Hello again everyone from the land of the evening thunderstorms, southeast Michigan. I knew it would start raining again now that I was home!
On the baseball front, the Braves lost a frustrating game tonight, one that in my opinion they should have won. Probably the biggest factor was the Braves abysmal performance with runners on base – a sparkling 0 for 10. Worse yet, nine of thsoe runners were in scoring position.
Unfortunately, there were other familiar themes at work. The team continued to struggle with first inning pitching, as Brandon Beachy gave up a three-run first inning homer to Ryan Howard on a fastball left over the middle of the plate at the knees, right in his happy zone.
Dan Uggla continued to struggle at the plate, hanging another O’Fer on the board. In my opinion, he is pressing. His swing is long and his left shoulder is opening up. Thus, even when he squares the ball up, as he did a couple of times tonight, there’s no bat speed and no ball carry.
Brian McCann‘s problems with catching throws from the outfield bit us again, as what turned out to be the winning run scored when he dropped what would have been an easy out. I thought Brian might have this problem beat this year, but it seems that it’s starting to be an issue again.
A particular pet peeve for me is the insistence of Fredi Gonzalez on sacrifice bunting ahead of Chipper Jones. As was the case last game, this just took the bat out of Chipper’s hands whilst donating an out to the other team. This game he did it three times. And three times the Braves came away without no runs, as McCann had a bad night at the plate. I know it’s just me (and very strong mathematical evidence), but I’d much rather give Chipper and McCann and Uggla chances to drive in the run. Tonight the Braves spotted the Phillies one whole inning (3 outs) sacrificing in front of Chipper. They also took their own number three hitter out of the lineup. I just don’t understand why this is such a good idea.
The Braves wasted three hit games by Prado and Gonzalez. They wasted four perfect relief innings from Cristhian Martinez, who relieved Beachy to start the third inning after Beachy left with an oblique strain. They even wasted a shutout inning by Scott F. Linebrink.
The team is now 5 1/2 games out. It’s early, but Uggla has to hit and Fredi has to start managing with all the tools available to a manager in the 21st century, in my opinion. I still think the team is good, but are they good enough to make up a half dozen games on perhaps the best team (on paper, at least) in the game? Whatever the right answer, I don’t think the team can afford to give away too many more games they should win. That’s my take; what’s yours?