It’s not easy recapping Friday games, especially when they are on the west coast. I’m not complaining, mind you. This 2023 Braves team is a delight to write about at any time. This Braves team is remarkable in many ways, but last night’s 5-1 over the Giants reached a new pinnacle of awesomeness. Not only do the Braves keep on winning, they even manged to do so in a way did me a big favor last night.

The Braves essentially played the same game last night that they had played the previous Friday, making a recap very simple. Almost everything was identical: a four run victory over the Giants (check). The pitching star: Spencer Strider, tossing seven dominant innings, with strikeouts aplenty and only one walk (check). Two scoreless innings by the bullpen (check). The offensive star: Michael Harris II, getting multiple hits and basically carrying the team offensively (check).

OK, there were a few minor differences. Strider only struck out nine last night, as opposed to ten last week, and he actually gave up a run. Joc Pederson tripled and scored on a groundout in the seventh, to end a 20 inning scoreless streak. (By the way, Charlie Morton has the longest current scoreless streak, at 18 innings.) Harris only had three hits last night as opposed to four last week, but this week he hit a homer, scored three, drove in three, and stole two bases.

The Braves have a 13.5 game lead in the division, and are now on pace to win 106 games, which would tie the all-time franchise record. Things couldn’t be much better.


You may recall that last week I attended a Motown tribute concert during the Braves game. The music caused me to reflect on the 1960’s Braves and the time when I fell in love with baseball and the Braves in particular.

Last night I attended another concert. When I agreed to recap Friday games, I had no idea I’d have such a busy social calendar. Unlike last week, I was able to watch the game, since they were on the west coast and we made it home by 10:00. For us that’s a late night out.

Anyway, this concert was a fundraiser for a local nonprofit, headlined by a classic rock tribute band. The bulk of the set was 70’s and 80’s songs.

Like last week, this music also brought back a flood of Braves memories. By and large, the 1970’s and 80’s were not a good time to be a Braves fan, and there are some painful memories. The band played China Grove by the Doobie Brothers, from 1973. That year the Braves led the league in runs scored and home runs, and for the first time in MLB history, they had three players with 40 or more home runs.  They still finished 76-85 and 22.5 games out of first.

The band next played Two Tickets to Paradise by Eddie Money, from 1978. That year, despite a 10.4 bWAR season from the remarkable Phil Niekro, and excellent rookie seasons by ROY Bob Horner and Larry McWilliams, they still lost 92 games and finished 26 games out.

Next we heard Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive from 1986. There was nothing good about the ‘86 team. They finished 72-89 and 23.5 games behind. As bad as 1986 was, they were worse in each of the next four years. But in some ways 1986 was the epitome of futility. Manager Chuck Tanner insisted on batting Omar Moreno in the leadoff spot, despite his .276 OBP(!). Omar the Outmaker did lead the team in stolen bases with 17—against 16 caught stealings.

Finally the fortunes turned in the worst to first 1991 season, which is still my favorite Braves campaign. Over the last three decades the magnitude of the heights has been greater than the depths of the 70’s and 80’s.

Those of you who only remember post-1991 Braves have a difficult time understanding what the 1970’s and 80’s were like. I know I’m coming across like the grumpy old man who tells you how tough life was in his youth (I also walked five miles in the snow to get to school each day). I don’t mean to be grumpy. For some reason, though, the memories of those miserable teams loom larger for me than the many terrific seasons since. I learned to love baseball in the 1960’s, but in the 70’s and 80’s I plumbed the mysteries of following a miserable team year after year. Like Sysyphus, despite the failures of each season, by the next spring I resolutely pushed the rock back up that hill.


By the way, we were at the fundraising concert this evening with a friend who is a serious Nationals fan. We both took some delight that the Nats are now ahead of the Mets in the NL East standings.


This afternoon the Braves keep it rolling behind Max Fried. They face a rookie I haven’t heard of named Ryan Walker, who’s apparently pitched pretty well. But Varsity is rounding into shape. Fried, Strider, and the recent version of Charlie Morton will make for an imposing October rotation.

Braves Saturday Lineup

Will Spencer Strider join the 300 Club?

After a small skid that saw his strikeout numbers decline, Captain Stache has accrued 19 strikeouts in his last 2 games and currently needs 64 more to get 300. He’s the only pitcher this year that has a shot at 300, and only 19 pitchers in MLB history have accumulated 300 strikeouts in a season, but many are repeat offenders.

There are 35 games left, and the conservative estimate is that he’ll get 6 more starts. Averaging 10.5 K/game will get him there. In 26 starts thus far, he’s averaging 13.9/9 innings. However, he’s only averaging about 6 innings per start, which equates to 9.3K/game. Multiply that 9.3 by 6 and you get 56Ks, 8 shy of 300. The math says he’ll fall short, but if we’ve learned anything about Strider, he’s one determined SOB.