Braves 2, Bucs 4

ESPN box score

So that wasn’t pretty.

The Braves started the scoring in the second with four consecutive singles from the 5-8 hitters. The chief surprise here was Gerald Laird, who is awful but had a good day, with two singles and runner thrown out stealing. Anyhow, that rally was worth two runs before Kris Medlen got down a sacrifice only for the less Upton to strike out, ending the inning. Unfortunately, Medlen had an episode in the bottom half, giving the two runs back. He wasn’t very effective overall. There was a fair number of hard-hit balls, and he got some help from his defense, including a would-be HR that the greater Upton brought back with a fantastic play, and a spectacular diving grab by Andrelton Simmons on a foul ball up the LF line. But he didn’t give up another run until two down in the 6th when Clint Barmes dribbled the weakest little grounder up the middle for an infield single, plating a run for Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, the Braves were putting runners on all over place but to no avail. Braves reached in the 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th but coming away with nothing. Pittsburgh’s starter, Jonathan Sanchez, was out after the 3rd having thrown nearly 80 pitches already. He got a fair number of strikeouts, but with all the runners he put on, he was lucky to only give up the two runs. The futility continued against the relievers, including consecutive innings with leadoff walks that amounted to nothing. The most  frustrating was the 7th, where Rarmiro Peña was thrown out as part of a stirke-em-out-throw-em-out double play (for the second time in the game), which was promptly followed by an Evan Gattis double. So… yea.

The Pirates scored again in the 7th as Luis Avilan returned from his cramp thing three days ago, looking at times really good and really suspect. Travis Snider also scored on a wild pitch, just to make it clear that the Braves weren’t going to come back.

You could say that the Braves need to hit HRs to win, but this was the JV lineup they ran out there today, and the Braves’ pitching was bad enough that they were lucky to only surrender 4 runs. It’s clearly time to get out of Pittsburgh. They have way too many rivers in that city. It’s weird.

40 thoughts on “Braves 2, Bucs 4”

  1. The JV lineup point is worth remembering. Heyward had the day off, Uggla was out with a minor injury, Freeman’s on the DL and is hopefully returning tomorrow, and McCann is on the DL and is hopefully returning soon. That’s half the regular lineup — this was basically a Sunday white flag game. Hopefully, some of Jason’s line drives can start finding grass instead of leather.

  2. Hitting in the cold weather stinks. Hopefully we’ve just got a week or two more of it. Freeman will be back for Colorado.

  3. All these strikeouts are driving me crazy.

    This just isn’t sound baseball.

    A coupla “productive outs” over the last few days and we (at least) split the series.

  4. I don’t mind “productive outs” as long as we’re not trying for them. If they happen incidentally as a phenomenon of making good contact, then awesome. Contact is the key. Paging Greg Walker.

  5. I think Yale used up almost all of our Pittsburgh wins. Sorry about that… not. Can you tell I’m still a little giddy?

  6. Live by the 3 run homer, die by the 3 run homer. I think it’s totally sound when you have a lineup capable of hitting a lot of 3 run homers, which we do. But we’re not going to win 12 out of every 14. A market correction was due. This is a 92-98 win team most likely; there will be ebbs and flows.

  7. This year’s team does not seem to like playing in the cold. The first game we lost this year was in Atlanta but it was 40 degrees. They need to figure out how to win in the cold before October gets here.

  8. The problem with the 3 run homer is that you have to have 2 guys on base when it is hit.

    Right now the table setters are not getting on base. BJ, Jason, and Simmons are all under .300 OBP right now.

    We had a nice rally in the 2nd, but those have been too few and far between.

    Freeman being back is going to help a lot and at some point Heyward and Simmons have got to snap out of it.

    No worries yet, but it could end up being an issue at some point.

  9. I’m not sure Simmons is ever going to be a good hitter consistently, but I do expect BJ and Jason to come around at some point.

  10. Freeman returns in Denver. That should help. The primary points of concern are BJ and Jason’s continued struggles at the top of the lineup. Simmons and Uggla have both struggled, but that’s more expected and more easily managed. They need BJ/Heyward to get going in the 1-2 slot and get on base for JUpton, Freeman and Gattis/McCann.

    They should have split this series. Fredi ran them out of two prime scoring opportunities yesterday. You don’t try to steal with 2 strikes with this team. They K too often, and then you lose your base runner when the next guy doubles off the wall.

  11. I am not worried about Simmons’ bat. The fact that he’s drawing as many walks as he has strikeouts is a good sign (and unexpected), while his average reflects a low BABIP (.220), despite hitting line drives at a decent clip. He’ll be fine.

    Jason, on the other hand, has a higher K rate than Simmons, the same BB rate, and a lower line drive %. And unlike Simmons, he is a guy we count on to give us close to all-star level production at an offensive position. But his swing looks to me like it needs to be broken down and rebuilt from scratch. It’s a swing directed by a puppeteer, with his arms and wrists and elbows all disjointed, moving separately. Right now, I’m glad we haven’t given him all of the money.

    BJ is going to be BJ. He might hit seven home runs this week.

  12. @12 I just don’t see Heyward changing his swing. He went through all of 2011 sucking hard and he refused to make any major adjustments.

  13. Yes, Freeman adds some balance. Glad to get him back.

    So when is McCann going to start playing really? This is getting like Jeter.

  14. It’s snowing in Fort Collins now, but it’s too warm to stick yet. Denver usually gets it worse than we do.

  15. JR Graham pitched a gem yesterday. 7IP, 4 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 2 S0s, 11 ground ball outs to 4 fly balls. Would have thrown a complete game, with pitches to spare, but he is still getting stretched out.

    And Christian Bethancourt is quietly putting up solid results at AA. Batting .350 and slugging .500. But he’s only drawn a single walk, and is out for the time being with a strained hamstring.

  16. Oh, are we going to go down one of those “who is least massively corrupt in the SEC” tangents again? Could someone email when it’s over?

  17. DOB tweets that Jason’s slow start can also be seen as picking up where he left off. He’s had an OPS of .600 over his last 49 games.

  18. Jason’s setup at the plate looks different to me. He’s more closed, he’s bouncing up and down and gripping/re-gripping the bat as the pitch is released. Maybe’s he’s always done that, but I don’t remember it ever being this pronounced. Surely both Jason and the Braves’ coaches are looking at everything, so it’s not like some goober on his couch is gonna find something that they haven’t already found…

    I think he’s going to take a while to develop. I bet that in high school he never saw anything remotely good to hit (I mean why ever pitch to him?).

  19. It’s always been rumored that Tuberville didn’t let as much shady stuff go on, and that’s why the boosters wanted him gone and replaced him with a lightweight in Chizik.

    Frankly, if Auburn is cheating I’d hope they’d be getting better results than they are.

  20. @31

    Well, they did win the national title a few years ago.

    Everyone in the SEC is in at least the gray area. Except for Tennessee, who forgot how to cheat, but may be learning again.

  21. Not that there’s anyway to prove it, but I’ve wondered to myself whether the biggest thing this club might miss without Chipper Jones would be his hitting advice. It sure seemed like the guy could diagnose a mechanical hangup in one viewing.
    I wonder, too, if hearing the same advice from a retired player who sits on the bench daily might not carry the influence of hearing it from a future HOFer who’s hitting .306 and batting third everyday.

  22. Everything is exaggerated in April. Guy hits .180 for 3 weeks in July, it doesn’t get nearly the attention.

  23. No, really, it’s clear that the only sensible thing is to either dismantle Heyward’s swing or trade him while he still has some value /sarcasm

  24. CAC did a piece on Heyward and basically said he has hit into a lot of bad luck and not to worry.

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