Photo by J D Weiss

Blown Call Blown Chances Highlight Braves Loss

<strong><a target=It started out bad and ended with a loss. Brandon Beachy threw 43 pitches in the first inning as the Phillies batted around. After striking out in the second Beachy had to leave with an oblique strain. It looked bad but no one told Cristhian Martinez. Through the next four innings all he did was set 12 Phillies in a row – 4 strike outs – and drive in the tying runs (2). . .with his first major league hit a double. Martinez was magnificent and the Braves fired up, even Dan Uggla made sparkling defensive play behind him after the Braves tied the game.

In the bottom of the sixth the Braves took the lead making Martinez the winner if they could hold it. Corey Gearrin came in and got the first two outs then Jimmy Rollins doubled and Fredi Gonzales went to Eric O’Flaherty to turn Shane Victorino around. divid rackley umpO’Flaherty got two quick strikes then put a lovely fastball over at the knees on the inside half of the plate and headed to the dugout. Brian McCann headed to the dugout. Everyone knew it was strike three except home plate umpire David Rackley who called the perfect strike a ball. Given new life Victorino doubled Rollins home to tie the game.

The Braves loaded the bases in the bottom of the 7th but Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman struck out. As so often happens the Phillies scratched a run in the 8th when Mather let a ground ball from Ryan Howard get by him to the wall. Howard later scored when Mather’s throw short hopped McCann. The Phillies pen held and with a man on second in the bottom of the ninth Dan Uggla struck out again on an off speed pitch that was nowhere near ever being in the zone.

The Braves should still have won this game. They had their chances before and after the missed badly, horribly, unfathomably blown call by Rackley. Still that call changed the feel of the game and energized the stumbling Phillies. Rackley should apologize to O’Flaherty and McCann but of course he won’t. That’s not the worst of it. Where the hell was Fredi Gonzales?

Everyone who watched Braves baseball in the last two decades knows Bobby would have been in Rackley’s grill, supporting McCann and O’Flaherty and tossed. Instead it was left to Chipper to try and calm the pitcher and catcher down. No mound visit from the skipper or Roger McDowell fresh back from his suspension. Nothing. No visible support for the wronged players. Gonzales went out between innings but that was too little and far, far, far too late.True he would have been tossed but that’s what he is supposed to do when an umpire abuses his players. It fires the team up. I don’t know why or how but it does.  His was not the only abdication on the night. Dan Uggla failed continued to fail when the chips are down.

Three times he could have driven in a run and he struck out; not on 95MPH heat but on off speed pitches that weren’t strikes – not even close.In the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded a simple fly ball to center like two others he hit softly to Victorino in the game, would have scored a go ahead run.  Uggla is currently hitting .199 with a 263 OBP. He has 14 RBI tied for 5th on the team with Freeman but only 3 more than part time player Eric Hinske. If we had a bench capable of replacing him and giving him a break he’d get a day off – not that it would help; but we don’t. Our only other second baseman is playing left field. Diory Hernandez is a warm body in case someone gets hurt. He can’t hit and as a second baseman he’s a replacement level shortstop. So Uggla will continue to play. In Florida he had Hanley Ramirez hitting ahead of him with and Mike Stanton, Gabby Sanchez behind, so he got fastballs to hit. Here he has Freddie Freeman who is not yet protection level behind him so he gets off speed and breaking balls. . . and strikes out..

Uggla’s need of baseball Viagra aside we have too many holes and nothing to fill them with. Linebrink has been bad so Proctor is coming up. I HOPE they replace Linebrink with him but that would mean getting his approval to go down, releasing him or putting him on the DL with a shoulder injury of the type all pitchers have all the time. And of course there’s our left handed hitting pitcher specialist George Sherrill. Enough said.

Beachy’s oblique is likely sending him to the DL according to a tweet tonight from Dave O’Brien of the AJC. Rodrigo Lopez and Mike Minor are the probable replacement options.

Mather hit tonight but we don’t face Cole Hamels enough for him to be useful as a hitter and as an outfielder he looked like a utility infielder.  We need outfield help – I’m not convinced Heyward’s shoulder will be fine in a couple of days – and a utility infielder who can do more than strike out and bunt. The market is thin, there’s nothing suitable at Gwinnett major league ready and only the Astros and Mariners are really out of the race. This is when a good GM earns his $.

Speaking of Jason Heyward and Frank Wren, there was a story in the AJC today about Heyward – currently hitting 220 and in a 2-28 stretch with 13 Ks – and the injury. Wren said of the injury:

“It’s not serious… Guys have things that are sore all the time, and they play with them, just like he has, and it hasn’t been an issue. And it gets to a point where it’s a little bit over that line, and then you start feeling like it’s affecting your performance. I think he got to that point this week.”

I disagree with our esteemed (by some) GM

  • The arm is sore now but the other night it was numb. Numbness is due to loss of blood flow or nerve damage according to my orthopedic surgeon and WebMD. How was blood flow restricted by a bad swing in spring training? Just asking.
  • The numbness isn’t a pulled muscle or a dicey hamstring he can ease along. It’s not really advisable to play when your arm is numb is it? Just asking.
  • It has been an issue. He’s 2-28 with 13 Ks, .094 in the last seven days, .213 in the last 28.  He’s supposed to supply some pop, some hits, be someone other pitchers don’t relish facing. At 2-28 and injured, he isn’t that guy is he? Just asking.

Martin Prado is a superstar in the making. Brian McCann is the best offensive catcher in the game and his defense has improved so that he’s very very good there as well. Freeman will hit, his fielding has already saved errors and given the infield confidence. Alex Gonzales is currently one of the top two shortstops in the league’s. Chipper has been solid in defense and potent at the plate. Hell even Nate is playing at an acceptable level instead of a fourth outfielder though his arm is a nothing to smile at. Eric Hinske has been exactly as advertised, dependable and clutch. the pitching has been good enough in spite of unexplained bullpen oddities. But this team needs another bat – right handed preferably but dependable above all – that can play outfield without sacrificing defense and hit say 270. We have trade chips and Wren has said money is not an issue. If we want to challenge seriously and win it’s time to go see where the game is.

Tags: Brandon Beachy Cristhian Martinez Dan Uggla Frank Wren Fredi Gonzalez Martin Prado

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