Braves 5, Rockies 3

Box Score

As I’ve mentioned, one thing that does impress me about Fredi’s management is that he won’t sit by and let Derek Lowe lose the game because he’s a “veteran workhorse”. Fredi realizes that Lowe is a guy who has to have a short leash in the middle innings, and pulls it accordingly. This is a game that Lowe might well have been left in to lose last season.

He got an early lead with a second-inning homer from Freddie Freeman. The Braves left two men on in that inning. In the fourth, the Rockies starter for some reason seemed to be pitching around Uggla and McLouth to get to Lowe with two out, loading the bases. It backfired, big time, when Lowe hit a bases-clearing double — it would have been a triple for Jurrjens, the left fielder had to run forever to retrieve the ball — to make it 4-0.

Unfortunately, he gave two of those runs back in the next inning, and needed to get a ground ball from Todd Helton to get out of it without more scoring. The Lowe Watch was on, and after he allowed a pair of one-out hits, Fredi made the move to the bullpen. Sherrill got the one man he faced, but unfortunately Gearrin allowed a single to the next batter to make it 4-3 before getting out of it. Still the right move to pull Lowe.

Then Dan Uggla hit a homer leading off the bottom of the inning to get the run back. Uggla actually was 2-2 with two walks on the night. Just one of those things, I guess. O’Flaherty allowed a hit in the seventh but pitched around it.

Jonny Venters came in to pitch the eighth, and again looked shaky. He walked the leadoff man (after seemingly having him struck out 2-2) and then went 3-2 before allowing a single. And then, suddenly, he was Jonny Venters again. Groundball and two hapless strikeouts later, the inning was over. Kimbrel got the save, allowing a two-out hit to Helton but striking out two.

84 thoughts on “Braves 5, Rockies 3”

  1. Cant say that I would change any of Fredi’s decisions tonight. Im just hoping Johnny gets the rest of this series off now.

  2. Question to the engineers out there:

    With the advent of K-Zone (or whatever) technology, is there really any reason to have fat, overpaid, insecure bullies calling balls and strikes?

    This reminds me of some railroad jobs that are only extant because of union pressure.

    If ya gotta have someone back there, make them subservient to an automatic ball / strike prompt based on K-Zone technology.

    Then they can still miss out / safe calls at home plate.

  3. Dan Uggla looked different tonight. He’s had nights where he’s had good results from bad at bats, but tonight, his swing was a mile shorter than anything he’s done all year. The rope to right center was the swing he used to kill the Braves prior to this season.

    They’re small signs, but they’re good signs. A fan can hope, at least.

  4. Is there some easy way to check what Derek Lowe’s ERA is in innings immediately following his team scoring 3 or more runs? My fallible human memory says it’s around 12.00. Just, the guy does not like his team to get comfortable.

  5. ESPN interviewing former umpire Jim McKean on recent spat of bad officiating.

    McKean’s a joke, offering excuses for everything…including umpires losing count of balls/strikes.

    Some Mom-n-Pop Baptist league softball umpire losing pitch count in a Sunday afternoon laugher? No biggie.

    But MLB umps paid big bucks to pay attention to the damn game losing track of pitch counts. Completely unacceptable.

  6. @5 That would be the Five Man Electric Band, originally. And yeah, that song sucks. Also, get off my lawn!

  7. @6 Well, human (including you and me) by default will make mistakes. There is no way around it.

    Mac, we may not like the details, but Fredi at the minimum has not destroyed the boat. The team is 15 games over .500. At least the result is there. May the force be with Venters.

  8. @2 Not sure if automation is the way to go with umpiring, as flawed as the trade may be. A better replay system, or challenge system might be a better solution.

    Just thinking out loud…

  9. Freeman is making a case for getting into the ROY discussion. Uggla is going to have a very good 2nd half.

  10. @2 – I love the idea of keeping an ump behind the plate with a buzzer in his pocket signaling balls or strikes based on pitch f/x. I think at least a few teams use pitch f/x numbers for stadium radar gun displays, so the data apparently gets processed at something close to real time already.

    A pitch f/x based challenge system would probably get more support though. Maybe each manager gets 3 ball/strike challenges per game, and they play out on the big screen, tennis style.

  11. @2-
    You must be talking about last night when the Phillies beat the Marlins. The only run scored was due to a blown call at the plate.

    In my mind, this is a training issue. A great deal of the time, the umps appear to me to be out of position. Part of the problem is that too many of them are too old or out of shape to get into position.

  12. Hope Bethany doesn’t mind that I’m wishing she develops shin splints….

    Keep running B, keep running!

  13. Given our hitting abilities, 15 games over .500 is nothing short of a miracle. But that’s the way it was for most of the 90s, and they went rather well, too.

    After a game like tonight, I even have a certain amount of hope that Uggla could morph into the 2011 version of Fred McGriff.

  14. Uggla’s homerun was another inside mistake that his flawed swing ran into.

    But …

    His double to right center was elbows in, level bat path, squared up. I, too, have hope.

    Now if Heyward can just stop trying to hit everything to the moon.
    ———

    @4 – yeah, that’s what drives me crazy about Lowe. He’s being paid too much to be this sloppy.

  15. Is anyone worried that there might be some problem in Heyward’s swing and everyone is too scared to try and tweak it? Or do you think it’s an injury/approach issue?

  16. NL rank of an 806 OPS (Freeman’s):

    2011 — 28
    2010 — 32
    2009 — 36
    2008 — 39

  17. Uggla’s homerun was another inside mistake that his flawed swing ran into.

    Disagree. The homer was on a swing much like Uggla’s always had, but both of his swings last night – the HR and the double to RCF – were the short, compact, stroke that he used so successfully in Florida. I’m not saying he’s turn the corner. I’m saying his approach last night was different, and much better, than anything he’s done so far this year.

  18. @20 I think Heyward is coming around. He narrowly missed a homer that turned into a double on Monday, and he did homer Friday. Getting the ball in the air is a good sign for him – as long as he’s doing that, he’ll hit for power and the walks follow.

  19. I can deal with some blown calls on close plays; you can’t expect a human to detect infinitesimal differences in pitch locations. But there are entirely too many egregious mistakes on plays that are clear. Plus, the arrogance of the umpires is just overwhelming. Watching Tim McClelland the other night against the O’s was infuriating. The guy obviously wants to be the center of attention so he takes five minutes to make a strike call. Just call the damn pitch. I would rather have Enrico Palazzo behind the plate.

  20. Anyone think Uggla may be seeing ball better after getting two walks? Better to swing at strikes.

  21. We’ve seen glimpses of Uggla making small improvements, but then its followed by another awful 2-3 weeks. Hopefully we’ll see more of his approach from last night moving forward.

    Get Prado back and Heyward anything close to what he was last year and this team can play with any of them. Even with MRSA doing what it is that he does.

  22. I don’t worry about Heyward’s swing as long as he’s drawing walks. His walk rate is down this year but it isn’t super-down from last year. If he’s seeing the ball as well as he normally does, the hits will take care of themselves.

  23. “I don’t worry about Heyward’s swing as long as he’s drawing walks. His walk rate is down this year but it isn’t super-down from last year. If he’s seeing the ball as well as he normally does, the hits will take care of themselves.”

    But isn’t that the rub? He seems to roll over an awful lot of balls and ends up hitting weak grounders to the right side. Maybe this is a function of injuries. As for walks, I realize OBP is important, but you need more than that from a corner outfielder and, anyway, .318 isn’t very good.

    I’m not saying that Heyward is a bust at 21 but his OPS is below Francouer’s, for god’s sake.

  24. Heyward’s struggling, certainly. But Jeff Francoeur never posted anything at any level to compare to Heyward’s minor league career. 21 year old kids have difficulties adjusting to ML pitching, especially when they’re injured. But it’s far too early to start making Francoeur comparisons.

  25. Oh, and it does my old heart good to see Chipper gliding into 2B with a ground-rule double. I’m going to enjoy him all I can while he’s here and miss him like hell when he’s gone.

  26. Jason Heyward has had multiple extended runs of greatness already in his major league career. Once you’ve shown a particular ability, that means you possess that particular ability. He’ll be fine.

  27. Freddie’s pace:
    22 hr 73 rbi

    KImbrel’s pace:
    48 saves 128 strikeouts

    That’s some fine rookieing…

  28. The rollover to the second base hole, Heyward’s specialty prior to the DL stint, has been much less prevalent since he came back, even if he still does it occasionally. He’s hitting to all fields much more frequently, and he’s getting more flyouts, which are still outs, but they’re generally a good sign for things to come. The .318 OBP isn’t great, certainly, but that’s the fault of a lack of hits, not a lack of plate discipline. His walk rate is still 11.5% for the year – very good, if not quite up to last year’s really high standard.

  29. Heyward’s just gotta play his way out of it as best he can (injury or no). At least Uggla’s hitting some HRs. If and when those guys begin to contribute at more impactful level, this team can be scary.

    JJ vs Aaron Cook (minus CarGo & Tulo). Advantage Braves, right?

    Gotta kick ’em while they’re down.

  30. Isnt Tulo expected to be back tonight? I think Cargo could miss the entire series. These are big wins, need two more over the Rocks.

  31. Jordan Schafer, since June 1st – 26 for 119, .218avg 6BB 29K 6XBH.

    If you take away that one 5 hit game on Jun 16th – .185avg

  32. Frenchy, has an OPS+ of 113. There’s a lot of guys below that.

    Shhhhh. Don’t want to make the heads explode… Except…

    The Frenchster vs LHP:

    .329/.361/.658

    As the RH half of a LF platoon – basically the Matt Diaz role – Jeff Francoeur would improve this team’s offense significantly. Much more so than Wilkin Ramirez, certainly.

  33. Uggla Against RP:
    118 PA, .755 OPS

    That’s getting up there in PA. His sOPS+ (what B-R uses for an OPS compared to all other hitters seeing a reliever for the first time in the game) is right in line with his career overall OPS+. It’s like he’s normal Dan Uggla against relief pitching, but he’s Chone Figgins against starters.

    It’s not a pitch type thing, as he’s down dramatically against everything but curveballs.

    Maybe it’s a mentality thing. He’s swinging more at everything, and he’s still making contact at his normal rate with thrown strikes. Maybe relievers just go up there throwing strikes while starters try to fool him by throwing junk. I don’t know, but the starter/reliever thing is beginning to look like a real effect.

  34. Francoeur has always been a pretty good fourth outfielder who always thought that he deserved to play every day. He has literally asked for a trade multiple times from multiple teams because they didn’t want to play him every day.

    If he would consent to be a fourth outfielder on this team and only receive at-bats when there was a LHP on the mound, I’d be fine with paying him $1 million a year.

    But he has never indicated that he would be remotely amenable to such an arrangement.

  35. @24 EXACTLY! Every ump is going to miss some calls. Of course. But the arrogance of not being willing to ask for help, is what gags you. Laz Diaz had a tough call on B-Mac’s swing and foul tip in the dirt — we all sympathize, but to refuse to ask for help . . . c’mon man! You ain’t God and there’s no sense acting like Him. What will it take to get rid of Diaz, McClelland, Davidson, Big Joe West, Hernandez, and Hohn?

  36. Nothing will get rid of West save retirement

    I dunno – I could easily see him going all McSherry – especially in an August game below the Mason-Dixon line.

  37. @44, you forgot Bucknor. Most worst umpiring lists involve Bucknor, West, Hernandez, and Davidson. I really only remember Hernandez being especially bad, but I usually don’t pay much attention to the identity of the umpires.

  38. Maybe if we all buy his record, he’ll buy Tim McGraw’s hat and go full-time into music.
    ———————

    How’s Schaefer going to react to being on the bench when Prado returns? McLouth is outplaying him right now. Wish Jordan was tearing it up, but he’s pressing (or being a stubborn ass) and stopped spraying the ball – which is the only way he’s going to stay in the majors.

  39. Bill James offers an interesting thought that might reflect on Larry Parrish:

    Do you know if hitting coaches influence the hitting approach of their teams? i.e. Do teams with coaches who were patient hitters become more patient?
    Asked by: Rusty
    Answered: July 4, 2011

    Answer: To the exact same extent, I think, that preachers influence the morality of the community.

  40. “Getting the ball in the air is a good sign for him”

    This is the key point. The ground outs are concerned me in May and June. I didn’t get to see the game last night, but if Heyward was making his outs in the air then I’m cool with it.

  41. 50 – Mike Trout would demand more than that. But really, why would the Angels trade him at all?

  42. 53-Because they’re already set in the outfield for the immediate future and the back end of their rotation isn’t very good. It’d be like a poor man’s Greg Maddux acquisition for them. They take a strength of their team, high end starters, and make it overwhelming.

  43. In both cases, it depends on if the coach or preacher can get his “community” to listen to him.

    “Nothing changes until the conviction of sin is reached”, said my old Management professor Dr. James Gibson. I think he’s right. If Uggla has seen the error of his flying open ways, he might be able to keep hitting like he did last night.

    (Btw, Sam is right – I re-viewed Uggla’s HR swing and it was as tight as Pujols on a good day. He’s been pulling that pitch foul all year but stayed inside it last night.)

  44. So what do we think of this Carlos Quentin stuff?

    Maybe if Chipper was going to have surgery, it’d make some sense to me..

    Maybe the thought is that only 3 of Chipper, Prado, Quentin, and Heyward are likely to be off the DL at the same time anyway…

    If Chipper was to retire, Quentin would make sense, too. And in the meantime you’d have a caddy for Heyward against lefties, and a DH if we get to the series.

    Still would be two holes in the lineup everyday, CF and SS, and we’d be that much lighter in prospects in trying to fill those holes via trade.

  45. Frenchy, has an OPS+ of 113.

    Don’t care if Francoeur is hitting like Barry Bonds, circa 2004; keep him away.

  46. I figured Reyes would get offers of $100m+ this offseason, but $150M+? Good luck

    per mlbtr…
    •The Mets will make Reyes an offer, but one GM believes it will cost more than the $142MM Carl Crawford obtained to sign the shortstop when he hits free agency after the season.

  47. @9

    Maybe something like tennis’s ShotSpot where you get X number of incorrect challenges on ball/strike calls per game? Make it really low at first, because that could get insufferable pretty quick, although if the system is already tracking every pitch, then it wouldn’t really add any time to the game.

    Guess that’s already been mentioned though, nice job outta me for reading only part of the thread.

    And if the umpire gets successfully challenged 5 or more times in a game, he gets slimed Double Dare-style.

  48. Jose Reyes career line – .291/.340/.441, this season .354/.398/.529. Isnt it amazing what players do in there contract seasons? I believe he injured his hamstring again a couple of days ago.

  49. #60 – There’s no way baseball would do that. Probably 15% of pitches are called incorrectly. Not saying its a bad idea, but they would be better off without umps and just using the k zone. Players and managers would be challenging almost every pitch. There’s a huge difference in a 3-1 count and a 2-2 count.

  50. @62

    I’d say no. Infinite number of correct challenges. Eventually umpires would get tired of getting shown up and call more consistent strike zones, at least in theory, lessening the need for challenges over time.

    Although it would be a little tough to implement. How many times do you see pitchers stare in after a ball call, hitters asking where the pitch was, etc.? Would players get to challenge or would it come from the manager, who doesn’t really have an optimal view of the plate? In tennis, you don’t have to worry about sharing challenges with teammates, either.

    If it were up to me, I’d set it up in Spring Training one year (or the AFL maybe) and try out different numbers of incorrect challenges to find something that fits baseball (I think tennis does 3 per set). Keeping the number low would add another strategic decision for (presumably) managers to make since the utility of challenging a questionable first-pitch strike wouldn’t outweigh the risk of losing a challenge.

    Either way, I don’t really think it would hurt anything to try it, although maybe the umpires would walk if it were implemented. So, like I said, there are only positives.

  51. I’m not really sure where the lefty masher would fit on this roster, given that Wilkin’s spot will shortly be taken by Prado. And frankly, once Prado’s back, the lineup is okay. What would be really useful is if Conrad could hit lefties. Sadly, just like our starters, our bench can only hit RHPs. It’s gonna suck if we have to play the Phillies in the playoffs. (OTOH, that means we’re in the NLDS, so I guess it doesn’t suck THAT much!)

  52. @64 – But it works really well in tennis, which is just as prone to arguments. You’ve just got to limit the number of challenges. Plus, if the umpires’ union gets to choose between 6 challenges a game and stripping the home plate ump of his responsibilities, I’m guessing they’d pick the challenge system.

  53. How’s Schaefer going to react to being on the bench when Prado returns? McLouth is outplaying him right now. Wish Jordan was tearing it up, but he’s pressing (or being a stubborn ass) and stopped spraying the ball – which is the only way he’s going to stay in the majors.

    Jordan Schafer has amassed some 800 at bats in the majors and minors wherein he posts something akin to a 650 OPS. Outside of that one year in AA, this is sort of what Jordan Schafer is.

  54. Despite the success we’ve seen with him at the top of the lineup, I’d love to see Jordan Schafer’s status amended to: defensive replacement/pinch-runner.

  55. I think Schafer will go back down to AAA so he can get to play everyday. Then, in August, he’ll come back up as a 4th outfielder.

  56. Uggla cannot hit left handers either so playing Prado at second with 3 left handed hitting OFs would not help.

  57. There’s no way the Braves will accept McLouth’s contract number next year, so we’re back to finding a center-fielder again.

    Wonder if Mike Cameron would mind taking a bunch of HGH?

    With Prado moving to 3B sometime in the next few years and Heyward looking like he might be somewhat brittle, the hunt for quality outfielders continues apace.

    We may have to bite the bullet with Schafer and just hammer him into becoming a productive leadoff man. Might be wishful thinking on my part, but I think it can be done. He certainly has most of the tools to become that guy. Maybe tie his contract to OBP?

  58. Wonder what Denard Span would cost and if he’s even healthy? He’s LH but can handle CF and LHP. Career .796OPS vs LH

  59. 67 — The good news is we couldn’t see the Phillies until the NLCS because we’re in the same division.

  60. I vote to keep him on the roster as a backup. I don’t think there’s an organizational imperative to have him play every day anymore, as I think this may be it for him as a Brave.

  61. Francoeur (fortunately) wouldn’t fit in a platoon role here because Prado (who is a RHH anyway) and Heyward don’t need to be platooned and Francoeur can’t really play CF.

  62. 77 — I agree. He hasn’t hit at all well since 2008, so the value that he has now is almost certainly what he is.

    With Kawakami and possibly AAG coming off the books after this season the Braves may be able to afford getting a CF from outside the organization.

  63. I think with KK, McLouth, probably Lowe, and AAG all coming off the books that we should have enough to go get a decent CF and SS. Knowing the Braves they’ll try to resign AAG for one year to bridge the gap to Pastornicky.

  64. how much does attendance need to go up so that absentee owners would spend the money?

  65. I forgot about McLouth, he of course comes off the books too. Braves might decide Pastornicky is ready if he has a good 2nd half too.

  66. IMO, Pastornicky needs to be promoted (and obviously perform at AAA) during the next week or so if he’s going to be considered as a potential starter at the ML level next year.

  67. He played the 2nd half of last year at AA after the Escobar trade so that may be in the plans.

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