Phillies 5, Braves 4

ESPN – Braves vs. Phillies – Box Score – May 13, 2008

What we have here is what Bill Simmons has christened a “No F-ing Way Game“. There was no reason that the Braves should have lost, but the Gods of Baseball, or the programmers of the video game the celestial 14-year-old was playing, or whatever, would not allow them to win. Other than two hits by Howard, I don’t think that the Phillies hit a ball hard all night. Four of their five runs came on hits by Jayson Werth, none of which were hit at all hard and the last of which (a single in the seventh that ended up the winning margin) was a pathetic popup that Blanco somehow couldn’t get to.

Not that the Braves didn’t play a part in this loss. They got three runs in the first, two scoring on a two-out single by Francoeur, but after that it was back to the Pittsburgh series. Eleven runners left on base, plus a GIDP and a terrible blown bunt leading to a caught stealing, more about which later. They didn’t score again until two out in the ninth, when McCann doubled over the centerfielder to score Kotsay (after Chipper almost tied it with a homer), but after a walk to Norton (still filling in for Teixeira) Francoeur put himself into a hole by swinging at two outside pitches, then flew out to end it.

The bunt. I think Bobby actually lost consciousness in the sixth inning. Joseph Reyes was actually pitching pretty well, except to Howard, but was trailing 4-3 because of numerous pathetic singles. With one out, KJ (moved to the seventh spot in the order, with Escobar leading off and Kotsay second) singled and Blanco walked. This is the most obvious pinch-hit situation you could think of before the ninth inning, but Bobby sent Reyes up to bunt. This was stupid enough. When you throw in that Reyes had already blown one bunt earlier in the game… Reyes again blew the bunt, even worse this time, getting KJ picked off second, and scoring chance wasted. It was a horrible, horrible managing job.

Chipper had three hits and is at .415.

63 thoughts on “Phillies 5, Braves 4”

  1. Honestly, the outcome of the game is hardly surprising. One run loss sucks, the offense sucks, Bobby sucks.

  2. Does the offense suck? The Braves had nine hits and seven walks. That should provide more than four runs. We have a couple of Werth moments and it’s 8-5 Braves.

  3. Guys, we have been playing .500 ball now for the past 300 games or so with this nucleus…

    I repeat, something has gotta give. Something about the Frenchy, McCann, Johnson dynamic just doesn’t flow.

    Also, I think Cox really may want to step down after this year. The Phillies announcers couldn’t believe that a pinch hitter wasn’t sent up. They speculated that perhaps the double dip on Monday might have worn down the bullpen (then later realized the ‘pen was in pretty good shape). Perplexing and frustrating….

    On a positive note, even though the box score won’t indicate so, I thought Reyes looked good tonight and was pitching with confidence. The kid should have a bright future.

  4. It’s amazing how the managing looks bad when the players don’t do their jobs.

    We are where we are because of horrendous hitting with runners and scoring position and in clutch situations. The bunts are annoying but hardly the source of our problems.

  5. it ultimately comes down to the players executing and also the manager “managing the game” to put players in situations where they can be successful. All of which isnt happening right now.

  6. …but he shouldn’t be batting in the 6th inning down a run with 2 guys on base. That’s on the manager.

  7. It’s marginal. It’s only the top of the sixth, he only pitched five innings. Our bench sucks anyway, the pinch hitter would have been Gotay who later struck out on three pitches. I can see Bobby not wanting to run through the whole bullpen in the first game of a series in this cartoon ballpark with two dicey starters coming up. It’s defensable considering that Reyes is supposed to be a pretty good hitter for a pitcher.

  8. Robert, if we all know it’s a cartoon ballpark, then the priority should be scoring as many runs as possible when opportunity arisis and not maintaining a fresh bullpen.

  9. I was thinking about all of the LOBs and was wondering if it was bad hitting or just luck. I ran some numbers and assuming my calculation for BABIP is correct…

    We have the second worst differential between Avg and Avg w/ RISP (.2835 and .2493 respectively for a difference of .0342) and third worst for BABIP-BABIP w/ RISP (.3116 – .2759 = .0357).
    I find it interesting that the two numbers are almost the same, so I’d like to believe we are just getting unlucky, but we definitely gotta start getting some of those guys across the plate.

  10. Cory, extending on your research, there are mainly three guys to blame for that…Tex, McCann, and KJ. The three are doing worse in avg w/RISP than Frenchy (who is not completely terrible by hitting .250 in that situation). When your 4th and 5th hitters are not driving in runners, it’s pretty tough.

  11. Robert, if we all know it’s a cartoon ballpark, then the priority should be scoring as many runs as possible when opportunity arisis and not maintaining a fresh bullpen.

    You could make that argument more effectivly for a low scoring environment.

  12. Tommy Hanson has a successful debut with M-Braves! 4BB is a bit too much, but getting 7Ks is a good sign.

  13. Didn’t see the game, so I wasn’t “living in the moment” when Reyes was called to bunt.

    I think I side a bit with Robert here, in that I honestly don’t think it’s a cut-and-dried situation. Personally, I would’ve leaned toward a pinch hitter because there was already one out.

    You’re pulling Reyes one or two innings before you want, but it’s an opportunity to score—and you’re behind, so…in my book, you go for it.

    FWIW, if it’s 2 on, nobody out, bunting the pitcher is easily the right move, IMO.

    But it’s a situation that makes the manager look bad if it doesn’t work & he’s like a genius if you get the bunt down & Yunel gets a 2-run single.

    Again, it appears that we had several opportunties to win this game and that was just one of them. The LOB total in our losses is becoming almost unreal. Time for a turnaround.

  14. I have no problem with a pitcher bunting in that situation instead of, say, Gotay grounding into a double play.

    To date, this team has played significantly worse than the sum of its parts.

  15. I guess I should note that I do have a problem with a professional ballplayer not being able to get down a sacrafice bunt in at least one of two chances. That’s a real problem. Frankly, kid needs to go spend some time in the cages (or wherever) dropping down bunts.

  16. went to the milwaukee game tonight. instead of shagging flies during BP, andruw was messing around at SS. he didn’t get in the game until the top of the 9th as a PH. I thought he’d end the game after Gagne got him 0-2, but he worked the walk. Pierre bailed out Gagne by popping up the first pitch. He’s good for things like that.

  17. Another frustrating loss for the Braves. The worst thing about it is that it is not surprising.

    On a positive note, great pitching in the system at every level:

    Morton was awesome at Richmond;
    Hanson’s debut at Mississippi was impressive;
    Kyle Cofield ( a dark horse) pitched well in a loss at the Beach;
    Deunte Heath threw a one hitter for Myrtle Beach;
    Last, Scott Diamond gave up just 2 hits in a loss.

    Its hard to imagine a better night for our pitchers….

  18. I wonder if the team will call up Morton to pitch in one of the doubleheader games against the Mets next week.

  19. Stephen, Heath’s bb/k ratio is a big concern. I believe Diamond should get a promotion soon as he was a college pitcher.

  20. Heath’s bb/k ratio is a concern; in fact, it was better when he got lit up last year at the Beach. I am really not sure what it means, but I think his overall performance in 2008 remains impressive.

    If he continues to pitch well, he could be at Mississippi by July.

    Diamond does look like he just might be the real deal…

  21. I’m not sure if Chipper would be a good fit as a hitting coach. I mean, how many times has he bunted in his career? If Cox stays on as manager, isn’t that the most important skill that batters need to know? (please note sarcasm above!)

  22. How much is it bad luck if it has been going on for two years? As I recall, someone calculated the Braves OPS in the late innings last year and it was lousy. I understand that’s a different stat but still . . . when you get 9 hits, 7 walks and 4 runs, something is seriously wrong. One problem is they only had one extra base hit; piling up singles usually isn’t going to work. You cannot expect to win in CBP scoring three runs through the first 8 innings. The worst thing about this offense is its inability to ever help out the pitcher. You would expect that they would win some games 8-5 or 9-6 but they never do and that was true last year as well. This has been going on for so long that I refuse to believe it’s simply bad luck. Maybe the Braves used up all their karma during the 14 year streak. Oh well, at least I finally found a right fielder I like less than Francouer–Austin Kearns, the poor man’s Ryan Langerhans. He makes Francoeur look like Hank Aaron.

  23. One problem is they only had one extra base hit; piling up singles usually isn’t going to work.

    Yeah, we are eighth in the NL in homers and only 11th in extra base hits. There aren’t any homerun hitters in the outfield so we are hurting for power somewhat.

    From the strikeouts aren’t all that bad file: The Braves easily lead the league in fewest strikeouts but are third in GIDP. So much for cutting down on your swing to put the ball in play.

  24. This may have been mentioned on another post but even when we get Soriano and Smoltz back, we’re not going to be too much better than a .500 team. It’s our timely hitting that’s killing us.

    Also, if Mark Teixeria somehow ends up hitting 40 homers and 120 rbi even with his below average month and a half, Scott Boras better not make the case that Tex deserves a big contract. It’s not all about stats. He can hit .270/25/97 as long as his hits come when we need them and I’d pay the guy.

    For some reason, he’s reminding me of Andruw Jones’ argument that no matter how bad he plays in the beginning of the year, his stats will even out. I’m not concerned about Jones’ or Tex’s stats. When a player doesn’t hit, we lose games. If he hits later on, we can’t come back and win a game we’d lost earlier. (I’m not saying Mark is Andruw or anything…)

    Anyone agree?

  25. @33,

    I think it’s a good point but the fact is guys struggle at times. If Chipper goes into a slump in mid-July for 20 games, you could always say that, well, if Chipper didn’t have that slump, we would have won. The fact is, no team has everyone hitting at the same time; there is always someone that is going to struggle at one point or another. The idea with having a supposedly deep lineup is that other guys will take up the slack. And the reality is that “clutch” hits are rather serendipitous. Teixera is good but, after last year, people were acting as if he was Lou Gehrig.

  26. Well, in his Braves career, the Andruw Jones Argument worked for 10 of his 11 years. His numbers were remarkably consistent.

    Will Tex hit? I’ll assume that he will & hope his back gets better.

  27. RE: Mark – 34

    I agree that payers slump. However, players have hitting streaks where they go 1/4 for 15 games and it still counts as a hitting streak. In that situation, someone may feel as though that hitter is hitting well when in reality his average may be dropping. My point is the same, basing Tex’s value on numbers is misleading. Even during his slump, a timely hit should still be counted on, you know? beating a team 10-1 or 2-1 counts as a win just the same. Again, if Tex goes .270/25/90-ish, he’d still have more value if those numbers came when we needed them. Andruw hit some shots but he was never dependable with exception to 2006 where he carried us with Chipper out with injuries.

    I’m not asking Teixera to be Gehrig. I’m not even asking him to hit .320. All I’m saying is that I’d rather him hit when it counts now than put up big numbers in one half of the season.

  28. Shoaib,

    I generally agree with you on that point that numbers can be misleading if a guy wastes half the season. If he struggles the first half and then puts up numbers when the Braves are out of contention, it becomes meaningless. I guess what I am saying is that players cannot really control when they are hot and when they are not. The Braves are still in contention; what if Tex gets hot in the second half and carries the Braves to the playoffs? Would you then say his first half struggles were meaningless? By the same token, Chipper has obviously carried the team so far but he isn’t likely to hit .415 all season; if he goes cold in September in the middle of the pennant race, does it invalidate his great start?

  29. njBravesfan,

    I agree. Something with this team isn’t right. I think we need a new pitching coach too. I think only the Indians have given up more runs than us.

    I wouldn’t mind moving Kelly Johnson and a prospect to see if we could find a guy like Ian Kinsler or a middle infielder that can leadoff.

    Our problem is that we play for the three run homer instead of having guys who ar situational hitters. Our outs aren’t productive. We probably lead the world in double plays. We strike out a ton it seems.

    Really you can compair our offense to Kelly Johnson. When he is hot he is great. When he is not, terrible. We either scor 8 or 2, no where in the middle.

  30. I was there last night for Tommy Hanson debut. Thought he looked very impressive. Was throwing 92-93 a lot and got some big strikeouts when needed. Off speed stuff looked really good to me. (who doesn’t really know what he’s talking about.)

  31. Smitty, are you kidding? I’ve been hard on McDowell, but the Braves are first in the league in ERA, have allowed the fewest runs in the league, the fewest hits, and the fewest homers. You can’t really do a lot better than that.

  32. If he struggles the first half and then puts up numbers when the Braves are out of contention, it becomes meaningless.

    Translation: “If he hits like Adam LaRoche…”

  33. I think our lineup is missing a strong 5 hole hitter, someone with extra-base production. McCann has taken some of that load, but catching is such an task by itself.
    Maybe there’s a corner outfielder with some pop available.

  34. The only guy who comes close to being a “situational hitter” is Kotsay, and he’s hit into something like six double plays.

  35. “Situational hitting” sucks. If the Braves would just hit the same no matter if there are runners on or not — for example, stop swinging at bad pitches in RBI situations just because a walk won’t immediately score a run — a whole lot of their problems would be solved.

  36. No, I take that back. Escobar’s proven that he can think. He tries to hit the ball to the right side to move runners over, etc. He hits line drives up the middle. He studies the situation before he steps up to the plate. Smart hitter.

  37. Getting better hitting corner outfielders would help a lot. Both of our main corner outfielders are (should be) platoon players who can’t hit right handed pitchers, don’t walk enough, and have sub-par power. Getting at least one high OPS lefty to platoon in left and/or right would help the offense a ton. Beyond that, we just have to wait for Tex’s bat to come around which it will surely will.

  38. mlb rumors…
    Maddux-Braves Speculation
    It’s pure speculation at this point, but Braves beat writer Mark Bowman believes the Braves could bring Greg Maddux back for another tour. Braves fans seem to like the idea, based on chat questions I received yesterday.

    The Braves’ rotation of Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Tom Glavine, Jo-Jo Reyes, and Chuck James/Jeff Bennett could seemingly use an innings eater. Maddux is usually good for six decent innings, and he’s healthy at 42. He makes $10MM this year and has no-trade protection. The Padres probably wouldn’t demand any of the Braves’ top five prospects. A Maddux-Smoltz-Glavine reunion seems entirely possible to me.

  39. If anyone’s interested, there’s a catharsis piece on the Blue Jays today at the Hardball Times. The author covers many of the complaints we’ve levied against the Braves this year in regards to situational hitting. Interestingly, though, he posits that the Blue Jays’ struggles are due to an excess of patience that leads to missed opportunities on hittable pitches. I believe he calls it temerity.

    I checked the Pythagorean records, team rate stats, etc., and found the situation is even more abysmal for us. While the Blue Jays are scuffling along below the level of play their stats suggest, they are nowhere near as adept as the Braves at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    I’m constantly amazed at the mellow, nonchalant attitude that prevails among Braves fans. Sure, we have some people who are critical on message boards, but I have yet to see any articles that suggest we crush any part of a player’s anatomy in a retractable roof as retribution for mental anguish. I find wishing harm on players (even in jest) to be a bit much, but I also see indications everywhere that the Braves’ fan base just doesn’t care. As soon as Andruw leaves the comfy confines of Cox’s crib the LA media rips into him for displaying the same attitude we had all simply accepted. There’s an entire cottage industry in NY founded on second guessing the decisions of management. Do you think that another fan base would allow a move like the Reyes attempted bunt to float past with minimal criticism? The entirety of Long Island, Jersey, and Brooklyn would’ve been calling for the manager’s head. And I don’t even want to open the can of worms that is the chronic attendance problem.

    I’m sure that more than a few eyes are rolling (or drooping, shutting) while reading this, but I’m approaching the end of the rope. I see an organization that’s standing still on a sinking ship, a befuddled look on its face while the water continues to rise. Someone needs to completely remake the organizational philosophy toward hitting, but I see no sense of urgency, just more of the “Aw, shucks, we’ll get ’em tomorrow” attitude that a complacent team displays. When will the Braves wake up and realize it’s not the nineties anymore? I see very few attempts to adapt to a rapidly changing game.

  40. There’s a famous anecdote about an American slugger playing in the Japanese league. With two on and no outs, the bench flashes him the bunt sign.
    The hitter becomes furious. He steps out, fuming. The hitting coach, their best interpreter, calls time and comes out.

    “Aren’t you paying me to hit?” the batter seethes.
    “The Manager would prefer that you did not hit into a double play,” Coach says.
    “Prefers…what does that have to do with anything?” The coach looks helplesssly at the bench.
    “Well, he’d prefer that you strike out to hitting into a double play,” the Coach says.
    “Now he wants me to strike out?” And so on.

    Where is the problem here? Is it the message, the comunnicators, or the fact that the manager doesn’t have confidence in the hitter’s willingness or ability to take actions needed to advance the team’s interest.
    So the manager wants to take the bat out of his hands. Even if it means giving up an out.

    IMHO, if one Brave has a problem hitting in RBI situations; a coach can work with him. If many are having the same result, then it’s the manager’s problem to solve.

    And I think Bobby will.

  41. @49,

    Perimeter, I agree with you about the hitting philosophy but I don’t think it’s a matter of the organization not caring; they think this is the way to go. It’s not as if the Braves philosophy has changed over the years; it’s always been based on having aggressive hitters and hitting home runs. Generally, people that have risen to important positions don’t change their philosophies; the philosophies fail and they get fired and new people come in with different philosophies. That’s what will happen here if the team doesn’t start winning. I always thought that a lot of the post-season problems could be laid to the approach that Mac points out, ie, lack of selectivity, not working the count, etc. It’s just more obvious with this team, in part because they don’t have otherworldly pitching like they use to to bail them out (although it has been very good in general). They still have a lot of young players in the lineup who may or may not eventually get it.

    By the same token, I think your complaint about the fan base is a little out of context. Clearly, this isn’t the most passionate fan base in America–Atlanta has always been and always will be a football town, especially the SEC. But you also have to consider that the Braves won 14 divisions, five pennants and a world series since 1991. It’s not as if the philosophy has been an utter failure.

  42. Totally agree, Perez, but you’re going to get ripped for it on here. Too many people are ok with being “competitive” and forget that the Marlins have won 2 World Series since ours. Something’s gotta change.

  43. Re #50,

    Kevin, to me the issue is that Bobby Cox plays, and always has played, a 1960s-style game. It was ok in the 90s because (1) the offense was not as dominant as now; and (2) the Braves had three Hall of Fame pitchers in their prime on the staff. He believes strongly in playing for single runs rather than playing for big innings because that’s the paradigm he grew up in.

    To me, the Braves are clearly pressing in RBI situations on the road. But it also reflects the natural tendencies these young hitters have anyway, which is to be aggressive and, if all else fails, be more aggressive. What’s weird is that the Braves do seem to draw a lot of walks but do little with them. Also, maybe there is a more simple answer: these guys are not as good as the Braves and the rest of us think.

  44. Brad,

    Are you really saying you would rather be the Marlins or the Blue Jays–win a couple WS and then not be in the playoffs for years? You cannot build a team to win the World Series–you can only build a team to be competitive and then hope things go right in the playoffs. I have some problems with the way the Braves have gone about putting teams together but complaining that they are only “competitive” just seems ridiculous to me. Virtually every other team in baseball (I bet including the Marlins and Blue Jays) would love to have had the Braves record since 1991.

    I guess I have “ripped” you now.

  45. I see a team that having a bizarre season so far. I’m not sure I have complete faith that they’ll turn it around to 89-win territory, but the numbers sure are weird for a 19-19 team:

    First in team batting average, first in team ERA, the Braves offense leads the league in fewest strikeouts and its pitchers give up the fewest homers. Yet, we’re 8th in runs scored.

    I’m sorry, but that’s just weird and I don’t think it’s beyond reason that wins will begin to pile up.

    As for fans getting upset…
    I’ve lived in New York for 18 years and, let me tell you, it’s not a virtue to threaten to drink a bottle of bleach or break your longneck every time your favorite player hits into a double play.

    The vast majority of the people on this board are reasonable, rational people. There’s no grace in crying like a baby because the bottle isn’t warm enough. I see it way too much around here and the reasonable fans get drowned out by those who tend to transfer their own issues into their fandom. It’s as tired as it is predictable.

    As for the Braves…
    When you win and maintain your composure, you’re “acting professional”; when you lose and act the same, you’re “not showing enough fire.” Strange, innit?

    I’ll say this & leave it alone: As odd as things have been, I’ll maintain some belief that this team remains redeemable.

  46. I knew I shouldn’t have said anything.
    No, I wouldn’t trade our streak for much…but to me, and I know I’ll be in the minority here, the goal is winning championships, not division titles. The streak is nice, and will have its place in history, but it DOES feel kind of ’empty’ to me. It’s not enough to just be known as the best team in the NL East, to me. I want more. Call me a selfish fan, or spoiled, but I’m not wired to accept failure, and as good as winning the division is, anything short of a WS is a failure to me.
    The Phillies won the East last year, and where did it get them? Swept out of the playoffs. Great–hang a banner. So? Who cares? When did that become the goal in spring training? It’s certainly not the Yankees’ or Red Sox or Angels’ or Mets’ goals–they’re in bigger markets that demand championships. Managers lose their JOBS for winning their division, and just because Atlanta isn’t that type of market, I don’t know why we have to settle for less.

  47. @48–glad to hear about the Maddux rumor–last week I threw out a Josh Anderson (and perhaps others) for Maddux when there were rumors of the Pads dumping Edmonds

    I wouldn’t characterize the 40+ Maddux as still being an innings eater, though he’d certainly gobble up more than Chucky.

  48. Brad,
    I’ll agree that “failure” is a relative notion.

    By your definition, Jerry Sloan has been a failure; Ernie Banks has been a failure; Don Mattingly has been a failure; hell, Mark Richt has been a failure.

    And by your definition, Tito Landrum (“2 World Series Rings!”) has been a greater success than all of them.

    I’ll agree that when you win, you deserve all the credit, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call this Braves regime a failure. And don’t forget, they did win a World Series.

    Because they didn’t win a second title in their run, their legacy is that of the Boys of Summer Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s instead of the Big Red Machine of the 1970s.

    They were a hanging slider away, a baserunning error away, perhaps an Eric Gregg strike zone away from getting another title. But what are you gonna do?

    It’s disappointing, sure, but in the history of baseball, that’s not a bad place to be.

  49. I’m not trying to diminsh the accomplishments. The streak was, in many ways, a success b/c they DID win at least one WS. But the streak is over, and we haven’t even been TO the world series since 1999…doesn’t that seem like a problem? If you’re regularly winning your division and challenging for a championship, that’s one thing, but the last 9 years, we haven’t even done THAT, which is more my point.

  50. brad,
    if a manager loses their job for winning a division, then that’s 1 stupid gm. winning a world series has a lot to do with luck and who’s hot. a manager can only coach, not throw and hit. your logic, or viewpoint, concerning a world series title goal, is true for all teams, but only 1 team can win. if a team wins the division and loses in the playoffs, the team should be satisfied with the success of the regular season and strive to do repeat that success. you’re in the wrong game if you think winning the division and losing in the playoffs is failure. there are different levels of success.

  51. I agree with Brad to an extent. I don’t think the team should ever be satisfied with anything other than winning the World Series. I think the Braves organization did become defensive over the playoff losses and, to my mind, focused too much on the division titles. Specifically, I think JS shortchanged parts of the team–ie, the bullpen and the bench–that would have potentially made a difference in the playoffs. And continually talking about what a great year they had after being eliminated got tiresome.

    But let’s be reasonable here; the playoff structure in baseball today almost insures that the best teams won’t always win in the playoffs. You can really not build a team to win the World Series because so much of that is luck. You can only build a team that will give you a chance. The Yankees haven’t won in 8 years; the Dodgers, who used to be the model franchise, haven’t won in 20 years. The Marlins got hot twice and the Cardinals got incredibly lucky in 2006. I think Ryan C is right; there are different levels of success but it’s not a dichotomy–failure or success.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *