Braves 5, Phillies 2

Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies – Box Score – May 08, 2011 – ESPN.

The Braves cannot steal bases, and they cannot bunt. However, they can pitch and they can hit homers, and those two things are a whole lot more important.

The Braves jumped on top with a two-run homer in the second inning by Alex Gonzalez, scoring Freddie Freeman. Jair Jurrjens allowed a run in the third on a two-out single that Uggla really should have at least knocked down, but it was the only run they would score off him. He wasn’t as sharp as in his last couple of outings, and allowed eight hits in 6 1/3, but it’s the Phillies, they can hit a little.

The Braves stretched the lead in the fifth when Freeman hit a solo homer, then Eric Hinske hit a two-run pinch-hit homer in the eighth to make it 5-1. Eric O’Flaherty had gotten out of a minor jam in the seventh with a double play, but Jonny Venters didn’t quite have it in the eighth, allowing a leadoff triple to Shane “Burn In Hell” Victorino then a “single” off his glove that Diory Hernandez — in for AAG, who left with a groin strain — should have gotten an out on. The Phillies got the tying run to the plate but no more runs. The Braves loaded the bases in the ninth, but Martin Prado hit into a double play to end the threat. Then Craig Kimbrel allowed a single and a four-pitch walk in the ninth, but also got two strikeouts, then a popup to end it with Howard on deck.

129 thoughts on “Braves 5, Phillies 2”

  1. Ya gotta like our home stretch starting Tuesday with the Nationals, then the Phillies, and lastly, the Astros. Not to mention we play the D’backs right after Houston in ‘zona. Time to make up some ground

  2. I bet Magic and a lot of other former Lakers were embarassed by what happened in this series. Something isnt right in LA.

  3. I am still surprised Polanco swung at a 2-0 pitch with Howard on deck in the ninth. Make a pitcher struggling to throw strikes throw strikes and play to get your franchise homerun hitter to the plate with a chance to win the game. I was fearful of the walkoff slam from Howard but everything worked out just fine.

  4. So I’d guess league average k/9 against just the Phillies would be something like 4, but I’ve got no idea how to look that up. They just refuse to not make contact, and I think it’s why I hate them so much. Just a detestable city and team.

  5. Well then. I guess it’s one of those heightened susceptibility to frustration things that crops up only when we play the Phillies, like how Victorino seems to hit a triple every time he bats, even though I’m sure in reality it’s just a double.

  6. The key now is how they play against teams they should beat (i.e. Washington and the Stros). Philly at least beats the bad teams which is why they’re in first place. If the Braves take 6-8 or 7-8 against the Nats and Stros, they will probably be close to being in first in a week and a half. The Philly bullpen is a huge problem and it will show when they play the better teams (like they do starting now for the next 2 and a half weeks).

  7. According to JJ:

    “Since I changed my grip to the Jonny Venters grip and it’s been working.”

    Learning from the right guy!!!

  8. Name FIP
    Craig Kimbrel 1.43
    Jonny Venters 1.46
    Peter Moylan 1.55
    Eric O’Flaherty 2.11
    Cory Gearrin 2.45
    Jairo Asencio 2.58
    Derek Lowe 2.62
    George Sherrill 2.66
    Jair Jurrjens 2.66
    Tim Hudson 2.75
    Tommy Hanson 2.84
    Brandon Beachy 2.96

    All under 3.00. Martinez and Linebrink are over 4.00.

    This is ridiculous. No team can pitch this well.

  9. @11 I’m not really worried. His strikeout total is alarming, but he’s still leading the team in walks and homers. He was fine a week ago, but has gone into a slump and dropped 40 points in avg. But he’ll come out of it and quickly be fine again.

  10. Putter @8,

    I was, too. But ya know, it’s nearly the same situation as Hinske faced – pitcher struggling to throw strikes, do you take a pitch until you get a strike or wail on something in your (tightened) zone?

    Guess it depends on what you do with the pitch you get. Hinske just killed it. What a great asset to have on a team.

  11. Plus, it’s not like Polanco is hitting .217 with no power. He’s hitting .370 on the year, and if you can’t trust him in that situation then you’re a dumber manager than Fredi G.

    Oh, can we call all of Fredi’s dumb moves Da Fredi G. Show?

  12. Stats updated from a few threads ago:

    Lowe/Hanson/Hudson/Jurrjens/Beachy:
    34 GS, 16-9, 2.69 ERA, .82 H/IP. 2011 Salaries: $28.1M

    Halladay/Lee/Oswalt/Hamels/Blanton:
    30 GS, 14-8, 3.31 ERA, .91 H/IP. 2011 Salaries: $67M

  13. Manuel was talking about a pitch count for starter getting off DL. How much quicker can Medlin come back as RP v SP? I would think it would take a month or more to stretch him out and he would not need to control more than 2 pitches.

  14. NL Rankings…

    Braves 10th in OPS(.698) and 1st in ERA (2.85). We’re 3rd in the league in HRs.

  15. @25 If that good D, no Hit 2B could hit better OPS could improve. AG & Uggla turned some DPs yesterday.

  16. #30
    No need to rush. Surely we can win a game or two without him.

    Despite his always woeful OBP, Gonzalez has been one of the more valuable Braves so far. Great D & when he gets a hit, it always seems to be a big one.

    So far, he’s been about as much as we can hope for.

  17. Agreed. The key is, as long as we can keep Gonzo at the bottom of the lineup, we can make the most of his good power and great defense without being too hurt by his subpar plate discipline.

    I’m just worried about the number two spot in the lineup, and I’m worried it may have been cursed. Heyward and McLouth have both hit great at the bottom of the lineup, but we can’t find anyone who can hit worth a damn at the top of the lineup. Our optimum lineup includes Heyward and Jones as two of our top three hitters, and I think Prado’s probably our best leadoff option other than Heyward and Jones, but Prado and Heyward have both struggled to get on track. I have to believe that their talent will win out, but it’s certainly frustrating to watch.

  18. Maybe the second spot wouldn’t be so cursed if Fredi would just take a little nap while he’s hitting, instead of devising calamatous distractions like hit&run.
    Actually, it seems like Heyward might be overswinging. He’s got more home runs but far fewer line drives than I remember before. Also more ground balls to second base than I remember before. Maybe he’s hitting more like Larry Parrish than Jason Heyward 2010.

  19. Check the broken bats. They’re pitching Heyward way inside and he hasn’t been able yet to adjust by getting the head of the bat there.

  20. 36—He’s also failing to hit the outside pitches to left field. Lots of annoying ground-outs to first or second.

  21. @36
    Mac, you’re dead on. Heyward must have broken around 20 bats so far this year. He’s weakly hitting most to the right side of the infield.

  22. As far as I can tell, the scouting report on Heyward is to get two strikes, and then just throw him breaking balls. He’s not as easily victimizeable as Andruw Jones was, but you can definitely get him on a bouncing slider or curveball.

    I’m sure he knows about it, and I’m sure he’s working on it, and I trust him to get better at laying off that pitch than Andruw was, but that’s the major hole in his swing at this point. Of course, that means that right now he’s pretty similar to the offensive player that Andruw was — Andruw’s career triple slash is .256/.338/.487, and Jason’s at .226/.329/.444 this year. Of course, Andruw never walked 91 times in a season, like Jason did last year. So again, I’m optimistic. But right now he’s more Andruwesque than anything.

  23. The latest from mlb.com (http://atmlb.com/mklRaW):

    “Two important early indicators strongly suggest that Fredi Gonzalez will be just fine as manager of the Atlanta Braves. First, Gonzalez knows exactly what he is doing. Second, if his pitchers keep pitching the way they have so far this season, success will be directly in the Braves’ path.”

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a true statement preceded by such a laughably false one. I will fix it: “Gonzalez has absolutely no idea what he’s doing, but if his pitchers keep pitching the way they have so far this season, no amount of dumbassery will keep them from winning.”

  24. I just got stupider reading that (and, indeed, first spelled it “studiper”). So he’s saying that an early indicator that someone is good at his job is if he’s good at his job? And to think I left a journalism career behind….

  25. I’ve noticed the broken bats too. I’m sure he’ll make the adjustments, this same thing happened last year, though it was compounded by his injury.

  26. MLBTV has a new “Mobile Phone Only” package that’s $49.99. That’s a great deal for any of you out of area “Droid”ers or “Iphone”rs.

  27. #45

    “I picked Dillon Howard in the #28 slot–its really just a guess….”

    that’s awful. totally awful. Brian Goodwin or D. Fisher work MUCH better (and in the mlbbonusbaby one, Esposito is drafted, but Sickels just did one where Esposito is out of the first round).

  28. Just one –

    My very first vintage guitar, and the second “pro” instrument I ever bought is a delightfully timeworn ’53 Tele that has been my main ride for nearly 30 years is affectionately known as Ol’ Yeller.

    http://tinyurl.com/3sf57q6

  29. @53, I am very very lucky to have stumbled across such a thing and bought it when I did – I gave the princely sum of $700 in 1984. Today, just the neck goes for about 10k.

  30. So I just moved to South Miami and realized that neither AT&T Uverse nor the Dish Network carry the Extra Innings package. Is my only option to subscribe to MLB.TV online or do some of you technophiles know of another option? I hate MLB.TV…

    I have an XBox and sign on to XBox Live if that helps…

  31. Jim Bowden over on ESPN listed 50 catchers in a post about how the Red Sox could upgrade behind the plate. David Ross was not mentioned among those 50. That seems odd to me- but then again it is Jim Bowden.

  32. Maybe he knows he ain’t available for anything the Sox would give up. I’d be happy to take Iglesias off their hands though, now that Lowrie is apparently living up to the hype.

  33. I just saw Sickels mock with Goodwin…I dont’ buy it–because there are concerns about the holes in his swing. Cody Johnson redux?

  34. Trouble with Iglesias is, he can’t hit a lick. I realize he hasn’t been in the country long, but they’ve skipped him through the minors absurdly quickly, and he currently has a .531 OPS at Triple-A. (Gut check: Tony Pena Jr. has a career OPS of .652 at Triple-A.)

    Sure, Iglesias can pick it, but he hits like a pitcher.

  35. I’d still ike to get another catcher that can play another possition so that we could use Ross as PH

  36. I hate MLB.TV…

    Rob how is that possible? MLB.TV is “da bomb”, as ububba put it.

  37. I find that MLB.TV is indispensable as well. Does anyone else almost exclusively watch our opponents feed as to avoid Joe Simpson and Chip Carray?

  38. Tony Pena Jr. is in the Boston organization, too. He has a 4.85 ERA at Triple-A. I think he could be had for less than Iglesias, and I bet he’d still remember how to play a slick-fielding, no-hit shortstop. I’m just not convinced that Iglesias is that much better of a player than Lil’ Tony. Iglesias strikes me as a classic overhyped Boston prospect, a guy with tools but no results.

    Sure, I’m overstating the case, because Lil’ Tony is such a bad hitter that he is no longer a hitter — he hit like a pitcher for so long that he was converted into one. I’m just not convinced that Iglesias is actually a major leaguer.

  39. Sickels has Iglesias as a Grade B prospect, and the Sox highest rated position player: “3) Jose Iglesias, SS, Grade B: Won’t have much fantasy value, but in real baseball he will hold a job for a long time due to his glove and line drive hitting.”

    I wouldn’t really trade Ross for him, for any number of reasons, but he’s a far better shot to make it than Pena.

  40. Spike, you may be right. And, obviously, I’m way overly pessimistic. Sickels says he can make contact, so he may be able to hit for an empty batting average, which is enough to ensure that he’ll hold down a job somewhere.

    I just don’t like him.

  41. Teams like Boston and Texas can afford light hitting defensive shortstops. Its not as big of a concern for them since they are surrounded by very good hitters.

  42. Ithica,

    I stick to the Braves feed mostly because the graphics and camera angle are better than most others. Also can’t stand some of the homer opponant crews (Philly and Cincinnati are worst offenders, assuming you don’t count Hawk Harrelson since he’s in the other league).

    But mostly I throw on some tunes and mute the game audio anyway. Unless it’s Vin Scully. Then I listen in quiet reverence.

  43. Is the NL East a better division than the AL East?
    I think you can make an argument.

  44. Okay, some raw meat to bait the crowd.

    Milton Bradley designated for assignment. Is he worth a shot at major league minimum? Bring him in just soon enough for civil rights game (will his “designation period” be over by then?) and maybe that will inspire him.

    Fielding and staying healthy I am really skeptical of. I think if he wants to, he can still hit.

  45. I often hate the opposing big time homer announcers, especially the ones in Philly, Cinci and SF(the SF guy doesn’t receive due credit for being the Hawk Harrelson of the NL). But I’d still prefer an unfamiliar douche for three games to the preachy droning of Joe Simpson, not to mention the all around incompitence of Chip.

  46. Whether or not Milton Bradley still has any ability doesn’t matter because the Braves would never sign someone with his personality.

  47. I once said the Braves should pick up Milton Bradley. Man…what was I thinking?

  48. Speaking of people who are not Milton Bradley, I loved seeing this quote from Freddie Freeman yesterday, after getting three hits on Mother’s day:

    “I think about her every day, but a little more today,” Freeman said. “I hope she’s proud. I wore all the pink I could, necklace, wristband and spikes.”

  49. This club traded Yunel Escobar, so that oughta tell everyone plenty about how much consideration they’d give Milton Bradley.

  50. Milton Bradley? Pass. Braves wouldn’t even sniff.

    Langerhans DA’d too. He has made over 1.5 mil over his career!

  51. @ 84 – The incredible thing is that as bad as Langerhans was for the Braves (and as bad as he currently is), he still could be a better option than Mather.

  52. I love MLB TV when it’s not being a bitch like it was last night. I had to wait until 2 AM(!) before the Braves/Phillies was no longer “blacked out”. What a load of crap.

  53. Javier Vasquez’s season ERA is now 6.88. Guess a return to the NL didn’t fix anything.

  54. Ceasar had his minions whisper “You’re just a man”. I have mine whisper “You were outraged when the Braves traded Vasquez.”

  55. Does anybody know what’s up with Vizcaino ? Has he pitched since he came out of the game in the first inning the other night ?

  56. #92–It seems like the Braves (and the Yanks may have been) are frustrated with him–I don’t really know the whole story–but I think in a subsequent start he did pitch 2 innings and gave up 2 runs….

  57. Vizcaino pitched 2 innings the other night (May 8th). He has started 6 games thus far but the last 3 he’s only pitched 3 innings, 1 inning, and 2 innings. It seems misleading to say that the Braves are frustrated with him, but rather concerned for the health of his elbow, which is obviously a problem. It seems that he’s headed for Tommy John and the Braves should succumb to the needed surgery.

  58. Maybe: except that his pitching coach publically called him out when he went on the DL. How often do you see a coach speak badly to the press about a minor league prospect?

  59. Here’s the quote…

    “He’s going soft too much,” Botelho said. “He’s not going out there and establishing his fastball right now. His back wasn’t bothering him in the first and second inning. He’s got to pick it up a notch, to me. He’s got to establish his fastball off the bat. He’s not a guy that throws 88-89. He throws 94, 95 mph. I think in the future when he’s out there, and we talked about it when he was taken out, that he’s pitching a little passive, and he needs to pick it up and pitch aggressively and establish his fastball. Then the other two pitches (changeup, curveball) will work off of that.

    “Hitters right now are taking too good of hacks off of him.”

    I don’t really know how the coach meant that to sound, but it seems to me that he’s challenging him more than he is calling him out. Vizcaino seems like he’s afraid to get injured before being able to make his mark in the Majors, but pitching timidly also decreases his effectiveness, which decreases his likelihood to make it to the Majors. One way or the other, I think surgery is apparent.

  60. Timo @63 – pretty cool, indeed.

    By the way, I learned of a new statistic by reading your link. It’s called FIP. Here’s the formula:

    (HR*13+(BB+HBP-IBB)*3-K*2)/IP, plus a league-specific factor (usually around 3.2) to round out the number to an equivalent ERA number

    Ohhhh kaaay …

  61. 98 – thanks for those quotes ryan c. I hadn’t read those before. Very interesting.

  62. Justhank, here’s a primer I wrote a year and a half ago about how FIP works. It’s a good way to get a quick and dirty look at whether a pitcher is overperforming or underperforming his components. If ERA is higher than FIP, ERA will probably go down. If ERA is lower than FIP, it will probably go up. Obviously, there’s more to it than that, but that’s one of the easiest ways to make use of it.

  63. Perhaps Vizcaino is timid because he’s hurt? I have no idea, but it would stand to reason.

  64. Vizcaino is 20. I personally find being scared of blowing out my elbow or going through TJ completely understandable, even more so if I were a kid, not to mention a kid with tens of millions of dollars riding on the outcome. I am really not sure what the Lynchburg coach was trying to accomplish in making these comments publicly. How exactly is that going to help?

  65. Alex,

    Great stuff. Like any good teacher, you’ve taken something that glazed my eyes on first glance and made it understandable and, more importantly, important to my enhanced understanding of a subject I value (baseball in general and pitching specifically).

    Thanks!

    Btw, I get the feeling that you’ve written a great deal about the New Metrics and I’m the only one here that didn’t know that (he said sheepishly).

    Where might I find your collected essays?

  66. @104 – HA to “Two awesome bullpens if you only need two guys” followed by “Atlanta Braves: Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters are dominant (and Eric O’Flaherty provides a nice third guy).” So, great bullpen if you only need two guys, but here’s one that has three guys, in case you need them.

    Schoenfield performs the amazing feat of making me long for the days of Neyer on ESPN. Neyer could at least count and he tended to use more sophisticated stats than bullpen wins and losses to back up pronouncements.

  67. You know, just for the heck of it, I looked into the “Uggla always starts slow” meme.

    April Splits –
    2011 .202 .259 .394 .653
    2010 .295 .364 .534 .898
    2009 .218 .322 .423 .745
    2008 .255 .333 .480 .813
    2007 .219 .294 .429 .723
    2006 .356 .402 .508 .910

    Not really seeing it.

  68. Also, Jim Bowden writes for the SweetSpot blog now. I guess Omar Minaya wasn’t available?

  69. I can see someone being a bit skeptical of EOF’s ability to sustain this start – his peripherals are way up (I think he’s real) Honestly, with Moylan hurt/ineffective, and Gearin exceptionally unproven, calling the current set-up a two man pen isn’t the dumbest thing I’ve heard today.

    /that would go to Allan Barra claiming Mickey Mantle is the greatest player of all time and better than Mays head to head.

  70. I miss Allan Barra. Didn’t always agree with him and his Yankee-centrism, but he could argue the hell out of a point.

  71. @107 It seems more like an every other year phenomena to me:
    2011 .202 .259 .394 .653

    2009 .218 .322 .423 .745

    2007 .219 .294 .429 .723

    Or perhaps that’s cherry picking…

  72. @ 107 – from the stats, saying that Uggla always gets off to a bad start is false. However, saying that Uggla has struggled with a slow start at times in his career is definitely true.

    The thing that’s concerning is that his best years have come when he’s gotten off to a good start (not surprisingly). From this, it looks like we’ll see something in the .240 range with an OPS just over .800. Not ideal, but not terrible either.

    April………………………… Full year
    2011 .202 .259 .394 .653…. ??????
    2010 .295 .364 .534 .898…. .287 .369 .508 .877
    2009 .218 .322 .423 .745…. .243 .354 .459 .813
    2008 .255 .333 .480 .813…. .260 .360 .514 .874
    2007 .219 .294 .429 .723…. .245 .326 .479 .805
    2006 .356 .402 .508 .910… .282 .339 .480 .818

  73. I’m going to throw this question out:
    All things equal, which Braves starter do you throw in a game 7?

  74. 107, 111, 112 – Those same numbers are part of a post over at TC, and bizarrely the blogger concludes that Uggla’s slow start is within the norm of previous seasons. Even if we exclude his clearly excellent starts from 2006 and 2010, and discount the fact that 2008 was actually ok too, he’s still wildly underperforming this year. Even his bad starts don’t match up with the futility of 2011.

    Ultimately, that Uggla has started slowly this season doesn’t concern me. That he’s walking less, hitting more groundballs, and hitting for less power when he does manage to hit a fly ball does concern me.

  75. @112
    I suppose we’d need to see the May-September numbers to really gauge the meaning of Uggla’s April stats.

  76. Phew..Game 7 starter?

    As of may 10th I might have to pick JJ. But ask me again tomorrow and I’m likely to give you another answer….

  77. Thanks, justhank. The other articles in that series are here. On Fangraphs, I don’t really write about stats as much, because everyone there knows more about regression analysis and SQL than I do, but on Yahoo I’ve kind of become the stat guy because it’s not really a stat blog.

    I’m a big Allen Barra fan. I loved his Bear Bryant and Yogi Berra bios. I don’t think he’s the savviest new stat guy, but I think he understands that the basic purpose of all stats is to provide evidence to support an argument, which is basically what he does in the last section of the Berra book. Sure, he may be a bit of a homer, but he’s a really fine writer.

  78. It’s the OBP componenet that is most troubling to me. He looks like a player who has found himself in a much lower offensive environment, both generally in baseball and specifically at Turner, and hasn’t figured out how to cope yet.

  79. Regarding Uggla, let’s not forget he is on a new team now. Many players need some time to adjust to a new environment. I give him another month or so. Hope it doesn’t take him a year.

  80. @114,

    No one else will say this, but I would want Lowe. He has been there and done that. He is actually a pretty good big game pitcher.

  81. @105 justhank, I second that and Alex: Really well put even for me to understand.

  82. The average OPS for the league so far this year is .704 (.728 and .751 in ’10 and ’09 respectively); average OBP is .318 (.325, .333). Uggla might be struggling more than even he usually struggles early in a season (if that’s even something he usually does), but so is everyone else in the league (on average).

    His BAbip is .226 and his line drive % is above his career average. The only major batted ball discrepancy is a higher ground ball %, but that just makes his BAbip look even more unlucky. The only thing that might be legit is that he’s swinging at more pitches overall, and he’s making contact with more balls out of the strike zone, which isn’t a good thing, but I could easily see how frustration at having nothing drop in for a hit could lead to some additional hacking.

    Basically, he’s exactly the same guy we thought he was when he signed. Nothing has changed.

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