Is this just another Braves tease?

Aftermath of the ejection mayhem Sunday (that's T.P. holding back Chipper). AP photo

 

 Boston — Derek Lowe is prepping for his big return to Fenway Park tonight, so of course there’s rain headed this way. (By the way, he just got a big ovation from the Red Sox fans as he walked toward the bullpen to warm up.)

 D-Lowe has been the Human Rain Delay this season, a role held in recent seasons by John Smoltz and particularly by John Thomson, who had a season when it seemed like every other start was delayed, postponed or played in soggy conditions.

 But anyway, the Braves want to play tonight, not just because they’d like to avoid trying to squeeze in a doubleheader on what’s expected to be a rainy Sunday getaway day, but because they’re finally hitting a little bit.

Lowe from his Red Sox days

Lowe from his Red Sox days

 

 Hey, it’s just two games, and one of them was last night against Dice-K Matsuzaka, a pitcher who’s 0-4 in four starts at Fenway this season and has an overall ERA of 8.23. The other was against Matt Maloney (0-2, 6.11 ERA).

 Nevertheless, outhitting the Red Sox 11-2 in an 8-2 win Friday, after a 7-0 win at Cincinnati on Thursday, has given the Braves some hope of gaining momentum during this 13-game stretch that began last night that includes six games against the Sox, three against the Yankees, three against the Phils, and one makeup game Monday against the Cubs.

 It’s a bit much to say it’s a make-or-break stretch of games — what happens if they go, say, 6-6 in that 12-game stretch? How can that make or break them? — but an extremely good or extremely bad performance over this period could certainly go a long way in setting the tone for the rest of the season.

 And perhaps help the Braves enjoy at least some semblance of a home-field advantage during a homestand in which there figures to be an awful lot of Red Sox and Yankees (and Cubs, for a day) fans scooping up tickets at Turner Field.

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 “I expect it to be pretty much a sellout every game,” Braves CEO Terry McGuirk said of the homestand that starts Monday.

 And before I could even get out my next question, about what kind of crowd makeup he expected to see, McGuirk said, “I hope it’s full of our fans.”

 Attendance is down at Turner Field, and the boost the Braves usually get after school lets out has not been there, whether that’s from the economy or the team’s lackluster play or some combination of the above.

 The Braves are counting on the Yankees and Red Sox games to boost attendance, but McGuirk is obviously hoping their own product — the Braves — can help in that area soon. This team hasn’t played the kind of ball, for most of this season, that is going to get folks coming out in droves to pay to see.

 “We have to earn getting them back in the seats with our play on the field,” he said. “The last two games, we’ve started to grind it out. If we can play like this for the next 10 days, I think we’ll earn a lot of fans back.

 “Lot of swagger again” the past two games.

Braves SUNDAY LINEUP vs. Red Sox

  1. Nate McLouth, CF
  2. Yunel Escobar, SS
  3. Chipper Jones, 3B
  4. Brian McCann, DH
  5. Garret Anderson, LF
  6. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  7. Martin Prado, 2B
  8. David Ross, C
  9. Blanco, RF

 Tougher foes: They did it against Dice-K and Maloney, now the Braves will have to do it these next two games against two pitchers who are unbeaten at Fenway Park, Josh Beckett tonight and Tim Wakefield on Sunday (weather permitting, of course).

 Beckett was 5-0 with a 1.70 ERA in a span of seven starts before giving up 11 hits and six earned runs in six innings Sunday in a loss at Philadelphia. He has 50 strikeouts with 16 walks in 53-2/3 innings over his past eight starts.

 The former Marlin is just 6-7 in 15 starts against the Braves, despite a 2.45 ERA. But in his last five against them, he’s 4-0 with a 0.58 ERA and .146 opponents’ average.

 Beckett is 3-0 in six starts at Fenway this season, and in his past two he’s allowed no earned runs and six hits with three walks and 13 strikeouts in 14 innings.

 The suddenly warming Garret Anderson is 8-for-17 with a homer against Beckett; the suddenly cold Chipper Jones is 4-for-25 with two homers.

  (By the way, entering tonight’s game, Chipper hasn’t driven in a run in his past nine games, and has hit .143 in that stretch).

 Tomorrow, tough-luck Braves starter Jair Jurrjens faces Wakefield, who’s 6-0 with a 3.23 ERA in six home starts. The Red Sox have provided nearly 11 support runs per nine innings he’s pitched in his games at Fenway.

 Meanwhile, Jurrjens has a 2.38 ERA in seven road starts, but only a 3-2 record. The Braves scored no runs while he was in three of those games. Jurrjens has never faced the Red Sox, and the only current Boston hitter who’s faced him is Jason Bay (1-for-4).

 If Jurrjens had half of Wakefield’s run support, Jurrjens would be going to the All-Star Game, for sure.

 Wakefield has faced the Braves only once in the past six seasons, a 2005 loss in which he allowed six runs and eight hits in five innings.

 Anderson is 18-for-66 (.273) with five home runs against the knuckleballer, and Casey Kotchman is 5-for-14 with one homer.

 Talk about due: The Red Sox have hit .065 in their past two games, a rain-shortened loss to the Marlins and last night’s series opener. Two of their three hits in those games have been homers, including Jason Bay’s two-run shot off Kenshin Kawakami last night, one of only two hits allowed in six innings by K.K.

 Before this two-game drought, the Red Sox hit .288 with 14 homers in a 7-1 stretch.

 And speaking of not hitting, I talked to Kelly Johnson just while ago about his dreadful slump. Going to do it as my lead note in notebook, which I’ve got to do right now. That should be up early in the game.

 The gist of it is, he’s got no idea what to do to get out of it. He’s watched videotape and tried everything. “It’s not from lack of work,” he said.

 Hitting coach Terry Pendleton said it might be from just the opposite – too much work. He said Kelly is too hard on himself and tries too hard when he’s slumping, spends too much time analyzing his swing and what he should do differently, etc.

 Johnson has hit .188 with no homers in his past 21 games, and his overall average has sunk to .227 with a .294 OBP and .380 slugging. Yikes.

 He’s hitting .303 in 66 at-bats vs. lefties, but just .193 in 150 at-bats vs. righties. For a lefty hitter, that’s especially troubling, obviously.

 Oh, and he’s got five homers, all with nobody on base.

 By contrast, Boston’s Jason Bay has hit 18 homers, 15 of them with runners on.

 OK, better get this up with time for you to at least glance at it before the game starts. Oh, and for those traveling to Boston, I highly recommend breakfast at Trident Bookseller and Café on Newbury Street. Try to the corned beef hash.

 And there’s a great record store a couple doors down, Newbury Comics. Got a few CDs, including the new ones by Todd Snider, Elvis Costello and Rancid.

 Oh, and it’s a day late, but in tribute to last night’s Kawakami performance:

 ”BIG IN JAPAN” by Tom Waits

I got the style but not the grace
I got the clothes but not the face
I got the bread but not the butter
I got the winda but not the shutter

But I’m big in Japan I’m big in Japan But heh I’m big in Japan

I got the house but not the deed
I got the horn but not the reed
I got the cards but not the luck
I got the wheel but not the truck

But heh I’m big in Japan I’m big in Japan I’m big in Japan

I got the moon I got the cheese I got the whole damn nation
On its knees I got the rooster I got the crow
I got the ebb I got the flow
I got the powder but not the gun
I got the dog but not the bun
I got the clouds but not the sky
I got the stripes but not the tie

But heh I’m big in Japan I’m big in Japan I’m big in Japan

Heh ho they love the way I do it
Heh ho there’s really nothing to it
I got the moon I got the cheese 
I got the whole damn nation on their knees

I got the rooster I got the crow
I got the ebb I got the flow
I got the sizzle but not the steak
I got the boat but not the lake
I got the sheets but not the bed
I got the jam but not the bread

But heh I’m big in Japan I’m big in Japan I’m big in Japan
I’m big in Japan, I’m big in Japan

3,102 comments Add your comment

David O'Brien

June 20th, 2009
6:59 pm

NEW BLOG IS UP. It’s got some secrets and hidden prizes buried within the content, so you’d better read it or you’ll miss out.

Coach ( 2010 or Bust)

June 20th, 2009
7:04 pm

Have I won yet?

Mixxo

June 20th, 2009
7:05 pm

Mixxo

June 20th, 2009
7:06 pm

I stayed off last night’s blog ….and we won.

Hmmmmmmmm….

:oops:

McFann fan

June 20th, 2009
7:07 pm

Thanks, chiefie!

J-MAN

June 20th, 2009
7:08 pm

please tell me KJ is gonna sit this one out or steal Jason Bay’s bats

Soph

June 20th, 2009
7:09 pm

Hey all. Here’s to two in a row.

Soph

June 20th, 2009
7:09 pm

Sorry, I should say three in a row. :-)

McFann ;Ô;

June 20th, 2009
7:10 pm

I’ll read the Blog in a minute, Chief! THanks for it…I gotta go finish dinner…

Reposted:

Thanks, Jennifer!

Tomahawkin

I think they cann do it, too. Yesterday was a big boost, I think.

AndyC

Sometimes those Cardinals see their reflection in the window, and they think it’s an intruder. They get pretty territorial in the Summer. It is kinda funny…I’ve never seen one get seriously hurt doing it. They will get a little stunned sometimes.

Course, sometimes they just think they cann fly through the window. Bird supply stores sell decals that you cann put on your windows that are s’posed to let birds know they can’t fly through…not sure how well they work.

Nolie

That’s so cute! Robins do build their nests in strange places sometimes…I LOVE Robin babies, BTW!

DHD

June 20th, 2009
7:11 pm

After all the mess, we’re only 4.5 games back. Amazing.

Tomahawkin

June 20th, 2009
7:11 pm

Soph..? Wazup…!

David O'Brien

June 20th, 2009
7:11 pm

Lowe got a standing ovation and tipped his cap to the crowd just before the start of the game.

Don’t know if the gun here’s accurate, but it’s already registered two 97-mph fastballs for Beckett

Soph

June 20th, 2009
7:12 pm

Hey, hey Tomahawkin! What’s goin on? Beckett’s dealing so far. :-(

keylargo

June 20th, 2009
7:12 pm

McFann

While you are talking about birds, I had some special visitors a few days back in May. There were several Roseate Spoonbills feeding in the shallow water. I think I told you about them last year, but they only seem to come around this time of year.

Here is a page with a few pics. http://whozoo.org/Intro2001/verogarc/VG_RoseatteSpoonbill..html

Mixxo

June 20th, 2009
7:13 pm

That pasty-white Irish girl in the stands was looking at Esco’s hiney.

For shame!! :mad:

Tomahawkin

June 20th, 2009
7:13 pm

McFann…

Co-Sign…!

I dunno what it is but dem Braves play their best baseball against the good teams…!

We Will Lose a 1-run game tonight, but we will win 2morrow…”Bank On It!”

keylargo

June 20th, 2009
7:14 pm

Kotsay just has missed Chipper and wanted to talk a bit.

BravesFanChris24

June 20th, 2009
7:14 pm

Come on offense, lets get this one tonight.

Chrisw148

June 20th, 2009
7:15 pm

Mets game resumed down 2-1 to TB

Jennifer

June 20th, 2009
7:15 pm

He was out bigger than Crap!!!

Tomahawkin

June 20th, 2009
7:15 pm

Soph

If we lose tonight, I’m not gonna get mad! I just hate when we lose to Garbage teams, like Pittsburgh…

Hoss, WTF!!!

ncscoots

June 20th, 2009
7:17 pm

Uh, why am I being referred to as nolie, LOL? Two posts now have chosen to respond to me that way. I mean, I know he and I agree on a lot of stuff (except the roles of catchers and pitchers, of course), and we are both of an age, but, I’m so much better-looking that the confusion is, well, confusing. :-)

bravos2249

June 20th, 2009
7:17 pm

Wow///I didn’t know Escobar comes in white 6′4 southern accent…..lol

Mixxo

June 20th, 2009
7:17 pm

Hoss is slower n’ molasses folks. No surprise there.

CharlieAlphaBravo

June 20th, 2009
7:17 pm

KC:

Very strong posts last night. Furman Bisher has clearly lost it, and I like your optimism about this Braves team.

Jeff321

June 20th, 2009
7:17 pm

Not very impressive base running there, Chipper.

Jennifer

June 20th, 2009
7:17 pm

Lowe better have his stuff tonight

TNScott

June 20th, 2009
7:18 pm

I see we’re running Kelly and his .193 average against righties out there against another dominant one again.

Chrisw148

June 20th, 2009
7:18 pm

Lets hope Lowe is a little better today then hew was in Bmore

AndyC

June 20th, 2009
7:19 pm

DOB

It’s funny how you are hyping your own blog. Dude, you are preaching to the choir. No need to hype it. :)

lexbrave

June 20th, 2009
7:19 pm

i applaud chipper’s aggressiveness, but wow…is he wearing lead clests tonight.

keylargo

June 20th, 2009
7:19 pm

There’s the first of many (18 would be nice) ground ball outs.

lexbrave

June 20th, 2009
7:19 pm

clests = cleats..

Soph

June 20th, 2009
7:20 pm

Oh and don’t forget the Reds and Orioles.

Heath (Cleveland)

June 20th, 2009
7:20 pm

Two quick grounders… High ratio of grounders usually means Lowe is on…

Vinings Jim

June 20th, 2009
7:21 pm

Good inning, DL!

Jennifer

June 20th, 2009
7:21 pm

good start (so far)

Jackie Treehorn

June 20th, 2009
7:21 pm

DOB, crazy thought, but do you think there’s any chance Derek Lowe returns to the closer role with the Braves next season, given the abundance of starters on the Braves behalf and the fact that Gonzalez and Soriano will probably take bigger free agent offers?

Soph

June 20th, 2009
7:21 pm

Good for D-Lowe. He needed a 1-2-3 inning after the disaster in Baltimore.

Chrisw148

June 20th, 2009
7:21 pm

Heath (Cleveland)

June 20th, 2009
7:22 pm

3 up….3 ground outs. I’m likin’ it.

DJ

June 20th, 2009
7:22 pm

3 groundballs :mrgreen:

Mixxo

June 20th, 2009
7:22 pm

Lowe better have his stuff tonight – Jennifer

Lookin’ good so far Jenn. 8)

J-MAN

June 20th, 2009
7:22 pm

come on Lowe!!!

jeffrey d

June 20th, 2009
7:23 pm

Thanks, PTV, for that closeup of a man eating his chowder. Fine camera work

AndyC

June 20th, 2009
7:23 pm

Thanks McFann

It kept on flying into the window so it must have been trying to fight it’s reflection. I don’t think it’s hitting the window hard enough to do any damage but I will try to chase it off whenever I see it just to be sure.

ease19

June 20th, 2009
7:23 pm

I did not find any prizes or hidden secrets in the blog.

Jennifer

June 20th, 2009
7:23 pm

So on the other blog who was the OTHER AJC SUCKS??

jeffrey d

June 20th, 2009
7:24 pm

It’s been a nice week or so without Chip, but I’ve already had enough of him after 1 inning. Good grief…

J-MAN

June 20th, 2009
7:24 pm

Whats Marcus Giles up to now a days?

Soph

June 20th, 2009
7:24 pm

Lol @ Kotsay messing with McCann.

Jennifer

June 20th, 2009
7:25 pm

Enter your comments here

McFann ;Ô;

June 20th, 2009
7:25 pm

BMAC!! You rock…

Keylargo

Those are such beautiful birds! Thanks for the link.

Dangit, Anderson…

DJ

June 20th, 2009
7:25 pm

What was mark kotsay doing?

DirtyYuni

June 20th, 2009
7:26 pm

Take a frickin pitch, Loaf.

Mixxo

June 20th, 2009
7:26 pm

Tough break there Garret.

bigmacattack

June 20th, 2009
7:27 pm

Anderson was praised for his previous work against Beckett, expect him to have a bad game.

McFann ;Ô;

June 20th, 2009
7:27 pm

I liked Kotsay…was kinda sad when they traded him.

AndyC

You’re welcome. I don’t think he’ll hurt himself too badly, but yeah, it’s a good idea to chase him away from doing that…

AndyC

June 20th, 2009
7:28 pm

Don’t know if it’s been mention before but Ryan Howard was admitted to the hospital with the flu. Temperature of 104. Not in the lineup tonight. The Phils are missing their two best hitters. Come on Orioles!

Salamander

June 20th, 2009
7:28 pm

Not to suggest that TP is incorrect about Kelly, but didn’t he say the same thing at some point about Jeff? Is that his fall back answer when one of his hitters is slumping – the dude is just trying to hard? Which of course could be true, but I hoped for a more insightful response from TP.

Anyway, here’s hoping KJ snaps out of it soon.

keylargo

June 20th, 2009
7:28 pm

Whats Marcus Giles up to now a days? J man

He’s still 5′ 8″.

Rodney Derrick

June 20th, 2009
7:28 pm

If Escobar had done what Chipper did in first with base running blunder, Bobby would have benched him.

Jennifer

June 20th, 2009
7:29 pm

I’m gonna watch the Weaver brothers pitch against each other…. they come on at 9 something

Chrisw148

June 20th, 2009
7:30 pm

Anyone else think that Furman Bisher story is way off base. Why trade Chipper when you are only 4.5 games back plus where is your offense going to come from on a team begging for offense already. Not to mention he is the face of your franchise. I didnt agree giving him the extention they gave because I thought that money could have gone to a younger slugger but now that youve got him locked up its dumb to trade him now. Imagine getting rid of Smoltz, Glavine and Chipper in the same year I dont think so.

Jennifer

June 20th, 2009
7:30 pm

what a great catch

cabravesfan

June 20th, 2009
7:30 pm

wow- that was a hell of a catch by Nate!

David O'Brien

June 20th, 2009
7:30 pm

McLouth’s making a much great impact in every way these past few games

Soph

June 20th, 2009
7:30 pm

WOW. Did McLouth really catch that?

Tomahawkin

June 20th, 2009
7:31 pm

Nate-Dawg Wit The Web Gem…! Lovely!!

Mitchell

June 20th, 2009
7:31 pm

DOB, I should confess upfront that I didn’t read your blog. I’m one of those people who just waits for their turn to type.

All I can say is this isn’t a tease. The Braves play well agaist the good teams and if I had to choose I’d take a series win against the Sox any day over a sweep of the… uh, when was the last time we swept anyone?

Kidding. No, actually the best I can do is the Nationals on opening weekend. I suppose we also took two of two against the Marlins. It counts.

Hey, there’s an out to start off the inning. Nothing special about that.

McFann ;Ô;

June 20th, 2009
7:31 pm

THAT was an incredible catch!!

cabravesfan

June 20th, 2009
7:32 pm

Jennifer-

Dodgers/ Angels is on at 6:00 Pacific

Jeff321

June 20th, 2009
7:32 pm

Ummm. How about a nice “trap” by CLOUT.

Chrisw148

June 20th, 2009
7:33 pm

Soph

June 20th, 2009
7:33 pm

McFann – I was kinda sad when they traded Kotsay too. I really liked him. Thought he blended in with the Braves even better than Teixeira. Seemed to really get along with the other players.

Tomahawkin

June 20th, 2009
7:33 pm

Man Big Sloppy Is Gettin Hot…! That would’ve been a homer at Tooner Field!

Mitchell

June 20th, 2009
7:34 pm

What the hell is going on?

Chrisw148

June 20th, 2009
7:34 pm

It was great hearing Sweet Caroline lastnite on Peachtree I love that there are no commercials and you can hear and see the stadium in between innings.

Jennifer

June 20th, 2009
7:35 pm

cabravesfan- right.. it comes on at 9:05 here

keylargo

June 20th, 2009
7:36 pm

Soph

Kotsay played less than CJ though.

nolie

June 20th, 2009
7:36 pm

All you baseball fanatics out there, if you want your kid to be a star baseball player just make sure his middle name is Herman

George Herman Ruth
Jerome Herman Dean

Don’t bother to thank me, just send 10% of his first MLB contract

Vinings Jim

June 20th, 2009
7:36 pm

Good enough inning, DJ!

Chrisw148

June 20th, 2009
7:36 pm

The Braves are the only team ive seen so far that have so few games in HD just about all the other teams have most or all of there games in HD.

keylargo

June 20th, 2009
7:37 pm

4 GB outs after 2.

AndyC

June 20th, 2009
7:37 pm

I don’t pay much attention to anything Furman Bisher says.

Mitchell

June 20th, 2009
7:37 pm

D-Lowe, more ground balls… fewer rockets to center.

Homer

June 20th, 2009
7:37 pm

bigmacattack

June 20th, 2009
7:38 pm

Tampa adds a homer, lead mets 3-1

cabravesfan

June 20th, 2009
7:38 pm

Vinings Jim-

DJ? What, exactly, have you been drinking?

McFann ;Ô;

June 20th, 2009
7:39 pm

Soph

Yeah, he was a good fit for the Braves…the back problems made me a little nervous, and I know the last thing the Braves need is another guy on the DL, but I still liked him…he put up pretty good numbers.

THIS SERIES.....

June 20th, 2009
7:39 pm

All we need is DL to go into the 6th and hope he still has a shutout and Braves need to squeeze a run out of Beckett and I think the rain will set in to give who ever is on top by the 6th a win…

THWG

June 20th, 2009
7:40 pm

And now for the joke part of our order…

bigmacattack

June 20th, 2009
7:41 pm

playing aggressive like they did against Dice K is only going to play into Beckett’s hands.

He’s not Dice K, you can’t use to same approach and expect to be successful against him.

AndyC

June 20th, 2009
7:41 pm

See! Meteorologists don’t know anything! It was suppose to start raining at 3 and it hasn’t rained a drop!

THIS SERIES.....

June 20th, 2009
7:41 pm

Here comes easy out Johnson

Jennifer

June 20th, 2009
7:41 pm

Soph

June 20th, 2009
7:41 pm

Sweet catch by Jacoby.

Mixxo

June 20th, 2009
7:42 pm

Flashin’ leatha folks!

Frenchie gave it ride.

JJ

June 20th, 2009
7:42 pm

Frenchy has actually hit the ball hard several time the last few games. Nothing to show for it though.

Braves Paisan

June 20th, 2009
7:43 pm

I have been in Atlanta for 35 years and I have always wondered why Furman Bisher wasn’t sent packing decades ago. I have never read anyone who was more anti-athlete than he. These players are professionals who compete at the absolute top of their sport, and who have short earning lives. Does he believe that sports columnists should not be allowed to negotiate for more money from another paper? How un-American!

The Ken Burns Baseball documentary had some great moments. One was when conservative columnist George F. Will said something like: “When it comes to baseball, I am a Marxist and believe in the labor theory of value” or some such.

Put specifically, Mr. Bisher: NO ONE has ever paid to see an OWNER!

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