Braves 5, Angels 4 (12 innings)

Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Angels – Box Score – May 21, 2011 – ESPN.

Jason Heyward couldn’t go tonight — uh, last night — because his shoulder is messed up again. This was fortunate, because it got Joe Mather into the lineup. No, I haven’t been eating any funny mushrooms. Mather won the game almost single-handedly. Well, on the offensive end.

Tommy Hanson fell behind in the first inning, hanging an 0-2 pitch to what’s left of Bobby Abreu, who homered with a man on to make it 2-0. In the fifth, he allowed a leadoff double, got a free out on a stupidbunt (Mike Scioscia wrote the introduction to the Modern Library edition of Managing the Deadball Way) then intentionally walked Abreu, who stole second. The following single made it 4-0 and given the Braves’ swing-at-everything philosophy I didn’t see much chance for a rally.

But in the seventh, bizarre, end-times things started to happen, albeit a day late. Freddie Freeman singled, then Alex Gonzalez did as well. Mather came up and hit a high fly ball that just carried and carried all the way out to left field to cut it to 4-3. And then, the Braves didn’t settle for that. With one out, Prado (hitting in the two spot) hit a ground-rule double. Chipper grounded out, but McCann doubled to the gap to tie it.

The Braves got great relief pitching tonight. Eric O’Flaherty allowed a walk in the seventh. Jonny Venters was amazing, getting through the eighth on five pitches and after a leadoff walk got a bunt double play in the ninth. George Sherrill got a popup foul and two strikeouts in the tenth. Somehow, Scott Proctor didn’t allow a walkoff homer in the eleventh, though he came close.

The Braves had lots of chances to get the go-ahead run. McLouth grounded out to the pitcher with two on to end the eighth. Prado walked and went to second on a Chipper flyout (he was obviously out but the umpire blew the call) in the ninth, but after McCann was intentionally walked Hinske hit into a double play. Uggla singled (!) leading off the tenth but might as well have been nailed to first base. McLouth singled leading off the eleventh, Prado bunted him over (“When in doubt, bunt” — Managing the Deadball Way, p. 2) Chipper struck out, McCann was walked again (everyone’s there to watch you, Mike) and Hinske struck out.

Finally, with two out in the twelfth, weird things happened again. Gonzalez singled up the middle, and the second baseman kicked it into left field allowing him to go to second. That brought Mather up again, and his fourth hit of the night, a double, gave the Braves the lead. Craig Kimbrel walked the leadoff man, Scioscia called another bunt (“Just because you’re losing is no reason not to bunt” — Managing the Deadball Way, p. 27) for the free out and Kimbrel got two groundouts to end it.

87 thoughts on “Braves 5, Angels 4 (12 innings)”

  1. DOB: “Heyward checked by famed orthopedist Lewis Yocum (works w/ Angels), who concurred w/ diagnosis of rotator-cuff inflamm. Day to day.”

    That isn’t really a diagnosis, it’s just a description of the symptom.

  2. Mather really did get the job done–not to complain, but the Braves did not get much mileage for 17 hits….

  3. Mac

    the scary thing is that IF it was the diagnosis, it COULD be Rotator Cuff disease. A VERY difficult thing for a baseball player to have.

  4. Let’s focus on the positives for once. 3 game losing streak stopped, improbable comeback with four runs down in the seventh. Mather and our relief pitching rocked.

    Fredi needs to stop spitting all the time.

  5. Shouldn’t the winning run be earned. AG would have scored scored from first on the double in corner. Just home town scorer bias?

  6. I think it’s one of those “you can’t expect” kind of things. You can’t expect a runner to score from first, like you can’t expect a defense to turn a double play, no matter how obvious. Scorers are stupid.

  7. Went to bed when it was 4-0. I think ‘surprised’ is an understatement for my reaction when I saw the final score this morning. (And who the hero of the game was.)

  8. “Scorers are stupid.”

    In defense of scorers, the fact of their existence is stupid; our reliance on them to tell us what happened is stupid… They kind of HAVE to be stupid, just to earn their keep.

  9. I agree with you ryan c, in the Cards video, as the pitch is being delivered, it looks like he lowers his hands toward the plate, and then lifts them back up and back a little toward the catcher, and then swings. In the video from last night he does appear to be more direct to the ball, and with less wasted movement. Good call.

  10. I did’t see it until this morning, but even DOB, in his latest blog, has picked up on the Braves’ hacktastic approach at the plate. Their hits (except with RISP) were falling last night, but the approach seemed to be similar to that which helped Ervin Santana mow them down the night before. Obviously, Mather bailed them out, which is great; I’m psyched for the win. But the Gonzalez/Parrish regime continues to be unimpressive.

    No more first pitch outs!

  11. made it till the top of 10 before bailing. nice win. at what point does Kimbrel’s inability to not walk the lead-off hitter become a concern enough to do something about?

  12. This team is average-ish hacking at the plate. A little below league average in pitches/PA, right in the middle in BB%.

    The Brewers are hacktastic. The Cubs are hacktastic. The Braves aren’t really that bad compared to other teams. Of course, they could be better, but so could most teams in the league this year.

  13. @18-

    When you’ve got players like Chipper Jones and Jayson Heyward who are known to have fantastic discipline/walk rates, it’s kind of disappointing when you’re only middle-of-the-pack. A lot of that (lately at least) is due to AAG, who seems to want to swing at everything and anything. I know he had some big hits early in the year and his defense has been stellar. But these past couple weeks he’s just looked pathetic.

  14. @19 It seems to my eyes that Heyward and Chipper have been far less patient at the plate lately. Chipper started off the year ridiculously aggressive, apparently because he felt so much better, then he settled down. But now he’s in a bit of a slump and he’s being aggressive again for some reason.

    Heyward is swinging at everything, which makes no sense to me, because if my shoulder was killing me I’d probably try to be more patient.

  15. It’s up to the official scorer to decide whether he thinks Gonzo would’ve scored from first on that double. There is no hard and fast rule that you can’t assume a runner will score from first on a double or from second on a single. If he thought Gonzo would’ve scored, he could’ve called it earned. However, he is instructed to give the pitcher the benefit of the doubt, so if it’s 50-50, he’s supposed to lean the pitcher’s way. And given the ball didn’t go all the way into the corner, I guess he decided it wasn’t clear enough.

  16. “When you’ve got players like Chipper Jones and Jayson Heyward who are known to have fantastic discipline/walk rates, it’s kind of disappointing when you’re only middle-of-the-pack.”

    Exactly. The Braves led the league in walks and OBP last year. This year they’ve subbed Melky/Diaz for Uggla and Glaus for Freeman. They did have half a season of Yunel last year, but they should still be close to leading the league in walks and OBP. They should also be hitting for a lot more power, without checking I’d guess they aren’t.

    Fire Larry Parrish.

  17. Interesting note: Chipper now leads the league in doubles w/15. Mac pointed it out in the “44 Greatest Atlanta Braves” series, but while he’s won a batting title, Chipper’s never lead the league in any counting stat. It’d be funny if he busts through at 39.

  18. So when Dan Uggla is batting .189, and is pounding his helmet on the bench, on the wall, or on the infield dirt after every single ground out… isn’t it about time for a day off? He’s started all 48 games, for Christ’s sake.

  19. From DOB: Chipper taking the day off with hamstring tightness, Heyward might go on the DL, and Hudson is headed back to Atlanta to get his back examined.

    Other than that, everything’s great!

  20. Terrific win last night. Always nice to whip thru the game on DVR & end up really surprised… OK, shocked, shocked!.

    For one late night at least, I’ve joined the Joe Mather Fanclub. (Unlike the Kiss Army, it’s free.)

    BTW, saw the new Woody Allen flick last night (“Midnight in Paris”). Best thing he’s done in a long time.

    #27
    Yippee.

  21. Maybe they have some kind of symbiotic relationship that disappears if they’re separated. There’s really only one answer to this: Acquire Hanley.

  22. DOB says the Braves are going to skip Hudson’s next start and that Minor is coming up and will get 2 starts.

  23. Here are some stats for Uggla courtesy of fangraphs:

    He has a miserable .200 BABIP, and so in that area we can happily expect some regression (at some point… right?). Like other Braves, his walk percentage is a bit down this season, from 10.6% career to 8.4% now. That might be Parrish, but it also might be the result of him just pressing. I don’t know.

    The real concern is his power. His ISO stands at .220 career, which is great for a 2B and obviously the reason the Braves acquired and then inked him to a longterm deal. This season, though, it’s down to .162, by far the lowest of his career. And here is the primary reason why:

    Career GB Percentage: 38.1%
    2011 GB Percentage: 46.9%

    Career FB Percentage: 45.4%
    2011 FB Percentage: 38.1%

    He’s just not hitting the ball in the air this season. I think the batting average will climb some, but I won’t care unless the power numbers climb too–and they probably won’t substantially until he changes something mechanical in his swing, or his approach.

  24. As a follow up, do people know if the hitting instructor can have an impact on the way players hit? I know we can see the decline of plate discipline, the excess of “aggression” for aggression’s sake, etc. But I also just notice that the Braves have an unusually large number of players near the top of the NL in groundball percentages. And I don’t mean the pitchers…

    Career GB Percentage for Chipper: 42.4%
    2011 GB Percentage for Chipper: 52.9%

    Career GB Percentage for Prado: 46.3%
    2011 GB Percentage for Prado: 51.6%

    Career GB Percentage for McLouth: 38.5%
    2011 GB Percentage for McLouth: 51.6%

    Heyward (52.8%) and Freeman (52.1%) are both in the top-15 as well, but they obviously don’t have enough of a track record to which we can compare those numbers. All I know is that they, like Uggla, Chipper, Prado, and McLouth, are hitting the ball on the ground, and undoubtedly more than they should be.

  25. Not to defend Fredi, but he might have been ok with putting Heyward in last night because he knows that he’s going to be out of commission for a long time, and will need all the time off he can get.

  26. Chatwood sucks, by the way. There is no excuse for not hitting him today.

    At least Freeman is showing signs of life.

  27. Man, I hope he can actually hit. I know it’s probably all an illusion, but to have a right handed pre-arb CF who can actually hit would solve multiple problems.

  28. If they lose Heyward and McLouth at once, who can they acquire?

    By the way, coming into today, Mather has a .550 BABIP.

  29. I wonder if Marlon Byrd will be made available. He can play all three OF positions and hits right handed. I saw a segment on HBO’s Real Sports about how he’s training with the Balco guys, so it’s fair to expect his production of the last 2 or 3 seasons to continue so long as he’s juicing.

  30. Three more men on base for Uggla! Let’s see if he hits a groundball to the shortstop or second baseman.

  31. Oh Uggla… he really should try a) moving towards the plate an inch or so, and b) turning down the swing intensity about 5%. He’s utterly incapable of doing anything with outside pitches, and it looks like he misses a lot of hitting pitches b/c he tries to murder the ball.

  32. I’m surprised the game wasn’t canceled due to delay while Fredi tried to figure what to do about replacing Nate in the field.

  33. So who’s left on the bench? Heyward can’t hit, Chipper is hurt, McLouth is out, they’re using both catchers with the DH, and… Conrad?

  34. Scary stat of the moment:

    Atlanta is last in the league in line drive percentage.

    I have a quick and dirty expected batting average formula I use for prop bets, and I was wondering why McCann’s the only guy above league average (though Prado’s just under average) playing in a fairly neutral park like the Ted. Turns out, the Braves suck at hitting line drives. Line drives are a great predictor of BABIP. So, yeah, it’s a team-wide issue.

  35. At least we’re not fans of the Brewers. Next to last in LD% and bottom five in both BB% and SO%. They swing at everything, and they swing poorly. They’ve just been lucky-ish so far with a league-average BABIP.

  36. All other NL East clubs have lost today. Good time to get another game back. All low scoring games and three shutouts already again today (except the Mets loss).

  37. Lowe’s command had been a bit shaky, so that can’t be too much of a surprise.

  38. Mather the Mather be cold,
    Mather the Mather be hot,
    We’ll see the Mather no Mather the Mather
    Mather we like it or not.

  39. The Braves might well go 1-4 against five mediocre pitchers. Gotta tip your hat.

  40. Shouldn’t Uggla’s Sunday School feature be on hitting into double plays, instead of turning them?

  41. In an attempt to save money, I think they just replaced the names and numbers on all of Infante’s jerseys.

    In an attempt to be a douche, Uggla just went with it.

  42. I have the sound off, but I’d imagine Joe Simpson is raving about how Freddy got the runner to third. Even though it’s a three run game and we’re down to our last out.

  43. Well at least by scoring 1 run today, the Braves have left verifiable proof that they were present for today’s game.

  44. Tyler Chatwood just dominated the Braves.

    Dude had a 3.89 k/9 and 5.52 bb/9 coming into the game.

    I hate Dan Uggla.

    That is all.

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