A few weeks off, then I get two.

The Game

Charlie Morton against Taijuan Walker.

Some Keystone Kops adventures in the top of the first. RAJ faceplants on his first stolen base try, saved only by Ozzie Albies hitting a foul ball. Then he is thrown out trying to steal second with a swim move better suited to a wading pool. But then Austin Riley advances from home to home (touching all the bases in the interim) when a double off the wall is misplayed into a triple and then misplayed into a run with some flaccid outfield play and a scattershot chuck home.

The Braves scored another in the 3rd on a Michael Harris II double and RAJ bloop single RBI number 94. But the Phillies tied it up in the bottom of that inning on a double by Alec Bohm, who was out a couple of years ago, by the way.

The Braves retook the lead on a 5th inning doubles by Albies and Matt Olson that combined to score three. But the Phillies came back with two runs on a single and a fly ball lost in the sun by RAJ which would have led to the tying run except for the 3,000th time Alec Bohm and Travis d’Arnaud met at the plate… this time called correctly.

The 6th led to the departure of Walker after an Arcia double, followed by the departure of baseballs from Citizens Bank Park off Andrew Bellatti by Harris and RAJ. This made it 8-4 and forced Robby Thompson to decide whether he’d rather keep trying or keep some arms around for the nightcap.

The 7th led to the departure of Morton followed by a departure from Trea Turner off Dylan Lee making it 8-6. At this point Snit made a decision that I didn’t quite understand. He decided to go with his A team bullpen (Jimenez, Minter, Iglesias) to close the game out. That strategy probably maximizes the probability of splitting the doubleheader, and I guess that’s what you’re trying to do in the Braves’ position.

But it didn’t really work this time. Jimenez was fine, and so was Minter. But Iglesias, after getting two quick outs, gave up a single (a very generously scored single which I think would have ended the game on a cromulent play by Ozzie) and a two-run homer to Bryce Harper to tie the game at 8.

In free baseball, Kevin Pillar knocked in the Manfred Man and was doubled in by Arcia. Kirby Yates was given the save opportunity. A Bohm groundout and strikeouts of Pache and Castellanos put a merciful end to the proceedings. Someone else may get a chance to try and close later tonight.

Game 2 Puzzlement

The Braves did not announce their starting pitcher for Game 2 until after Game 1 (PS: It has now been announced that it will be Kyle Wright.) This whole “announcing starting pitchers” thing is extremely fishy to me. First, there is definitely no rule requiring such a thing. Second, even if there were, the lineup card trumps whatever you announced anyway. I am aware that bets made at sports books around the country are contingent on the identity of the starting pitcher. So I’m not sure what purpose these announcements serve beyond facilitating the handle for the sports betting industry. I’m opposed to anything that makes sports gambling easier, but then again I’m not taking revenue from those guys.

SmoltzWatch

The gabfest continues. It has begun to affect Brandon Gaudin, who made several silly announcing errors just because I think he was so surprised to be allowed to speak.; John, as my wife says: “I love you. But please shut up.” (Sometimes she gives somewhat sterner variations of that phrase. Don’t make me do that you, Smoltzie. You won’t like it.)

RonaldWatch

As we entered the nightcap of today’s doubleheader, Ronald Acuña, Jr. sits at 36 homers and 95 RBIs. He has played every game in the leadoff spot. If RAJ never got another hit this season, that would rank as the 11th highest homer total and the 8th highest RBI total by a leadoff man in baseball history. But the season has another 3 weeks to run.

ESPN projects RAJ at 40/105, while Fangraphs projects him at 40/104. That would toe for 3rd alltime in homers and establish a new RBI record for a leadoff hitter. With all the focus on the HR/SB stats and the history involved there, I fear we’re losing track of the rest of RAJ’s production. Stolen Bases are, as we all know, a sexier stat than an important stat. You can argue, I think successfully, that a single followed by a stolen base is in some ways better than a double, and a double followed by a stolen base is better than a triple, but even to the extent that those propositions are true, the offsetting caught stealings are rarely considered. Bill James popularized the power-speed toy which used stolen bases as a proxy for speed. But we can actually measure speed now.

Let’s try another comparison. RAJ is going to lead the league in stolen bases even if he doesn’t steal another one. How many players have hit 30 or more homers and led the league in steals? The answer is:

  • Ronald Acuña Jr. 2023 34+ HR and 65+ steals
  • Ronald Acuña Jr. 2019 41 HR and 37 steals
  • Alfonso Soriano 2002 39 HR and 41 steals
  • Willie Mays 1956 36 HR and 40 steals
  • Wille Mays 1958 35 HR and 38 steals
  • Mike Trout 2012 30 HR and 49 steals

That’s it, folks.

Statistical Oddity of the Game

The Phillies line score went 0020202020. There is one other game where a team went 020202020. They won 8-5.