Cubs vs. Braves: Day Five Observations
Juan Francisco: For his career, Braves third baseman Juan Francisco has chased 41.3% of pitches he’s seen that were outside the strike zone. On Friday night, in a fifth inning plate appearance, he was able to avoid falling victim to this habit. Against Cubs starter Scott Feldman, Francisco resisted the urge to swing at numerous curveballs in the dirt. He waiting on a fastball, and on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, he got it. Francisco hit Feldman’s offering into right field for a two-run single which extended Atlanta’s lead to 4-1. It was just one at-bat, but it was a good one for the usual free-swinging Francisco.Justin Upton: While Francisco’s single added to the Braves lead, Justin Upton had a pair of RBI which built it. In his first trip to the plate, Upton sent sinker on the inside-half of the plate into the bleachers for his third home run. In his second, he hit a sacrifice fly to score Andrelton Simmons, who had previously singled and stole a base. Thus far in 2013, Justin Upton is playing like a guy intent on proving the entire Arizona Diamondbacks wrong for trading him and the Braves are reaping the benefits.
Previewing Series Between Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs
Probable Pitchers: Friday: Mike Minor vs. Scott Feldman; Saturday: Julio Teheran vs. Carlos Villanueva; Sunday: Tim Hudson (0-0, 6.23) vs. Jeff Samardzija (1-0, 0.00)
Keys: The Atlanta Braves will look to take advantage of a suspect Chicago Cubs‘ pitching staff. In 2012, the Cubs finished near the bottom of the National League in starter’s ERA (4.52) and bullpen ERA (4.49). The rotation looks different, but it’s debatable whether or not it is much improved. Samardzija leads the rotation and pitched a two-hit shutout in eight innings in the opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Feldman and Villanueva have both served as relievers and starters throughout their careers and shouldn’t pose too big of a threat to the Braves’ lineup. Closer Carlos Marmol is shaky at the end of games. He features lively stuff but struggles with command and has allowed three runs in 1 1/3 innings so far in 2013. The Braves need to take advantage and score some runs to give the pitching rotation some insurance in this series.
….Outlook: This is the type of series where the Braves need to take care of business if they are truly going to contend for the National League East this season. The Braves are about to play 16 of their next 18 games on the road, so it’s important they end this homestand with some momentum. A sweep is possible, but Samardzija is capable of throwing another gem. Winning the series is a realistic goal.
Still Waiting For That First 2013 Hit
Players with 10+ ABs this season so far with zero hits:
Rk Player AB H Year Age Tm G PA R RBI BB SO BA 1 B.J. Upton 14 0 2013 28 ATL 4 15 1 0 0 9 .000 2 Mitch Moreland 13 0 2013 27 TEX 4 15 0 1 1 4 .000 3 Jonathan Lucroy 13 0 2013 27 MIL 4 14 0 1 0 4 .000 4 Luis Cruz 13 0 2013 29 LAD 4 15 0 1 1 2 .000 5 Adam Lind 13 0 2013 29 TOR 4 14 0 0 1 1 .000 6 Adam LaRoche 13 0 2013 33 WSN 4 14 0 0 1 3 .000 7 Russell Martin 12 0 2013 30 PIT 4 14 1 0 2 1 .000 8 Brent Lillibridge 11 0 2013 29 CHC 4 11 0 0 0 4 .000 9 Alexi Amarista 11 0 2013 24 SDP 4 11 0 0 0 1 .000 10 David DeJesus 10 0 2013 33 CHC 4 11 0 0 1 4 .000
Chicago Cubs ignore Atlanta Braves GM when he tells them to clear field
Several reports from Atlanta’s Turner Field describe what must have been an awkward scene Friday afternoon, with the Braves wanting to take batting practice and Cubs players refusing to clear the field even after being implored to leave by Wren.
Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune saw Wren lose his patience:
Specific times for each team to use the field before the game are posted in every clubhouse. The times vary, but the rules are universal. Very often there will be some overlap after BP starts — with players from both sides milling around near each other — though the home team usually goes first. In this case, it’s the Braves. With the protocols in place and the rules generally understood, it’s unusual for Major League Baseball teams to have arguments like this before a game.
Rather than talk, the Braves should have used force and started hitting, then watched as the stray Cubs relievers dodged incoming line drives. Justin Upton with a bat in his hands has a way of influencing people that Frank Wren cannot match. Hey, the Braves warned ‘em!
Pastornicky Is Perfect With 4 Hits, Gilmartin Is Solid
Tyler Pastornicky had a perfect 4 hit night, Sean Gilmartin had a solid start, JR Graham was good before leaving with an injury, and pitchers Navery Moore, Mauricio Cabrera, and Lucas Sims all struggled mightily.
Gwinnett Braves 5, Charlotte Knights 4