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Braves 8, Diamondbacks 3

Braves 8, Diamondbacks 3

Well, that was fun. While the starters were in the game, they battled it out neck and neck. The Braves pushed across a run in the 4th after an Arizona error allowed them load the bases with one out. Mike Foltynewicz pitched well, but he gave back that run in the bottom of the 5th (on a home run by the pitcher, no less), and when Matt Kemp homered in the 6th to put the Braves back on top, Folty gave that run right back, too, in the bottom of the inning.

Once again his offense bailed him out, though, and did so in a timely enough fashion that he still managed to secure the win. This time they made sure to widen the margin enough that Arizona couldn’t come back to tie it. In the 7th Kurt Suzuki provided proof once again that the Braves catchers this season are shades of the old McCann/Ross duo, when the Braves had the best catchers in baseball, by hitting his first home run of the game, a two-run shot to give the Braves a lead they wouldn’t give back. A wild pitch later on in the inning gave the Braves two more runs, then solo shots by Suzuki and utilityman-extraordinaire Johan Camargo the next inning capped the Atlanta scoring. The lone run Sam Freeman gave up in the 9th wasn’t enough to cause any damage. He won’t get an (s) next to his name in the box score, but we know that was an Atlanta Save at its finest. The team went into the 9th inning with a lead, and they came out of the 9th inning with that lead in tact. The amount of Reitsma Room (or is it now Johnson Room?) the offense provided has little bearing on whether the game was saved or not.

The Braves have guaranteed they will not be swept in Arizona. Technically, the Braves still have a shot at winning this series, since the rubber game will start up later this afternoon. Aaron Blair gets his first major-league start of the season, replacing the traded Jaime Garcia in the rotation, so the odds aren’t necessarily in the Braves’ favor. But, technically, it could happen. There’s a reason why they have to play the games, and it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

Natspos delenda est.



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Kasserine Pass: Diamondbacks 10, Braves 2

Kasserine Pass: Diamondbacks 10, Braves 2

Richard Pryor had a saying “When you get your ass kicked, you know you made it.” Yep.

Kasserine Pass is in the desert mountains of western Tunisia. So, setting “check.” When the desert is so harsh that you can spend almost unlimited funds to grow grass and it looks like a worn out Astro Turf doormat, then that must be a desert.

Getting walloped hard. “Check.” Whether it is from tanks and half tracks or from baseballs flying by, depending on your defensive context, that is actually pretty similar.

Bad decision making under pressure. “Check.” R A Dickey was due for a bad one. But, what is the deal with Matt Wisler? Mr. AAAA himself. Good in Gwinnett and move over 2 counties and it all goes to crap.

Sean Rodriguez homered. So, maybe he is back to where he is ready to play. I know he wasn’t when he was brought up.

Jaime Garcia, you are a lucky one. You don’t have to be around this incompetence any more. You may get to discover new incompetence, but not this incompetence.



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Belated Sunday recap — Dodgers 5, Braves 4 (10) (by Rusty S.)

Belated Sunday recap — Dodgers 5, Braves 4 (10) (by Rusty S.)

Clayton Kershaw left after only 2 innings with back tightness, but the Braves were unable to take advantage. A Matt Adams 3 run homer to tie the game in the ninth off Kenley Jansen provided some drama, but Jim Johnson could only record one out in the 10th.

Sean Newcomb went 6 innings, allowing only 3 hits, but 5 walks, which accounted for 2 of his 3 runs allowed following an Austin Barnes homer. Newcomb also recorded 9 strikeouts. Another step for Newcomb down what appears to the Folty highway of development. The ultimate duration of the rebuild may depend on if any pitching prospects ever provide immediate and consistent performance. It’s not a given, or even to be expected, for any pitching prospect.

The Braves will happily accept the series split I imagine, and it’s on to Arizona tonight.

The funniest thing I ever heard about Los Angeles: From Johnny Carson as Karnak the Magnificient – Answer: Catch-22. Question: What do the Los Angeles Dodgers do with 100 pop flies. 



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Dodgers 6, Braves 2…WE COULDA BEEN A CONTENDA

Dodgers 6, Braves 2…WE COULDA BEEN A CONTENDA

The way this game went we looked over matched in the opening innings. Hill struck out the side in the 1st, Freddie on 3 pitches, and Julio’s poor control put us down 2 early.So thoughts of three in a row were set aside for the realists.

But then Julio settled down and went through to start the sixth with no more damage. Meanwhile we had taken charge of the top of the 5th and put up two run of our own. So midway things were even and at that point you fancied our chances. Why not?

But then. We entered the world of cue ball baseball and some pretty atrocious luck. Dodgers got single runs in the 6th and 7th that both hinged around freakish miscues but one of them we gifted when Julio fielded it, made a great throw to the plate, Flowers caught it, dropped it.

Up 2 the Dodgers padded with two more in the 8th and ended with a comfortable 6-2 win. They finished much the stronger, hit three home runs to our none, the better team on the night won. We were just getting greedy, that’s all.

Let’s look at some individual performances:

Julio…poor start, same old same old with left handed hitters and high pitches. But plenty to like with how he picked himself up, regained control and played with enthusiastic gusto throughout. This was his first road loss of the year – he carried himself well.

Swanson…he must go down and now…as bad as it is for us to watch just imagine the confidence shredding that’s going on inside. He should be told he will stay there till September, so just relax and relearn. Chipper?

Sean R…got his first hit, great but he’s a luxury we can’t afford – half of our infield is non-productive and defensively suspect. I’m aware this is a touchy situation for the FO but you dreamed it up, honorably, you sort it out.

Camargo…yes please…wish there was a bit more elevation in those line drives but who would dare mess with what he’s doing. He lifts my spirits when he comes to the plate, love watching him in the field. 2 more doubles, ho hum.

Matt Kemp…time to say something positive about this guy’s defense. I can remember just 2 errors in the last few weeks – neither was a dropped catch, both were rebounds coming off the wall back at him that he bobbled. His catching of fly balls and line drives has been exemplary culminating tonight in a wonderful flat out effort. Much too easy to be cynical about this guy, give it up.

 

So, it’s a Saturday night but a loss. There haven’t been too many of these. A Country Requiem I like from someone also new to me. Thanks for the company.

http://www.npr.org/event/music/398124312/john-moreland-cherokee



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Atlanta 12, Los Angeles 3

Atlanta 12, Los Angeles 3

Well, well, well.

Don’t you think the Twins are regretting the delay of that rumored trade for Jaime Garcia?

Garcia went out and allowed the Dodgers three runs in seven innings, while hitting a grand slam in the fifth off Alex Wood. The Braves had their hitting shoes on, as Freddie Freeman hit his 18th of the season to open the fifth, and Tyler Flowers added a three run shot in the sixth. Matt Kemp had three hits, while Johan Camargo and Nick Markakis added a pair of hits for Atlanta, which handed the Dodgers their first back-to-back loss since sometime in the early Pleistocene Era. Okay, June 6th if you want accuracy, but who’s counting among friends? Especially when you’ve gone in and outscored the hottest team in baseball 18 to 6 in two games?

Atlanta opened the scoring in the first, when Camargo doubled home Ender Inciarte. He was then driven in by Flowers with a two out single. In the fourth, the Braves doubled their lead thanks to a fielding miscue by Wood. With two out, and Markakis on third and Sean Rodriguez on second, Garcia’s pop-up was lost in the night sky by Cody Bellinger, and Wood, attempting to catch the ball, had it hit off the heel of his glove. Markakis scored easily, and Rodriguez, who ran hard from the sound of contact, was right behind him.

L.A. got one run back in the bottom of the fifth, on a Yasiel Puig groundout, and added two in the bottom of the seventh as Atlanta, with an 11 run lead, was only too happy to trade a run for an out. Ian Krol and Akeel Morris worked the final two innings with nothing exciting happening. Which is EXCACTLY what you want your bullpen to do with a 9 run lead.

Julio Teheran goes tonight against Rich Hill, with a chance to climb back to .500 with Clayton Kershaw looming on Sunday.



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Braves 6, Dodgers 3

Braves 6, Dodgers 3

The Braves limped across the country to LA after losing three straight to the Cubs by a combined margin of 17-6. The Dodgers had won 11 in a row and 31 of their last 35. After the Cubs’ sweep, it appeared that the the Braves’ FO was ready to focus on the continuing rebuild rather than the Quixotic quest for a wild card spot. Reports were that they had traded Jaime Garcia to the Twins for a “minor leaguer.” (What else could the return be–Bartolo Colon?)

So, of course, the Braves defeated the Dodgers 6-3. Folty had another pretty good game. He may not be an ace yet, but he’s becoming consistently good. The offense, which had been moribund through the Cubs series, struck early, scoring 6 runs in the first 4 innings. Inciarte, Freeman, Adams, and Suzuki each had two hits. Kurt’s included a 2 run bomb; why does anyone throw that guy a fastball?

And now this morning, reports are that the Garcia deal may not happen. We’ll just have to keep watching.

If Garcia is dealt, the Braves starter tonight will be Aaron Blair, who has a career MLB ERA of 7 and a half. The Dodgers counter with our old friend Alex Wood, who is 11-0 with a 1.56 ERA. Because this is baseball, the Braves will probably win.



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Cubs 8, Braves 2

Cubs 8, Braves 2

Blech. We needed a win somewhere in this series. The Braves came into this series with the Cubs six games out of the Wild Card, and left 8.5 games out of the Wild Card. Many people who thought we might have a shot at the Wild Card probably don’t feel as strongly now.

RA Dickey pitched just bad enough to lose: 7 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. But the bullpen gave up another four runs of their own. Cubs scored 8 runs, and Mike Montgomery pitched like the ace he is. And he hit a home run.

We have to play the Dodgers on the road with Freddie Freeman suffering an illness. The Dodgers are 31-4 in their last 35 games. This should be fun.



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Cubs 5, Braves 1

Cubs 5, Braves 1

These are the times that try men’s souls. Coming out of the All-Star break we knew this was going to be a tough stretch. The Cubs aren’t last year’s Cubs, but they are still a solid team. Facing them before heading out to LA for a four-game set can make you or break you. So far, the Braves haven’t risen to the occasion.

Sean Newcomb got the ball against a struggling John Lackey, who after the game addressed rumors about losing his rotation spot with, “That ain’t going to happen.” His pitching against the Braves showed he meant what he said. The two had to wait nearly three hours to take the mound, after the only rain in the state of Georgia last night formed over SunTrust Park and camped out there for awhile. This is becoming a common occurrence in Atlanta this year. DOB summed up the Braves 2017 experience well on Twitter last night:

The grounds crew pulled the tarp off the field three times in anticipation of the game starting, only to have to replace it again when more rain struck. Judging from the results of the game, the Braves should have tried to take a page from the Nationals play book and delay the game infinitely, in hopes they would never have to play it.

Newcomb has, admittedly, drawn some tough opponents after his torrid start. He was on top of the world, then had to face the Astros, Nationals, and the Cubs back-to-back-to-back. That is not the easiest of assignments, but, if you want to pitch in the majors, you have to be prepared to face major league teams. As his level of competition has risen, so has Newcomb’s old nemesis—walks. He gave up 2 walks against Houston in 3.1 innings, 4 walks to Washington in 4 innings, and 3 against the Cubs in 5.1 innings. It’s hard to find success in the majors when you put baserunners freely on base, but it becomes even more difficult when you start combining that with the long ball. The combination proved to be Newcomb’s undoing against the Cubs.

Nick Markakis accounted for the Braves lone run with a home run in the 2nd inning. Newcomb made sure the lead lasted exactly one pitch into the top of the 3rd, when he gave up a home run to tie the game. If he had buckled down then and there, the inning could have easily been salvaged. Instead, he walked back-to-back men after striking the pitcher out, and then allowed another long ball to give the Cubs a three-run lead. That’s not a winning combination. Newcomb left with the bases loaded and one out in the 6th. One of his runners came in to score after he left the game, but the bullpen held the Cubs there. The problem was the Cubs bullpen held the Braves’ bats in check, and the team never mounted any sort of serious threat to try to regain the lead.

A short night heading into a day game before a flight to the west coast to kick off an 11-game road trip will make for some tired ballplayers during a tough stretch. This could get ugly. The Braves and Cubs will close out their series at noon today, less than 11 hours after their last game ended.

It’s hard to make the claim that any game is a must-win for a team who wasn’t expected to do anything this year and is already playing well over their heads, but today’s game is as close to a must-win as you can get. The Braves really do not want to head into LA having just been swept, when their next four games are against a team who is on a 30-4 tear right now. Yes, you read that right. That was not a typo. And the Braves have to play four against them. If they lose to the Cubs today, they are in real danger of being mired in a 0-7 stretch when they head into Arizona next week. Even though the Braves just swept them in Atlanta, the Diamondbacks have the 4th best record in the majors, and are not exactly the team you want to face at home to get you out of a long losing streak.

Ergo, Cubs delenda est hodie.

And, as always, Natspos delenda est. And the Dodgers too, for good measure.



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Battle of the Coral Sea: Braves 3, Cubs 4

Battle of the Coral Sea: Braves 3, Cubs 4

A long time ago on a sea far away, a most interesting confrontation ensued. Also, last night, a most interesting confrontation ensued. Hmm.

After 2 and a half wary innings Braves broke through and got 1. To this point, Julio Teheran had looked like VERY GOOD Julio. Also, John Lester looked pretty good and certainly not like the “Master of Disester” (intentional homage to blazon) of recent starts. So far so good. Kind of like when the U. S. Fast Carrier Task Force knocked off a few warships in the Tulagi invasion to open the “Coral Sea.”

Like the Japanese, the mighty Cubs then started asserting their might looking for the lowly Braves in order to crush them. Runners on with no runs in 3, 4, and 6, but in 5, they sank the Lexington and damaged the Yorktown (scored 2). They were convinced the Yorktown would sink or be useless for at least 90 days. (That error in understanding would contribute to a serious disaster at Midway. May the Cubs make such an error).

In the ninth the Braves took out Shoho and Shokaku (got 2 runs), but couldn’t get the third run (I mean carrier).

At the time, Coral Sea was a U. S. desperation survival move. With the line of history it probably serves much as Churchill described the Offensive Battle of El Alamein. “It is not the beginning of the end, but surely it is the end of the beginning.”



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Braves 7, Diamondbacks 1

Braves 7, Diamondbacks 1

Win, win, win.

Matt Kemp and Matt Adams homered, and to paraphrase Skip Caray, Brandon Phillips had 3 doubles before we had even gotten to the bottom of another fifth. The Braves led 7 – 1 after 4, from which the teams played out the string.  Jaime Garcia went 7 strong innings, allowing 4 hits, 1 run, and 3 walks, and recording 7 strikeouts.

The All-Star break seems to have done Kemp, Phillips, and Garcia some good; let’s see how long it lasts (and for what team.)

The 3 game sweep of Arizona leaves the Braves at 45 – 45, and – might as well say it – 6 games back in the race for the 2nd wildcard. The Cubs come to town on Monday holding a 1/2 game lead over the Braves. Hope, because the winter’s long enough without giving away the summer.

The funniest thing I ever heard about Arizona: Born in Arizona.



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