This yearâ€™s Braves team is obviously better than last yearâ€™s. In 2021 our guys didnâ€™t reach the .500 mark until game 111. With tonightâ€™s 7-6 victory over the Redlegs, it only took until the second game to get there.
Charlie Morton took the hill and showed no ill effects from his broken leg nor from his advanced age. Really, heâ€™s 38 and looks as good as heâ€™s ever been. Charlie retired the first 12 batters he faced. He left after 5 and a third, having surrendered 2 runs on 2 hits and a walk.
Braves hitters jumped all over Reiver Sanmartin, the young Reds hurler making his third big league appearance. They showed admirable patience, drawing 5 walks and getting to him for 4 hits. After 3 innings it was 7-0. It was classic hibernation mode thereafter against several relievers Iâ€™ve never heard of–the Braves never scored again. That would come back to haunt in the 9th.
The night shift guys from last October were sharp. Minter allowed a couple of runs (one charged to Charlie, another of his own) on a groundball hit the sixth, making it 7-3. Smith and Matzek, though, got them six up six down in the 7th and 8th.Â
In the 9th, Kenly Jansen made his Braves debut. He allowed the first two to reach, but retired the next 2. He then allowed a weak two strike groundball hit to make it 7-4 game with the tying run at the plate. A soft line drive hit (again with 2 strikes) drove in two more to make it 7-6. All of a sudden this April was eerily reminding me of last April. But Jansen induced a fly ball to center by India to end the game and earn his first â€œBraves Saveâ€ (see the glossary). In Jansenâ€™s defense, none of the three hits he surrendered were hit hard. Still, weâ€™ll look for better results from him going forward.
On offense, Dâ€™Arnaud did the most damage, with 3 rbiâ€™s on a couple of hits. Matt Olson had his first three hits as a Brave, and drove another one to the wall in deep center.
Of course itâ€™s too early to tell anything from on the field results, but I really do believe this yearâ€™s edition will be superior to last yearâ€™s. Iâ€™m not predicting another World Series championship–October is a crapshoot, as we know. But this is a very deep lineup, especially once Ronald returns, the rotation featuring Fried, Morton, Anderson, and several kids with promise is solid, and the bullpen looks like the best in baseball. Itâ€™s still a young team, and the best players will be Braves for several years to come. Itâ€™s a good time to be a Braves fan.
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On this date 48 years ago, Henry Louis Aaron hit the most momentous home run in Atlanta Braves history. Iâ€™d like to say that I was among the 53,755 fans in the stands that night. Pretty much everyone I know who is around my age claims to have been thereâ€”and who am I to question that? It was the largest crowd to see the Braves in Atlanta up to that point.
I could claim I was there, but yâ€™all are a perceptive community who expect the truth from people who post here. (That is a rare thing on the internet, but itâ€™s why this blog is one of the few places I hang out in cyberspace.)Â Â Truth is, I was not in attendance at Atlanta Stadium that night. Â I did watch the game live, on a little black and white TV in my freshman dorm room.Â That in itself was pretty rare, because in that pre-TBS, pre-cable, pre-ESPN world, most games were not televised.Â But this one was on network TV on a Monday night, just in case Aaron did happen to hit the record breaker. Of course he obliged, on the first swing he took in the game. There is really nothing I can add to the reams already written about that night and Mr. Aaronâ€™s feat.
I wasnâ€™t there on April 8, but I did attend several other games that year. I was there on September 3, along with 1,561 other paid customers. (I donâ€™t recall anyone claiming to have been part of that throng.) The Braves won that night behind a strong start by Buzz Capra. Buzz only gave up one run (a solo shot by Stretch McCoveyâ€”no shame in that). It was his 13th win, and he lowered his season ERA to 2.45. Capra finished the season with 16 wins and led the league with a 2.28 ERA. Phil Niekro won 20 games and his ERA of 2.38 was second in the league. The 1974 season is remembered, and rightly so, for that cold April 8 night. But their 88-74 finish was actually the second best Braves record between 1969 and 1991â€”and only one game worse than the 89 win 1982 squad.
So why were they playing in front of â€œcrowdsâ€ of 1500 when they were playing so well? Partly because they were never in the pennant race that year; despite an excellent September, they finished 14 games behind the 102 game winning Dodges and 10 behind the 98-win Reds.
But because of the strong finish in 74, I was really pumped going into the 1975 season.Â The team had excellent pitching in 1974, and just the year before that they had the best offense in the league.Â I was sure they could combine the best of those two seasons and challenge the Dodgers and Reds.Â Three weeks into the season they were just a half game out. As it turned out they won 67 games and finished 40 games behind the Big Red Machine.
That 1975 season was typical of the teams in that decade.Â The ballpark was a lonely place in the 1970â€™s, especially in September. Attendance under 5000 was a lot more common than sell out crowds. There were many times I was one of fewer than 1000 in attendance.Â
My pointâ€”and I do have one in this lengthy excursus, albeit not a profound oneâ€”is that we should not take the current run of success (WS champs, four straight division titles) for granted.Â Having a competitive team to root for beats the hell out of rooting for a perennial loser.Â Â
Iâ€™ll say it again. Itâ€™s a good time to be a Braves fan.
* * *
On Saturday, the Braves go for a winning record behind Kyle Wright. Last year, when they first went over the .500 mark, they kept on winning and never looked back. I recommend they do that again.
Beautiful recap, tfloyd, thank you.
No fair reaching midseason form so early, tfloyd. Nice work. Memories of those low-four-figure-attendance games can never stale.
Thanks @1 and @2. I reported this spring in the best shape of my life.
Waitâ€”I promised to be truthful, didnâ€™t I? The best shape of my life was several decades ago.
Speaking of truth, when I wrote that the Braves last year didnâ€™t reach the .500 mark until game 111, that wasnâ€™t true. As those of you with better memories than mine (thatâ€™s most of you) are aware , the team reached .500 several times along the way but did not exceed .500 until August. I guess there was some truthiness in my statement even if not literally trueâ€”but thatâ€™s not a virtue.
Funny how my memory of the 1974 season is almost as sharp as my memory of last year. BTW, I really do remember that September 1974 game I attended. Iâ€™ll confess that for the exact attendance I looked it up on baseball reference. There were indeed a lot of low 4 digit attendance games back then.
Im for DFA on Ozuna .. or pay some of his salary and off load him … bring up Michael Harris … better in OF and another LH bat ..
Yes, Michael Harris is already hitting .250 in his one game at AA. Ozuna is only batting .143 so far. Pretty conclusive evidence.
Iâ€™m bald therefore Iâ€™m a hat dude. If youâ€™re a hat dude, you might like these!
those mesh tops are a bridge too far for me, but I couldn’t snag one of those ostentatious gold trimmed caps they wore on opening day quick enough so I’ll have another fitted cap to go in the rotation.
have you seen those big league chew hats that are going to drop on April 16th, looks like some fun colors.
I’ve recently been wearing backwards snapbacks like all the kids are doing. Tired of showering. So I picked up some Braves, Gators, and Rays’ snapbacks with the Braves Journal link.
I mentioned the DeShields possibility a few days ago. As noted, I forgot how bad he is offensively.
@3 – I’m in the best shape I’ll be in for the rest of my life anyway.
The Rowland Office Era was rough.
Enjoy it while you got it.
@5 Before we DFA Ozuna, I’d like to see him DH’ing and batting somewhere other than 4th. But he has looked awful both at the plate and in the field. We might be better off with Justin Upton out there (who can now be picked up for the ML minimum). Is Alex Dickerson or Orlando Arcia (or Upton) really worse in LF than Ozuna? In his most successful season (2020) Ozuna was the primary DH. TdA is beginning to look like a better cleanup hitter now.
Before we do any defending of Ozuna for small sample sizes, I think we should remember he was awful in 2021 too before being left behind.
Ozzie (bless his heart) is an awful leadoff hitter. Almost every other hitter caught on to Sanmartin’s changeup never being a strike except Ozzie.
Donâ€™t think it was posted here, but Fangraphs has us as the second best team in baseball, projected for 93 wins behind the Dodgersâ€™ 97, as the second best offensive team, also behind the Dodgers, and fourth best defensive team, tho in a near tie with several others. Those are by projected runs scored and runs allowed.
Left side, Swanson, to first!
Watching the Vanderbilt-Auburn baseball game; had no idea our old friend Tim Hudson is the Tigers’ pitching coach.
(They also have what looks like Bartolo Colon’s son playing 1B, except he’s a really good hitter! Already 9 homers on the year.)
This Dickerson guy is terrible .. he is our option for LH off bench .. really .. he’s awful …hopefully we find other options ..
Kyle Wright 38 pitches, 30 strikes through 3 innings. More of this please.
Make that 51 pitches 40 strikes through 4. Wright looks terrific.
Yeah itâ€™s been a great 3 innings for Wrightâ€”-I hope it continuesâ€¦
Wherever you are, Stu, Wright looks mighty good.
On WLW Cincinnati this evening in early innings the Cowboy, Jeff Brantley, has just hovered into territory somewhat embraced by his erstwhile PBP partner, Thom Brennaman, lifetime banned for a homophobic slur on a Reds cast a couple of years ago. Daddy Marty Brennaman has since used all his influence for a pardon, to no effect.
Tonight the topic was rookie Braves pitchers whose fastball might one day be good enough to pose a threat. Not the only threats you will find in Atlanta, said the cowboy. Nothing salacious, no four letter words, but distinctly cheap, nasty. It’s in the booth family apparently.
How are you? Long time no see.
Who is this pitcher and what did he do with Kyle Wright? 59 pitches, 46 strikes.
And reports of the baseball death of Marcel Ozuna were greatly exaggerated, I believe.
Great outing, Kyle…
We dithered a year too long for Senzel. He did have health issues though which may have held it up. His play in the field these three games is mouth watering.
Separately. Here we go again. Fabulous starting pitching into the 7th but departure with just a 2 run lead.
Enter the pen.
So Contreras is on the team because PiÃ±a is banged up and unavailable. (But apparently not enough for the IL.)
Well Contreras needs to go too .. In addition to Dickerson …we have some dead weight ….
Contreras, 3 k’s tonight.
If anyone has been given more chances than he ever deserved it’s him. I was a fan – away with him!
Olson 2 out double!
I donâ€™t know if Contreras is going to be a good player, but it is definitely too early to give up on him.
Olson is a lot slower on the bases than Freeman.
Geez, wish I could get paid a million bucks to play as badly as Dickerson.
Both Olson play at the plates were possibly reviewable, surprised they didn’t try , especially the first one.
Freddieâ€™s sprint speed in 2021 was 27 feet per second (pretty good speed for a big guy over 30). Olsonâ€™s was 25.9 feet per second.
Olson’s speed is Sid Bream-esque.
Olson should have been included in the Beijing Team for further speed training…isn’t that twice he’s been thrown out in a big game situation? He’s hitting though! Osuna lost two RBI’s thereby tonight.
O’Day ends eighth…we shall need 3 more outs, soon. Still same small margin. Ozzie HBP.Duval pop out. Dickerson K. Contreras pops out. We have stranded 10 base runners. To the ninth, still just 2 runs up.
Another two strike hit against the stupid shift. If we would at least get out of it with two strikes we would hardly have given up a run this series
Will Smith pitches 9th. Deja Vu. 1 0ut. Pinch hitter Drury, won first game. K, 2 out. Tommy Phan will hopefully fan. No, walk on full count. Votto to pinch hit. Tying run. 2/2. SMITH BAULKS!!
ground ball TO THIRD BASE WHERE THERE WAS NO FIELDER. 2/1.
BRAVES WIN BRAVES WIN BRAVES WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! pop up from Joey…..Jeeez.
Greetings and Apologies to tonight’s recap professional. No intent to take over, I never saw one pitch, unplanned, very skimpy.
Hunter Green/Ian Anderson tomorrow the man just said. Attendance another 40K plus.
Earlier, Yankees beat Red Sox 4/2 on Rizzo’s homer.
Turns out unbelievably John Sterling is still alive! they played his call…
IT IS HIGH…IT IS DEEP…IT IS FAR ………….. NOBODY BEATS THE RIZZ!
Yes, and Dominique is still magnifique no doubt.
And now: Hammers breach .500!
How about that Kyle Wright! If Ynoa comes through, we might already have a starting five.
I am still not on the Ozuna train. One good night does not make up for two bad ones and a bad early season last year. The whole lineup is still not really in sync. Olson and Riley are hitting but not much from anyone else. And, yes, Contreras still looks as bad as last year. If he can’t pick up some tips from Riley and learn to lay off the sliders outside, he’ll never hit.
Still lurking, Blazon.
The quality here at Mac’s place gets better and better. Thanks to all.
Kyle Wright threw a great game. And yes, Matt Olson is slow, but he can hit.
Go World Champs.
Anyone able to recap? Iâ€™m traveling back from Arizona today.
“I am still not on the Ozuna train. One good night does not make up for two bad ones and a bad early season last year.”
The guy has consistently hit for more than half a decade (OPS+ of 110, 149, 106, 109, 177 from 2016-20), but you’re going to declare him finished at age 31 because he got off to a slow start in 48 games in 2021, and because of three games in 2022 (in which he’s OPSing .962 btw)? Just be honest and tell us the real reason you want him off the team.
@44 Because my eyes tell me he’s not making good contact and he can’t hit a slider. He’s looking like the “bad” Riley used to look. Maybe he’ll turn it around but I saw him getting lucky last night and flailing the first two games. Not to mention that he looks like the most uncomfortable fielder I have ever seen (and a horrible arm that cost us in game 1).
Ozuna is on the books for ~$50 million. He’s going to be in the lineup.
Ozuna did not just have a bad start last year. He had nearly as many games and PAs as when he won a silver slugger in 2020. He had an OPS+ of 68. He showed no signs of turning it around. He would not be the first player who fell off a cliff at 30 or 31. I’d be a lot happier to see him as DH and batting 7th. I hope I’m wrong but that’s what I see.
I would rather not see the Braves do with Ozuna what the Angels did with Upton. Three consecutive sub-par years after 30. Even then, Upton never had an OPS+ less than 90. In fact, it would only cost the Braves the league minimum to replace Ozuna with Upton.