Braves 6, Mets 5

Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets – Box Score – August 07, 2011 – ESPN.

A frustrating sort of win. The Braves blew a 5-2 lead (again) and went 1-12 with runners in scoring position, leaving fourteen men on base. They won largely because of unlikely home runs.

The Braves took the lead in the second on a solo blast by Jason Heyward, but couldn’t hold it. Mike Minor otherwise pitched quite well, but couldn’t handle the opposing pitcher, allowing a two-out single to Dillon Gee to tie it in the bottom of the inning. Willie Harris then hit a popup to center that it looked like Michael Bourn should have handled — the Braves had problems on fly balls all game — but Dan Uggla was in the way and it dropped for a go-ahead single.

In the fourth Jose Constanza reached on an infield single, went to second on a groundout, then to third on a wild pitch. Minor walked, allowing Bourn to come to the plate with one out and drive in the tying run with a groundout. In the fifth, Heyward walked with one out and Alex Gonzalez hit a no-doubter off the front of the second deck to make it 4-2. While Chip was still yammering about that Constanza’s first career major league homer was missed by the cameras, but still counted to make it 5-2.

Minor walked the leadoff man in the sixth, then got the next two to fly out. The next fly landed in front on Constanza, who botched it allowing both runners to advance an extra base. Fredi brought in Eric O’Flaherty, about which, okay, but he also double-switched, bringing in Chipper Jones to play third, shifting Martin Prado to left, Constanza to right, and Heyward out of the game. I don’t think weakening your defense at multiple positions with a three-run lead is in the Book. Daniel Murphy reached on an infield single that wouldn’t have scored a run without the error, but I guess it didn’t matter because Harris singled cleanly to make it 5-4 before O’Flaherty finished the inning.

With two out in the seventh, O’Flaherty walked Jason Bay, who stole second (huh?) and scored on a “double” to left that was actually a flare that Prado misplayed; Constanza, despite his earlier error, probably would have caught the ball. Tie game, no luck there Mr. Minor.

The Braves had a couple of runners on in the eighth but Brooks Conrad struck out pinch-hitting. Jonny Venters got the first two, walked the next two, then got a popout. Finally, in the ninth, AAG singled leading off and went to second on a bunt by Constanza. Eric Hinske walked, and Chipper singled to make it 6-5. Of course, they didn’t get any insurance.

Craig Kimbrel wasn’t all that sharp, allowing a leadoff single to Bay but getting a GIDP (nice play by Dan Uggla) to erase the runner, then a walk before a groundout to end it… Uggla extended his streak, Freddie Freeman did not.

72 thoughts on “Braves 6, Mets 5”

  1. I think that double-switch communicated what is really wrong with the Braves right now: Chipper’s unreliability is putting Prado in a difficult spot. In order to get Chipper in the game and the pitcher’s spot out of the next inning, it forces Prado to go from third to left mid-game. I think that makes things very challenging for Prado, and really throws the whole alignment out of whack. I think we saw it with that ball Prado misplayed.

    This was a frustrating win, indeed, but it’s a game that only a really good team can win. O’Ventbrel were off, but they were still able to get the job done. We didn’t get the timely hits, but got enough hits to win.

    I’ll take them however we can get them at this point.

  2. Help me out, baseball people. If someone has the reaction time and hit ball recognition to play second, and he has the arm strength to play third, why can he not play short? It seems like this team might be better served with Prado at short when Chipper can play third.

  3. Range? That’s the only thing I can think of. If Prado played short, who would play third when Chipper is unavailable?

    I do, however, like an outfield of Constanza/Bourn/Heyward for the time being. If Constanza struggles, you could put Hinske out there.

  4. @2 – Lateral range and arm strength. Playing SS requires more movement left and right, plus a stronger throwing arm than a 3B-man normally requires. (The thrown from the hole at SS is harder than the throw across the diamond from 3B.)

    Prado has twitch reflexes so he’s good for 3B. He has moderate range so he can fake it at 2B. He lacks the lateral range and probably the throw from the hole to play a sufficient SS.

  5. This is great (from DOB Twitter):

    Chipper’s mentality in ninth inn. AB in NY “I hope that somewhere in the stands somebody was saying to themselves oh no. Not him. Not now. “

  6. Because relievers so rarely pitch more than one inning anymore anyway, one of the main reasons for double switching has become obsolete, without many people noticing.

    It still has its place, but early in the game, you’re often as well off or better to simply pinch hit for a guy who’s not going back out there anyway, and leave all your starters in the game.

  7. Prado is such a good athlete that he could probably play SS. Just not well. The plays at each are different enough to preclude just any infielder playing all the positions.

  8. Based on what I saw early, and what I’ve read now, it seems like the defense was particularly awful today. Minor looked better than his line.

  9. I don’t doubt Prado could man the SS position in a pinch, but I suspect that over the course of time he’d make Derek Jeter look positively good defensively, by comparison. If he could play SS, he’d be playing SS.

  10. Minor pitched fine. Those last two runs allowed were on an infield single and a bloop just over 2B. (Both given up, incidentally, by EOF.) He’ll be okay while JJ is on the DL and later when we decide to replace Lowe with him.

  11. The weather has been very rough in Miami and apparently Hurricane Emily is getting closer. Expect lengthy rain delays this next series.

  12. Emily’s not even a tropical depression anymore (it was never a hurricane), and its remnants are pulling away toward Bermuda. We’re no more likely to be rained out than for any other series in Miami in August.

  13. The double-switch irritated me. As Mac said, it weakened the defense at 3B and LF (and potentially RF, had any throws been necessary), and it was employed to replace one LHP with another for the purpose of getting a single extra out from O’Flaherty. Minor didn’t look gassed to me — I think he should have been allowed to pitch to Murphy.

  14. Does anybody know the minor league scouting report on Constanza’s defense? I know he’s fast, but he hasn’t shown (in my deeply unprofessional view) great instincts in the field. I’m willing to bet the best defensive outfield is still Prado-Bourn-Heyward.

  15. @13, My apartment complex said otherwise. Then again this is the same complex that gave away our parking space after a month of living here and takes two weeks to respond to every email.

    Either way, it’s been storming like crazy and I’m about 30 minutes away from Sun Life. Looks like more of the same for the next few days.

  16. A great Sunday. The Braves beat the Mets in a close one on TBS, and Spartacus was on TCM.

  17. adam m, not a good day to say prado is good in left, since his misplay is what caused the game to be tied late. not to mention his bat has been sorely lacking

  18. Camera work wasn’t great today.

    The TV folks also missed Chipper’s fist pump at the end of the game.

  19. Chipper said on Friday that they were easing him back in (strained muscles prone to cramping etc.)

    Plan was a hard workout Fri but no game; Game Sat; Day off Sun.

    Regarding the double switch, Heyward did get HBP right above his right ankle. Maybe it swelled up, and braintrust planned to get him out at earliest convenience. Heyward isn’t famous for his toughness.

  20. Bay is actually 10 for 11 in SB attempts this year. But this game was pretty frustrating even to listen to.

  21. You have a lineup that relies heavily on a notably fragile young guy (Heyward) and a gimpy old guy (Chipper) with Prado bouncing from the IF to the OF to make the lineup work any given day.

    It sure is lucky they found Georgie Constanza just hanging around Gwinnett, all bored and lonely and looking for someone to dance with, huh?

  22. Prado is hitting like a good utility infielder forced into an everyday role; a corner outfield one at that.

    DANNY should keep starting the game threads until the Braves lose again…

  23. Greetings from Atlantic City, NJ…

    So nice to listen to the Mets radio broadcast on the ride down to AC, especially after Chipper’s GWRBI. He was referred to as, “Chipper Jones, career Mets killer” with a tone that was familiar & defeated.

    Sorry, Mets, “everything dies, baby, that’s a fact…”

  24. @2

    It’s a combination of lateral range and the ability to make a throw on the move from relatively any arm slot. Prado’s a solid defensive player, but he doesn’t have the raw ability of a Jose Reyes or the instincts of an AAG to pull off SS.

  25. Just thinking how much these guys make me miss Lonnie Smith in the outfield.
    Now that was an adventure!

  26. I checked to see how the reaction on Georgie’s slide was… I was quite surprised that many of them blame the defensive positioning of Murphy at the time of the slide…hm.

  27. David Wright looks lost at the plate. I know he is a Met, but its tough to watch.

    We complain about Derrick Lowe but at least we only have to watch him every 5th day. Imagine if you had to watch Jason Bay every day. EGADS.

  28. Mets lost Murphy for the season last night, Reyes may be heading back to the DL again too.

    He’s costing himself a lot of $$.

  29. Some sucker will give Reyes a five or six year deal this offseason. Hopefully it is the Mets.

  30. I watched the game on TBS. I think David Wells has taken one (or many) too many drinks or something. Smoltz can speak intelligently; Wells just sort of talks gibberish. I can’t imagine having him and Chip Carey in the booth together. The English language would never survive.

    The Braves better start playing better than this. And what is it with sacrifice flies? It looks like every time they have a runner on third and less than two outs, they try to hit a home run.

  31. Id be very reluctant to offer Reyes 6/$120. Reyes healthy is a $20mil player, if he’s less than 100% its more like $12-15m. I dont think he can stay healthy.

  32. #45 I concur. Wells sounds like he is on crack. Smoltzie is pretty good at color analysis IMHO.

  33. @47,

    I like hearing guys like Smoltz or Don Sutton talk about pitching. I want to know what is like to play. Color analysts are generally best when they stick to how to play the game and avoid issues of meta-strategy.

  34. Does Smoltz still tell awful, corny jokes during the broadcast? I get enough of those from my dad every time I go home – don’t need it during baseball games too.

  35. As was the case when playing, what we can say definitively about John Smoltz’ announcing is that Tom Glavine is better at it.

  36. I get tired of the cutesy “intentionally corny jokes” real fast. And the last time I heard Smoltz he was still too close to the players. It’s little things, like when he interviewed Chipper after a game saying “Chip, this is Smoltzie…”

    I’m a bit weird though. I find the new Sunday Night Baseball crew to be fantastic. I think Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine are incredibly good together.

  37. I like Smoltz and Glavine both as announcers, although I thought Glavine was pretty terrible last year. He was a little too quiet and reserved and didn’t seem to add much of anything to the broadcasts, but he’s gotten a lot better this year.

    I don’t mind Hershiser that much, but Bobby V. just really gets on my nerves and I don’t exactly know why.

  38. Agree about the Sunday Night crew. I sure didn’t think I was going to like Valentine, but the balance between him and Hershiser and the professionalism of Shulman makes for a very enjoyable experience.

    Sure beats having to listen to Joe Morgan bloviate.

    Smoltz would probably have to smack my kid for me to dislike him at anything.

  39. I agree that the jokes are lame, but last season in the playoffs I thought the EJ-Smoltz-Darling crew was the best TBS had by far. Yes, the bar was low–I seem to recall Chip Caray being on one of the other crews–but I really liked how Smoltz incorporated some of the dorkier/newer stats (he discussed a player’s HR-flyball rate at one point) into his analysis and seemed prepared to talk about players he may not have known as a Braves’ guy. He does research, which is more than you can say for certain other announcers around here. On a different note, I just think he speaks clearly and articulately, and has a decent voice. I often find Glavine to be a less-than dynamic mumbler… though I still prefer him to Chip and Joe by a longshot.

    re: the Sunday night crew. I generally agree. I think they’re a huge step up from recent years, and probably one of the better national crews working right now. In particular, I think Hershiser has been great. (I am still undecided on Valentine, though)

  40. To be clear, my appreciation of Valentine in the booth is a shock to my senses. Outside of the look on his face when Andruw took ball four in Game 6 of the ’99 NLCS, I didn’t think Bobby Valentine could ever entertain me. But his shtick is sort of well suited to commentary, he’s balanced by the more level-headed Hershiser* and the uber-pro Shulman, and he consistently makes outstanding observations about the game. And being Bobby Valentine, he’s not afraid to make outstanding observations that others might shy away from.

    Last Sunday, his comments on Jason Heyward’s swing (he was basically incredulous that a player of that skill level was still using a “minor league swing” in the majors) were fascinating to say the least. And last night he took aim at the absurd pace-of-game for the vaunted Yankees-Red Sox tilts.

    Of course, it could be that I’m predisposed to appreciate assholes more than most.

    *Oddly enough, Orel Hershiser was probably the first player I just literally detested, along with Brett Butler, when they were in LA.

  41. I like Hershiser and Valentine. Valentine makes some pretty ballsy observations. Right after a couple of really nice defensive plays by Jordan Schaefer, he said unequivocally that Schaefer was going to be an MLB regular. So maybe accuracy isn’t his thing but he does have conviction.

    When Hershiser starts talking about pitch selection and tactics its fascinating.

  42. Schafer was the starting CF in Atlanta, and now he’s the starting CF in Houston when he comes off the DL. He may be terrible with the bat, but he’s defensively gifted and by every account so far, he will be a major league regular – starting in CF defensively for some team – for at least a few years to come.

  43. I never liked Miller and Morgan so any change is for the better. I think Shulman is excellent and the team seems to function better together than Miller and Morgan. I enjoy Hershiser’s discussions of pitching. As for Smoltz, I’m not claiming he is great but he was lot better than David Wells, who, as someone else said, sounded as if he was on crack.

    It always has struck as strange that these color analysts are hired because they played but so many seem reluctant to really talk about what it’s like out there, other than to be cutesy-funny. How does it feel to try to hit off a tough pitcher or face a Chipper Jones late in the game? I think this kind of stuff can really humanize the game.

  44. Smoltz and Glavine have found their respective levels in broadcasting. Smoltz the striving jokester requires a big stage. Glavine the wry needler prefers the company of friends. I’m still not convinced this isn’t a lark for Glavine — I’ve been surprised that he’s upped his presence this year.

  45. #60 – remains to be seen. Typically a team can only carry 2 defensive specialists. I don’t know the Houston team at all so I don’t know what offensive contribution that SS,2b or catcher make on that team. Typically at least one of the up the middle infielders has to make a net contribution for a team to carry a weak defense first CF.

  46. Saw Bobby V on ESPN this morning. He was talking about how Carl Crawford was a “two-tool” player- lacking power, defense, and arm. Making one incorrect observation isn’t the end of the world, and maybe Crawford’s having some trouble adjusting to the Monster- but that is the first time I have ever heard anyone say Crawford’s defense is anything but outstanding. His defensive stats, for what they are worth, do not support Valentine’s contention.

  47. Of all positions, I trust the defensive metrics of left fielders the least. Not to say Crawford isn’t a good fielder, but the dearth of truly good fielders at the position seems to have queered the results. It’s a bit like asking where on the ocean is the best place to build a house.

  48. Crawford lost half of his value as soon as he signed with Boston. His defense has always been above average and he doesnt get to display it with that short field in left. His bat cant carry that contract.

  49. My impression of Valentine is that he wants to be recognized as some sort of truth-teller, and will occasionally say stuff just to burnish that image.

  50. Typically at least one of the up the middle infielders has to make a net contribution for a team to carry a weak defense first CF.

    A defense first CF is an up the middle defender as well.

  51. @68,

    Good point. I was reading an article about why there is so much bullshit in American society–based on an academic book by that name. One point they made was that people today think that extreme or absolutist statements statements show courage or honesty even if the statement is complete nonsense. I think Valentine falls into that category with some of his comments.

  52. Anyone ever read David Foster Wallace’s review of Tracy Austin’s autobiography (it’s contained in Consider the Lobster)? His theory is that the thing that allows athletes to be great in high pressure situations (essentially the ability to become completely empty-headed during the big moments and actually believe and respond to the kind of cliches that make up the majority of post game/match interviews) makes them terrible at writing about and describing their sports. Seems overly general (John McEnroe is a pretty enjoyable tennis commentator, and Herscheiser seems to have actual deep thoughts from time to time) but I think it works in a lot of situations.

  53. Wait, there’s a book titled “Bullshit in American Society”? How do I not know about this already?

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