Scott Linebrink Recorded The Save Versus The Fish. Photo courtesy AP.

That Was Harder Than It Needed To Be!


Hello again everyone from the dark of night here in Michigan. Weather-wise, things have been much harder than they need to be here, as we first had the unending winter, then totally skipped spring, then went into summer weather before the calendar even says summer. One of the perks of living up here is the mild summers that offset the awful winters. But it’s now almost 3 AM and the temp is still 85 degrees outside and it was north of 100 here this afternoon. I know it’s hotter elsewhere, but this is not what you expect in Michigan!

Speaking of being way harder than it needed to be, that’s the way the game played out last night as well. The Braves continued to rely on their phenomenal pitching most of the night. Derek Lowe carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before he ran into a jam. Not to worry, Eric O’Flaherty came to the rescue, bailing Lowe out of a bases loaded pickle. Then Jonny Venters threw his usual dominant eighth inning. Craig Kimbrel came in to try an record his nineteenth save of the year, protecting a 2-0 lead. After striking out two, a walk and a double had Craig in trouble. When Mike Stanton took a 99 MPH knee-high fastball on an 0-2 count, I thought the game was over. Instead, the umpire called it a ball (and, with all due respect to Joe Simpson, when “Fox Trax” shows the pitch touching the border of the strike zone, that’s a strike). Stanton then somehow fought off a 97 MPH fastball, hitting it past Freddie Freeman for a game tying double. Kimbrel went out to strike out the side, but the damage was done.

[NOTE: IN KEEPING WITH TONIGHT"S THEME, AT THIS POINT LAST NIGHT A HUGE WINDSTORM BLEW THROUGH THE AREA. WHILE THE TEMPERATURE DROPPED !5 DEGREES IN 15 MINUTES, MY CABLE SERVICE ALSO DROPPED OUT, AND JUST NOW RETURNED. JEEZ!]

The Braves showed great resilience, though. In the top of the tenth, Chipper Jones walked, Brian McCann singled him to second, and Freddie Freeman hit a single back through the box to score Chipper. That turned out to be enough, as the Braves trotted out their old guys to close things out. Playing match-ups, Fredi Gonzalez used Scott Proctor, George Sherrill, and then Scott Linebrink to seal the deal. It wasn’t pretty, as Proctor allowed a double and a walk to go along with the out he recorded on a ground ball to Chipper. Sherrill struck out Greg Dobbs swinging, then Linebrink recorded his first save since 2009 while striking out Gabby Sanchez looking.

In fairness, I have to say that Sherrill has looked good recently. While I haven’t verified this yet via a visit to Fangraphs, empirically it seems that Sherill has backed off the velocity of his fastball a couple of MPH, coinciding with his improvement. Perhaps he’s found a little extra late movement that way; I don’t know. Maybe he’s just in a lucky streak. For whatever reason, it appears that left-handed batters are having a real hard time picking up his fastball, especially when he employs the sidestep.

The Braves remained three back of the Phillies, who beat the Dodgers last night. I better get this posted before my machine explodes or something!

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Tags: Atlanta Braves Braves Brian Mccann Chipper Jones Craig Kimbrel Derek Lowe Florida Marlins Freddie Freeman Fredi Gonzalez George Sherrill Jonny Venters

  • GaDawg

    Yes I was very pleased with how Sherrill and Linebrink looked last night. We normally don’t expect them to close games, but they did it this time.

    Was very frustrated by the no-call on the 0-2 pitch to Stanton, particularly since he gave Lowe knee-high calls all night long.

    Thank goodness Freddie has gotten hot recently or we would have no offense at all outside of Odarp and Mac. And Uggla has to start hitting soon, doesn’t he?

  • Fred Owens

    All I could think was thank god it was the top of the order in the 10th and not the Uggla end. Stanton was out game over but the ump, Fox Trax and Joe blew it. The side view camera showed it top be at the knees. That doesn’t excuse Kimbrel failing to get his man but he is just a kid really. He will get better and those screaming for Venters forget the walks he’s issued in the 7th and 8th innings.
    Uggla has to hit? Hmm think vernon Well, Alex Rios. Gary Matthews Jr. (as a failed contract, there is no indication or hint that any substance is involved),etc. The list of big contract flops is long, there’s one in Mississippi now though in terms of big KK is a mole hill.
    I hope he starts hitting. As everyone is firing folks, I think it’s time for Larry Parrish to take a permanent vacation. The team BA, OBP, SLG averages are all down under his tutelage. Time to pull that plug or flush that toilet, whatever metaphor suits your taste.
    The bench is thin, Heyward is a LONG way from back no matter what anyone says and Uggla isn’t going to hit anytime soon because he’s so confused he has no idea what to fix. Chipper is good only from the right side because he plants against that damaged right knee on the other side and we’re getting not much at all from Eric/Joe/Matt in right field.
    Something has to give soon

  • Bob Horton

    Hey GaDawg!

    Welcome back!

    Call me an optimist, but I do think that Uggla will begin to hit. The one thing I wish I had as a baseline was just how bulked up he was as a Marlin. I know he’s always been well-muscled, but I just don’t remember him being as bulky looking before, especially in the arms/shoulders. I remember the one year Javy Lopez came to camp looking that way and he had his worst season ever. I know that there were ‘roids rumors then and I’m not even thinking anything like that, but I’ve seen baseball players get too bulky (the stereotypical muscle-bound) and loose their timing. Not everyone can hit looking like Barry Bonds.

    I just hope this doesn’t become Uggla’s lost season.

    Bob

  • Bob Horton

    Oh, and I’m not sure it was clear in the article, but I started writing it at about 2AM and finally got to finish it about 10AM, with the cable outage. And, just to make it more fun, I lost a big chunk of what I had already written when the cable system dropped out in the middle of me up-loading what I had written to then.

    And the Braves think playing extra-innings is hard :).

    Bob