Cardinals 6, Braves 2

The Braves have not reacted well to Jason Heyward’s injury. For the third straight game in St. Louis, the offense failed to materialize, the pitching was pedestrian, and the Braves lost. That, incidentally, makes for 5 losses in the last 7 games.

There’s not a lot to say about this one. Shelby Miller out-dueled Julio Teheran, who was too wild and homer-prone to complain about the couple Grybos David Carpenter laid on him in the 7th. Overall, the 22-year old struck out 8 in 6 innings, but also walked 5 and surrendered 2 solo homers. It was just not a very good game for Teheran, regardless of the results. It was certainly not good enough considering the “offense” his teammates provided.

Atlanta position players were largely useless outside of Freddie Freeman’s 1st inning home run and Gerald Laird’s pinch-hit double in the 9th. The 7 innings in-between witnessed the same futility to which we’re beginning to become accustomed in St. Louis. Braves starters managed 5 hits between them, and that includes the aforementioned Freeman bomb. Only Andrelton Simmons managed to get more than 2 hits, and both were singles. All in all, the hitters looked no better than the pitchers. Taken together, that usually spells a loss.

And yeah, the Braves lost. I’d like to expend a few words on the manager, however, for he too played a role in the futility. I’ve largely sung his praises this season – insofar as I am capable, anyway. But last night was not one of Fredi’s stronger performances. A night after his starter complained about being lifted too early, Gonzalez lifted his starter two batters too late. Teheran entered the 7th having thrown over 100 pitches, and was frankly lucky to have allowed only the 2 runs to that point. That none of his 5 walks had come around to score was a minor miracle. But Fredi let Teheran start the inning, and lifted him after the latter served up 2 singles. Carpenter then entered the game in a far more unhappy situation than he would have otherwise. Pitchers are not as good in the stretch.

But that isn’t even my biggest concern. I’m beginning to get the feeling that Fredi agrees with the AJC beat writer and sees Jordan Schafer as an equivalent fielder to BJ Upton. He double switched BJ out of the game when he brought Carpenter into it, and set up his outfielders thusly: JUpton in LF, Schafer in CF, Terdoslavich in RF. That configuration simply invites extra base hits, which is what Matt Holliday provided almost immediately thereafter. Yet I digress. My larger point is simply this: BJ Upton is an average CF, and Jordan Schafer is a very bad one. If neither is hitting, you might as well shore up the defense.

Such nitpicking, though, distracts from the larger cause of ills: the Braves would have lost this game regardless of who was managing. They didn’t play well, and that includes the guys who should be playing well. This happens, of course. The lead is still an enormous 12 games, the team’s record is still the best in the league. Atlanta is still on pace to win 97 games. There’s really not much to be worried about here, save for Jason Heyward’s jaw. It would just be nice to win one in St. Louis this afternoon. At the least, that would pacify the nervous and, hey now, give the Braves the season series.

81 thoughts on “Cardinals 6, Braves 2”

  1. There’s plenty to be worried about. The team on the field right now isn’t the team that compiled the best record in baseball. There’s just very little that Fredi or Wren can do about it. If this is our outfield in the playoffs then we are gonna need our pitchers to throw shutouts.

    Also, Gattis needs ABs. He’s got the most upside out of all the guys that are not hitting.

  2. Actually, it’s pretty much the same team – minus Jason Heyward. Which is why I wrote “there’s really not much to be worried about here, save for Jason Heyward’s jaw.” The larger problem is that the guys who played over their heads for parts of the season, many of whom were bench guys, have regressed.

    My biggest concern remains Heyward. After that, it’s the starting pitching. But the latter has been my concern all season, even when Hudson was around.

  3. I agree Gattis needs to be playing. Fredi needs to get him out there. It might be best to move him down to 7th in the order and tell him to focus on being more selective/patient.

    This team desperately needs a win today, it could be huge for field advantage in the playoffs. A win and a Washington loss could go a long way to building that confidence back up.

  4. Uggla vs Elliot Johnson isn’t quite the same team. I mean Uggla hasn’t been good, but at least he’s a sorta-kinda-maybe threat.

    The strengths of the Braves have been a deep rotation and good bullpen. Both of those strengths are diminished in a short series. The lack of power arms in our starting rotation really worries me. The Cardinals have a contact-oriented offensive approach and they will surely get to our pitch-to-contact guys. Meanwhile everyone on their team seems to throw 93+.

    McCann and Justin Upton have to hit. Uggla will have to hit when he comes back. I have no hope for Schafer/BJ. Gattis carried us for a good stretch that now seems like a distant memory – maybe he’ll make the adjustements, but he will need to play in order to do that.

    Watch Minor’s velocity today. I’m very concerned there. Hopefully it’s nothing and he’s fine.

  5. I think Uggla will provide a spark for this team.

    Fwiw, Rosenthal is reporting that we claimed Kyle Lohse a couple of days go but the Brewers pulled him back.

  6. “The Braves have not reacted well to Jason Heyward’s injury.”

    Most agree that we accept Fredi’s shortcomings as a tactician because they are outweighed by his ability to lead the clubhouse and provide “people skill” intangibles. I’m not saying 2011 is about to happen (yet), but this is where the manager has to circle the wagons.

  7. If the Cards sweep today the Braves will be 4-4 against them, having swept them at home. Obviously the team without Heyward is less than the team with Heyward. But there’s not a lot to do about a fastball to the face, and there’s no a lot of management opportunities to turn Jordan Schafer or BJ Upton into a replacement for what Heyward was giving you.

  8. @ajcbraves: #Braves lineup: Schafer 8 JUpton 9 Freeman 3 CJohnson 5 Laird 2 Simmons 6 Terdoslavich 7 EJohnson 4 Minor 1

    @ajcbraves: Good point “@juniorschargers: @ajcbraves we haft to win tomorrow to hold the tie breaker over the cardinals for home field in playoffs”

  9. When–not if–the Braves lose today, they will be 3-4 vs. St. Louis. The sweep in Atlanta was three games.

  10. We then have to play a good Cleveland team, and then face the Marlin ace. Today is pretty important.

  11. We still have a one game lead in the “best record in the majors” sweepstakes. One game ahead of Pittsburgh, LA, St. Louis and Detroit. So, yay us.

  12. Playing Schafer, Terdo, Upton, and Gattis in these two available OF spots are shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic. No combination is going to be the equivalent of Heyward and what we paid for with Upton. Add to that the absence of Uggla, and this is a very bad lineup right now, and no contorting will change that. Any criticism of the manager during this time is just fanboy sour grapes or scapegoating.

  13. @Braves: Lineup change: Schafer 8 EJohnson 4 Freeman 3 JUpton 9 Laird 2 Terdoslavich 7 Simmons 6 Janish 5 Minor 1

    Chris Johnson scratched with turf toe. That is one atrocious lineup. I’d advise finding something productive to do during today’s game folks. I’m starting to even miss Pastornicky at this point.

  14. When you have to play all Johnson and Janish in the same lineup, you try to find productive ways to use those outs. Yes, that’s a thing Joe Simpson loves overly much when real hitters are at the plate, but when you’re forced to play two glove only guys, you can only hide one of them in the 8-hole. So you move the other one up and hope he can bunt Schafer over occasionally.

  15. I’d say the rest of the regular season is more or less DOOOOOOOMED!

    but in the playoffs, a little bit of luck here, a HR or two over there and the Barves will be fine

  16. Wake me up in the third week of September. It’s weird to be in the fourth week of August and not be playing meaningful baseball. I’d sure like to win home field advantage, but we’re not really in a position to get that.

    We’re not hearing much about Beachy’s injury, and I don’t know what to conclude from that. Uggla and Heyward will be back, and hopefully one of Schafer/Upton can be decent, and we’ll be in good shape.


  17. @25 agreed, the whole month of August has been spent waiting for October. My co-workers are beginning to get annoyed at me wanting summer to be over already.

  18. Today’s game is not important. Not any more important than any other game. With a 12-game lead, this team could probably play like complete crap for another week and still be 7 or 8 games up in the division. We are so far from being in any type of trouble that it’s not even worth discussing. No single game is important. Yes, the Braves need to get it together, but they have plenty of time to do that. In the meantime, everybody would save some pointlessly high blood pressure if they would just chill.

  19. In fairness to Fredi, the double switch was to get offense in the 9 spot, it had nothing to do with defense.

    Why managers double switch any more when relievers never pitch more than one inning anyway, is another topic.

  20. One of the more humiliating Braves losses of recent history was during the lost 2008 season — five years ago this month against St. Louis, an 18-3 evisceration in which Charlie Morton, Vladimir Nunez, Matt DeSalvo, Blaine Boyer, Jeff Bennett and Julian Tavarez all pitched at least one inning. For reasons that will forever be known only to myself and the bottle of Jack Daniels in my liquor cabinet, I watched every pitch. The lineup that day was competent — it was a Friday, and Bobby did not wave the white flag, so Escobar, Chipper, B-Mac, Prado (hitting 7th!) and Kelly Johnson all played. But today’s lineup is the equal of that night’s roster of arms.

    Oh, and on the TBS broadcast to which some of us are subjected, we’ll get nine innings of wild-card memories and the exhumed corpse of Dick Stockton mispronouncing “Terdoslavich.” Freaking awesome. So glad I cleared my afternoon schedule to watch this.

  21. @33

    Many happy returns, ububba! Not that it’s the same thing, but I recently turned 30 and had similar thoughts.

    Incidentally, this is a small pet peeve of mine, and probably doesn’t mean as much as I think it does, but if it’s so damned sunny and hot, why on earth are we wearing the navy blue uniforms today? I get it’s Minor’s choice, but the team should’ve told him to pick again.

  22. @37

    I wore one of those Cool Base, dark-colored jerseys on a warm, humid day like this (in Milwaukee for the Sunday game two months ago, specifically) and to be honest, those things breathe so easily, it’s like wearing air, and the color did not make much difference in the temperature my body felt. St. Louis today may be hotter — certainly less shade — but wearing the dark jerseys on an afternoon like this isn’t the insane option it was several years ago.

  23. SUCCESS!!!!

    (Am I spelling this correctly with the all caps and multiple exclamation points?)

  24. Least favorite game against the Cards in my memory is the big rally mounted against Smoltz after we had a 9-0 lead. 12-11 loss. Ugh.

  25. My least favorite Cardinals game is without a doubt last year’s wild-card unpleasantness, and I feel like you guys are ignoring that just to be hip or something. I will say that I’d totally forgotten about Adam R.’s Eckstein grand slam @36, and I think I was better off having forgotten it.

    EDIT: The Cardinals are somehow repeatedly making outs in a batting practice environment here.

  26. I know that’s an easy DP for anyone, but look at how quick and smooth Simmons gets the ball out. Just about every play he’s involved in is masterfully done, even when not spectacular.

  27. Is it just me, or does every fair ball near a wall get a bunch of Cardinal fans trying to grab at it? I’m so sick and tired of hearing about what a smart and great group of fans these are. They sure as hell don’t seem to understand not interfering with a fucking live ball.

  28. But they’re the best fans in baseball. Just ask them.

    Rockies fans have a much better case. Only once have they won 90 games in a 162-game season (they needed a 163rd to get to 90 in 2007), and they draw a shade under 35,000 a game. Being a Cardinals fan is about as difficult as working as a meteorologist in Honolulu.

  29. Happy birthday, ububba. You’ll always be five years older than I. :P

    I also thought of last year’s WC game. But couldn’t bear to type it.

    Also, I have to say EJ is a pleasant surprise thus far. Though I don’t expect him to keep turning in multi-hit efforts on a regular basis. Here’s to hoping Uggla roars back from LASIK with eagle eyes and carries us for a couple of weeks.

  30. It’s doubtful EJ could be worse at hitting than Janish, and he looks pretty useful on the basepaths.

  31. Yeah, I’m kind of enjoying the idea of EJ as a pinch-run option in October…

    EDIT: All I do NOT want for Christmas is Feliz Navidad having an arm injury.

  32. Kimbrel hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, and tomorrow’s a day off. If ever there was an ideal spot for 4 outs of Kraken, this is it.

  33. BTW given that double switch, which is the opposite of the one yesterday, it seems as though Fredi sees B.J. and Jordan as defensive equals. Perhaps they’re not, but maybe that’ll slightly assuage the people who were worried about him thinking Schafer is better defensively.

    KC went back ahead, also. 6-4 in the 9th.

  34. Most hitters, even when going bad, will foul off some of those fastballs in the zone, BJ just completely misses them all like he can’t see the ball.

  35. And that lineup is the one that gives the Braves the tie-breaker for HFA against the Cards in the playoffs.

  36. Nice win with the C- squad. Lead is back to 13 and days are falling off the calendar. Lets get back home and get some people healthy. Praying for good news on Beachy tomorrow.

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