Undefeated in July: Hammers 9, Reds 1

Behind another stellar start by Varsity Fried and a four hit night by Dansby Swanson, the Braves cruised over the Redlegs 9-1.  There is no established definition of an “ace,” but however you define it, we can all agree that Fried has become one.  Pontifex Maximus wasn’t infallible, but he went seven innings, surrendering only one run on five hits, all singles, with 5 K’s and no walks.

Mike Minor took the hill for the Reds, and I didn’t recognize him at first—he doesn’t look like the kid who pitched for the Braves in 2011-13.  He also hasn’t been pitching like that kid; his ERA coming into this game was 7.71. Austin Riley got things started with a two run shot to center in the top of the 1st .   At that point I figured this game would be a laugher.  It did ultimately turn into a rout, but it took a while.  Minor was surprisingly effective after the first, shutting the Braves out over the next five innings.  Fried allowed three singles and a run in the 3rd.  After that, though, Max only allowed one more baserunner through 7.

Fortunately, the Reds’ bullpen wasn’t as effective as Minor (understatement of the year). Lt. Dans hit a big three run homer with two outs in the top of the 7th, to break open what had been a tight 2-1 game.  Dansby had two doubles and a single to go with the homer. After a frustrating series in Philly, Swanson made it clear that he’s still on his hot streak. Our guys went on to score 3 more in the 8th and another in the 9th.  Collin McHugh and Crash Oblivion (or was it Silvino Bracho—I can’t tell the difference) tossed goose eggs in the 8th and 9th (h/t to JonathanF for the anagram). It wasn’t really eggs—that would be a big mess– but they did shut them out.  Who is Bracho? He’s the guy who took the roster spot of Jesus (Keep Me Near the) Cruz.

Just as in June, our Hammers have won the first game of the month. I’m not predicting that they will win the first 14 of this month, but I can state with certainty that if they do they will be in first place come July 14 (having just swept the Mets on July 11-13).  And here’s another prediction: if the Braves win 21 games in each of the next three months, as they did in June, we will all be happy with their final record.

  *   *   *

JonathanF started a discussion of the all star game.  As many said, interleague play and so many games on TV have made it a very different experience than it was decades ago. Like many of the oldsters on here, I have no interest in the game—haven’t watched one this millennium.  But as a kid, I loved the ASG.  I remember the 1966 game like it was yesterday.  Here are the first four hitters in the NL lineup: 1. Mays CF; 2. Clemente LF; 3. Aaron, LF; 4. McCovey 1B.  The battery was Koufax on the mound, Torre behind the plate.  If those guys somehow came back, I’d be glued to the set.

There has also been more discussion of a certain Dodgers first baseman and his agents.  I really don’t care about any of the Dodgers, and I sure don’t have anything new or interesting to add to that saga. 

 *   *   *

Michael Harris II didn’t have a hit in tonight’s game, but he did something even better.  He walked and scored in front of Swanson’s 7th inning homer.  The one weakness in his game has been plate discipline.  If he can learn to take more of those pitches out of the zone, the sky’s the limit.  On Saturday afternoon, Harris’s principal competition for Rookie of the Year, Spencer Strider, makes the start.  I’m pulling for both of them to make the ROY race a close one down to the wire.

Author: tfloyd

Tfloyd was born on the site of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. Before the stadium was built, that is; it was then the site of Piedmont Hospital. It took the Braves another 11 years to arrive on what is now Hank Aaron Drive, but I‘ve always liked to arrive at the ballpark early.

47 thoughts on “Undefeated in July: Hammers 9, Reds 1”

  1. One small damper on Harris is his BABIP is over .400. Assuming that comes down as he’s thrown fewer pitches in the zone, if his walk rate rises proportionally, he will be every bit as valuable or more. That has to be his adjustment. So far so good.

  2. I hear what you’re saying about the ASG, tfloyd, but I don’t think it was a function of youth, but of World Series-only, 20-team baseball. Nobody knew whether or not Denny McLain could get Willy Mays out. (McLain started and pitched three hitless innings.)

    But even then, while there a lot of HOFers in that game (all four guys who pitched for the NL are in the Hall) it also had Pete Richert and Billy McCool. So even though that game was far more star-studded than anything we have today, it still wasn’t ALL stars (Richert pitched 1/3 of an inning and took the loss)

  3. From justbaseball.com

    “Harris is already the best centerfielder in baseball in the eyes of Baseball Savant’s Success Rate Added, reeling in 8% more fly balls than the fancy computers expect.”

    Pache is number 7 on that list but also carries a. 159 ba and -.6 WAR.

  4. Thank you, tfloyd. Agreed – Max is an ace. He’s our ace. Lock him up, AA. Two tough pitching matchups coming up. Winning 2 out of 3 will be great.

  5. Harris has been everything we were promised with Pache in the field, and no one would’ve expected his offensive game to be this strong. I wonder how much his inflated BABIP is swayed by his ability to use the whole field.

  6. Harris’s may be one of those hitters whose BABIP will be consistently higher than one would expect. But the current number is luck in a small sample size and not sustainable. As I said before, he’s got to walk more to be all that he can be. I do expect him to make that adjustment, but he will struggle at some point as he does. In any event, the defense makes him valuable even if his bat is not nearly what it’s been so far.

  7. Touki DFA’d. Such a shame he never lived up to his potential. Clearly someone else will give him a chance. Good luck for him. Hope he succeeds.

  8. Thank you, Tfloyd. Great recap, wonderful discussion. Having nothing of value to contribute, I will simply enjoy the wisdom of those who do. Thanks, y’all.

  9. 7 — He had moved to the bullpen recently and was still getting lit up. He’s 26, so he needed a change of scenery.

  10. I didn’t get to see the game yesterday, but RAJ was HBP twice? The MLB recap video didn’t show either, so I assume the Reds weren’t targeting him. Is that right?

  11. I am at GAB today for the game so hopefully continuing my all tine perfect in person Braves record

  12. @10–both looked like pitches that just got away. Neither was at this head. Ronald does crowd, and opponents try to pitch him in, so has he will probably continue to get hit more than other hitters. Having said that, the Marlins have targeted him repeatedly, and there ought to be consequences to Mattingly.

  13. Yes. that’s on Duvall–boneheaded mistake–he should have been watching. Still, I’m not sure why that isn’t a dead ball. The home plate ump called it ball four. Shouldn’t baserunners be allowed to rely on the home plate ump call?

    I understand the rule book is clear on this. It’s a live ball–that’s what Chip reports, and who am I to question Chip? Still, doesn’t this create a possible opportunity to steal a base while the catcher is focused on staring at the first base ump (not when the bases are loaded like here, but maybe with a runner on second)? I don’t remember ever seeing that happen.

  14. Hooooo boy what an insanely frustrating series of events – bases loaded nobody out, Mahle can’t find the plate (having thrown 20-25 pitches in the inning without an out), 3-1 count to Arcia. Mahle throws a pitch clearly outside that Arcia starts and stops his swing on, ball 4 called. Appeal to 1B, called a strike. Duvall walks to 2B and tagged out. Then Mahle comes back with a strikeout next pitch! And then strikes out Harris!

    IMO Arcia had no business even thinking about offering at that pitch and Duvall obviously is having trouble keeping focus. What a frustrating sequence – that baserunning blunder is something I’d expect from Adam LaRoche.

    On the plus side Mahle threw a ton of pitches and we have the top of the lineup up. So not a total loss.

  15. @19

    Yes, it does create that possibility.

    I would have more sympathy for Duvall if he started going right when the umpire called ball four, but he saw there was an appeal and based what he was doing on the movements of Arcia. All he had to do was look at the first-base umpire.

  16. I’m kinda woreout with Heredia … maybe Rosario is close to coming back .. we have a terrible bench ..

  17. If nothing else, the Braves have made Mahle throw over 80 pitches through 4, and will get into the soft underbelly of the bullpen soon.

  18. 24 — Yeah, I would imagine that if Duvall has to go to the IL that Rosario gets activated. Though that doesn’t solve any bench problems.

  19. Was there an injury to Duvall, or did Snitker pull him punitively for the baserunning mistake?

  20. 27 — Before his blunder, Duvall reached base after being hit on the hand with a fastball.

  21. I am still mourning how our farm system is so depleted. I think Contreras is not rookie eligible. But Strider and Harris should monopolize Rookie of the tear vote.

  22. I think he was upset with the strike zone or something. Wanting a warning or Strider to be ejected doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I guess we’ll find out the next time Acuna comes up, though.

    I also don’t think he’d have gotten run quite so quickly had it not been about balls and strikes.

  23. Once upon a time I wanted to get Nick Senzel to replace Austin Riley.

    Nobody ever listens to me.

    (Hell is other people.)

  24. Coop, Braves Journal listens to you. We might not view young ‘uns the same, but we listen.

  25. 32 — Which is also strange because the strike zone has been fine. Probably just a motivational ploy to get his team to wake up.

  26. @37

    Yeah, I was kinda thinking that myself…particularly with how over the top the argument was.

  27. Votto is a 10/5 guy, Chip, and likely wants to retire as a Red.

    Meanwhile he doesn’t even mention Pham or Drury, on one year deals. Idiot.

  28. The fresh prince has gone completely stale. I don’t want him in any high leverage situations. Can’t command his pitches this year. We got lucky he didn’t blow this game.

  29. The majesty of a Will Smith save, ladies and gentlemen…in case you’d forgotten. Only a true genius like Will Smith could make sure to find the inch on Senzel’s bat between the ball dying on the warning track and the ball flying out of the stadium and into the Ohio River.

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