It was all the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day. Optimism reigned as the Atlanta Braves took the field and Michael Bourn stepped in against Johan Santana. It was a chance for the Braves to put the end of last season behind them and start fresh. Yeah, about that…
The Braves had their chances in this one. They had the bases loaded in the fifth only to see Bourn ground out. They had two runners on in scoring position in the sixth and had Matt Diaz end that rally. They had Tyler Pastornicky on third with one out and then struck out twice in a row.
Well, it wasn’t all negative for the Braves. Obviously, the pitching was very good. Tommy Hanson was very good but seemed to hit a wall in the sixth inning after only 83 pitches. It could have been worse than just one run, but Kris Medlen came in to shut the door.
This game outlined quite a bit of fears that people had entering the game about the Braves, mainly how they would fare against left-handed pitching. There have been many thoughts that Diaz should not face any big league pitching. He didn’t do much to quench those fears. There is the fact that the Braves have no right-handed bats on the bench (save Jack Wilson who is not a pinch hitting option and David Ross who can’t be used as the only other catcher on the roster.) That makes them very easy to attack in later innings, especially for teams that have power left-handed pitchers in their bullpen in close games not to mention left-handed starters. I guess it’s a good thing that the Braves already have Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty… But the Braves will still have another left-hander to face on Sunday in Jonathon Niese.
R.A. Dickey is next for the Braves to face, which is great. Because whenever you are coming off a game where you struggled offensively you want to face a knuckleballer. It will be a tough game for the Braves, who will want to come back from a disappointing start to the season.
Tomorrow is always the toughest day. After a loss you want to get back at it, especially when the start of the season is still fresh in your mind. The Braves don’t have that opportunity. Maybe they have time to get some batting practice in, though.