Braves 3, Cubs 0

Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago Cubs – Box Score – August 22, 2011 – ESPN.

I bet Cubs fans would really be kicking themselves if, you know, they weren’t all already dead inside. At our worst, the Braves would be hard-pressed to strand that many baserunners without getting at least one run.

It all started in the first, when Jair Jurrjens loaded the bases with one out on a walk, a single, and a walk. Considering his recent struggles, you just had to think “Here we go again,” but the Cubs hit into a double play. Jurrjens went on to pitch what I have to say, with all due respect and no exaggeration, the worst 6 1/3 innings of shutout baseball I can ever remember seeing. Eight hits, including a double, and five walks, with only one strikeout. The Cubs left fifteen men on base. They actually got two hits (in fourteen AB) with runners in scoring position but are so slow they still couldn’t score. You can’t do that on demand, it’s really something special.

Not that the Braves were any great shakes with runners on. Two of their three runs came via solo homers, by Freddie Freeman in the second and Dan Uggla in the sixth. Jose Constanza (who later left the game after turning his ankle) scored the other on a Martin Prado groundout in the sixth. It’s almost like Prado didn’t need to bunt yesterday, but that would be silly.

Jurrjens finally left the game after the weakest hit he gave up all night, a bizarre play where Carlos Pena bunted a pop fly against the stupid shift. It went about 80 feet in the air, bounced past third base, and then rolled into foul territory — good thing, too, or it might have been a double. Arodys Vizcaino came in and got the last two outs. Eric O’Flaherty pitched the eighth, giving up a hit but ending it with a strikeout. Jonny Venters closed, in order to get Craig Kimbrel a day off. He walked the first two to bring the tying run to the plate, then in typical Venters fashion got out of it with two strikeouts and a ground ball that Alex Gonzalez made a nice play on to end the game.

77 thoughts on “Braves 3, Cubs 0”

  1. So we’re back to having the second best winning % in the NL, thanks to the Brewers splitting their doubleheader.

    St. Louis loses so now they’re 9.5 back. They’re starting to look pretty stinky.

  2. Wow, this Casey Coleman guy we’re facing tomorrow has some profoundly bad numbers on the year. Not a single good appearance. We better paste him good.

  3. 3- Now you’ve gone and jinxed us.

    Speaking of stinky, the Astros were just mathematically eliminated tonight. Reminds me of when the Braves were gone by about this time.

  4. @3 that means he will pitch 7 2/3 of shutout ball, like most rag armed scrubs do against us…

  5. 10- It’ll be a while before they’re completely eliminated from the playoffs, since they’re “only” 19 behind us for the wild card. Houston was eliminated from both division and wild card tonight.

  6. @8

    Yep — 2003, to be exact.

    Our bullpen is either the best ever, or the best Braves bullpen since 2002, I can’t decide which.

  7. I really cant believe how poor Uggla’s UZR numbers are at 2B this year. Ive watched 90% of the games and seem to be pleased with what Ive seen from Uggla in the field.

    UZR hates him. Like -11.3 hates him. Its the worst number he’s ever posted.

  8. #4 and 6: Naw, I have a great feeling about tomorrow. We’re gonna torch that guy. Fredi’s gonna give a rousing “Let’s win one for Georgie” speech in the clubhouse before the game, get all the guys amped up. And Hinske, taking Georgie’s place in the lineup, will clobber three home runs.

    Just wait and see! :p

  9. I definitely don’t mind the current streak of 26 consecutive shutout innings. This pitching staff is pretty darn good right now. The bullpen itself has few weak spots. If the offense holds up, look out. The Phils are not uncatchable and crazier things have happened–just ask the Mets.

  10. 12,

    As good as 2002’s bullpen was, I would argue that last year’s bullpen was even better.

    Has anybody mentioned that Kimbrel has hit the 30 consecutive shutout innings mark? Isn’t the record 59, or something? If I were inclined to put money on the record being broken (which I’m certainly not, because it ain’t happening), I would make a high-K reliever my first choice. Geez, if only Kimbrel were one of those…

  11. Has anybody mentioned that Kimbrel has hit the 30 consecutive shutout innings mark? Isn’t the record 59, or something?

    Hey, a new streak to watch! I gotta say, if you’re not having fun this year, you ain’t paying attention.

  12. @16

    Definitely a high K reliever. Kimbrel and his piddlin’ 14.something K/9 ought to be ashamed.

  13. I didn’t realize that Kimbrel was at 73 IP so far. That’s a TON too many. I say he only pitches 2 nights a week the rest of the way. Let EOF get some more work in.

  14. @13
    I’m done with defensive stats. He’s played really good defense for us this year and turns a double play quicker than most. And first and foremost, there are great analyzers of baseball (especially Braves’ baseball) on this site and I’m not sure I’ve heard Uggla’s “poor” defense brought up once this year. As much as we like to complain, someone would have had a rant or 2 if his defense was that bad.

  15. I think where defensive stats are helpful is in correcting for the mind’s eye’s difficulty in imagining someone else getting to a ball that you just watched go for a clean hit. Uggla does what he can, but he is physically slower than the other regular NL 2Bs, and that’s bound to show up in range-based stats. As long as he doesn’t make many errors, I’m okay with that.

  16. 22,

    Uggla, it would seem. Before that… Andruw, off the top of my head? LaRoche?

    Uggla and defense,

    I’m sure having Alex to his right and Freddie to his left has mitigated a lot of ‘what’s been lost’ from his defense. I think the Braves will live. We got him to hit for power; and boy, is he ever doing that.

  17. @13 and 22,

    I agree. There aren’t really any good defensive stats. It actually is probably one of those things that you have to watch a lot of a guy to tell if he is a solid defender.

  18. Thanks. I knew Andruw in 2005, but wasn’t sure about in between. Forgot about Rochy’s numbers.

  19. I don’t know or care enough about the defensive metrics–statistical methodology bores me–to evaluate whether Uggla is good or not at second. But, at the very least, he hasn’t been bad enough to keep the team from winning and he isn’t likely to make three errors in a play off game. (I’ve probably jinxed him now.) It’s like Chipper, who was such a bad defensive third baseman that the Braves only won 14 division titles. Or, to take another example, Derek Jeter. You have to be sort of Bad News Bears bad defensively to outweigh the kind of offense these guys provide.

  20. Isn’t range for an infielder a little… inconsequential? If you have to take more than a few steps to either side on most plays, the guy is going to be safe regardless. Range would be an important factor on scolded balls and line drives, but not a whole lot else, in my mind. Doesn’t Freeman also have a very poor range rating?

  21. Range for an infielder is pretty important. Renteria hit well for us but was mostly a statue at SS. Glaus was a complete statue last year. If the player can get to the ball then there is a chance of throwing them out at first. Obviously, if they can’t…then there isn’t.

  22. Range is not “inconsequential.” The difference between Rey Sanchez and Derek Jeter at SS is notable. And Uggla isn’t particularly rangy at 2B. You can hide that a little with AGon covering a lot of ground up the middle, and thus with positioning on the 2B side. And the WAR calcs for defensive runs are about as reliable as me after my sixth gin and tonic.

  23. Range is particularly consequential when it comes to cutting off balls that would normally reach the outfield and thus be more likely to allow a runner to advance an extra base or score.

  24. Who determines the “range”? Seems like Uggla makes a good bit of plays in short right. I dont recall many plays thinking “man, Uggla shouldve been able to get to that ball.” Freeman is a different story. He’s pretty slow on balls hit to his right.

  25. So, according to Fangraphs, we have one regular playing above average defense, but if we were to take a poll of the most knowledgeable Braves’ fans that I’m aware of (this site) on their satisfaction,dissatisfaction of the defense, I bet most of us would be more than satisfied with the defense this year.

  26. In case you didn’t catch it, Schafer, fresh off the DL, went 0-4 from the Astros’ leadoff spot last night. Adding salt to the wound, Schafer was pinch hit for in the 9th by Matt Downs who deposited one in the bleachers for a 3 run homer. Welcome to Houston, Jordan. NOT!

  27. AGON is simply a great defensive shortstop but he has some of the ugliest at-bats I’ve ever seen. I mean, 13-year-old power-hitting coach’s son ugly at-bats.

    It’s gotten to where I’m yelling for Fredi to make him bunt if he’s up there with men on base and less than two outs.

    There’s just no place in the lineup to hide him.

  28. 37: The irony here is that (as I believe I mentioned previously) that we’ve won two 1-0 games this year in which the only run scored was from an A-Gon solo homer.

  29. I don’t worry about what Alex Gonzalez can’t do anymore. At this point, I celebrate what he can do, like starting that sweet DP to end the 1st inning last night & closing out the game with that acrobatic play.

    And after dozens of PAs where he seems to be down 0-2 before he even steps in the batter’s box, he can pop a HR once in a while. That helped win a ballgame on Sunday.

    He’s our shortstop, brutal ABs & all. Hopefully, he’ll keep making the big plays that’ll take us deep into October.

  30. He’s our shortstop, brutal ABs & all. Hopefully, he’ll keep making the big plays that’ll take us deep into October.

    Exactly. He’s Raffy Belliard with more pop. You live with that.

  31. @44 : Suspect defence, non power bat. For all we want him to be because of the Yunel trade, he is just a white version of Diory Hernandez.
    And no way are the Braves going to let him be the primary shortstop with atleast 3 GB heavy starting pitchers. And you know what, I am fine with that. With our lineup, we can afford to carry an albatross as long as there is secondary value.

  32. I don’t worry about what Alex Gonzalez can’t do anymore. At this point, I celebrate what he can do…

    A friend of mine remarked the other night that A-Gon has a strong resemblance to Corey Feldman. It didn’t occur to me before then, but now I can’t shake it. A-Gon looks like Corey Feldman.

    And in a very odd way, I think that’s something worth celebrating.

  33. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate what Gonzalez contributes. But it’s in the playoffs where those unproductive, nay, destructive at-bats really show up. And really hurt.

    And it’s just so unnecessary. How can he have played this long and still have such a clueless approach at the plate? (I know, it’s because he’s stellar defensively, but still …)

    I’d love to see his spray chart. I doubt he’s hit more than ten balls to the right side.

  34. So this list of 10 reasons to keep paying attention to the regular season:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/15278/10-reasons-to-keep-on-watching

    One of ’em is watching Jose Valverde, the Tigers closer? All fine and good. But I don’t think I’m being too much of a homer to suggest that O’Ventbrel is one of the most exciting and unusual phenomenons at least since the Nasty Boys in the early ’90s. Throw in that Venters and Kimbrel are still in diapers, and both have scoreless innings streaks going, and Kimbrel is in the running for Rookie of the Year and…

    Wait, who is this guy for the Tigers again? Didn’t he used to pitch for Arizona?

  35. AGon’s toxic with the bat in his hand, but I hope he’s our SS next year. I just wish he’d always hit 8th.

  36. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate what Gonzalez contributes. But it’s in the playoffs where those unproductive, nay, destructive at-bats really show up. And really hurt.

    Or where he gets into one in the late innings of a close game and becomes a folk hero, like Mark Lemke tripling his ass off or Rick Ankiel putting one into the Bay in SF.

    Playoff at bats are utterly unpredictable.

  37. Id like to keep AAG around, Id also like to get an Omar Infante type back to back him up. Lugo shouldve been gone long ago.

  38. Omar Infante type backups don’t grow on trees. The options for Atlanta in 2011, having used Omar Infante to acquire Dan Uggla, were Diory Hernandez and Julio Lugo. Can anyone really say they made the wrong decision with Lugo?

  39. Pastornicky has hit .315 in AA/AAA as a 21-year-old this year. I’m gonna go ahead and not give up on him quite yet. The errors might be a concern, or they might be a matter of minor league infield conditions and throwing to someone who’s not Freddie Freeman.

  40. I dont see how his cost could be that high. You could probably get him on a 1yr deal with a club option. We will have some cash to spend and it appears the rotation and starting positions are all taken care of. Might as well upgrade the bench as much as possible.

  41. @54 – I’d see what the price was, certainly. He’s probably better than Lugo, and with Chipper, Prado and AGon, they could use a super-sub who can hit a little. Assuming Omar remembers how to hit a little.

  42. I bet Omar would love to come back to Atlanta. He did have a miserable start to his season but was really picking it up before he got shelved (anybody know the nature of his injury?) Any chance he’d be waived by the Marlins?

    Just saw where he’s back with the Marlins the last two games.

  43. @61, I’m amazed this doesn’t happen all the time. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen it happen in 20 years of watching baseball.

  44. @56 – Pastornicky came to the Braves with a good defensive reputation (See: http://atlanta.sbnation.com/atlanta-braves/2011/1/3/1910813/atlanta-braves-top-30-prospects-no-16-tyler-pastornicky). That said, I have no idea if his defense projects well at the MLB level. Hitting-wise, at various levels (but not at the same time) Pastornicky has shown the ability to hit for average, take walks and avoid strikeouts, while stealing a lot of bases (with a good success rate). Given his size (listed at 5’11” 170) he’s not likely to ever develop much power, but it’s certainly possible that he could develop into a .280/.340/.360/.700 kind of hitter. If he could pair that with good defense, it would be an upgrade over AAG, with the obvious benefit of Pastornicky being young and cost-controlled.

  45. I would think there’s a greater than 50% chance that Agon plays for the Braves next year. Only question is whether he wants a multi-year deal and if the Braves want to give him one (hopefully not). Either way, I think you see Pastornicky up at some point in 2012. If not Agon, they’ll sign another low-hit, mostly-glove veteran to play with Pastornicky. SS just does not seem to be an area the Braves think they need much production from at the plate and they invest accordingly.

  46. 70 – All of my friends from home (VA) are commenting about it on facebook. Hopefully it hasn’t caused too many problems.

  47. In 2007 I was assigned to a client in Nottingham, UK for three months. The Sunday night that I arrived, went up to the top of the tallest building in the city, there was a 6-something quake in the area. First quake in forever for northern UK. Very weird.

  48. #74
    Yeah, exactly.

    Curiously, I had just sent an email to one of my writers, who happens to live in Denver, & I asked him about that earthquake (among several other work-related things).

    Then, 10 minutes later… rumble, rumble right here.

  49. I wish Fredi would give AGon the same treatment my JV coach would give the “offensively challenged” players. If it was an important situation, he’d give them the take sign until they had two strikes. I get tired of seeing AGon swing at sliders in the dirt and fastballs a foot outside.

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