Braves 5, Pirates 4

I followed last night’s game via the radio broadcast. Don Sutton had the night off, and Dale Murphy was sitting in for him. Murph’s not the smoothest of broadcasters, but he’s perfectly adequate and it’s nice to hear a hitter’s take on the game after years of Sutton talking about pitching, pitching, pitching and more pitching. Jim Powell had the primary play by play duties, and that guy is so good you forget about him sometimes. He does radio play by play the way a good umpire calls a game – he disappears into the background, almost. All of this is to say that I missed most of Chipper’s drunken ramble into the TV booth and someone from Deadspin really needs to get that entire thing online ASAP. Drunk Chipper Talking is probably the most entertaining reality show being broadcast these days. I’d pay to see Drunk Chipper and Honey Boo Boo in the same room. As for the game…

Contrary to what Jim and Dale were trying to convince their radio listeners of, Mike Minor was not “dealing” and simply the victim of poor defense in the early going. Yes, Dan Uggla booted a ball that led to two unearned runs in the third, but if Mac leaves no other lasting legacy on this world let his final remaining contribution to a dying planet be the refusal to discount “unearned runs” just because.

Uggla’s error allowed Clint Barmes to reach leading off the third. He was then gifted an out by the pitcher (Jeff Locke) failing to bunt over the runner. At that point, he has one out and a runner at first, and Starling Marte up. A fly ball to right and it’s two down, runner still at first. On a night where Minor is on, he gets out of that. But he was struggling with location last night and gave up back to back doubles to Jordy Mercer (who does not rely on prosthetic VISOR to see), and Andrew McCutchen (who is neither Scottish nor crap.) McCutchen’s scored the runners, which tacked onto Gaby Sanchez’s laser beam home run from the first put the Braves down 0-3.

None of which is to say that Minor is anything less than the staff ace these days. He went out there and battled on a day he clearly didn’t have his best stuff, but the radio booth seemed to be going to great lengths to explain away the four runs he gave up, mostly because two of them were “unearned.” That’s covering for a guy, IMHO. Minor gave up four runs last night, not because of an error by Uggla leading off the third, but because he was leaving balls up and in the middle of the plate and the Buccos were hitting them hard. Luckily for Minor, his offense picked him up this time.

That started when, down 0-3 in the bottom of the third, Andrelton Simmons walked. Jason Heyward, who seems to be coming around a bit, followed immediately with a single, putting runners on first and second with one out. Justin Upton, who also seems to be getting a bit closer to fine, still isn’t quite all the way back and popped up. Infield fly, two away, bringing up Freddie Freeman.

Frederick Charles Freeman is a pretty damned good baseball player. Did you know that? While Jason Heyward is still 100 times the talent that Jeff Francoeur ever hoped to be and still has plenty of time to right the ship this year, the fact of the matter is Freeman is still *thisclose* to McCanning him. He’s just…better. Maybe Heyward puts it all together and retakes the crown he seemed destined for, but right now Freeman is the best hitter the Braves have produced since, well, Brian McCann. He battled against Locke, finally cricket-batting a pitch a foot out of the zone into the RH batter’s box down the third base line, against the shifted defense, for a double. Heyward is fast, and the LF misplayed the carom to boot. 2-3 bad guys and we’re back in it. Regrettably, Minor gave one right back in the top of four, another rope shot out of the park, this one an opposite field job from Pedro Alvarez. Uggla, BJ and Minor all K in the bottom half and we go to the fifth down 2-4.

Stayed that way through bottom six, at which the unexpected happened. You never really count on a two out rally from Dan Uggla and BJ Upton, but it happened. Uggla walked. Bossman got into one, taking a pretty good pitch out dead center. Tie game. And there it would stay for a while. Starting in the seventh, the best bullpen in the league (Pittsburgh) and the second best bullpen in the league* (Atlanta) traded empty frames for three innings. Freddie Freeman almost ended it in the bottom of the ninth against Jason Grilli, scraping the CF wall with a loud fly out, but Grilli remained unscathed. Fortunately for the Braves, they got some wildness from Mark Melancon an inning later (yes, it was a really odd thing to ask BJ to bunt there) and made him pay when Simmons lofted a fly ball over the drawn in outfield. (No, I have no idea why they were playing their OF at little league depth with Dan Uggla at 2B.)

All in all, it was a good night to sneak out a win against a pretty good ball club, and in walk-off fashion for style points. Around the rest of the division, walk-offs were the order of the night as well. Washington came back to score 2 in the bottom of the ninth to beat Bobby Parnell and the Mets, while Philly played 11 against the Marlins until John Mayberry launched a grand slam to take them home. The Braves maintain their 7 game lead over the Nats; 7.5 over the Phils. The Mets and Marlins aren’t in the conversation at all at this point. All three NL Central teams lost, which means the Braves gained a game in the “best record in the league” department, for what that’s worth.

*Yep. Even without EOF or Venters, the Braves are still running out the second best pen in the league. Relievers. They are fungible, if you know what you’re doing.

273 thoughts on “Braves 5, Pirates 4”

  1. @211 from previous thread re: Hurdle’s idiotic outfield alignment last night

    I get [the fact that he was gambling to keep Uggla from trying to score on a single], but it was a stupid idea, in my opinion. I still say they’d have had a chance to gun Uggla at the plate on any single hit near the outfielders playing at normal depth. Also, they’d have had a chance to acutally catch a ball over their heads, and most importantly, any bloop single wouldn’t have scored Uggla anyway, as he probably would’ve had to hold up to see if it dropped. The only thing that would’ve been sure to beat them that they might’ve cut off with their alignment would’ve been a bloop single perfectly placed down the line. You’re gonna give up your ability to catch a fly ball short of the warning track for that?

  2. Great recap.

    This is right on the line of the no politics zone, but TBS is bringing on Keith Olbermann to host their postseason baseball coverage this fall.

    We’re not going to talk about his career as a political commentator, just his career as a sportscaster. Also, you may not have realized it, but his baseball blog is actually really good. He’s a serious baseball history nerd. I honestly think that this could be great. He’ll be a lot better than Chip Caray was.

    Of course, it could be disastrous, too; he’s a bit like a much more talented version of Bobby Valentine, or Billy Martin. But I’m excited.

  3. Keith Olbermann is a great baseball guy. TBS’s baseball coverage is about 600 times better than FOX.

  4. He’ll be a lot better than Chip Caray was.

    Imagine how the Twins’ fan must feel.

  5. Personally, I wouldn’t put either bullpen in the top 3 in the NL, or top 10 in baseball. But that’s just me, I guess.

  6. @3

    me too…his blog bestrides the field but his posts are so infrequent you grow jaded after a while…i believe it’s true to say that Chip Caray is the only play by play man specifically called by the New York Times as incompetent, two years in a row…but for his dad we must love him, so we do…

    some attention must be paid to last night’s most amazing at bat, from an erstwhile hero…to repeat…

    Romero source of past delight
    you had a pretty awful night
    not one but two then three
    and each a taller tree
    a ladder, would that put it right?

  7. @6

    I believe he was talking in terms of statistics. And to not put either in the Top 10 is a little much IMO.

  8. Nice recap, Sam. Last night was one of the ones you are glad to have go your way (not that you don’t want them all). It just did not seem like their night, with the Commodore out of sync a little & the Braves offense looking like it was not going to get it done. But it was one of the ‘middle 54’ that you are glad to see end up as a “W”.

    On a separate note – I haven’t been able to keep up w/ every comment on every thread recently so maybe this has been mentioned already, but was wondering: has there been any change/progress/update on the BravesJournal game that was discussed for sometime July 26-28? That’s not that far away, anymore…

  9. PIT/ATL are 1 and 3 in strand rate, 2 and 1 in ERA, and 2 and 3 in OPS against, in all baseball. I think it’s a defensible claim.

  10. Sam, great recap and thanks for being the first guy here (I think) to write what I’ve been thinking for a while. Freddie Freeman > Jayson Heyward. I recognize the differences in raw ability, defensive importance and the significance of Heyward’s 2010 and 2012 seasons but Freeman doesn’t go through long stretches of awfulness like we have been seeing from Heyward this season.

  11. I enjoyed Murph’s disquisition on the differences between maple and ash bats. He’s pretty clunky as a broadcaster, but it’s not possible to dislike his presence.

  12. Day 6 of America Held Hostage:Chad Durbin-Free Agent.

    And no sign that Wren has noticed yet. Keep the blinders on Bird-GM, keep ’em on.

  13. @6 Despite a 2.67 ERA that is 1st in the majors in 2013, the Braves’ bullpen xFIP (3.81) is 7th in the NL and 11th in the majors – the Pirate bullpen also sports a huge ERA/xFIP differential, at 2.71/3.75. Both pens have extremely, unsustainably low BABIP and high strand rates.

    I’d agree that our pen has been more lucky than good so far in 2013, but on the other hand I’m guessing the Braves pen will pitch better (in terms of peripherals) for the remainder of the year, and eventually emerge as a legitimate team strength, like it has been for the Braves for quite a while now.

  14. TBS is waaaaay better than Fox. Fox clearly doesn’t even care about the baseball package that they just spent hundreds of millions of dollars on. Their announcing teams most weeks are a complete embarrassment. The only time they seem to really send their A crews out (Buck-McCarver, Brenneman-?, Stockton-?, etc.) is during the month when they do the Saturday night games. And even then, those question marks illustrate a point, which is that they pretty much have one color analyst (think what you will of him), and he’s retiring after this year.

    But outside of June, all of their games are covered by local announcers that they pretty much pay as stringers. Not to mention the fact that they didn’t want to be bothered with having to produce a studio show anymore, and therefore punted that duty over to MLB Network. Their lack of support of baseball’s premiere TV package is absurd. MLB should frankly take the package from them forcibly and sell it to someone who actually wants it. All it takes for a studio show is to hire two or three people who will be there once a freaking week, and if the play-by-play guys who do football for them don’t want to be there every week doing baseball during the summer, how about hiring some permanent baseball announcers? Crazy idea, I know. All the better, because that would keep the quality from degenerating to the level of a regional college baseball broadcast when football season starts, anyway.

    I can’t think of any remotely major sports rights package that the network clearly cares less about than Fox does about Major League Baseball. You could argue ESPN cares more about its freaking Major League Soccer package than Fox does about MLB.

  15. And, to note the Continuing Struggles of the Natspos:

    Gio Gonzalez is one of the 20 players rumored to be in line for a Biogenesis PED suspension, along with Ryan ‘Technical Issues With my Sample’ Braun, Alex ‘Everyone Else Was Doing IT’ Rodriguez, and Melky ‘I Ate A Baby’ Cabrera among others.

    So, if Gio goes down for 50-100 games, DC might have Jordan Zimmerman, The Artist Formerly Known as Dan Haren, John ‘Hey, I At Least Give Atlanta Fits’ Lannan, and Ross Detweiler anchoring their rotation. So a LOT will depend on Strasberg’s health, which is looking shakier every day.

    So, if by the first of July, the Braves still have a 7-10 game lead, do the Nats and Phillies become sellers? I imagine Cliff Lee would fetch a haul of prospects from a contender in need of a starter, although he does have a No Trade clause to 20 teams, which I’m sure he would waive for the right amount of compensation.

    And, as a thought experiment, would Wren have enough to nab Lee for the stretch run? Would something like Terdoslavich, Graham, and Bethancourt be enough to nab Lee? And would that be a smart move from Atlanta’s perspective? I realize we don’t need a starter, but the thought of replacing the Mississippi Hawaiian’s starts in the post-season with Cliff Lee is enough to make me at least go ‘Hmmm.’

    In the end, I pretty sure, barring injury, we aren’t looking for a starter, but I feel it never hurts to consider the chance and at least kick the tires on a deal.

  16. WAPO/ESPN says not so fast on Gio –

    “According to the (ESPN) report, Washington Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez is the only player linked to the Biogenesis clinic who “will be scrutinized but possibly exonerated.” Echoing a report from the same outlet in February, two unnamed sources told ESPN that the substances Gonzalez received from the clinic were legal.”

  17. I think Freeman is just a more developed player, right now. We just have to hope that Heyward figures out how to harness his natural abilities in the offensive context as well as he has in the defensive context.

  18. So, judging from last nights AB’s and today’s first, I take it Chris Johnson has decided to take all fastballs, and swing at all breaking balls. It must be that fastballs are too easy to hit, and curveballs provide a more suitable challenge for him.

  19. Uh, wow. Up 1-0, haven’t made an out yet, and their starter comes out. This looks good so far, though the Strasburg/Stammen game didn’t do as well as we’d have liked.

  20. Freddie Freeman’s reflect damage critted Wandy for massive damage on his forearm.

    @29: There has been an out: the force at second on CJ’s grounder.

  21. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m afraid that the best thing that can be said about Wandy’s prognosis is that it’s a shorter trip to either Birmingham or Pensacola from Atlanta than it is from Pittsburgh.

    EDIT: For clarification, he weirdly lost control of a pitch (that wound up hitting Freeman), the Pirates trainer immediately came out, and Wandy started pointing at his elbow.

  22. Right now Andrelton is on pace for close to a 6 bWAR season despite an OPS of .670.

    I know Ozzie Smith did it probably a half dozen times or more but are there any other players with a 5+ WAR season despite a sub-700 OPS?

  23. @38

    That’s the starting time for mid-week day games now. I’m guessing it’s in an attempt to avoid emptying the stadium at the height of rush hour, when it only takes 30-35 minutes to wind through the Downtown Connector, rather than an hour or more from 4 p.m. onward.

  24. Anyone else think that play (fliner to Jason for the second out of the second) was actually quite good? I think Jason has a bit of Andruw in him; he makes tough plays look routine.

  25. @46 – I agree. Off the bat I said aloud “Get there Jason,” and the camera panned, and he was just, there.

    Julio’s thrown 21 strikes and 3 balls. Just POURING it in there.

  26. 38, 44- Probably to let the Braves fly out to LA for tomorrow night’s game without undue time pressure.

  27. @36, here’s the list:

    It’s basically a lot of shortstops, with a couple of outfielders thrown in, like Michael Bourn and Devon White, who did it once apiece (2010 and 1992, respectively).

    Belanger did it twice, Luis Aparicio did it twice, Ozzie did it five times, Pee Wee Reese and Phil Rizzuto did it once each, Rabbit Maranville did it twice, et cetera.

    Bobby Wallace did it five times, too, and he’s a fascinating guy. I wrote about him here:

  28. Listening to Murph talk about how a batter “visualizes the next day’s starter” on the drive home from the previous game. Who knew baseball was so New Agey?

  29. Second time this series they’ve blown a call on the bases to the Pirates’ benefit. And yet the Pirates are the ones who have cause to complain about the umps, because Kris Medlen drew two balls before grounding out?

  30. I was digging Murph a little on the radio last night, too. I generally tolerate Powell & Sutton’s Hee-Haw act, but there are some nights when I’m really not feeling it, so that was a nice break.

    Murph has this warm, reassuring voice offering some genuine knowledge, even if he does step on Powell here & there. Plus, he’s kinda obvious a lot, but I think with time he can become a really good color guy.

    And yeah, Powell’s radio play-by-play is terrific. The best ones don’t try to get noticed. They simply tell the story for the theater of your mind. Describe the play quickly & accurately and you’re good in my book.

  31. Man, Julio looks sharp. Let’s see how deep he can take this stuff into the game.

  32. I only get the games on radio – last night was perfect weather to sit outside, drink beer, and enjoy a good call of a great, dramatic game. A+++, would listen again.

  33. Thanks spike and Alex, that is an interesting list. A lot more such seasons than I would have guessed (51) but apart from Ozzie only three by players I’ve actually seen play (Devon White, Bourn, and Austin Jackson), or maybe four counting Gary Pettis but I’d be lying if I said I remember ever seeing him play.

  34. Jim Powell and Ben Ingram have the polish and command of the best old school announcers. We are lucky to have one of them, but to have both is more than I as a radio fan could ask.

  35. If I hadn’t seen that, I would have thought the Gamecast had broken again.

  36. Uggla infuriates. Just a fly ball to center, Dan. That’s all we asked.

  37. Actually, Teheran has a higher batting average than either Uggla OR BJ, so, bully on them!

    EDIT: Or not..

  38. Fredi’s baserunning reminds me of one of last night’s lowlights at the Astros game. Nate McLouth leads off with a scorched hit to center, then steals second, then steals third and scores on a wild throw. I hate him.

  39. Amazing that the pitcher’s batting AVG is better than 3 of our “star” players.

  40. With 8 K’s through 5, you’d think he’d be in pitch count trouble.. But he’s only averaged 14 an inning.

  41. Oh forget about run support. This team is never going to score another run.

  42. There’s that awesome pickoff move. Wasn’t it the Reds that were making an issue of it being close to a balk?

  43. when Gattus Maximus decreed
    that balls above a certain speed
    would vanish whence they came
    the hurler got the blame
    the lions had an evening feed.

  44. Dale Murphy just compared Evan Gattis to Bob Horner. “You can’t get anything hard in past him. That was a hanging breaking ball, but you can’t get anything hard in by him. And that was the thing with Bob.”

  45. LOL…look at Gerald Laird! Taking an extra base on a wild pitch, drag bunting, hitting home runs…

  46. Takes two bases on a wild pitch and parks one in the left-field seats. For Gerald Laird, this is a career day.

  47. The Braves have three catchers. Collectively, counting today, Brian McCann, Evan Gattis, and Gerald Laird are hitting .271/.348/.553 in 312 plate appearances, with 21 HR, 57 RBI, and 29 BB against 55 K.

    That’s, um, freaking sensational.

  48. @120 And it was a potential concern entering the season (along with 3B). But that’s why they play the games, I suppose.

  49. Ok. I was wrong on Teheran and I am thankful that Wren held on to him this offseason. I guess Maholm will either be moved when Beachy returns or will be placed in the pen. Good problem to have but Teheran isn’t going anywhere

  50. With Julio doing what he’s doing, at what point do you have to pull Gattis and Johnson and get Schafer and Pena in there for defense?

  51. @130

    I’d probably do it to start the eighth. Three-run lead with three innings to go seems a little early to go all-in on this.

  52. Forearm tightness on Wandy, apparently. That continues to sound less than optimal.

    EDIT: We just lifted Johnson for Pena BTW.


  53. Four-for-nine, three runs scored, 1.222 OPS the last two days, for Heyward. Ah, the fun of small sample sizes. Still, it’s going in the right direction.

  54. It sure is fun to be on this side of a possible, ya know, good, pitched, game..

  55. I didn’t see the pop up by Uggla that resulted in a FC at 2nd and a run scored. Was it significantly shorter than the ball that was ruled an infield fly in the WC playoff game last year?

  56. @152

    Given it was to center and not left, it probably was about the same distance from the plate. The infield fly was definitely farther into the outfield, if you will.

  57. Why do I get the feeling the Yankees are bankrolling the A-Rod (et al) investigation?

  58. Well, darn.

    Still, that’s the most dominant I’ve seen a Braves pitcher in a long, long time.

    Since when did he possess a 95-mph fastball?

  59. Well, darn.

    Still, that’s the most dominant I’ve seen a Braves pitcher in a long, long time.

    Since when did he possess a 95-mph fastball?

  60. When he was coming up, they always said he had 93-95, but I’d never seen that in the majors until today.

  61. Good game Julio I was hoping for it but didn’t want to see Julio throw 120+ again.

  62. I hope we won’t act like it’s the end of the world whether he goes back out there or not.

  63. Right now I’d have to say it goes kinda like this:

    1 – Minor
    2 – Julio
    3 – Medlen
    4 – Hudson
    5 – Maholm

    And that ain’t bad.

  64. Didn’t Julio throw two fastballs in the past? I thought I remembered him throwing a two seamer at 90-92, and a four seamer around 94.

    I don’t recall seeing a two seamer at all today, looked like all swing-and-miss fastballs.

  65. And he’s done. Note that I have no problem with this decision. I probably would’ve let him go, but that’s just me.

  66. For the record, I wouldn’t send him out there for the 9th, but I won’t be mad if they do.

  67. In other news, the Braves are one inning away from sweeping a really good team.

  68. I woulda run him back out. That’s a shame. I’d give him 115 to see if he could get some quick outs.

  69. @183

    He definitely had his change-up working today for the first time this season. Maybe if he has his change-up, he doesn’t need the sinker. Also, this provides a window into just how nasty he can be when he has the change working.

  70. Oh well, Julio’s performance today was dominant. I’ll take that any day.

    I don’t know why we had Avilan and Gearrin up, and now Carpenter is coming in. It’s a shame to have to warm three guys up on a day when the starting pitcher nearly threw a no-hitter.

  71. It’s my fault. I should have gutted up and stuck at the gym for an hour rather than cutting it at 40 minutes.

  72. I think it’s good to end the day where he’s at. At 107 pitches and 8 dominant innings, I think it’s good for his confidence to end at the highest note in his young career. No sense in letting him give up a HR in the 9th. Let Carpenter screw it up.

  73. I probably wouldn’t have let him finish, but I think I would’ve sent him out for one batter in the ninth. He deserved a standing ovation from the home crowd after that performance.

  74. I was totally ignoring him from my cube. We didn’t even make eye contact once, so I feel it’s not my fault.

  75. No, it was my friend on Facebook who made a status in the 8th inning wondering why no one was making any statuses about the no hitter.

  76. No, it was me, for not realizing we even had a day game today until I saw how many comments there were in this thread, and turning to just in time for Inge to get that hit.

  77. Since the start in Colorado, and including today, Julio’s rocking a 2.13 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 43:8 K:BB ratio.

    In further happy news, I have Julio in a keeper league.

  78. Also, this must be the first game this season where the Braves had more walks (5) than strikeouts (4).

  79. Always had a soft spot for Lincecum. Had a good night last night.

    (When did he cut his hair?)

  80. 183 — Julio threw the two-seamer a lot in earlier starts, it sat around 89-90. I didn’t notice any today either.

  81. @200 So do I, but I also got King Felix, Matt Harvey, Madison Bumgarner and Mike Minor. Good dilemma to have, I guess.

  82. Braves did not have win #37 until Jun 20 last year, and were not 15 over at any time before July 31. Special season in progress – I hope everyone is taking it in while it lasts.

  83. I sure wish we had kept that Delgado kid over Teheran…

    Also this is fun:

    @BravesAmerica 10m Julio Teheran has gone 8 innings in 2 of 15 MLB starts. Stephen Strasburg has gone 8 innings in 1 of 57 MLB starts

  84. 79 strikes?

    I think you mean 80, counting that 4th inning K of McCutchen. What? That was a ball?

  85. Remember all the people last year and during the offseason shrieking: “Delgado will be better!”?

  86. Remember when certain people were arguing that the Braves were a mediocre team masquerading as a good team on the backs of two “hot streaks”? That was… last week? Last weekend?

    They’re on pace to win 102 games.

  87. Miles to go.

    But I like where we are.

    Sustainable? I didn’t think so, but if our (did someone say “depleted”?) bullpen continues to dominate, perhaps it is.

  88. To be a guy who was thought of as the 9th best option out of the bullpen, at best, during the spring, Carpenter has done better than anyone could have expected and eaten up some innings from our depleted BP very effectively.

  89. Just noticed that the Royals are in last place. This after Dayton Moore went all-in on this season by trading their top prospect for Shields. Wonder if he’ll be fired after the season is over.

  90. Retrosheet uniqueness: the play where a flyball into center leads to forceout at second and a run scored is


    That’s never happened before. There was one play really close, Cardinals @ Cubs 9/4/2003 top of the fifth, Miguel Cairo at the plate:


    The only difference is that it was a ground ball.

    Retrosheet rocks.

  91. @224 – haven’t seen the video of the play, but would a certain umpire have wanted to call an infield fly rule there?

  92. Probably, except that the second baseman was clearly signalling that he had no idea where the ball was and was relying on McCutcheon to get there.

  93. @219 & @222:

    One area where coaching and scouting are extremely effective if done right is bullpen arms. Relievers are fungible if you have the scouts who can find the arms and the coaches who can harness them. The Angels of the early 2000s were fantastic at that game, finding really cheap, awesome bullpens and replacing them as they became stars and got expensive.

    The Braves seem to have a little of that mojo working of late. Remember, Eric O’Flaherty was a Rule 5 pick up. The Mariners, nor any other team in baseball, had no use for that guy. The Braves saw something they thought they could exploit and did it. Same deal with Jonny Venters. He was a nobody starter, failing in the minors. The Braves saw something that said “he could be a shut down reliever” and made it happen.

    At this point, if the Braves scouts decide they want to take a flier on some no-account, middling arm project, I’m deferring to their judgement.

  94. Re: Schedule

    Yes our Opp W% the rest of the year is .451 and as I’ve mentioned a couple of times before, our only road series against a team currently over .500 is a 4-game set in St. Louis in August.

  95. @217, 220, A fair reading of what I actually wrote was that outside of two hot streaks, the Braves had a very mediocre stretch where they went 10-16. I made the point that based on that, it is hard to tell precisely what kind of team we have right now, good, great, or another collapse waiting to happen.

    I think that’s a reasonable opinion, and though one might disagree, hardly one worth mocking.

  96. @230 – that is hilarious (although I still am mindful of – and fully anticipate – the Phillies / Nationals ability to put together a run).

    Still, what’s so remarkable is that everyone’s early reasoning re: the Braves’ chances depended on the performance of the vaunted Braves outfield. Yet, here we are – 15 games above .500 with (statistically) one of the weakest-hitting outfields in MLB.

    Quick – name our All-Stars.

    I’d go with Minor and Freddie (and probably Kimbrel). Anybody else?

    The Greeks had a term (arete) for “well-rounded excellence”. We ain’t always pretty, but I think that’s a pretty good description.

    I like our critical mass. At least for the regular season.

  97. @233, I suppose I do, jjschiller. Just one of my frailties as a human. I have no interest in making this an unpleasant place to be. I still think I made a reasonable opinion but if the mocking directed at me must continue, rather than a friendly critique, then that’s your call.

  98. @231, no one mentioned your name, I only confirmed a date, and nobody mocked you – but since you wish to make it about you, your quote, in fact was

    “Yes we’re in first place. If it was because we’re a strong team, I’d feel better about that. But we’re not a strong team. Most of that record is built by two big winning streaks. Outside of those streaks, it’s hard to suggest we’re anything but a mediocre team.”

    If you don’t want your statements scrutinized, well don’t offer them for public scrutiny.

  99. @233, Minor, Freddie and Gattis. Justin if he can out together another hot streak.

  100. Spike, I think 26 games where we played six games under .500 is pretty poor play. Yes, the 12-1 streak to open the season was incredible, and we all had stars in our eyes, but that and the 8-game streak have to be balanced with that month-long stretch of mediocrity. Which team are we? And three days ago, we had just muddled through a 3-3 week where we looked very inconsistent and many of us were frustrated with some of Fredi’s moves that didn’t seem to be helping us win ball games.

    I remember the truism Bobby Cox always used to characterize a winning team, and that was “win every series”. We’ve not built our record on that ethos, and it makes me fear for what kind of team we are going to have should we make the playoffs.

    I am thrilled that we are winning now. I love this team very much and following them is one of my passions, as it is everyone here. And I will continue to root for this team even if I have little faith in this manager as a tactician and strategist, or some of the players drive me nuts from time to time.

  101. John R: we’re the kind of team that goes through hot and cold spells, because our players are streaky up and down the order. Generally speaking we have enough good to great guys that we’ll win more than we lose and should be considered the odds on favorite to win the division at this point.

  102. Spike, I think 26 games where we played six games under .500 is pretty poor play.

    But dude, that’s just arbitrary end points. Every team goes through peaks and valleys. Every single one. If your peaks are 12-1 and your valley is hovering around .500, you’re a really good team.

  103. Yes, a season full of amazing and mediocre play – but not bad play – makes for a very good, and sometimes great, season. The Braves are having a great season, have a soft schedule the rest of the way, and are in a weak division. Let’s enjoy it right now.

  104. “I remember the truism Bobby Cox always used to characterize a winning team, and that was “win every series”. We’ve not built our record on that ethos, and it makes me fear for what kind of team we are going to have should we make the playoffs.”

    Go back and check how well that ethos worked out for Bobby in the playoffs. This team will be fine.

  105. This is a joke, right? “Win every series” – The Braves have played 19 series by my count and lost FOUR.



  106. Humans never understand streaks of any sort. you have to do the math. Everyone would grant that a .600 team is a damn good baseball team, right? Suppose a team actually had a 60 percent chance of winning every single game they played, so that their performance never varied from this at all. Well, in a 162 game season, that team isalmost certain to have some sizeable losing streaks. In fact, the probability that a .600 probability team has a 12-15 month or worse at some point in a six month season is about 60 percent. So this hypothetical team is performing at the same level every game, but still have a bad month or two in a season. Just the way probability works.

  107. “I remember the truism Bobby Cox always used to characterize a winning team, and that was “win every series”. We’ve not built our record on that ethos, and it makes me fear for what kind of team we are going to have should we make the playoffs.”

    By my count, our series record is 10 wins and 4 losses, with 5 series splits (4 if you count that home-and-home deal with Toronto as one).

    edit: spike beat me to it. Should have spent more time posting and less time counting.

  108. You know this team is built very, very similarly to the squads Bobby Cox assembled in the early 1990s, right? Cox’ brilliance as a manager was that he played the style of ball suited to his team.

    BJ Upton, outside of his current funk, is Otis Nixon with more power and less coke. Dan Uggla is an aging version of Ron Gant, minus the move to RF. Evan Gattis is a RH Ryan Klesko. Freddie Freeman is Fred McGriff. Andrelton Simmons is Raffy Belliard.

    It’s not a perfect 1:1, obviously, but this team is actually quite similar to the early 1990s Braves, minus the HOF pitching. The offense of those teams was very much geared toward getting on and hitting the 3-run bomb.

  109. The Player Analysis post back in November was fairly prescient as towards Julio’s 2013 success, and was put out a time when enthusiasm in Teheran’s future was at an all-time low.

    Julio Teheran (by bledsoe)

    Also, I am officially more worried about the Phillies than I am about the Nats. Dom Brown is having one of those years where he will challenge for the MVP and carry his team into contention (a la Sosa on the 1998 Cubs).

  110. Braves have gone 12-3 with 4 series splits. I admit that’s a lot better than I thought.

    I’m checking numbers on my iPhone so maybe previous attempts are more accurate.

  111. For pure nerdiness, as far as I’m concerned, JonathanF @224 wins the thread. I can’t believe that that play has literally never happened before in the recorded history of baseball. That’s so freaking cool.

    Also: the Braves have the second-best record in baseball, and have a 7.5-game lead over the second-place team. Every other division leader in baseball has a lead of 2.5 games or fewer. The Braves are running away and hiding from every other team in the division.

    So, you know, have a Coke and a smile.

  112. Watching Julio I have the feeling that he is a lot like some pitcher that I used to watch at least occasionally, but for the life of me I can’t figure out who it is. I keep circling back to Pedro Martinez, but other than their both being righthanded and having ridiculously long fingers and loose, easy arm actions, they aren’t really very similar.

  113. *Blush* Actually, I’ve been thinking about that play and it might have been scored differently (although it would still be unique). The play could be scored a sacrifice fly instead if you assume that McCutcheon should have caught it. Then, you don’t give McCutcheon an error because he got the out at 2nd. Interestingly enough, a play like that has actually happened before, on April 12 2005 (Dodgers-Giants), except that it was the right fielder who dropped the ball

    (In that case the UR means the run was unearned because of an earlier error in the inning)

  114. I can’t recall but I believe the 26 games where we played below .500 had some brutal road trips involved. Seemed like we had a few weeks where we played nothing but road games. We’ve been through a brutal schedule at this point and we have taken care of winning our divisional matchups. We are in a good spot.

  115. Strasburg to the DL. Tried to throw a bullpen today but couldn’t. Wouldn’t be surprised if he’s out until the all-star break. All because, knowing he had strained muscle, they let him pitch anyway. Couldn’t happen to a better bunch of morons.

  116. #255
    Gifted, yet uncommonly fragile… yeah, Strasburg’s similar to Walton like that. But the Big Redhead accomplished a lot more, despite his constant foot troubles.

    If Strasburg had led his team to the title last year, he’d have more in common with Walton, who won 2 rings in the NBA & 2 titles at UCLA.

    (BTW, Walton was really a joy to watch, especially on that ’77 Portland title team. And David Halberstam’s book about that group, “The Breaks of the Game,” is really one of the greatest sports books ever written.)

    But, at this point, Strasburg’s probably closer to Greg Oden territory, if we’re talking hoops comparisons. Even Sam Bowie, who pretty much personifies the idea of the fragile athlete, ended up having a relatively lengthy career.

  117. I wonder what Nationals fans think now about shutting him down for the playoffs last year.

  118. @249 – Yes! I think you nailed it.

    And so young to have a Pedro-like change up.

  119. Nope, they’re every. They play seemingly every other commercial, especially during Braves games.

    “But if you’re a slow turtle…”

  120. Got home and was disappointed to find that I missed Teheran’s gem. But then I turned on the TV, and the Braves are apparently playing a double header! How did I not know about this? And Julio’s such a stud, he starting the second game too! And guess what, he has another no-hitter going through three, unbelievable!

  121. 5-1, another homer by Byrd. With Haren on the mound for the Nats there might be a chance they build enough of a lead to keep it.

  122. @261, I liked them when the campaign first began because they seem genuinely ad libbed and natural, which is tough to pull off with kid actors. The recent few have seem very scripted and forced.

  123. Classy comment by Inge about his one hit — basically that he had the chance to scout him for 7 innings and get a shot. Julio definitely took a step, or two, today.

  124. Man, what a game. One of the perils of waiting until you get home from work and watching the condensed game is that you’re pretty sure that someone would’ve told you by now if Julio Teheran pitched a no-no. But man was he dealing! I marveled at how in the 7th and 8th, every pitch you saw him throw was in an 0-2 count. At least until Inge. Julio’s looked really good his past two starts. I’m optimistic about him going forward. I don’t know if he’s ready to be a #1 guy yet (and luckily he doesn’t have to on this team), but I’m hoping he’s having a Minor-like breakout. There’s a reason scouts were so high on him for so long.

  125. Time to start scoreboard-watching the Phillies instead of the Nationals it appears.

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