Rain and Fireworks: 8-7 in 11

Tuesday night, the Braves hit 4 solo home runs in the second inning.  Eighty-eight teams have hit four or more homers in an inning.  The Braves have done it 8 times.  But only 16 teams have hit four solo shots and the Braves have done it only once before: on May 20, 2001 Andruw Jones, Brian Jordan, Javy Lopez and Wes Helms went solo yard in the 7th, all off future Brave Alan Embree.  For a team with Quilvio Veras and Rico Brogna, that’s some pretty good hitting.  (I’m clearly having too much fun with my new database.)

This got me thinking about the 2001 Braves and reminding myself how lucky we were to have three Hall of Fame pitchers in the starting rotation.  (Actually, Smoltz was the closer on that team: the rotation was Maddux, Glavine, Millwood, Odalis Perez and John Burkett.)   This was a team that had 24 position players on the roster at one time or another, and only three had an OPS+ of 100: Chipper (who had one of his best seasons all by his lonesome) Brian Jordan and Julio Franco.  I’m not counting Steve Torrealba who hit .500 in two plate appearances.  What we’re learning now is just how talented an offensive team you need to have to succeed with even an above-average pitching staff.  (I wrote this before Chip made this point in the broadcast: I’m mortified.)

On to game 3 of the series with Pirates, the two middle games of which were not started by Joe Musgrove.  Instead we were treated to Mitch Keller.  Who is he and why am I saying terrible things about him?  (No one under 60 will get that reference, and I doubt many over 60 will get it either.)  Mitch Keller is the first winner in MLB history of the “look younger than Mike Soroka when you pitch against him” contest.  (For the record, Keller is older.)  He also seems to have a good live fastball.  But not quite live enough.  He gave up three runs in the first inning.  In the top of the second, he bunted into a double play to hold the Pirates scoring to two runs.  He then gave up another run in the bottom of the second, and another two in the third on a single by Old Man Soroka.  So that’s who Mitch Keller is.  Better luck in the future, young fella.

Meanwhile, Soroka appears to have pulled a reverse-Samson: hittable when he has facial hair.  He would have given up more than two runs in the first three innings without good plays by Freddie and Josh (on the bunt double play) and by Ozzie (to stop a ball from going through the infield) and Dansby (on a blooper by Melky.)  Two more in the fourth kept the game close, and a homer to Starling Marte in the 5th pulled the Pirates within one.  He left after five with a one run lead.  I recommend any barber but Smitty’s and this hair thing can be fixed.

With the youngsters done pitching (it was past their bedtimes) the game belonged to the bullpens.  Tomlin didn’t pitch badly in two innings of work, but gave up the tying run in the top of the 6th.  An hour of rain came in the bottom of the 7th.  If I were faithfully reporting on the game, I’d make you all read irrelevant things for an hour, or watch the third period of the Stanley Cup Finals, which is what I actually did.  Minter came on in the 8th and survived a runner in scoring position. But Luke’s hand turned cool in the top of the 9th – a Josh Bell homer gave the Pirates the lead.

But these are your resilient Braves, right?  Austin Powers a homer to dead center off Crick to lead off the 9th.  Webb pitched the 10th and 11th, finishing with a noisy out to Melky.  And it finished in bottom of the 11th: Riley on a HBP scoring from first on an Ozzie double.  8-7 win with another game in less than 12 hours.


The “disagree with Chip without showing him up” train continues:

Chip: “Another two strike foul.  I don’t know if they keep this stat, but the Pirates surely lead the National League, if not the majors.”

Glavine: “Well, they’ve certainly had a number of those in this series.”  Brilliant.  There’s absolutely no way I could challenge Chip that passively.

Idle Chip question: I wonder if he knows what a “Screaming Mimi” is?  He uses the term constantly.

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

104 thoughts on “Rain and Fireworks: 8-7 in 11”

  1. JonathanF – fabulous recap for such a late night. More entertaining than we deserve. Thank you.

    Just one thing to add…… WE’RE IN FIRST ALL ALONE!! Woohoo!!

  2. Good morning from Vienna. I love extra innings games and I got to watch the 11th.
    Riley is heating back up again and so is Ozzie. As someone mentioned in the last thread – these guys are so much fun to watch playing and interacting with each other. Most fun Braves team.

    Oh and JonathanF, thanks so much for the fast and excellent as usual recap.

  3. Wonderful recap to post in the middle of the night, JonathanF. Your new data base clearly dynamic, your cynicism unbounded when it matters.

    timo..hello Vienna, suspect this is a first for Braves Journal, shall we dance?

  4. Braves only have 2 off-days this month, which is great for me ‘cause I ain’t seen the Braves play a game all week (sorry for the reference). But anyway, I think this is a stretch that we might have an advantage over Philly since we have the organizational depth to sustain these grinds a little better than the others.

    This team is fun to watch. If now the starting pitching gets ironed out, Watch out.

  5. A “reverse Samson.” Brilliant! Send that young man a razor!

    Great recap, Night Owl JonathanF.

  6. Some serious defensive praise for Acuna at The Athletic:

    Ranking the best defensive outfields in baseball right now

    8. Atlanta Braves
    Gold Glove winner Ender Inciarte should return later this month and if he can find his way back to the lineup (it’s now crowded with the addition of Austin Riley), he gives the Braves a standout defensive outfield. At the very least, he’ll be the top defensive “closer” in baseball. A year ago, he led outfielders in Statcast’s new metric measuring an outfielder’s ability to get a good jump on a fly ball.

    Otherwise, the story with the Braves is Ronald Acuña’s improvements. He currently ranks second in defensive runs saved in left field (6) despite splitting his time between there and center due to Inciarte’s injury. Acunña’s biggest jump at the former position is in baserunner deterrence, though he’s shown nice work going back to get the ball too. He’s the fastest left fielder and among the top five fastest outfielders in the game.


  7. Is an Athletic subscription worth it? I’ve pondered one but I don’t really like DOB.

  8. @9 It’s pretty cheap and the baseball coverage is good. I’d say it’s worth it.

  9. @9, it’s pretty good, but they have a lot of promo codes so definitely don’t pay full price. I found a promo code to get an annual subscription for 50% off the first year somewhere.

    They give me a referral link where you can get 25% off: https://theathletic.com/checkout?pc=raf25&plan_id=45&shared_by_name=Alex&shared_by=1524069

    (If you go via my link I get a $10 referral bonus. But you can probably find an even better deal if you look hard enough.)

  10. The offensive production of this team is the reason why they are currently in 1st place. With Freeman, Markakis, Acuna, Donaldson, and Albies all having solid offensive seasons, these guys are leading the charge. The pitching is mediocre at best, especially if they get to the post-season, as is their defense.

  11. The offense is looking scary good with Albies and Markakis suddenly hot. If Donaldson gets hot too, oh boy… Seems like he could use an off day today. Riley (may he live for a thousand years) might need one too after that HBP. Maybe we’ll see Johan and Charlie get starts today. With Keuchel on the way, AA is looking pretty smart right now.

  12. Thank you, JonathanF. Well done. Perhaps JD can start another brawl. I’d rather this Bug hurler wait a day. Then again, even the peerless Soroka occasionally is scored upon. Must be the whiskers.

  13. @13 AA was a guest on Buster Olneys podcast last night. Discussing the pitching needs (“we have underperformed so far this season”), the Keuchel acquistion and expecting ALL conternders to be looking for bullpen help the next seven weeks. It will be a very crowded field.

  14. Re: The Athletic, I resisted for a loooooong time, particularly after they hired Jim Bowden to this supposedly-elite staff of journalists, but I finally paid for a year on Cyber Monday, when it was 60% off.

    DOB is much better than he ever could be at the AJC (or than he’s capable of restraining himself to be on Twitter), but Schultz remains a dud.

    Only one of the other teams I care about has what I would consider above-average coverage there, and I pay very little attention to most of the national, wide-ranging stuff.

    Anyway, for $2/month, I’ve enjoyed it, but I doubt I’ll be paying for another year if it costs any more than that.

  15. @18 Yes, but I use it exclusively for baseball and I still think it’s worth it.

  16. @18 Yes, I follow the Bruins :( as well on it and it has been great. They have a slowly growing podcast selection as well, some are general some are team specific.

  17. I love these recaps where the recapper beforehand wrote up something significant about something going on in recent memory, like the home run barrage the night before and how that connects to a previous era or team. I know I really appreciate reading that.

  18. Per 538 ratings, the 19 games starting Friday will be our toughest 3 week opponent stretch for the rest of the season (3 PHI, 3 NYM, 3 @ WAS, 4 @ CHC, 3 @NYM, 3 PHI). We avoid Arrieta and Eflin this weekend and hopefully feast on Pivetta, Nola and TBD Sunday starter.

  19. Thanks all.. It will be interesting to see what happens today. This is one of the rare circumstances where I think the road team has an advantage since they don’t have to drive home, try and get to bed only to get up in four or five hours and drive back. Last night on the broadcast they said that SunTrust has some places for players to stay overnight… look for some sleepy swings. Let’s see if Acuna and Albies have stopped partying… Youth.

  20. I thought Snit would take the opportunity to rest both Donaldson and Markakis in this day game, especially with the Phillies series coming up. They are both in the lineup. Riley is sitting this one out. Because of the HBP last night?

  21. It must be the hand—otherwise I can’t imagine Riley sitting today. Hope it’s not serious

    Still don’t know what it will take for Camargo to get a start.

  22. Quick, someone forward Johan Keith Lockhart’s email address so he can get a copy of The Pictures.

  23. Our announcers are treating the Pirates lineup like the ’27 Yankees. They are near the bottom of the league in runs scored…

  24. Who did Jason Hursh piss off?

    He had a cup of coffee in 2017 and has been stashed in AA since last summer…

  25. @30 My wife and I have concluded it’s a game he plays with the camera. He knows he’s doing it. He knows it looks kind of goofy. He’s not really listening to Chip but just patiently waiting. I get the feeling he can see himself on TV out of the corner of his eye so he’s having some fun with it. LOL

  26. The score lines from all games last night:


    The lowest scoring game of the night as Philly’s 2-0 loss to Arizona. The average total runs scored by both teams, across the league, was 9. Perhaps folks should come to terms with the new juiced ball era of MLB.

  27. @30,38: as weird as it sounds, Jeff is probably my favorite announcer. Admittedly, the bar is low.

    Glad to see Joh’ans getting the day off.

  28. @40 That comes out to an average team score of exactly 5 runs (assuming I mathed correctly). How exactly is what you posted evidence of a juiced ball?

    I think we all know they changed the baseball and made it juiced. The evidence of that is a surge in home runs per game, though, innit?

  29. Who wrote that article on Acuna’s supposed great defense? Didn’t even touch the ball and dove unnecessarily. Terrible inning defensively for him and Joyce.

    Can’t wait for the pirates to piss off until next year.
    Funny thing is, even with Julio’s struggles today, he’s probably done the best against them compared to the rest of our starters.

  30. It’s not that complicated. From the official rules: “A fielder is given an error if, in the judgment of the official scorer, he fails to convert an out on a play that an average fielder should have made.” Joyce committed an error. Acuna did not.

  31. Ronald makes mistakes, but the data shows that he makes more plays than most center fielders. His speed and athleticism make him a very good defensive outfielder already. As he matures, he will only get better. Errors are not good, but there’s a lot more to defense than fielding percentage.

    Of course he’s not Andruw or Ender, but very few are. He may become at least as good as ender.

  32. Even better, if Pache can handle Mlb pitching, Acuña will become a corner outfielder again, and he will be one of the best in the league.

  33. No, don’t go to a friggin’ commercial when Snitker is about to actually make the game interesting. That umpire should so far be ashamed of himself!

  34. That’s not Angel, is it?

    Good inning, Julio. Looks like he’ll at least start the sixth.

  35. I agree, Tfloyd, just found it funny that the article praising him came out today and apparently jinxed him.

    Ready for robot umps , BTW. Acuna takes too many third strikes looking, but many of them are bad calls. Soto in that regard, always seems to get more beneficial calls.

  36. Umpire violation. 30 lashes. To be delivered publicly during the 7th inning stretch by the offended player and/or coach.

  37. Nice inning. Keep it going, boys. Punish that pen.

    Oh yeah, I do like Ozzie a whole bunch.

  38. Mus Grave
    to whom we can now address a sussed wave
    overwhelmed by the Braves hitting machine
    he now complains some of the things they said were rather mean.

  39. What a great turnaround by Teheran. A couple of innings ago I never thought he’d go six. He continues to make very good to excellent starts.

  40. @69 They need more than 1 new reliever

    …and here comes Marte at 0-3 with the large probability that he gets a hit to at least tie the game

    Well color me surprised…0-4

  41. This time the problem with Touki wasn’t walks. In 1/3 of an innings he simply got clobbered by all and sundry. And a 4 run lead was cut in half, getting late. That’s about as bad an outing as a middle relief pitcher can have.

    Good job cleaning up the mess by Schwartz.

  42. Yes, Chip, baseball truly is an international sport.

    Any chance of a deluge in this one, Chip?

  43. re Schwartz…if you guys didn’t know he has put in to have his name anglicized.

  44. Man, counting on Blevins for a full inning in a tight game is highly risky. But there you go. Great job.

    Blevins is strictly a Loogy; fortunately he faced two lefties.

  45. Nice play, short, first. Slap some leather, team.

    I want to see the south end of the Pirates. Get out of town, Buccos.

  46. The Great Saint Luke, after offering a few crumbs of compassion, slams the door shut through the heart of their order.

    7 game sweep!

  47. Phillies fans have that annoying night of watching the competition win and move up an extra half game and not even being able to take it back because they’re off tonight.

    1.5 up and on pace for 90+ wins. Somebody do a Chief check make sure he’s not self-harmy.

  48. There’s a reason Julio did better than all our other pitchers. He’s a “natural” at “beat the Pirates” baseball. Just enough strikes to get hitters into bad counts and then effectively wild. Only 1ER in 6 innings and ERA under 3.00 now. Is there any doubt Julio is our second best starter?

    Also, It was nice for Luke to get out of the 9th but he cannot walk that tightrope forever. The Pirates got to him both the last two days. We still need to add a top notch closer. Our bullpen needs two closers – maybe a left and a right.

    After today, seems like Touki needs to go back to AAA for more seasoning. Put Folty to the pen when Keuchel is activated. That might make our pen truly stronger. I’d love to see Will Smith paired with Luke as closers with Minter and Webb/Swarzak for the 8th.

  49. I have kind’ve been in the Louis Winthorpe / Billy Ray Valentine mode. I haven’t been ready to trade.

    NOW, it’s “Buy, Buy, Buy!”

    I would rather mimic Cleveland last year and offer one elite prospect for a starter and reliever, or two relievers and a lottery ticket. Put enough on the table that the other guy is really scared he might look like an idiot for not dealing.

    Or, alternatively, offer an extremely large 40FV on 40 man roster pu pu tray for something. We are going to have to clear a lot of those spots this year anyway.

    Get ‘er done, AA.

  50. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

    worship numbers, learn to be wrong.

    Roger’s example from today’s game, and back, is a perfect one.

  51. @92

    Haha. I actually didn’t read all the comments yet today, and then I went to search for when I made that comment, and here you are.

    I said that on May 4th. Since then: 7 GS, 38.1 IP, 0.70 ERA. Nice work.

  52. @81

    no…i’m bad at names! Think i got mixed up with that General back when – Schworkop, or whatever.

    94 gracious.

  53. I honestly think Julio is worth a lot more to us than he’s worth on the trade market.

    Any GM evaluating him has to notice that while his ERA is 3.03, his FIP is 4.21 and his xFIP is 4.83. His strand rate (80.7%) is well above his career rate of 76.2%, and his HR/FB% is just 10.1%, well below the 12.5% mark he’s posted since 2015. His BABIP is .238, far below his career .267. Everything about him screams “REGRESSION!”

    That’s not to say he’ll regress all the way, though. That .267 career BABIP is incredibly low; among all pitchers with at least 1000 innings pitched since 1990, he’s tied with Pete Harnisch for 7th-lowest. (Dennis Martinez and Joaquin Benoit are tied for 5th; Marco Estrada is 4th, Mariano Rivera is 3rd, Trevor Hoffman is 2nd, and Chris Young the very tall pitcher is 1st.)

    What’s more, his FIP is ALWAYS higher than his ERA, like a reverse Ricky Nolasco. His career ERA of 3.61 is more than a half-run lower than his career FIP of 4.17. In fact, among all pitchers with more than 1000 IP since 1990, he has the third-biggest FIP gap of how much higher his FIP is than his ERA, behind only Ryan Franklin and Chris Young. His FIP-ERA mark of 0.56 is actually slightly ahead of the 0.55 mark posted by Mariano Rivera or the 0.49 posted by Tom Glavine.

    So, again, Julio Teheran seems to be very good at pitching better than he looks like he’s pitching.

    But if you were a GM, and you watched Julio’s smoke-and-mirrors act all year like we have, exactly how good of a prospect would you want to give up for him?

  54. I understand that Newcomb is in a groove and Fried is the future of the rotation, but Julio Teheran is currently the second best starter on the team, a known quantity and veteran who has been in the stretch run and playoffs multiple times in his career, on a first place pennant contending squad. Why on Earth would you trade him for a prospect?

  55. @96–All that is true (fascinating looks at the stats, Alex), but more importantly I don’t think we are in a position to be trading away any starting pitchers right now. I think we still have a shortage of dependable starting pitchers, at least until Folty and Newk and maybe Gausman can prove themselves. And we don’t know for sure what we’re getting with Keuchel. And Fried and Soroka are untested at anything beyond 100 innings.

    Don’t get me wrong—there is the potential for a very deep and effective rotation. But there are still a lot of question marks. For now we are very fortunate to have Julio every fifth day.

  56. The team’s depth—Julio, Ender, Duvall, et al—will become even more important to maintain as the season wears on.

  57. I’ll have a recap posted later this afternoon. Been on a work call for the past hour and a half…

  58. Teheran’s situation begs the question does a pitcher on a contender ever pitch well enough to have trade value but not well enough to stay on the team? I’m sure there are cases where trading a front line starter has worked and the contender has gotten better that year, but my guess is it usually backfires if management is dumb enough to take that path.

  59. In other “remember back in the offseason when it was all going to be horrible and terrible and ownership refused to even try to compete?” news:

    Bryce Harper, 113 OPS+
    Nick Markakis, 107 OPS+
    Manny Machado, 95 OPS+

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