Braves 6, Nats 5

Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – May 12, 2011 – ESPN.

Well, gosh. A little 2010-style resilience, led by The Prado himself. A nice change.

The Braves got the first two men on base in the first, then loaded them with two out — but Chipper, McCann, and Hinske all struck out. So I’m thinking, “Here we go,” and for six innings, we went. Derrick Lowe gave up a two-run homer to the legendary Danny Espinosa (slugging percentage: .364) in the second inning. The Braves got a run on a solo homer from Chipper in the third, but Lowe gave up two more in the fourth to kill any momentum, then a solo homer to Ivan Rodriguez (age: 219) in the sixth.

The bullpen, after last night’s shenanigans, took over. Cory Gearrin struck out the side in the seventh. Then the Braves got off the mat. Jordan Zimmermann had struck out eleven Braves through six but with one out in the seventh walked Freeman and then allowed a soft single by Gonzalez. Jim Riggleman brought in Sean Burnett, which in retrospect looks kind of stupid. Conrad pinch-walked, then Prado came to the plate. He fell behind 1-2 but wouldn’t surrender, and fouled off enough pitches to get to a 3-2 count. He knocked the tenth pitch of the at-bat out of the park. Tie game.

O’Flaherty threw a perfect eighth, but the Braves went down on five pitches in the bottom of the inning. Venters struck out the first two in the ninth, then walked the next guy before getting a groundout. With one out in the ninth, AAG hit what looked for a moment like a walkoff homer. He certainly thought it was, and was so busy admiring it that he was out by ten feet at second base when it hit off the wall.

Kimbrel struck out the side on thirteen pitches in the tenth. Prado led off the bottom of the inning with a walk, then McLouth bunted him to second on an 0-2 pitch. They walked Chipper to pitch to McCann — who was seeing Nats closer Drew Storen [CORRECTED, Storen was unavailable] LOOGY Doug Slaten for the second time in the game. McCann lined Storen Slaten’s 30th pitch of the game down the right-field line to win it.

54 thoughts on “Braves 6, Nats 5”

  1. Gotta hit that refresh button. JC’d:

    Speaking of weird: our upcoming schedule — after the upcoming Phillies series, Houston comes in for TWO, we go to Arizona for TWO, then a random interleague series in Anaheim, followed by an off day, TWO games in Pittsburgh, then another off day. Whaaa?

  2. By the way, does anyone else find it strange that DOB announced today, being Thursday, that Proctor would be brought up Sunday? It’s like the Braves are putting Linebrink on the block seeing if there’s interest.

  3. Meanwhile, Joe Sheehan is getting assaulted on Twitter for saying McCann is the best catcher in baseball. “Buster Posey is the new Jeter.”

  4. I can’t believe anyone would argue otherwise with Mauer being down for so long. Buster Posey is nothing compared to Brian McCann.

  5. I’ve been infuriated by recent fangraphs chats in which idiots from the Midwest ask if Eric Hosmer can match Posey’s rookie season. They are correct in making the unstated assumption that no one could possibly match Heyward’s rookie season.

  6. Not a bad line for the bullpen through 4 innings of work.

    Batters faced: 13
    Hits: 0
    Walks: 1
    Strikeouts: 9

    Gearrin has definitely been a pleasant surprise so far.

  7. Not that the result of this series is a surprise, but it is reiteration that the Hawks will never again make it past the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It’s apparently written in stone or something.

    Also, anyone who doesn’t think Brian McCann is the best catcher in the National League is an idiot. I hate to be that blunt about it, but there’s really nothing else to be said.

  8. It was nice to see the team pick themselves off the mat for once. I was dubious at best they would put up much of a fight after the seventh.

    Any updates on how long Heyward’s out?

  9. McCann is so under apprieated nationally. It is almost a crime. The national media has always had a bias against Atlanta and their players.

    Garbage.

    Great win last night, however

  10. @4–I, too, find it odd that Proctor’s addition would be announced several days ahead of time.

  11. I don’t think the national media has as much bias against Atlanta as they have a bias towards New York and Boston. There are plenty of underhyped players on teams outside of those cities. The Braves aren’t really treated differently. Certain Braves, like Maddux in his prime, never suffered in the national baseball press.

    However, McCann’s case is kind of special. His perpetual All-Star bridesmaid selection is evidence of his under appreciation by the nation of baseball fans.

    In this case, Mr. Out was just in the World Series where every baseball fan on the planet got to see his awesome rookie line over and over.

    Maybe McCann needs to punch out a camera man or say racist stuff to a reporter in a major media market.

  12. Speaking of anti-McCann bias, his game-winner was apparently ruled a single. In what universe is a rocket pulled to the right fielder’s left that rolls all the way to the wall a single? Is it because the game was over before he actually made it to 2nd? If so, then walk-off homers that result in more than the required number of runs for a win shouldn’t count either, right? The game would be over before the homerer made it back to home.

  13. @21 I think that if McCain had hit a ground rule double he would have been credited with a single. Maybe I misremember. No, google is my friend.
    MLB Rule 4.11 (abridged):
    (c) If the home team scores the winning run in its half of the ninth inning (or its half of an extra inning after a tie), the game ends immediately when the winning run is scored. EXCEPTION: If the last batter in a game hits a home run out of the playing field, the batter-runner and all runners on base are permitted to score, in accordance with the base-running rules, and the game ends when the batter-runner touches home plate.

    ———-
    The game-ending GRD landed “in play” in fair territory, so only the number of bases required to score the winning run are accredited to the hit, in this case a single

  14. @24 How many arms did Billy Martin ruin in Oakland when overusing SPs?
    Or was that urban myth?

  15. Interesting read JoeyT, thanks! It was fun looking over those lists and remembering seeing some of those greats pitch. Made me nostalgic. Guess I’m getting old!

  16. @25 – So not that this is an uncommon thing for the MLB rulebook, and not that it’s remotely important, but that is a ridiculously arbitrary rule. You’ve got an official scorer sitting in the booth already, and elsewhere in the rulebook this scorer has been given the authority to make judgment calls about things. Let him stick around for another 30 seconds after the game to decide whether it was a single, double, or triple. McCann doesn’t need that double to prove his superiority to Posey to me, but clearly the brainwashed remainder of the country would benefit from seeing it in his stats.

  17. Given all the hand-wringing, I’m expecting great things from Proctor (no I’m not).

  18. Speaking of National Exposure, here’s some from the Fangraphs recap:

    Also, watching the replay of the seventh inning makes me wonder how Braves fans can stand Chip Caray as the play-by-play guy.

  19. @27 – Something that jumps out at me about that article:

    Greg Maddux total career pitches – 60,012
    Nolan Ryan total career pitchers – 90,211

    50% more! That’s a hell of an arm.

    Cy Young total career pitches – 107,114

    Almost 3.5 times the total career pitches of Pedro Martinez. Baseball is an incredible game.

  20. McCann should reject his AS invitation if he is snubbed out of the starting spot again. That would get him some attention.

  21. @27

    This passage stuck out to me:

    Don Malcolm then published a commentary on Baseball Think Factory in which — in typical bombastic Malcolm style — he wholeheartedly agrees with James’ view, claiming that Jazayerli and Woolner’s “research is so flawed that it is virtually useless.”

    Did anybody here read the old Big Bad Baseball Annuals, which were published between 1998 and 2000? Malcolm and Brock Hanke were the principle authors, and bombastic isn’t a strong enough word for those books, Malcolm’s contributions in particular. The introduction one year was a six-page reprint of a canned email exchange between Malcolm and Hanke, in which they took a couple of Bill James studies, disagreed with the conclusions, and decided that sabermetrics had passed James by and that they themselves were the new vanguard. It was titled, I shit you not, “Crossing the Rubicon”. In terms of grandiosity, that’s up there with Will Carroll titling his book “Saving The Pitcher”. Some of these guys….

  22. Measuring large pitch counts against major league veterans seems kind of like a tautology – of course the vast majority can handle it, or they never would have become big league pitchers. I thought the point was to improve the odds that your valuable prospect would get to that stage. Seems like measuring minor league PCs and their effect would be a lot more useful.

  23. If you are interested, here is a study of pitch counts that Sean Forman and I did. I presented it at SABR 40 in Atlanta. Fredi showed up during the session after my presentation.

  24. Pitch counts are overrated as a “global” kind of thing. Each pitcher/arm is different. Each can take a different amount of stress. And you have to act accordingly. Being a slave to 100 pitches is dumb. I understand treating players with kid gloves when they’re young, but once we’re looking at veterans, you shouldn’t pull them for fatigue until that start to become fatigued. That is, when their velocity and/or mechanics start to falter. That’s when you’ve got to make the change. Not because they reached some magic number.

  25. I understand pitch counts on vets, if say they have thrown alot of innings in previous starts.

  26. @31 and now, in addition to his stupid statements and miscalls, we have to listen to his inane impersonations of his father — Joe ought to slap him every time he does it.

  27. Interesting study, JC. As often, the truth appears to be somewhere in the middle. I also liked the incidental finding that the minimum number of pitches per start is increasing. Starters are becoming their own mop-up relievers?

  28. On the topic of McCann only getting a single on that walk-off when it probably would’ve been a double during the normal course of play:

    First of all, even if McCann could’ve gotten a double on that by the rule (which he couldn’t, because there’s no way he would outrun Prado over two bases when Prado had a head start), Hinske tackled McCann as soon as he touched first base, so that should automatically make it a single right there. Even if he’d hit a home run, if he was tackled at first, it would’ve been a single. The obvious example of this is the execrable Robin Ventura grand-slam single. (Thank God we won that next game so that didn’t turn into another Jim Leyritz moment.)

    Second, I actually think it’s a good rule to begin with. You can’t just go assuming people would attain bases that they didn’t actually attain. We don’t know for a fact that McCann would’ve had a double on that. He might’ve been thrown out by a great play. He might’ve stumbled and been thrown out that way. You can’t just assume that every ball that goes to the wall is going to be a double. (After all, did Gonzalez get a double on his ball off the wall an inning earlier?) And you can’t just give him whatever base he decides to stop running at when the defense is already running off the field.

    Third, the rule is the same for everybody. If Out were in the exact same situation, he’d have gotten a single, too. So I don’t really see how it hurts McCann statistically speaking. As far as losing extra-base hits on plays like that when it comes to competing with other players for statistical awards, I’m sure it evens out over the season. On the other hand, it would not necessarily even out if the official scorer was just allowed to give the guy whatever base he feels like.

    I will say that I agree that a ground-rule double with the winning run at second or third should still be a double. After all, the batter is entitled to second base in that instance. As such, if there are runners at second and third in a tie game when that happens, the home team should win by two runs, since both runners are entitled to score, as well.

  29. So, looking at the regression outputs of JC’s study, using pitch counts in individual games is almost meaningless, but the number of pitches thrown over the course of a season (or ten game stretch) has enough of an impact on walk rates and home runs allowed that it’s worth investigating if there’s an increased potential for injury. That makes sense. So Wren is saying don’t be a pitch count Nazi in a given outing, and that stance is supported by data. However, I’m sure the Braves aren’t going to go all Dusty Baker and put a ton of work on an arm over the course of a season.

  30. Very sad news about Harmon Killebrew. I lost my uncle this year to cancer and my father in law is in a tough fight with it right now. Mac I hope you’re doing well in this fight also.

  31. Killebrew is the only play on record to hit a home run over center field at old Engle Stadium in Chattanooga. If anyone has been there it is 499 to the CF wall and the wall is 20 feet high.

  32. Smitty,

    I heard that story when I was growing up and there was (is) a Coke bottle on top of the wall. Centerfield in Engel Stadium was so deep that they had a rose garden out there. That had to be an unbelievable shot. As I recall hearing, though, I think Babe Ruth may also have hit a ball over that wall in an exhibition game.

    Re the rule: I think I remember reading (I could be wrong) that the rule was changed in the 50s in response to the home run Joe Adcock hit to win the game for the Milwaukee Braves after Harvey Haddix had pitched 12 perfect innings. At that time, the rule was as it is now for non-home runs. I believe they changed the rule so that a ball hit out of the park counted as a home run regardless; but everything else counts only to the point where the winning run crosses the plate.

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