random minor leaguer you trade might do years in the future. The Tigers, for instance, were absolutely right to trade for Smoltz for Alexander.

  52. Smitty,
    Yea, brother: Let’s just begin to win a few series & everything else will fall into place. If the Braves play well, we can begin to consider the other clubs. Personally, I’m thrilled to go into the break on a high note after so much misery. There’s a tiny, little light now.

    Seat Painter,
    You called it. The post-all-star road trip may determine much for the immediate future of this franchise. I hate it, but that appears to be the deal. We need to have a winning trip. No backsliding. Can’t afford it now.

    Hey Kyle S,
    Did you ever get those Drive-By Truckers tix for the 9:30 show?

    Turns out I’m gonna be in DC on business this weekend & I’m gonna swing by the 9:30 on Saturday night. If you’re around, we can share a beverage @ the rock show.

  53. I can’t say there is anyone on our roster who I would like to see as the 5th starter. I guess Barry would be worth a try, but I’m not real excited about that prospect.
    I agree that the road trip to start the second half will basically decide if we are “buyers” or “sellers”. We need a 7-3 road trip to be considered a possibility for the wild card. Normally I would say we are done, but their is a glimmer of hope heading into this road trip. The only thing that gives me confidence to say that is the fact that the NL is so mediocre.

  54. I think of the teams a head of us, the best is the Dodgers. We just need the West and Central teams to beat up on each other and for us to take care of buisness. If that happens we will be fine.

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