Braves 5, Blue Jays 2

All in all, that was a moderately satisfying revenge for 1992.

It’s getting fairly annoying to watch our starters’ repeated inability to pitch past the sixth inning, but for the first five innings of tonight’s game, Shelby Miller was just nasty. Then he gave up two hits, two walks, and two runs in the sixth inning, and that was all the damage the Jays did.

Andrew McKirahan, Cody Martin, and Jason Grilli contributed three innings of hitless and scoreless work; between McKirahan, Luis Avilan, Jim Johnson, and Grilli, the Braves have four relievers who throw in the mid-90s with movement, two righties and two lefties. And Cody Martin only throws 91, but for some reason hitters appear to have a lot of trouble picking up the late movement on his fastball, and he’s been just as good as any of them. As long as Fredi can keep himself from riding them into the ground — like he did with O’Ventbrel — this bullpen looks like it can hold its own.

Offensively, it was a classic Hibernation Mode game, but thankfully the staff and pen were able to make it hold up, unlike yesterday. The Braves quickly punched Daniel Norris in the mouth with a three-run Jonny Gomes double with two outs in the first inning. (It would have been even better, but Cameron Maybin got caught stealing second after leading off the game with a single. He now has a single stolen base in three attempts, and his green light should probably be taken away.) They got two more in the third, assisted greatly when the Jays’ center fielder threw the ball into his dugout instead of hitting any kind of cutoff man. And that was it.

Off day tomorrow, which I’m sure the bullpen will appreciate. Bring on the Mutts!

95 thoughts on “Braves 5, Blue Jays 2”

  1. Kind of amazing that the offense looks better this year than in 2014.

    Which is going to make Simpson and Caray insufferable with the “it’s because they’re not striking out” stuff.

  2. This is just a general complaint, but I hate that four of the first five series are against the Marlins and Mets. I’m already sick of both teams. And after the upcoming Mets series, the next three weeks we see no one except the Phillies, Nationals, and Reds. They couldn’t break these series up a little?

  3. As long as we are winning I love divisional series. Let’s get them out of the way early. It is a nice surprise seeing 8 hits, 5bb’s and 5 runs on the scoreboard. Especially with only 6k’s. I think we are starting to see why the team overpaid for Markakis and brought in Gomes. We lacked leadership.

    How long will the team stick with Bethancourt as the everyday catcher? His bat still isn’t productive enough for him to stick in the majors. Seems like the perfect backup no bat catcher we’ve seemed to have always carried.

  4. Rough day for the mets. D’Arnaud broke his hand in the bottom of the 7th when he was hit by a pitch and pitcher Jerry Blevins suffered a broken forearm in the top of the inning when he was hit by a line drive.

  5. @4 terrible…D’Arnaud had turned it round…a prediction, if we finish above the Mets we will win the Division…their starting pitching is approaching Olympian status…place your bets, but this still hurts.

  6. from previous thread…

    if your wife or her friend dates a Met
    surely something you’ll never forget
    that moment of madness
    now tainted with sadness
    you explain it, she’s hardly upset.

  7. @14


    Granted, it’s annoying when they bring it up every single time the offense doesn’t strike out and something good happens, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some correlation. It is definitely more enjoyable to watch this style of offense than last year’s.

  8. @10. Very nice. Just to clarify, because my previous comment was vague, they dated in high school…not during our marriage (I hope). On a related note, it looks like with d’Arnoud’s injury, Recker will be getting plenty of playing time.

  9. @1, @14

    I don’t wanna be that guy, the “former player” who thinks he knows a thing or two about the ole game of round ball, but I’m completely convinced that a bunch of guys with crappy approaches not only is a strategic vulnerability when the game is on the line, but it also really sucks the fun out of the room when a dude goes flailing when a medium fly ball is needed.

    Maybe it’s a good thing to, ya know, put the ball in play.

  10. I like the 1992 reference.
    That was a great Series, but also one that makes me upset every time I think about it. The Braves really should have won.
    To me, looking back, Sprague’s HR off of Reardon in the 9th inning of Gm.2 is kind of like the little brother of the Leyritz/Wohlers one. It also totally turned around the Series at the time.

    Every time I watch a game from Skydome I get that frustrating feeling from Games 3 and 4 again, where all the time it felt like the Braves where only one big hit away from breaking through, only to end up losing both by a single run. That big hit came in Game 5 with Lonnie’s grand slam, but unfortunately we lost Game 6 at home, which was a real classic in itself.
    Great memories :)

  11. It’s not that they’re just going 6-3 instead of K. It’s that they’re getting hits. Go, offense!

  12. @8, 9, 11
    Well, he looked horrible last night. I thought the dribbler to short in his third at bat really showed some discomfort. It didn’t help any that the umpire kept calling strike 1 low and off the plate outside, but it’s tough to watch a guy not make solid contact at any point during the game. Well, he was driving the ball earlier in the week.

  13. @Ken_Rosenthal: Sources: #Braves left-hander Andrew McKirahan suspended 80 games for PEDs. Rule 5 pick from #Cubs. Claimed on waivers from #Marlins.

  14. Good grief, these PED suspensions are getting out of control. Just when it looked like our bullpen was coming together!

  15. Bizarrely, this makes him easier to keep, if they want. As a Rule 5 pick, they’d have to keep him on the roster the entire season if they wanted to retain his rights; now, the entire season is a lot shorter for him.

  16. @21 – Looking at his career splits it is apparent that Heyward doesn’t think the season starts until May. To be fair Leake was dealing last night. The one thing that stands out so far to me is that Heyward only has one walk so far.

    I saw the interview Olney had with Matt Carpenter last night. He was asked about his change in approach this season. Apparently he is swinging more and taking less. He said all the typical things about being more aggressive, putting the ball in play, blah blah blah. I find this interesting because Carpenter’s main strength is a spiffy .381 career OBP. Last season he drew 95 walks.

    edit: To finish the thought, this make contact and let the chips fall where they may by pressuring the defense seems to be the new Money Ball trend.

  17. I assume it is Thomas. I wonder if one of the young starters will get called up for the pen.

  18. They’ve got room on the 40-man for someone other than Thomas. In my ideal world, they just move Stults to the ‘pen and let Martin or Banuelos have a shot at that spot in the rotation. Bringing up Banuelos to let him pitch in relief (and limit his innings) would make sense, too.

  19. It looks like MLB has a test that beats a stanazol masking agent now. And lo, the roiders are still primarily relief pitchers.

    RE: striking out, I have a mad scheme to take the PBP data from lay two seasons and this one and map innings. I have a theory that a lineup of boring old steady as she goes tortoises might be more likely to string together multiple hits per inning than K or HR “rabbits.”

  20. @34 – That would be interesting. Last season, how many times did we see a strike out when a single would have done some damage?

    @33 – Co sign. May as well see if one of our projected starters is any good.

  21. #34 & 36 – Or a step further how many times did we leave runners at 3B with less than 2 outs because we couldn’t put the bat on the ball?

  22. 1992 World Series. It should have been known as “the catch” by Devon White, or more aptly, “the play”, since he actually started a triple play. The umps blew the call, and only 2 men were out.

    Deion Sanders and TP were on 1st and 2nd with nobody out. David Justice hits a rocket to CF. White’s on his horse, but 13-year-old me is already counting the runs–this is probably gone, or at least a double. But then White effortlessly lopes back and snatches it off the wall, and without missing a beat huffs it back to the infield where Sanders and TP were thinking just like I was and had gone to the races. It was chaos. TP passed Sanders on the bases, so he was out, and Gruber tagged Sanders for what should have been the third out. Ump missed it. Anyway, we didn’t score that inning.

    That was game 3, and we lost by 1 run…on one of the many walk-offs and last AB wins for Toronto.

  23. @38 – We did that exact thing in the 8th on Saturday, and it cost us the game. First and third with one out, AJP struck out in the sac-fly position, and then Gomes struck out to end the inning. With that run, Bautista’s homer in the bottom half only ties the game, and then KJ’s homer in the 9th is the game winner, no extra-innings.

  24. @38, or how many times did a lead-off double get stranded because we went K, K, fly-out? Ditto for any scenario where a runner is on 2nd with none out.

  25. on

    “President of baseball operations John Hart said the club would search externally for a left-handed reliever. But with attractive options likely limited at this point of the season, lefty relievers Ian Thomas or Donnie Veal might soon get promoted from Gwinnett’s roster.”

  26. I actually don’t know the answer to this, so please let me know if any of you do. I don’t believe that double plays are currently measured in individual player fielding metrics — in other words, they measure the player’s ability to make outs on plays where another fielder would not have recorded an out, but they don’t measure how many outs were recorded. (This is certainly how it used to be; I don’t know whether it has changed.)

    If that is the case, then by being the best double-play team in the league, the Braves are likely preventing even more runs than their individual player UZRs and team fielding metrics might indicate. In that they erase a baserunner and are fairly likely to end an inning, their run effect is far greater than that of a single out.

    Turning double plays can overcome a great many sins. If this team’s flirtation with .500 continues for any length of time, that will probably be one of the biggest reasons why.

  27. Mallex Smith now has 4 straight multi-hit games. He’s 10-20 over that stretch and is now hitting .361/.400/.500 with 6 steals in his first 8 games of AA.

    @43, maybe we can get one who has demonstrated the ability to retire LH batters? McKirahan hasn’t yet at any level of competition.

  28. @43 So Ian Thomas goes from being on the OD MLB roster last year to starting this year in AA to potentially being called back up to the majors two weeks after the season starts. Nothing like getting bounced around.

  29. @44

    I’m not sure how it plays into the final numbers, but the Fielding Bible tracks double plays by individual fielders. And Bill James is working with historical numbers now to create a new defensive win-loss shares that takes into account double plays versus expected double plays by fielder. Pretty neat stuff.

  30. @48 I’m sure he won’t. It’d be a nice birthday present for him to get the call today.

    It just shows a frightening lack of depth for the Braves relief corp that this early in the season we’re having to call on a guy who couldn’t even land a spot on Gwinnett’s roster two weeks ago. I guess that’s what happens when you trade your entire bullpen away, though.

  31. Easy come, easy go. One of the hallmarks of McDowell’s tenure is that we’re usually able to find warm bodies for the back of the pen. The bigger problem, as Stu mentioned, is that the back of our rotation looks like a tire fire, but I’m willing to give Cahill and Stults another month to conclusively prove that they are incapable of going five innings in front of Andrelton Simmons.

  32. I’m nowhere near ready to give up on Cahill, but I’ve just never understood the Stults thing. He had one OK year in San Diego, where everyone has at least one OK year, and has otherwise not been a credible major-league starter.

  33. Folty is starting today–hoping for a semblance of control. We also have Wisler, Banuelos, and the mysteriously effective Williams Perez at AAA. If just one of Stults/Cahill can be effective, maybe we can fill the other spot with one of those AAA arms.

  34. Id be fine promoting Wisler and moving Stults to the pen. I think Wisler would have a better chance than some of the other young starters, but Im sure we would only do that if Ian Thomas flops

  35. I think it is okay to give Wisler and Stults a few more starts where they are before making a move.


    I agree. I think McDowell can fix him.

  36. Has any team been gifted with such good back to back pitching coaches as Mazzone and McDowell?

  37. @56, LOL. More of a chuckle really, but still. Imagine a man of his size anchoring the center of the diamond. No hits up the middle wit him.

  38. Has anyone voted for the Franchise 4?
    Me: Aaron Chipper Maddox Spahn. Tough to leave Matthews and Glavine off.

  39. @61, I just did, I chose the same four.
    I also voted on the greatest living players and voted for Maddux there as well.

    It’s fun to guess which 8 players they nominated from every team.
    For example, the Rockies do not feature a single pitcher.

  40. Someone has mentioned it before. I think that Andruw Jones deserves to be in the Braves HOF. Number retired, ring of honor the whole 9 yards.

  41. aar at 59.

    Sain quite possibly is the best Major League pitching coach ever. AND he was a great minor league coordinator. He could take fringy junkballers and make them mediocre big league starters at an incredible rate. Was instrumental in the rise of the White Sox in the 60’s. I forget, but there is one more Major League team he really got going.

  42. #61
    I can’t imagine considering another Braves everyday player (not named Aaron) better than Chipper Jones. However, Chipper over Eddie Mathews isn’t automatic.

    For context, Eddie Mathews played in 2,391 games with 10,100 PA; Chipper played in 2,499 games with 10,614 PA.

    Eddie: .271/.376/.509
    Chipper: .303/.401/.529

    Eddie career OPS+: 143
    Chipper career OPS+: 141

    Eddie career WAR: 96.4
    Chipper career WAR: 85

    Eddie career dWAR: 5.5
    Chipper career dWAR: -1.6

    Tough call, eh? I know how good Chipper was, but this just makes me wish I could’ve seen Eddie Mathews play in his prime.

  43. @70

    Of course, getting ‘stuck’ with Chipper instead of Eddie Mattress ain’t bad either.

  44. Also, I would probably pass on Maddux, even though great, for “impact on franchise.” His peak is the greatest peak in franchise history, but it was only around 11 years.

    Phil Neikro was 19 years as a Brave.

    I saw Matthews at his tail end decline. My Daddy thought he was the second best third baseman ever. He thought Brooks was the best.

  45. Chipper also willingly moved out of his primary position and restructured his contract to accommodate the team’s needs. Even though both could be painted as beneficial to him as well, not every player would do so. Those actions are not without value.

  46. Hey guys,

    I have been in the Phillipines for the first few weeks of the season and have to thank all the people for the great write ups on the games and the entertaining message boards. They kept me in the loop on what has been going on. It has been a great start.

    Does anybody think that the Cubs players might start getting a few more random drug screens now with 2 of their former players going down for 80 game suspensions?

  47. I actually saw Eddie Mathews at a card show in the 80s, he was introduced as the greatest 3rd baseman in baseball history. Eddie thanked the promoter, but said, the greatest 3rd baseman ever is Mike Schmidt.

  48. Where do y’all slot in Bobby Cox? For me, he alternates with Maddux for the 4th spot behind Aaron, Spahn, and Chipper.

  49. I think Aaron, Chipper and Spahn are the locks. Maddux wasn’t here all that long, but did his best work. If Glavine stayed his whole career, then he would be there. Hard to leave off Mathews and Murphy though.

    It’s a nice problem to have.

    The Pioneers one is cool

  50. @ 61 I would put Chipper and Maddux in the top five if you were looking at just the Atlanta years, but that’s a more questionable call if you’re looking at the entire history of the franchise.

  51. Roadrunner, who’s there an argument for besides Mathews? We’ve already got Aaron and Spahn in there.

  52. Perhaps it’s a generational thing here, but I remember Niekro. Nobody noticed him because he played for such terrible teams, but he was spectacular in the second half of the ’70’s. He was the franchise during the ’70’s, and was the ace during the resurgence in the early ’80’s. I don’t see how he doesn’t make the top five.

    Kid Nichols pitched in the 1890’s. He was second only to Cy Young in his era. If you’re looking at the entire history of the franchise, the only one clearly ahead of him is Aaron.

  53. It’s hard not to clump around the World Series teams: Spahn, Aaron, Mathews in ’57; Maddux, Cox, Chipper, Glavine, Smoltz in ’95. Poor Knucksie.

    As far as Kid is concerned, a lot of this vote is coming from the heart and from a sense of history. But how can anyone who isn’t a total baseball nutjob get a sense of history about Kid Nichols? Where is anyone celebrating Kid Nichols? Is his picture anywhere in the Ted besides the Braves museum? It’s tough to push for a guy that the Braves don’t push for at all. I don’t know anything about Nichols except when he pitched. That’s the pits, but it’s the way it is.

  54. Call me a nutjob, but once the mound was moved to 60’6″ in the early 1890’s, that’s the modern game. If you were plunked down there to watch a game in say, 1895, you would be familiar with it. Players from that era are relevant and the Braves had some great ones.

    The franchise moved three times. If the Braves had stayed in Boston, those players probably would be known by the serious fan.

    I hear what you’re saying about World Series teams, but I just look at the best players.

  55. @13: Tonight’s definitely out, ububba, and Wednesday doesn’t look good either, but I might head over for the day game on Thursday, even though it has “get out of town quickly” lineup written all over it.

  56. No, it’s not about how good Nichols was or how modern the game was. That isn’t the point. It’s about how anyone is going to hear about him in the first place. He didn’t pitch in 1914. The Braves don’t acknowledge his existence alongside the other legends of the franchise; nobody is alive who saw him play, nobody can tell stories about him dueling with Hoss Radbourn for 15 innings the way they do with the Spahn/Marichal game–that’s why you’ve got to be the sort of nutjob who comes to talk about baseball at a (basically) text-only website to even consider him. If even nutjobs like us don’t have much of a sense of who he is, how are we going to vote for him? Yeah, he’s got a lot of wins above replacement, but I don’t have a player to hang those wins on. I just have a name that means nothing.

    Let’s start a Free Kid Nichols campaign and get some more history going at NCS@WFF.

  57. #92
    I’m leaning towards tomorrow night, despite the Stults Factor. At least you get Teheran.

    I never like to give the Mets an inch, but if we split the first 2, I’d be fine with it, giving the ball to Julio on getaway day.

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