Archive for April, 2009

Top of the morning…Game’s On!!

   OK, first thing’s first. Turn On Your TV! Your radio! Your webcast! The game is on!!! It’s a 12:10 p.m. start today – the one and only of the year at Turner Field, and no I’m not sure why, but I think it’s something they’re just experimenting with.

 

   Actually, given the chill in the air the last two nights, an early start today is probably a good thing. The sun is shining. Looks to be a lovely day.

   And speaking of the sun – hey, nice segue – apparently Derek Lowe had a bit of an issue with the setting sun shining in through the gap in the third base concourse last night. I hear Bobby Cox mentioned something in the post-game about it last night.

   If you’ve ever sat along the right field line, you know about this. For the first few innings of the game it’s tough to see. You better have not only sunglasses, but a visor and maybe a newspaper to hold up over your eyes (hey, there are still uses for the printed word!)

   Here’s what …

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On Garret, Diaz and the Fish

 The Marlins were probably as pleased to see Matt Diaz out of the Atlanta lineup Tuesday as the Braves would be to see a Florida lineup sans second baseman Dan Uggla, whose sometimes-uggla defense is more than offset by his bat.
  All Diaz has done against the Marlins is hit .425 with seven homers, 21 RBI and a .446 OBP and .708 slugging percentage in 36 games, leading current Braves in each of those categories against Florida (to be renamed Miami Marlins when they get their new ballpark — more on that in a moment).
  Anyway, Diaz was out of the lineup last night because Garret Anderson’s strained calf was healed and, well, they got Anderson to play left field against right-handers and against plenty of lefties, too.
  And against 6-foot-7 sinkerballer Chris Volstad, Anderson fared about as well as most Braves did Tuesday night, going 0-for-4 in the game. The first five batters in the Braves lineup went a combined 1-for-19 with one walk. That group’s only hit was …

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Braves go Fishing

   Now that the storm is over, the power is back on (woohoo) and the Nationals are in the rearview mirror, it’s time to get serious again.

 

   The Marlins are in town for a three-game series starting today with Vazquez vs. Volstad, a very vivacious, vaunted, vicious match-up. (OK I’ll stop). We’ve heard aplenty about the Marlins rotation. Bobby Cox raved about them in spring. This will be no foolin, to see how the Braves lineup matches up. And it’ll put that .300 team average to the test.

   (It’s Derek Lowe vs. Andrew Miller on Wednesday night and Kawakami vs. Anibal Sanchez on Thursday. And don’t forget Thursday is a 12:10 p.m. start. Bizarre but true.)

   And yes, the Braves are currently hitting .300 as a team, which leads the National League and is fourth in the majors behind Toronto (.322), Tampa Bay (.304) and Baltimore (.303).

   Some Marlins to keep an eye on? How about second baseman turned third baseman Emilio Bonifacio, who is off to an …

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Schafer living the (noisy) dream

  Happy Easter, folks. Were gonna keep this one short, because we’ve got a day game and a beautiful afternoon here, and hey, I didn’t have much time to get up and crunch numbers and all that goes into a typical blog.
  Was talking to Jordan Schafer this morning about his new apartment in the hip Midtown area of Atlanta. Asked him if, given his blazing start, anybody had hung up one of those “Home of Jordan Schafer” banners in the lobby, the way they do for high-school football players in small towns and football-intensive suburbs.
  I was joking, of course.

Schafer

Schafer

  Schafer said no, there were no banners. However, when he went to the lobby this morning, the concierge at his building had coffee waiting for him. He was thankful, but said it really wasn’t necessary, that he could get his own coffee.

 

Schafer's story, so far

Schafer's story so far

  Hey, I guess when you’re a 22-year-old kid hitting .421 with two doubles and two home runs in your first five games in the major leagues, folks …

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Braves happy after all-nighter

  If you ever see smiles and hear sarcastic humor in a clubhouse at 1:45 a.m. or so, it’s safe to assume the occupants of said clubhouse were on the winning team that night.
  That, or someone broke into the stadium and is having fun going through lockers.
  In the case of Friday night/Saturday morning, it was the Braves’ clubhouse, and Braves players were exhausted but elated after pulling out a 10-inning, 6-5 win in a game that featured a three-run Yunel Escobar homer, a two-hour rain delay, a hail storm (literally), a hell storm (two leads blown by the Braves bullpen), approximately three gallons of coffee consumed by yours truly, and a game-ending, one-out single by Kelly Johnson to score rookie Jordan Schafer, whose exuberant post-slide, fist-pumping celebration drew some good-natured razzing from Johnson.
   “I think he put on the best celebration after a slide, to work his way onto the video board,” Johnson said in the clubhouse about 20 minutes after the game. …

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Braves (hope to) open at home tonight

  The Braves must be hoping the forecast improves and they can avoid a rainout tonight. It’s the home opener, with a big crowd expected and the great Pete Van Wieren set to be honored before the game.

Pete Van Wieren

Pete Van Wieren

 But beyond that, the last thing the Braves need is to sit around for another day with that rotten taste lingering from the one that got away Wednesday — or to be precise, the one the bullpen gave away.
  I’m guessing that some Braves might have had a less-than-relaxing off day Thursday while ruminating on how awful that eight-run, five-walk (four with bases loaded) seventh inning was on Wednesday at Philadelphia, the Colossal Collapse that saw four relievers blow a seven-run lead — and then some.
  Eric O’Flaherty took over for Javier Vazquez (after another quality start) with a 10-3 lead to begin the seventh, and before the nightmare was over, Peter Moylan, Blaine Boyer and Jorge Campillo had all poured gas on the blaze.
  Was it a troublesome relief …

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Braves go for sweep without Chipper

  Philadelphia – Until Chipper Jones was scratched from the lineup 45 minutes ago with a bruised left thumb and hand, things couldn’t have possibly gone much better for the Braves in their season-opening visit to the home of brotherly love and cheesesteaks.
  He’s not seriously injured, or at least Chipper says he’s not. But I can attest to their being some rather ugly discoloration on the thumb, index finger and hand at the base of both digits. I looked at it while ago in the clubhouse.
  And to think, we were going to start this blog with something about how today is the 35th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s historic 715th home run off the Dodgers’ Al Downing at old Fulton County Stadium.
  Anyway, Jones seems sure it’s just a bruise, the result of getting jammed by pitches a few times in the past week. Said he’s got no top-hand strength batting left-handed, and Braves are facing a righty today, Joe Blanton.

The Hammer

The Hammer

  So, Chipper will rest it and use the off day …

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Round 2 tonight in Philly

  Philadelphia – We’re going to guess that the resounding opening-night win for the Braves on Sunday probably made the off day Monday a whole lot nicer for the Braves/MIB blog denizens, as it undoubtedly did for Bobby Cox and his team.
 But with the parachutists and World Series banner-raising and ESPN’s single-game focus out of the way, it’s time to get down to the regular grind portion of the schedule, beginning with Round … err, Game 2 tonight against the Phillies and Jair Jurrjens vs. ancient lefty Jamie Moyer, who’s literally twice J.J.’s age.
  Don’t know if most of you noticed how unusually pleasant (for Philly in early April) that the weather was on opening night, but it’s gone now. Replaced by the sort of chilly greyness we expect (hey, we like the city, but not the weather).

Future's now

Schafer: Future arrives

  

Jordan Schafer will hit closest to this as a rookie:

  • .260-.265, 10-12 homers, 50-60 RBI
  • .270-.275, 10-15 homers, 55-65 RBI
  • .275-.280, 15-18 …

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Braves open with nemesis Phils

  “This sh*t don’t count. This sh*t don’t go on the bubble gum card.” — Rickey Henderson on spring training.

  Philadelphia – No, but this sh*t does. Beginning tonight. Hallelujah.
  Welcome to a fresh season and greetings from Philly, where the Bravos open against not Cole Hamels but Brett Myers, who a month ago at Dark Star was asked how he dropped than 30 pounds during the winter.
  ”Making smarter choices while you drink beer,” he replied. “Instead of pizza, eat salad. Play for the tie, you know.”
  Did we mention he’s no Cole Hamels?
  (Before we go any further, I should note that my downtown hotel has served as headquarters for participants of the Irish Dancing World Championships and a national convention for a black fraternity. It was not dull in the lobby.)

Lowe gets ball tonight

Lowe gets ball tonight

  The weather’s nice here today, sunny and temps around 60 degrees, though it’ll be cooler by gametime and could drop below 50 during the game. Rain in forecast after …

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Getting sentimental with Schafer

  It’s Saturday and the last exhibition game of the year, and I’m posting a blog because DOB set the breakneck pace of a blog-a-day all spring on days the Braves had games. Who am I to break the streak now?

 

  (Though, I’ll be honest. I actually thought about it, and instead of blogging, kicking back with a cup of coffee and a plate of breakfast here before the game. I’ve been up since 6 and ran 10 miles this morning. But hey, no excuses. Besides, guilt got the better of me.)

   So where are we….Is it too early for a mood of the clubhouse update? Ah, what the heck. As much as players – and apparently beat writers – were worn out the last week or so of spring training, coming home to Turner Field got everyone abuzz again. And it’s a fun time of year to be in a clubhouse, especially now that cuts are over, and everyone is bopping around with the promise of a clean slate and a new season.

   I’m sure DOB will set the tone tomorrow for the start of the …

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