Braves 5, Padres 3 (by spike)

So, San Diego with a lineup of household names (of tango singers or spelling bee contestants, apparently) against the Braves ace, Confirmation bias be damned, it’s a familiar scenario. Patented Braves rally of runners on second and third, nobody out yielding one run, followed by a DP failing to score a runner from third with one out. Pads get three straight hits to take the lead.

Mise en tableaux –

6 blackberries
3 leaves basil
4 oz lemonade
1.5 – 3 oz whiskey (I prefer Rittenhouse rye)
1 oz simple syrup (optional)

Muddle (crush) fruit and basil. Add other ingredients, shake well and pour over ice. Pairs nicely with Imperial, Tecate or other Mexican lager. Lather, rinse, repeat, and start working on that flatpick arrangement of Deep River Blues.

And then, it didn’t happen, despite the Braves best efforts. Evan Gattis got caught after tying the score wandering off second, but Chris Johnson got away with a risky advance and a positively Coxian squeeze put the side ahead. Some comical defense and a much needed Freeman single proved decisive.

And now, as Dumbledore said, “Forgive my mawkishness, Harry – I’m an old man”. It’s HoF weekend for Bobby Cox, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. The Braves are set to move to a fancy new home – although I would warn that Shelley’s dictum of “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” still apply. It’s been nearly 20 years since the magic of ’95. 20 years of high quality NL baseball on natural grass, as God intended yet the last few seasons have been neither fish nor fowl. I’ve been on a bit of a sabbatical this summer, embracing the game nightly more tightly than usual of late. This is far from the most enjoyable Braves team. Still, after some reflection, the process is more useful than the end result. I like Braves baseball drifting from the AM radio on my front porch. And should it happen that one golden season might return and the hometown nine should rise to a feat that would put them in good company with their mighty ancestors, it will be just a condiment to go with a dish well made that I enjoy every summer.

67 thoughts on “Braves 5, Padres 3 (by spike)”

  1. Bravo, sir spike. Encore.

    I think that’s the thing – following the Braves should be more fun than this. Why is that?

    Is it because we’ve got a collection of good players at nearly every position but no great ones?

    I mean, even if we had a little money, what would you do to improve the team?

    1B – Freeman – looks like a perennial All-Star, but never a starter.
    2B – LaStella – sample size is getting large enough for me to say I think we’ve found our answer.
    SS – Simba – best defensive SS extant. (Still think if Peraza is all that, we might have to trade Simmons to get someone great.
    3B – might be able to upgrade here, but his numbers ain’t turrible.
    LF – streaky as hell, but there are stretches where Justin can carry the team by himself.
    CF – probably need to recuse myself because I just hate what his contract has done to Wren’s ability to “fix” us.
    RF – Heyward – one of, if not the best defensive right-fielders in the game. Needs to step through the door to greatness, but even if he never does, he’s pretty damn good.
    C – a rare find in Gattis and backups are strong.

    Starting Pitching – despite two crippling injuries at the beginning of the year, the starting staff is, again, pretty good. The Harangutang’s improbable success is offset by Mike Minor’s lapse into mediocrity (or worse).

    Relievers – best closer in the game (but not infallible). Eighth inning seems to be under control. On balance, a strength.

    Somehow, this bunch often seems less than the sum of their parts whereas the Braves teams we’ve loved over the years seemed to be just the opposite.

    What the hell is it? I confess I am completely flummoxed.

  2. At the risk of breaking the bravesjournal messageboards, here’s a lengthy-ish email I sent to a friend a few days ago on the subject of likability:

    It’s hard to like a team when you can see all the possibilities without them really being actualized.

    Here are the best players and their shortcomings:

    Freddie Freeman: Hovering at tick below three-hundred, with good-but-not-great power? Good hitter, but we expect top-twenty in the majors. He’s not there yet.

    Justin Upton: Wasn’t he supposed to have 25 homers by now? The power is off the charts, but where does it go for weeks at a time?

    Simmons: Whether it’s a lack of opportunity or focus or what, I don’t know, but until the last couple of days, he hasn’t been making the jawdropping plays he made on a routine basis last year. And he has been a terrible hitter. But he shouldn’t be! He should be a living highlight reel and decent bat.

    Gattis: Good lord where does he go every third day? Fredi never even pinch hits him. On top of that, he was injured. Why doesn’t the most powerful, exciting bat in the line up step up to the plate more often?!

    Heyward: Heyward has been, without a doubt, the best player on the team this year. But it’s almost all glove. He’s the best outfielder in the majors by a mile this year–but it’s hard to see because he isn’t an acrobat. On top of which, he’s having a poor offensive season, by his standards. How on earth is Heyward only a league-average hitter? Where has his power gone? Heyward can be the best player in the league, as good as McCutchen and Tulowitzki. But he isn’t right now. I don’t know why. And it makes him, for many, less likable. I mean, I like him less this year, even if I still like him better than any other baseball player.

    Kimbrel: Wonderful, but not automatic. He’s letting a lot of baserunners on in between his strikeouts. He ought to be unhittable. He ought to command his curveball better. Where did that pitch go?

    No one could possibly like: BJ Upton, Chris Johnson, Jordan Schafer, Ryan Doumit, Ramiro Pena, or Tyler Pastornicky.

    Tommy LaStella has been quite likable.

    Julio Teheran is easy to love, but he only pitches every 5th or 6th day.

    Another likability note: Where are the late-inning heroics? Between Chipper and Freeman and Heyward and Upton and Gattis the last three seasons, we have had a lot of great ninth-inning comebacks. I sense they aren’t really there this year. A few of those go a long way toward energizing a fanbase.

  3. I read an article on Tomahawk Take on why we should be sellers. Clearly written by a Nationals fan.

  4. Alex-

    I’ve been around the BravesJournal for years. I don’t post much these days, as I have 3 kids under 5 and my own business that I’m building.

    I had two rather mundane comments that were deleted on Friday night. Not sure why. Please let me know so I can engage in the ongoing conversation about our favorite, mediocre ball club!

    Scott aka Tiger224

  5. @7 Heck yes, it would.

    In my opinion, the offense can be summed up by looking at slash lines from the last 10 games:
    BJ: .179/.289/.256 12 strikeouts
    La Stella: .300/.317/.400
    Freeman: .175/.250/.300 9 K
    JUpton: .333/.415/.588
    Heyward: .343/.439/.429
    Gattis: .200/.368/.267
    CJ: .289/.308/.553
    Simmons: .189/.302/.216

    Pitchers: 1 for 15, 3 sac bunts, 1 run, 1 rbi
    Bench: 2 for 15, no XBH, 3 walks

    It’s just so damn inconsistent and there’s constantly automatic outs coming from the 8th, 9th, and leadoff spots. It’s quite maddening and Fredi, according to yesterday’s article, is not going to change it anytime soon.

    The Braves have to fix the bench and by fixing the bench, I mean breaking it, by finding a passable OF or 2 that can hit, putting BJ in Uggla purgatory.

    That article has taken a lot of flack and rightfully so. I’m not sure what was trying to be accomplished there. As posted yesterday, I countered:

  6. “We spent the next years watching…Smoltz’s hairline recede…” LOL, Maddux. Nicely done.

  7. That’s one meatball hung up. Gonna need to score at least eight today, lads.

  8. Start Ryan Doumit instead of Jason Heyward behind your struggling, extreme fly ball pitcher. #Frediball.

  9. He has to give Heyward a day off at some point, and you’d rather have it be against a lefty than a righty…I guess you could’ve given Gattis the day tomorrow, but maybe he felt he’d rather have it today or something.

    All of that aside, I do wonder why he has Doumit playing right field instead of left.

  10. 22: Just saying, with Minor as terrible as he’s been, don’t you have to give him every possible advantage?

  11. @23

    I don’t think it’s a big consideration, no. Not so much that you’d change what you were going to do in the first place. Not anymore than with any other pitcher, anyway.

    EDIT: I don’t know how Minor managed to clean that up before it hit the fan, but kudos. Hopefully some confidence to be gained.

  12. @28

    Gosselin is an infielder. It’s possible he’s played outfield at some point this season, but it certainly isn’t normal. Not exactly the best way to insert him into the proceedings.

  13. I’m glad I’m able to thank Francoeur for his asinine approach at the plate, instead of wishing he were to run into a wall and go on the DL.

  14. Nick, Phil was groomed to be a super-sub and sees time all over the field. He’s like Prado…he just downloads the manual prior to the game.

  15. I remember Francoeur’s 2006 season being pretty bad, but Caray thinks it was “fantastic”.

  16. If Andrelton wasn’t so good, this would be a 1-0 game with 1 out and runners on 1st and 3rd.

  17. Just keep getting them to hit all their screamers in the general direction of Andrelton, Mike.

  18. Mike Minor is a bowl of turds. And Mark Lemke thinks it was a good pitch by Minor. Ugh.

  19. Just caught some Lemke on the radio on a trip to tge grocery store. Is he drunk? He sounds like Bernie Kosar on a good day. I love it!

  20. Better to be lucky than good. That was a classic end-of-the-bat cue shot by Andrelton that somehow stayed fair.

  21. 43- He just happens to use it only 80% as well as the rest of the league uses theirs.

  22. Mike Minor’s apocalyptically-bad bunting officially did not cost us a run. Hooray!

  23. 46- That’s still enough for him to be a pretty good player.

    And I see BJ’s bat has returned to the land of the barely living.

  24. Well.

    This is turning into a good day to be a Braves fan. Try to hold the lead, Mike.

  25. What the hell is that stupid softball pitch that Stults keeps insisting on hanging right down the middle?

  26. @54
    His pitches look a little more crisp and his mistakes aren’t getting hit. And you can tell by the time frame between pitches that’s he’s feeling a bit more confident.

  27. Nice to see Hibernation Mode not taking over. We’ve gotta start preparing to play good teams again.

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