Braves 4, Cubs 3 (by coop)

On to Flushing.

The wind blew again at Wrigley, in today, much to the delight of John Lackey and Julio Teheran. The augured pitching duel followed.

For what it’s worth, Tyler Flowers is better than AJP defensively. At the plate there’s not much to choose. Nine up, nine down for Lackey, but Julio keeps Chicago off the board, posting an identical string of zeroes. In the fourth Nick Markakis walks, ending Lackey’s perfect game, but the Cub pitcher’s still got his no hitter working going into the fifth.

Kelly Johnson doubles to end that, and Flowers moves him to third for Jace. Peterson hits a sacrifice fly to right, Jason Heyward makes a great but futile throw, and Kelly scores. Even $180 million doesn’t buy perfection. One-zip, Braves.

Julio climbs the hill with the lead in the fifth and takes it to the dugout when he leaves. Julio’s pitching a weather-aided beauty. He leads one-zip as the game goes official. A little insurance wouldn’t hurt.

Ask and it will be given unto you. Mallex Smith rips a single through the box, Nick the Greek walks again; and against all odds Erick Aybar successfully sacrifices to move the runners up. Lackey and the Cubs walk Freddie Freeman to set up the double play — wouldn’t you? — and Adonis Garcia obliges, grounding a room service bouncer to Addison Russell.

Russell kicks it. A run scores, and the bases are still drunk for KJ. KJ grounds to Ben Zobrist, who charges Adonis. Adonis avoids the tag, so Ben Zobrist goes to first. The force is no longer in effect, and a run scores even though Garcia eventually gets pickled to end the inning. Braves are rolling, 3-0.

Great game for Julio the Magnificent, who throws seven strong and surrenders only two hits, a walk, a hit batter and strikes out nine. This was likely the best outing by any Braves starter this year, but it doesn’t get Julio his first win.

Jim Johnson’s got the eighth. He renders a bunt single to Szczur, Matt not Julius; and Dexter Fowler rips a double. With no outs and runners at second and third, Fredi brings in Hunter Cervenka to face JayHey.

(FWIW: Flowers still tops AJP defensively.)

Heyward grounds out for the fourth time today but gets an RBI and moves Fowler to third. Arodys Vizcaino comes in to attempt the four-out save. Kris Bryant singles to close the gap to 3-2, but Anthony Rizzo fans to quell the uprising.

Braves threaten mildly but to no avail. Cubs by rule get 27 outs. Arodys has the lead, but it’s skinny. Zobrist walks, Tommy La Stella strikes out, and Vizcaino self-destructs, chunking a pickoff attempt down the line and allowing Zobrist to carry the tying run to third. Addison Russell ties the game with a single, and the Braves still need two outs to get to extra innings. The bullpen coughed it up, and Julio’s win is gone.

The Braves escape. In the tenth the perfection that is Hector Rondon takes the bump. FWIW, their Hector’s better than ours. Jace is blown away, but Daniel Castro singles to right. Hitting fool Mallex perfectly places a hit and run single, moving Danny to third. Smith had three hits on the day, two singles and a hammered double that would have been a triple had the call at third gone for the Braves. Mallex Smith is no longer overmatched by big league pitching, so how about letting the boy play against everybody, Fredi?

Runners on the corners, one out, Markakis at the plate: if the Braves played to win, it’s what they’d want. It’s definitely what I want.

Nick delivers! Sacrifice fly to left, and the Braves lead 4-3. Fire up the Grilli.

Jason’s got the top of the Cubs order, so getting three outs is going to be an adventure. He tries to walk Fowler, who grounds to Castro. Heyward’s up. JayHey fans! Two gone, and Kris Bryant’s up. Bryant thinks he walks, then does. Anthony Rizzo carries the winning run to the plate for Chicago.

Can of corn to Jeffy in left; and woo-hoo! Braves win! One in a row! Bring on the Mutts!

79 thoughts on “Braves 4, Cubs 3 (by coop)”

  1. If you told me that after the first month the Braves and Astros would have nearly identical records, I’d have taken it.

  2. Joe and Chip have started dropping little comments about how teams must be calling about Markakis at this point. I am sure they are right, and I am sure the Braves front office has been listening closely. I wonder if he will be heading out at some point by the break.

  3. @2, also if you’d told me the Phillies would have a better record than the Mets and Yankees

  4. ububba: I’m impressed with your perspicacity, but even my love for both the Braves and baseball couldn’t get me to see *this* team in *this* weather. We can venture over to Citifield together at some point when summer starts…. maybe August.

  5. #5
    Well, like I said, I must be nuts.

    But… Citi Field is on my way home from the office & it’s supposed to clear up by game time. Probably a season-low crowd tonight, too, so getting a decent seat for cheap should be easy.

    Like I said, I must be nuts.

  6. Marques Tuiasosopo? Up with the Braves? Man, that guy could play some quarterback. I would have thought he’d be in the NFL by now!

    Oh, Matt….

  7. Just guessing, but Foltynewicz and Tuiasaosopo up and Gant down may be the greatest net letter swap ever.

  8. After Mallex ended his 1-15 start, he now is hitting .296/.366/.459. And the baserunning will correct itself.

    If you truly want to ride the hot hand, what do you do with Adonis Garcia? In his last 26 PAs, he’s hitting .160/.192/.160, hasn’t hit a HR since opening day, and is no longer playing an important position. Of course, that was six games against the Red Sox and Cubs, but if “the book is out on him”, then what do you do? Of course, an outfield of Smith/Inciarte/Markakis could statistically be the most powerless outfield in the history of baseball relative to the league.

  9. Right now, we basically have a 2B/3B platoon of (avert your eyes) Jace Peterson, Adonis Garcia, Erick Aybar, and Kelly Johnson, and an LF platoon of Drew Stubbs, Jeff Francoeur, and Kelly Johnson.

    It’s hard to get away from playing Garcia; he’s a better player than Francoeur and Aybar, and he’s a better hitter (albeit a worse fielder) than Peterson. I wouldn’t mind benching him and giving Stubbs some more playing time, but the most damning thing about this group of stiffs is that as bad as he’s been, Adonis Garcia is still one of our best players.

  10. So do you send Mallex to AAA when Inciarte comes back, especially when Stubbs, Francoeur, and KJ are logging so many innings in LF? You’re right; those three are largely stiffs, but Mallex has serious potential as a trade piece or a CF and Inciarte becoming a trade piece. Playing those guys while Mallex is in AAA would be a bad long-term use of resources.

  11. When Inciarte comes back, I’d bench Stubbs and give Mallex the left field job. If he can hold his own in the majors — which he presently appears to be doing — there’s no better place for him to learn.

    The guy who needs to be in the minors is Jace Peterson, who is neither hitting nor playing. Rotting on the bench is doing him no good whatsoever.

  12. Mallex needs to be up and playing everyday. Stubbs, Frenchy, KJ, and Aybar are not part of the braves beyond this year

    KJ/Adonis/Jace can platoon at 2B/3B until Rio/Albies/Swanson are all ready

  13. Every position player on the team, sans Mallex and Freeman, is just a placeholder. The middle infield looks like it will be replaced mid-season barring unforseen setbacks, but the OF remains a concern. I don’t think you can play Mallex and Inciarte in the same OF long term.

  14. You gotta’ love the callup of Tuiasasopo. When he loses the typical 30 points on his batting average and associated power that often happens when moving to the big club, he will be right at home with Pierzynski, Johnson, Peterson, and Aybar. His .218 BA and .749 OPS right now would be a little gaudy if he was already in Atlanta. Freeman and Markakis are our only two players with an OPS above .750.
    For some reason, I don’t think we’ll have a great year if 6 of our 8 starters continue to put up an OPS of less than .660. Of course, being 26th out of 30 in team ERA won’t get us to the playoffs either.

  15. I remember the Cubs turning a Grudzielanek-Graffanino-Mientkiewicz double play purported to be the most lettered in mlb history. The Braves are just one good name and a little luck away from (a very narrow definition of) greatness!

  16. The need to maximize Mallex is more important to the rebuild than to maximize Stubbs, Frenchy, KJ, or Aybar into getting a relief prospect or two.

    Giving Jace more time in AAA may help, but he’s 25 years old, and may just be best suited as a utility player. I just wish Aybar could have a dead cat bounce and we trade him for the 2016 Rob Whalen.

  17. Mallex, if he were to be, say, just a 3 WAR defense-and-speed left fielder is better than a replacement level LF who hits 20 HR. I get that we want more power, but if that power can’t play adequate defense and get on base, it doesn’t help you win more games. You have to hit a lot of balls over the fence to make up for all the ones you don’t get to in the outfield.

    P.S.: I’m talking about players like Adonis Garcia and Evan Gattis here

  18. #Braves sign LH Sean Burnett to minor league deal, to Triple-A in hopes he can help big-league club soon. Opted out of MiLB deal w/ Dodgers

  19. I don’t see how we can go to the playoffs with an OF that hits less that 10 HRs combined. I’m not saying Mallex isn’t better than the current LF options…just that next year we need to replace both corners if possible.

  20. @22 – For some reason that doesn’t excite me. O’Flaherty has looked better lately IMO and Cervenka still hasn’t allowed a run over 11 appearances. Does this mean that O’Flaherty’s second stint with Atlanta may be ending soon? Burnett hasn’t done anything significant since 2012.

  21. Burnett is going to Gwinnett for depth purposes. I don’t think we should expect to see a call up soon. I think it means we are cutting Bud Norris soon and Burnett will stay in Gwinnett’s rotation.

  22. Burnett will be up before too long. O’Flaherty is probably done, sadly. I wish the punchable face and persona of Matt Marksberry could get it together.

  23. “Burnett hasn’t done anything significant since 2012.”

    If you think about it, that describes nearly every player we have acquired since the middle of last season: Bourn, Swisher, Frenchy, EOF, Chacin, Beckham…

  24. And jace optioned.
    Lots of shuffling going on and none of it really matters.

  25. Pitcher A – 8.74 ERA – 22.2 IP, 34 Hs, 22 ERs, 6 HRs, 17 Ks, 12 BBs, 1.985 WHIP

    Pitcher B – 8.49 ERA – 23.1 IP, 27 Hs, 22 ERs, 6 HRs, 19 Ks, 21 BBs, 1.971 WHIP

    Pitcher A is Bud Norris, Pitcher B is Shelby Miller. Obviously Miller can still turn it around, but those are some ugly numbers for both pitchers.

  26. Stubbs designated. Brigac and D’Arnaud called up. Peterson optioned. Sheesh. Deck chairs.

  27. #29 – Pitcher B got us Inciarte, Blair, and Swanson. I wonder what Norris could fetch.

  28. The only reason they called up Tuiasosopo is because they screwed up the 30 day window for Boneface. As soon as Emilio is legal, they’ll ship Tui back to Gwinnett and bring Boner up.

  29. I’m not sure if I could classify Brignac and D’Arnaud as deck chairs either. I thought one of the prerequisites for a callup was a modicum of success at your current level. In the case of D’Arnaud and Tuiasosopo at least, this really isn’t the case.

  30. Drew Stubbs struck out 20 times in 38 AB’s for these Braves. That’s bad even by our standards. His career is nearly over, but…

    In 2010, his first full season in the majors, a 25-year-old Drew Stubbs hit 22 HR and stole 30 bases against 6 CS, produced a .773 OPS, and played pretty decent centerfield on the way to a 3.0 rWAR season.

    How might we project his continued ascension? The next season, he would strike out 205 times. He would only produce 5.0 more rWAR over the next 6 years, and by age 30, he’d be no better than replacement level.

  31. Geez, the Braves are changing out players weekly looking for that Chuckie Thomas, Ben Sheets, or Harangutan. It’s truly amazing that out of 12-14 players, we’ve been able to find basically two surprises: Chevanka and Chacin. Even Chris Withrow sucks. Who predicted that?

  32. Request: Candide, except rewritten to follow the arc of Rob’s Braves fandom.

  33. So a strikeout, a dinger, now he can walk Conforto and we’ll have the whole Folty experience.

  34. It’s the same routine every time. He’s a 2 pitch pitcher that can’t throw strikes and when he does they leave the ball park

  35. He may allow as many homers this inning as the Braves have hit this season.

  36. That’s 1 inning, 2 strikeouts, 3 homeruns, 4 earned runs. There’s a sick kind of beauty in it.

  37. Bright side: it’s not often that you get rewarded for striking out Bartolo Colon by reducing your ERA by 18.00.

  38. Well do we know his pitches thrown per homerun average from last year? Maybe that’s an improvement.

  39. Bartolo’s foul ball was hit 102 mph off Folty. That should tell us all we need to know.

  40. He has no command and you can basically go up there looking dead fastball and spitting on anything offspeed. Until that changes he can’t pitch in the majors.

  41. All joking aside, I don’t think the Braves did him any favors sitting him 3 extra days. A young guy excited to get back the big leagues, and doing so on 8 days rest is going to be a little over amped.

    That said.. get him through 4 innings and that will be positive momentum.

  42. Almost got those 4 innings out of him. But that counts. He didn’t implode, git himself under control and ate a couple innings.

  43. Yeah, I’m seeing reliever long-term. He just doesn’t have the arsenal to be a starter. I saw a four seamer mostly, some sliders, and a few 2 seamers.

  44. You don’t exactly want a reliever who gives up 3 HR in the first inning out of the pen, either. It’s not like they got to him because he didn’t have anything new to show them the second and third time through. They got him because his command has trash.

  45. If he can’t even get through an inning if he gets converted to the bullpen, then he is not a major leaguer.

  46. My point is that there’s nothing about tonight that sending him to the bullpen fixes. Making a late-inning reliever out if him is a solution without a problem. What he is now doesn’t help you in any role.

    He either develops some command, learns to attack the zone with quality strikes, or he doesn’t. And one start, or 5 starts or 10 starts doesn’t determine if a well-regarded prospect is a big leaguer.

  47. 69 — And Fredi said Jace was sent down so he could play everyday lol. (Which I really think is code for “we are skeptical that he can hit at the major league level”)

  48. Actually, he throws two different fastballs, a slider, a curve with a different velocity and action, and a change up.

    Half way through last season, he was throwing more strikes than league average, getting ahead of hitters at better than league average, and getting a better whiff rate than league average, but was giving up hits, like young pitchers do.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/mike-foltynewicz-is-pretty-good/

    Then he struggled for two months, pitching through what they eventually diagnosed as pneumonia, which ACTUALLY turned out to be blood clots and thoracic outlet syndrome.

    He starts the year in AAA, walks too many guys but avoids hard contact, comes up and makes his debut on 8 days rest, gets knocked around before settling down, but suddenly he’s always been terrible.

    He doesn’t need another pitch, he’s got 5 of them. He needs to develop his command, he needs to learn to attack hitters like he belongs in the big leagues, and you don’t learn that in AAA. Young pitchers struggle.

  49. Look, I’m not trying to say Folty is hopeless as a starter, but if he were to go to the pen, he could simplify things and perhaps throw harder. Starters pace themselves. The fact that a starter gets pasted in the first doesn’t imply they’d still get plastered every inning in relief. Maybe Folty’s command would be better if he weren’t trying to throw 4 pitches, you know?

    I’m not ready to give up on him as a starter, but I think he can be a fine reliever if he can’t figure it out.

  50. You’ve nailed the two reasons pitchers improve with a move to the pen: possible velocity increase, and having to keep fewer pitches sharp.

    And its entirely possible that he’s destined to be a reliever. What I’m saying is that nothing that happened tonight is evidence of it. He was throwing 97 in the 1st, and he was throwing almost nothing but fastballs and curves.

    He was nibbling, he was missing, and then he was only coming after them when he had no other choice (and when they could sit dead red on the fastball.) That doesn’t work in the 1st and it doesn’t work in the 9th.

    He needs to command better and attack hitters, not throw harder.

  51. I think he gets 9-10 starts, and if Sims is tearing it up, they’ll call him up and move Folty to the pen permanently. I’m really not sure where Jenkins plays in all of this.

    Barker and Ellis eventually get called up to AAA. It’s crazy to think that Newcomb, with a 2.84 ERA, has been a disappointment, but the expectations are so high and so is that walk rate.

  52. Who hangs up first: Chris Ellis for Mike Zunino, who’s killing it in AAA, is from Cape Coral, FL, and went to UF?

  53. Braves. Zunino has had 1000 AB in the majors and shown he’s incapable of hitting .200. We have better catching prospects in our system right now. That said, it would at least be worth considering. He’s only 25.

  54. His off speed pitches aren’t competitive. He doesn’t even get hitters to react or even get check swings. There just isn’t enough movement on that fastball to miss bats and 94-95 flat will get crushed.

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