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Braves 5, Fish 4

Braves 5, Fish 4

Hey, I get to recap a win.

What’s not to love? Ender Inciarte came alive with 2 HRs, his first multi-homer game in a Braves uniform, and a rare surge of power from someone who hit 3 HRs in 523 ABs last year. He can be extremely valuable without hitting for power, but putting some over the fence is not a bad thing for a 26-year old outfielder to add to his game. He also made a terrific diving catch off a sinking liner. Statcast gave it a 41% probability of being caught. Good for him.

Freddie Freeman was also doing what Freddie Freeman does. He added a home run of his own, and did you know that he leads all players in wRC since the 2016 trading deadline? Literally everyone. He’s his own guy. Tyler Flowers contributed two hits, including the go-ahead RBI. Dansby also added a hard-hit single for a 1-4 day, and that leaves Adonis Garcia as the only regular who’s yet to put together any string of hits.

Jaime Garcia, again, was unimpressive. He only has 4 K’s in 11 total innings, and he’s giving up over a hit an inning while giving up 3 HRs in those 11 innings. He was the victim of another unearned run, and here’s another fun fact: we are second in errors per game, and we lead all of baseball in unearned runs. No team can say that they turn their own errors into opposing teams’ runs better than us. Tip your cap… to us. You can make a very reasonable argument that if the defense were to be cleaned up (maybe Jace Peterson at 3B and Ozzie Albies at 2B?), this team’s won-loss record would look a lot different.

It wasn’t all bad. The relievers combined for 4 IP, 5 K’s, and no hits, walks, or runs. Really impressive work. Both Eric O’Flaherty and Arodys Vizcaino struck out 2 in their lone innings, and Jose Ramirez and Jim Johnson were both smooth too.

Day off today. Brand new stadium tomorrow.



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Braves 4, Marlins 8

Braves 4, Marlins 8

There was much excitement today in Braves land before the game, when the team announced Matt Kemp is headed to the DL with a sore hamstring, and the announcement caused so much shuffling around in the Braves locker room that someone forgot to sit down and tell Bartolo Colon that he is on the Braves now, and with that fact comes a certain ability against the Marlins in Miami. This was a grave error, since Colon went out and pitched against the Marlins like he did when he was on the Mets, which is to say, not good. Let’s hope whoever was in charge of passing along the info to him will remedy their mistake before his next start in Miami, so that he knows going in that a little Marlin will cure whatever ails the Braves, and he will feast upon them accordingly.

The rest of the Braves continued very much to be Braves-like. Playing shoddy defense, grounding into double plays, treating situational hitting like it had the plague…really Braving in a nutshell. Colon allowed a run before he got an out, and by the time the first inning was over it was 3-0. He allowed three more in the third before the Braves put a run on the board in the fourth on a Nick Markakis home run. The Braves pushed two more runs across in the fifth, thanks to some questionable Marlins defense, to cut the deficit in half, but Mike Foltynewicz gave both runs right back in the bottom of the inning, pretty much making the game a moot point. The Braves picked up their final run in the sixth, and then the teams swapped scoreless frames until the game came to a merciful close.

Despite the final score, the game contained the most exciting part of the Braves season thus far. A cat somehow found its way onto the field and managed to escape by climbing the centerfield wall. There’s something you don’t see every day. Fortunately for the Marlins, it wasn’t black, so it didn’t benefit the Braves at all. It did generate some interest, though, so maybe SunTrust Park should take notice and emulate it later on in the season if the product on the field becomes truly unbearable to watch.



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Pirates 6, Braves 5 (by Rusty S.)

Pirates 6, Braves 5 (by Rusty S.)

Apparently, the maximum theoretical number of caught stealings that can be recorded in a game is infinite. Thankfully, the possible number of blown saves in a game is constrained by the number of players on the roster. The Braves tested the latter boundary Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Julio Teheran turned a 4–2 lead over to the bullpen, after going 7 innings, allowing 6 hits and a walk, with 4 strikeouts and 0 earned runs. However, Arodys Vizcaino, Jim Johnson and Jose Ramirez barved it up, leading to a 6 – 5 Braves loss in 10 innings. In the 4th, Teheran picked off Starling Marte AND Freddie Freeman; Freddie was somehow handcuffed, or back on his heels, and dropped the throw. Freeman was charged with an error, and Marte was safe at 2nd, but charged with a caught stealing. This led to 2 unearned Pirate runs. In the 6th, Teheran picked off only Marte, his league-leading 23rd pickoff since 2013.

Vizcaino and Johnson gave up a run apiece in the 8th and 9th respectively, and Ramirez gave up a 2 run walk off homer to Marte in the bottom of the 10th, after the Braves scored a 5th run in the top of that inning. Vizcaino’s run was also unearned, but he was saved from further damage in the 8th by a nice double play; Johnson could not get the same help in the 9th as David Freese broke up Brandon Phillips’ turn on a slowly hit grounder. (It’s not clear to me that Phillips had a chance had he gotten a throw off.)

Aside from wasting a nice start from Teheran, the Braves wasted a 4 for 5, 2 home run, 1 stolen base effort from Freeman who (like millions of people before him) came up a triple short of the cycle. Dansby Swanson also went deep for the Braves. Marte went 4 for 5 for the Pirates.

The Braves are now 1 and 5 on the season as their planned exile post the SunTrust Park shakedown continues (in this context, “SunTrust Park shakedown” refers to the exhibition game played March 31st against the Yankees.) An off day Monday, then on to Miami for two.

Funniest thing I ever heard about Pittsburgh: (I swear I saw this on an ‘80’s Jeopardy episode.)
Alex Trebek: “This Pittsburgh sporting team acquired its nickname due to its habit of signing players away from other teams.”
Overly enthusiastic contestant: “WHO ARE THE PITTSBURGH STEALERS?!”



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Pirate Kings 6, GIDP Braves, plus a few errors 4

Pirate Kings 6, GIDP Braves, plus a few errors 4

Know thy enemy…to set the mood.

Their swords, our knuckles.

Tonight’s game will be played in beautiful, balmy weather. Yesterday’s, not-  suffering under conditions we Brits call Brass Monkey Weather. Guess?  Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey – a typical souvenir brought home from the days of the Raj. As we are about to witness a game consisting entirely of balls and strikes, surely apropos.

POST MORTEM…another game that was tight – we started up 2 and then it somehow got away…the DP’s and errors loomed large in that but the worst part of losing was to waste the outstanding debut of RA Dickey who went beyond 100 pitches with only 3 earned runs in an exemplary performance. Not that far behind him till he tired late was his catcher, Suzuki. There’s some promise there.

PLUSES

Dickey… great debut plus endurance.

Jace…ok game, triple off the wall, good base running. Looked like he belongs for now.

Krol…OK, Ramirez too.

Dansby…coming around, another hard hit double.

Phillips…big double but bad error and GIDP’s.  But he can drive the ball still.

Neck/Ender…you can see them coming around too.

 

MINUSES

Freddie Freeman…quite awful by his standards….one good dive stop to save another error but…he is starting to look like April/May last year at the end of which he had climbed to .240…i can’t take another 30 odd games like this…swinging through average fastballs down the middle and chasing them up and away – just to speed things up a bit? Why? …runners stranded all over…Jeez, how do you reconcile this with his second half last year and even his very hot effort in NY earlier in this week…SSS? yes but…he did the same last year and it went on till June.

Snit…there’s no excuse for D’Arnaud in the ninth with the tying runs on and Recker on the bench….it’s absurd.

Our Offense…of the 4 runs we scored tonight two came from a bloop hit from our pitcher…the other 2 could be put down to the Marte/Polanko combo in the outfield doing their best Claude/Gaston routine no less than three times in the last 24 hours while one of the still best CF’s in baseball languishes in right. Crazy stuff, how long will that last?

GIDP’s…infuriating tonight, is it all just bad luck? Is it naive to ask the hitter to think elevate if and when the pitcher allows…they always seem to hit low screamers…it killed us.

Errors/Infield defense…Lay off my man Adonis, the line drive machine…remember how he turned this defense around last year when he cane back up…plus i wouldn’t doubt he was still cold from Friday! Acuna will keep, then Maitan,,,Dansby one wide throw but Freddie too played a part. Phillips couldn’t handle a hot shot with the infield in. We will improve here, rapidly I believe.

 

Question    Which NL hitters hit into the most line drive outs?  By eye please.

Answer       Adonis and Buster Posey. Kemp threatens. Come back soon, like tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Pittsburgh Leopard Seals 5, Atlanta Penguins 4

Pittsburgh Leopard Seals 5, Atlanta Penguins 4

The March of the Penguins continued Friday, as our Tuxedo’ed Terrors fell to Pittsburgh 5-4. It seems R.A. Dickey can’t throw his knuckler in the cold, so Mike Foltynewicz was moved up a day. Unfortunately, his command must have caught the same sniffles as the knuckler, as he gave up 6 hits and three walks in 3 and 2/3rds. Even with all the baserunners he only gave up 2 runs, but Ivan Nova, The Pittsburgh Snowman, managed to navigate the snow flurries and Monongehela River ice floes to hold Atlanta to a single unearned run through 6.

Josh Collmenter tried to warm up the Braves in the 5th, but pouring gas on the fire worked no better in PNC Park than it did at citifield, as David Freese and Francisco Cervelli homered. The Braves made it interesting in the 8th, tallying three runs, highlighted by a Brandon Phillips 2 run single, but Adonis Garcia‘s grounder up the middle was turned into a double play to extinguish the threat.

One hopes that the Braves won’t get overrun by the rapidly approaching glaciers that have marred the season opening road trip.



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Pirates 5, Braves 4

Pirates 5, Braves 4

Just reading the boxscore, you’d think it was a fun and exciting game. Game decided by one run, Braves rallied in the 8th and had the tying run on third in the 9th.

But it was not an enjoyable game to watch. In fact, it was pretty unpleasant. Thirty something degrees with snow falling made me squirm, even in the warmth of my living room watching on TV. And listening to Chip and Joe is generally more irritating than enjoyable.

The on field action had a lot more bad than good. We got the bad version of Mike Foltynewicz. He just wasn’t crisp; he did not command the fastball; his slider was unreliable; he wasn’t missing bats; and as a result of all of that he could not complete four innings. And his facial expressions and body language exhibited frustration with the umpire’s calls throughout—after we heard all spring about his maturity and new attitude about dealing with adversity. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, though. Napoleon’s vaunted Grand Armee stuggled in similar conditions in the Russian Campaign.

Even with all his troubles, Folty only gave up two runs (could have been a lot worse!). In the fourth, EOF, of all people, got us out of a bases loaded jam created by Folty. Maybe there is some life left in that tortured left arm of his. I doubt it, but I’m willing to give him a few more opportunities to prove definitively he no longer belongs in the big leagues. I realize that I am sentimental about the O’Flaherty of 201-2012. Now that was a great relief pitcher.

The rest of the bullpen was pretty bleh, or worse. Long man Josh Collmenter proved why he was never a candidate for the rotation—and why he was released outright last year by the Dbacks—when he gave up back to back solo jacks in the 5th. Other than that he looked pretty good. Chaz Roe was ineffective as usual in the 7th, when the Bucs scored their fifth and final run, although to be fair his defense betrayed him. More on that below.

Our offense, Matt Kemp continues to look like a right handed Babe Ruth (albeit perhaps slimmer than the Bambino at the same age). That’s very good. He left the game, however, with an injured hamstring, which apparently happened when he made a sliding catch (I’m not making this up!). If his injury is at all serious, that is very, very bad. Cakes is the only other hitter who is producing so far. He had two more doubles and is slugging .500. Kemp is slugging 1.125. No other starter has an OPS so far of .600, except Freddie, and his barely so.

The moribund Braves bats rallied in the 8th. Brandon Phillips had a clutch hit to drive in two runs to bring the Bravos within a run. That’s good. Especially since he grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the 4th and struck out with runners on second and third in the 6th. That was excruciating. After Brandon’s hit in the 8th, it looked like the Greek Demigod had singled up the middle, but the Pirates keystone combo turned that into one of the prettiest double plays you’ll ever want to see, ending the rally. Look for a video of that one.

Speaking of double plays and Brandon Phillips, the Pirates only scored that run off Roe in the 7th because the Braves failed to turn a dp on a routine grounder to short. It sure looked like Phillips was slow to get to the bag and then slow to make the turn. But who am I to judge? As I said, it was cold as hell.

So what have we learned from these first four games about the Braves likely fortunes in 2017? NOTHING! It’s only four games, y’all. 158 to go—let’s keep an open mind.

Oh, one other piece of news this week. As you’ve heard, it looks like Ryan Howard will be a pinch hitter for the Braves in a few weeks. You may not think that is so good, considering that his batting average was below .200 last year, but he did hit 25 home runs last year in 362 plate appearances. More importantly, he’s not Emilio Bonifacio, who so far is our first pinch hit option. Honestly, I’d rather see Dwight Schrute or Kevin Malone in that situation than Mr. Good Face.

A brief personal note, I’m a long time faithful reader of Braves Journal, but a new commenter. No other sports site in my opinion approaches the quality and consistency of the comments on this site (low bar, I know, but I mean it). I’m honored this year to help out by doing weekly recaps. Y’all are loyal fans, but I’d venture that no one on this site or anywhere else has been an Atlanta Braves longer than I have. I was nine years old and living in Atlanta when they announced the Milwaukee team was moving to Atlanta. I’ve been hooked ever since.

If you are likewise addicted to following this frustrating team, you may want to know of the weekly Braves podcast that my son and I do. It’s called the Channel 17 Podcast, and you can find it here.



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Mutts 6, IWOTB 2

Mutts 6, IWOTB 2

Jaime Garcia pitched four strong innings, and Matt Kemp hit two solo shots, and the Braves almost won their second game of the year but then Garcia went out for the fifth and sixth and gave up two-spots each time, and Chaz Roe brought his gasoline pail and gave up a two-spot in the seventh, and since this April offense could no sooner surmount a four-run lead than a paramecium could surmount Everest, that was that.



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