Braves 3, Nats 1

Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – August 31, 2011 – ESPN.

Well, the Derek Lowe of late 2010 put in an appearance; if he continues to show up, things look a lot better for postseason. Lowe started the game with a rough patch. He allowed a hit to the first man, then picked him off. He then walked the next guy, and Ryan Zimmerman hit a long fly ball to left-center which Michael Bourn somehow caught. And from then on, Lowe allowed just one hit and one walk until the seventh.

Meanwhile, John Lannan retired the first four Braves, and I’m thinking “just another Lannan start against the Braves” when Chipper Jones hit a solo homer to center, his 450th career hom run, to make it 1-0. It went to 2-0 in the third when Lowe hit his first career homer on a line drive that just made it over the left field wall, and 3-0 when Dan Uggla beat out an infield single (again) to score Martin Prado.

The Nats finally did something in the seventh, when Michael Morse chased Lowe with a solo homer to lead off the inning. O’Ventbrel time. Eric O’Flaherty, Jonny Venters, and Craig Kimbrel each made the Nats go three up, three down.

119 thoughts on “Braves 3, Nats 1”

  1. Nice recap. You should get more recognition for this blog among Braves nation than you do, Mac.

    (But, on the other hand, the comments section would probably be more like the AJC blog, so maybe not…)

  2. Observations:

    • Morse is good.

    • Let’s also remember that as good as Lowe was in September/October 2010, he was that good in his first four starts in April 2011. Then in May, he alternated good starts with bad. Then starting in June, he’s been pretty consistently stinky. Let’s hope he truly is on the cusp of solid, if not dominating, starts. We could really use that kind of a streak from him; we couldn’t have done without it last year.

    • I wish Kimbrel hadn’t pitched yesterday. I thought it was dumb. Venters and O’Flaherty also hadn’t pitched in 5 days, now 6, and they showed no ill effects tonight, getting 6 out of 6 hitters out. We’re not blowing out opponents, and the odds we’ll need to use Kimbrel tomorrow and the day after that is very high. So in that case he’d be going from well rested to overused in just four days of game play. All to “get him work” in a 9-2 loss. Overrated.

    I am sooo glad we won tonight. It was nice to put Lannan somewhat in his place, although he pitched well for the most part.

  3. Don’t have a clear idea from the discussion, but is Jack Wilson bringing his “severely bruised right heel” over with him from Seattle? He’s been on the DL.

  4. As a late-inning defensive replacement for Uggla and occasional starter at shortstop, he’ll do. He’s a legitimately outstanding defensive player, or at least he has been. Of course, he can’t hit at all, but if he was good at everything I guess he wouldn’t have been available. I’m good with it.

  5. Wilson has an excellent defensive reputation. Hopefully that holds true, he can’t be worse than Lugo.

    I first typed Lug instead of Lugo. That should be his nickname.

    8 — The beat writers say he should be ready in 2-3 days.

  6. If Fredi was smart, he could now pinch hit for Gonzalez with someone like Hinske, Conrad, or Diaz in big situations and then play Wilson in the field. If Fredi was smart, he could do that.

  7. 12- No matter how hard lovers of baseball try.

    I’m a little apprehensive about the Wilson deal. The last time we dealt with the Mariners, we got a bad case of Greg Norton. But then I remember AAG as the alternative…

  8. 12: Are you referring to the pinch running he did in the bottom of the ninth against the Giants, or his sole game of awesome in that 19-inning affair with the Pirates, where he went 3 for 8 with a walk and scored on the Scott Proctor fielder’s choice?

    I’m assuming the latter.

    Hey, Lugo really really has sucked for us, but at least he had that game!

  9. Wilson is probably a better hitter than Lugo is at this stage, and if his foot is healthy is about the best defensive shortstop there is. If you don’t give up much, it’s a good deal.

  10. 13 – My thoughts exactly. If it happens, I will be shocked and rejoice. Wilson is an upgrade over Lugo and Diaz is a RH pinch hitting upgrade over the alternatives. Not earth shattering moves, but both moves should be helpful, and really the only type of moves that you can usually make in August.

  11. The last time we dealt with the Mariners we got some Rule V nobody named Eric O’Flaherty for nothing, right?

  12. Well, the last actual trade between the teams was Horacio for Soriano, I think. Worked out rather well.

    Which Rays’ reject did the Braves end up with for Soriano again? Either Jeff Ridgway or Jesse Chavez.

  13. Wilson’s stats are worse than Gonzalez. At least AAG occasionally can hit a hanging slider out of the park. All Wilson can do is field, but that’s still more than Lugo can do.

  14. Can I ask a favor of my fellow Braves fans?

    I’ve got a photographer friend who entered a contest that ends tonight at 12 central (1am eastern). If you’ve got a Facebook account, it would take you 30 seconds to register a vote to help a girl out. She’s a starving artist who loves kayaking and this contest is all about outdoors/adventure photography. She doesn’t have her own boat and she’d use the $250 prize money to buy one.

    So with that in mind, just go to this link, scroll down to Suzanne’s pic named “Wheeeee!!!”, and click “VOTE.” That’s it. (Don’t click “Like” for the page, just click “VOTE” next to her pic.)

    She’s currently losing by 5 votes to a really boring picture of two guys idling in a stream. Compare her pic, which is a really exciting and dramatic action shot, with that dude’s and you’ll see which is the best.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me post this link. It’s for Facebook peeps only, so if you don’t have FB, thanks anyway. But you can look at the pictures if you wanna! Much thanks to anyone who goes and votes!

  15. My big thing about Wilson is that he can sub in at second, too. Uggla’s gonna need rest down the stretch. And if, God forbid, he got injured, would anyone really want Brooks Conrad out there at second? More likely Prado would take the position in that case, but even so…

  16. Pastornicky was taken out of tonight’s game. I wonder if the Braves were going to call him up tomorrow before they acquired Wilson. Maybe he still gets the call but unlikely.

  17. Why not call up Pastornicky tomorrow anyway? Well, he’s not on the 40-man and we have a roster crunch already… Hicks to pinch-run, Wilkin to do whatever it is he does, some pitchers. I’d like to see Marek.

  18. 26 – Yeah, you’re right, I hadn’t realized how utterly punchless Wilson has been with the M’s the last couple of years. Like you said, at least AAG runs into one every once and a (great) while.

  19. @ 35- yeah,but Lugo doesn’t even do that and he can’t field. I’ll definitely take Wilson over Lugo.

  20. According to DOB, Moylan pitched back to back games Tuesday and tonight and was effective. His stat line so far at Gwinnett is 6 innings, 5 walks, 2 hits, 7 strikeouts, no runs. Lotta walks there, but hey, he’s rusty.

    He’ll pitch again on Saturday and then presumably be with the team for the Philadelphia series.

  21. What use is Moylan against the Phillies? To see how far Ryan Howard can hit one?

    Peter’s first appearance in the majors was actually against Howard. He remembers it clearly…

  22. #27,
    The photo got my vote, much better than the leading vote getter. Just need a few more votes in the next 15 minutes.

  23. Isnt Matt Young still on the 40 man? Seems like you could drop him and Lugo without having to think about it.

  24. 41: Thank you! Yes, it’s so much better a composition than the other it’s not even close. She’s now shy 7 votes.

    42: Nobody would claim Matt Young. Or Lugo. And if they do? Well, good luck and godspeed to them!

  25. Anyone not following @DadBoner on twitter is missing out. High drama.

    I like the trades, even if Wilson significantly lowers the attractiveness of the team.

  26. “His [Kimbrel’s] save Wednesday gave him 33 consecutive appearances without allowing a run, spanning 33 2/3 innings. He’s allowed just 12 hits and issued nine walks in that stretch. He’s also struck out 60 batters and is 23-for-23 in save opportunities during that time.”

    This is really amazing…never thought he would be able to improve his control like this.

  27. Yeah, I’m worried about how Karl will handle finding out. Hope he doesn’t ditch Dave and get his own pad.

  28. Best defensive alignment in the game?
    j. wilson-2b

  29. Facebookers gathered here will likely know about the feature that unearths old status updates one has composed. This is my status update on this day in 2010:

    “…sees the facts as follows: the Braves have the best record in the NL, the best run differential, the second most runs scored and second fewest allowed, and are three games up on the Phils heading into September. So why does he still feel nervous?”

    I had good reason to be nervous. We not only lost that 3 game lead but we wound up 6 games behind the Phillies in second place. That’s a 9 game swing in just a month (and 4 games in October).

  30. @50

    All we have to do is take a lead into the sixth inning and we win. If we get a run in the first, lets put that group in and it is over.

  31. Wren has absolutely killed it with the July/August deals, this year. Really improved the team at no significant cost.

  32. If anyone pleases you all of the time, you have a critical thinking problem. Any roster move is subject to debate, and different people show up to like/dislike each of them.

  33. I love doing this…

    My playoff roster (assuming Hanson is healthy)

    SP: Hudson, Beachy, Hanson, Lowe, Jurrjens
    RP: Moylan, O’Flaherty, Vizcaino, Venters, Kimbrel, Minor, Sherrill

    Chipper(yup, put him back, he’s mashing)

    Bench: Ross, Constanza, Diaz, Hinske, Conrad, Wilson

  34. Last night, as the Phillies were shellacking their Reds, the announcers argued if the Phillies were beatable.
    “Oh, yeah,” Marty Brenneman answered. “Look what San Francisco did to them last year in the playoffs. They out pitched them.”

    I like to think he’s right!

  35. So, what does the playoff roster look like? Assuming Hanson is a no-go, I’d guess a rotation of Huddy/Lowe/Jurrjens/Beachy, a bullpen of Kimbrel/Venters/O’Flaherty/Vizcaino/Moylan/Sherrill/Martinez, a lineup of Bourn/Prado/Chipper/McCann/Uggla/Freeman/Heyward/Gonzalez, and a bench of Hinske/Diaz/Constanza/Conrad/Ross/Wilson.

    If Hanson’s healthy, it’s probably Beachy to the ‘pen with Martinez as the odd man out. (I’d love to see Lowe in the ‘pen, actually, but I know it won’t happen.) Of course, it’s possible that Jurrjens (and Sherrill?) are injured and out, in which case guys like Linebrink and Minor might have a shot.

    This is a pretty deep and balanced team. We’ll have a shot against anyone.

  36. Does anyone on here listen to MLB Network Radio on Sirius / XM? I’ve got it in my car and turn it on sometimes, and every time I do I hear something remarkably stupid. This morning it was repeat offender Rob Dibble, who held forth that the Braves’ signing of Lowe for 4Y/$60M was “brilliant”. His logic was that Lowe and Oliver Perez were the big ticket pitchers in 2009, and Perez was a complete failure, therefore Lowe was a great signing. Leaving aside the fact that Lowe was an overpay in terms of years and dollars, I was floored by the (unstated) assumptions that 1) the Braves had to go after a ‘big name’ pitcher that offseason and 2) Wren’ choices were Lower or Perez. Come to think of it, it’s relatively rare that I hear a TV/radio personality that is genuinely insightful, and a lot more common to hear stuff that’s downright wrong. I know that the nature of mass media (lots of time to fill, have to appeal to a broad audience) means that you won’t see a direct analog of, say, Fangraphs on ESPN or MLB Network Radio, but come on, you can do better than “Lowe was a great signing because he turned out better than Perez”.

    That said, I am somewhat hopeful for Lowe moving forward – he looked markedly better last night (albeit he was helped by a generous strike zone). Given that he’s a lock to be a postseason starter, it would be excellent if he could find his “Good Lowe” form that seems to come around when the weather is cooler.

  37. The Mets deal with prospective minority owner David (“I Got $200 Mil Right Now”) Einhorn has fallen through, apparently. Guess the Wilpons are back on the corner of Queens Blvd, tin cup in hand.

    Additionally, I wonder, what will this mean for Jose Reyes’ future employment?

  38. @62 – Wasn’t A.J. Burnett also on the market that year and weren’t we in on him? I always saw Lowe as sort of a “next best” option, not necessarily the guy we were after the whole time. Without looking at the park-independent stats, I would guess that Lowe has pitched better than Burnett. I have a hard time looking at the Lowe signing as a major accomplishment….he hasn’t even really turned out to the be the “innings eater” that he was billed as.

    I guess it could have been worse though…we could have ended up with Ollie.

  39. I’d say a guy who has been durable enough to average 3 years of 34 or so starts at 6innings per @ERA+ of 90 is the definition of an innings eater.

  40. 64: had not heard that! Is there a source for this info?

    Re: Sherrill. You know, when I first heard this, I thought it was roster management shenanigans. But elbow tenderness isn’t the usual diagnosis for such things. I suppose it would kinda suck if he’s seriously hurt.

  41. Yep, Lowe has been far from the disaster I was worried about him becoming at the time of the deal. Actually a very good investment, IMO.

    Kawakami, on the other hand…

  42. 59: Chipper’s OPS % is only 2 points behind Freddie’s for second on the team. (Five points behind Constanza if you count him, and I do. :p )

  43. If Lowe finishes strong again this year, I’m going to have to eat at least a small helping of crow about the deal.

    Has he been worth the money (and, more importantly, the opportunity cost)? Probably not. But not turrible.

  44. The three major FA pitchers that year were AJ Burnett, Derek Lowe and Oliver Perez. Generally, that was the order of “talent” people understood as well. Burnett was the “only true ace” on the market. The Braves were heavy into him, but the Yankees offered him a fifth year and bought him out of Atlanta.

    In the interim, the Braves were hot and heavy for Rafeal Furcal, who notoriously backed out of a deal with the club. In the fallout to Furcal, a narrative was developing that free agents didn’t want to go to Atlanta any more. Wren needed a big name win to stomp out that narrative, and Derek Lowe was the next biggest name on the list. The Braves needed starting pitching – coming off of Hudson’s TJ year and the possibility of Jorge Campillo in the rotation it was sort of desperate times. Lowe had competing three year offers from Atlanta and the Mets. Wren gave him a fourth year at the same dollar figure ($15m per) and a signing deadline (the fourth year option disappeared if Lowe didn’t sign within a week, in an attempt to keep him from shopping it back to the Mets the way Furcal shopped the Braves’ offer back to the Dodgers.)

    Lowe took the deal, the Braves had their top-line starter, and the Mets fell back onto the three-year deal for Perez.

    All things considered, that was a reasonably good result for the Braves. Lowe became expendable and a money drain when the super-class of starters from the minors exploded into Atlanta. No one really expected even Hanson to progress as fast as he did, and no one knew if Hudson would come back 100%, so the acquisition of Lowe was a failsafe against those things going sideways.

    Considering how the Burnett deal is going in NYY, and considering how the Perez deal went in NYM, the Lowe deal is looking pretty good right now.

  45. 73—It wasn’t the fifth year; it was the extra money. (That was the stated reason — the other speculation/report? was that Burnett simply didn’t want to be a team’s ace, as I recall.) The Braves offered Burnett 5 years.

  46. Stu at 74,

    Antoher thing was the local income tax difference between NYY and ATL was more than the difference in the per year pay.

    Burnett wanted to be a Yankee (for chance at World Series or whatever).

  47. And pre-Furcal rule, we supposedly had a trade done for Peavy giving up Yunel/Hanson/someone.

    Boy, Wren got saved from himself a lot that offseason. Peavy’s shoulder was nuked. Furcal has been perennially injured and Burnett is a bigger headcase than before.

  48. Hunter Pence wouldn’t have been a bad fit for the Braves.

    Ya know, I’m among the biggest Matt Diaz fans around, but I reluctantly think that – head-to-head – I’d rather have Constanza in there.

    The turbulence Constanza creates when he gets on gives us an edge we just haven’t had in years.

    Still delighted that Matt’s back with the team and he’ll likely compliment Constanza more than replace him down the stretch and in the playoffs.

  49. @77 – Is there any reason not to run a Constanza/Prado platoon in LF? It’s not like Martin is killing the ball recently.

  50. The turbulence Constanza creates when he gets on gives us an edge we just haven’t had in years.

    What about when he doesn’t get on?

    78—You mean, other than the fact that Martin is a demonstrably-better player over many years? I don’t mind Constanza playing some while he’s playing well, and if Fredi’s going to insist on getting him into the lineup, I’d certainly rather it be at the expense of Prado than Heyward, but a strict platoon would be foolish. Constanza just isn’t very good.

  51. “Constanza just isn’t very good.”

    Well, he’s sure doing a good job of fooling everybody. Hey, it may not last but for the moment he’s getting on base at a high rate and causing havoc when he does. And, he’s a pretty good defender.

    And, yeah, Prado isn’t exactly tearing it up right now.

    How bad will Vandy beat the Fighting Christians (their former name) this weekend?

  52. I agree generally that Prado is better than Constanza, but can we talk about how Martin is struggling this year? He’s only had one full month above a .700 OPS. Looking at his stats ( his BABIP is presently at .270, way down from the .330+ level of the past 3 years. A lot of this can be explained by Martin’s line drive rate dropping from 21% last year to 14.4% this year. He appears to have traded some quality of contact (line drives, power) in exchange for added quantity of contact; K-rate down to a career low 8.6%. In a general sense, he seems to be suffering from the same problem as Heyward, in that neither are driving the ball with authority as much this season. Hopefully one or both of them goes back to their 2010 form before the playoffs roll around.

  53. 80—Constanza is certainly valuable on defense; no, at the moment, he is not getting on base. At the moment, he’s doing about what you’d expect from a 27 year-old, minor-league-free-agent signing.

    As for football, I think we’ll wax Elon. Lord knows we should. Of course, Vegas doesn’t seem to think so, which is a little concerning…

    81—I agree with you; my only point is that he’s still better than Constanza.

  54. Martin Prado in the second half: 249/298/346
    Martin Prado in August: 219/287/324

    Prado has not been particularly good this year, and he’s been brutal since coming off the DL. Those are Francoeur level numbers out of your starting LF.

  55. Why do I get a bad feeling that the SEC is about to suffer a humbling weekend?

    Hope I’m wrong, but if both the Dawgs and Bengal Tigers get beat, we’re never going to hear the end of it.

  56. Prado’s year has been more personally disappointing to me than Heyward’s. I thought Martin would challenge for the NL batting crown this year.

  57. For a 5 game series, I’d go



    Conrad, Ross, Hinske, Wilson, Constanza, Diaz

    Last Spot – Hanson if healthy, Boscan if not (just so you’d use Ross as the primary RH PH)

  58. Jurrgens is going to have to show me a little more before I’d be comfortable with him in the rotation. He was flat putrid last time out and lucky the time before that.

    Wouldn’t mind seeing if Minor can handle playoff pressure – especially if the Braves are to face the Phillies next.

  59. 86—Gotta have 11 pitchers. Would you really take Minor over Sherrill? Or are you assuming Sherrill will be out with injury?

  60. As I recall, you can change rosters between series. Mine is predicated on facing MIL or AZ for 5 games. JJ has pitched well against everyone but the Giants and the Nats. For the record, he’s pitched REALLY well against Philly.

    /as of today, I think Sherril won’t be healthy in time.

    //why do you need 11 pitchers for a 5 game max series?

    ///you can change between series –

  61. Don’t think you can change the hitter:pitcher ratio, which is now set at 14:11.

    //Don’t know that you do (or even for a 7-game series), but they already made their bed with the current ratio.

    ///Hmm, so maybe that ratio wouldn’t be set for the subsequent series, but that article explains the fact that 14:11 is what we’re working with in the first round.

  62. It’s in the article you just posted. Injured (or “injured”) players can only be replaced by someone at the same position for that first round. The reason the Braves worked to add a hitter (Diaz) and subtract a pitcher (Sherrill) yesterday was because of that ratio rule.

  63. I would not pitch Jurrjens or Beachy in Milwaukee, who will get the first two games at home. I’d pitch the ground ballers in that bandbox.

  64. Agreed — Lowe is listed as the #2 in my above roster projection not because I think (or because I think the Braves think) he’s the second-best pitcher on the team — and the same applies to Arizona.

  65. I would take Minor over Sherrill in the playoff pen.

    I would take my grandma over Line stink in any pen.

  66. #86
    I’d do Hudson & Beachy in Games 1 & 2, then for Games 3 & 4, I’d see how JJ & Lowe are doing the rest of the way before committing.

    And don’t forget that big BYU/Ole Miss tilt! (It’s BYU -3)

    With the recent legal turmoil, oddsmakers have put Oregon up to -4 vs LSU.

    Boise St has ticked up to -3.5.

    Will be in Vegas this weekend & we’ll see how confident this SEC homer feels when actually presented with the big board.

    Elon Phoenix? Sounds more like a corporation than a football team.

  67. Stu,
    I noticed that the Vandy spread is 11 or 12 points in some places, which looks intriguing. (But it’s off the board in other places.)

    This, of course, begs the question: Can VU score 13 points against Elon?

  68. I still like LSU and GA getting points. I think I even like Ole Miss – BYU doesn’t play too many road games like this.

    Oh and of course you are right Stu – I just never thought of it in terms of ratio so that threw me.

  69. I’ll be fairly surprised if VU doesn’t score at least 30. I mean, as dreadful as last year’s offense was, the team still averaged 12 points a game in SEC play. Unless you think Elon’s D is SEC-comparable and there will be no improvement on offense, that’s kind of a silly question you posed.

  70. Our offense was so pathetic last year (and the year before…), questions like that are common even among VU fans.

    If the offensive line stays healthy, I think we could surprise some people this year.

  71. Well, I’m… ahem… gonna bet on Vanderbilt football on Saturday. We’ll see if I have the guts to parlay that with any of the other conference games.

  72. Our relationship is going to be awkward if VU manages to go all VU in this game, isn’t it?

    If it makes you feel any better, I’ll be betting on this game, too. First time I’ve ever bet on any VU game, ever.

  73. Question that was asked to me the other day: This year, if you had a choice between the Braves winning the World Series or your Alma Mater winning the National Championship in football, which would you choose?

    Me, it’s the Braves winning the World Series. What about you guys?

  74. Since I got my college championship fix last year, I am graciously prepared to accept merely an SEC title and a Braves WS win this year.

  75. 108—The good thing about a WS title is that you can be sure there’ll still be a record of it in five years.

  76. I’ll take a prop bet on that right now.

    Although the sense of relief you must feel knowing that it won’t be an issue for your alma mater must be quite a load off your mind.

  77. It is nice to know that one’s alma mater does things the right way, across the board, yes.

    I love that Auburn football fans have become more defensive than VU football fans!

  78. I love that Auburn has reached the point where others need to criticize their success. And further, when you get something that sticks against Auburn (not Cam) regarding their compliance last season, you let me know.

  79. Well, I don’t think the success is what’s being criticized, but if it weren’t for the success, it’s true that no one would care to criticize the shadiness. No one outside of Alabama, anyway.

    Responding to your edit: I’m afraid I don’t care enough about Auburn (or even programs like UT and UK that I actively dislike) to make any sort of effort like that. I just like throwing barbs.

  80. How about that prop bet, Stu?

    /oh that makes sense then. Absent something to cheer about, barb throwing probably fills the empty fall hours nicely.

  81. If I started making bets with respect to NCAA action and bet on anything other than inaction, I’d lose all of my money in short order.

  82. Hey, I cheer about Braves baseball and VU basketball practice in the fall. And about UT losing football games.

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