Hey, it’s Carroll here. Just back to the ol’ Braves beat from the NFL draft….which I have to say, is a lot more fun to cover than the baseball draft. Talked to two guys yesterday (Peria Jerry and William Moore) who will actually play next year.
It’s nice not having to be all patient and everything. And the food wasn’t half bad either – my goodness. Thanks Falcons.
OK, so back over here to the small stitched ball. And wondering what to blog about this lazy Monday morning….This Monday morning, April 27….OK, got it.
We’re down to three more games in April. The Braves are 9-9. One way or another after three games with the Cardinals, we’re going to have a crooked number here. So how big of a deal is it to have a winning April?
They say you can’t win the division in April but you can lose it. These numbers for the Braves seem to bear that out: only four times in the last 18 years have the Braves had a losing April and still made it to the playoffs.
Now, 1991 and 1993 were special, special seasons. And in 2001 and 2002, the Braves still had Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz dealing – well, not Smoltz in 2000 because of Tommy John, but they had the pitching to bounce back.
The Braves can hope they’ve got more of the same in this year’s case with Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens and Javier Vazquez. They’re proving to be quite the threesome. But it’s looking like Kenshin Kawakami might be the weak link.
I thought it was interesting what David Ross said in DOB’s story after yesterday’s game, that he wanted Kawakami to pitch around Jay Bruce in his first at-bat, but Kawakami put one over the plate that Bruce hit out. And he said that it might have been an issue with the language.
Regardless, Kawakami has a 7.06 ERA in four starts. Jo-Jo Reyes has a 7.94 ERA after one start and you have to figure that’ll lower, but the other three starters – Jurrjens, Lowe and Vazquez – have a combined ERA of 2.41.
Anyway, it will be no small task to take two out of three from the Cardinals this series and get a winning April. The Cardinals come to Atlanta leading the NL Central at 13-6. The three starters they have going in this series – Joel Pineiro, Kyle Lohse, and Adam Wainwright – are a combined 8-0.
And of course there’s Albert Pujols who is leading the league in homers (7) and RBIs (25).
The Cardinals lead the National League in batting average (.299), runs scored (115), slugging percentage (.488) and OPS (.868).
So it’s a lovely ballpark. They’ve got a great starting pitching staff. Where is the love with the Gwinnett Braves? They are 6-12 on the season after winning only their second home game yesterday. They went 2-8 on their first ever homestand.
The pitching staff is holding its own. Gwinnett is ranked third in the International League with a 3.29 ERA behind Norfolk (2.30) and Durham (2.61).
But they scored only 3.3 runs a game over the homestand, and they’ve been shut out three times already this season.
Brandon Jones was one of their hottest hitters (.308) and he’s up with Atlanta. That leaves a bunch of struggling outfielders: Gregor Blanco is hitting .197 (14-for-71), newcomer Brian Barton is still trying to find his rhythm, he’s hitting .158 (he’s 3-for-19) and right fielder Reid Gorecki is hitting .200 (11-for-55).
And hey a bright spot, reliever Mariano Gomez is third in the International League with a 1.15 ERA. He’s pitched in seven games, allowing only two earned runs in 15 2/3 innings. And Kris Medlen continues to hold his own, going 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA in four games, and three starts.
Mr. Tommy Hanson has become Mr. Hard Luck. He’s 0-3 in four starts despite a 2.18 ERA (five earned runs in 20 2/3 innings). He’s struck out 29 in his 20 2/3 innings, and he leads the International League in that category.
Charlie Morton pitches tonight on the road against Norfolk. He’s 1-1 with a 6.43 ERA.
UPDATES TO COME:
Today we should get some more details on what happened with Brian McCann’s visit to the eye specialist and maybe Glavine is ready to update us on how his shoulder is feeling.
It’ll be two weeks since his visit to Dr. James Andrews tomorrow, and Glavine has said if he doesn’t see improvement in that time, it might be time to consider retirement. If he has, then it’s time to go back to work on his rehab. I’ll keep you posted.