So…happy first of July to ya, and happy day after Martin Prado Day. How else do you put it?
A career-high four hits last night for Martin Prado, including a homer. He had a career-high four RBIs, including both the game-tying and game-winning ones. He got the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 10th inning after working his way back from an 0-2 count.
And afterward, Bobby Cox went so far as to say Prado would be the starting second baseman, at least for now. That’s saying something for a manager who usually lets the lineups he posts do the talking for him.
Good for Prado.
Seems to me (and me is Carroll today, not DOB. Well I’m me every day, but you get my drift)….Seems to me, last night was a microcosm, or a culmination, of what Prado’s done for the last couple of years. He’s chomped at the bit to contribute, but he’s done what he’s asked with a positive attitude. He hasn’t complained about his role or talked about wanting to be traded somewhere where he can play every day. He chose not to play for his native Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic this spring so he could focus on getting ready and playing for this team. And oh yeah, he’s played basically all season with a sore groin.
Throughout it all, he’s been a darn good situational hitter, as he showed last night. I believe they said during the broadcast last night that the Braves are something like 3-for-their-last-38 with runners in scoring position, and Prado has all three hits.
For the season, Prado is hitting .313 with runners in scoring position and less than two outs, .278 with runners in scoring position overall. He’s hitting .452 (14-for-31) in close-and-late situations.
Kelly Johnson’s woes at the plate have been well-documented (his batting average is down to .216 on the season), so I just wanted to have a look at what Prado has done in recent years….
Coming into this season, Prado was a career .302 hitter in the minors and a career .307 hitter in the majors. In each of the last three seasons in Atlanta, in a part-time role, he’s improved – from hitting .262 in 24 games in 2006, to .288 in 28 games in 2007 to .320 in 78 games last season.
So far this season, Prado is hitting .299 with four homers, 12 doubles and 13 RBIs in 51 games. He hit .359 in the month of June. He’s played ably at first, second, and third base. And he’s hitting .444 (4-for-9) as a pinch hitter.
So all that is to say, Prado’s been a good and clutch hitter for the Braves this season, and apparently a good teammate. Have a look at a couple of quotes DOB got from Braves players last night about Prado that he couldn’t squeeze into his game story.
From Derek Lowe: “Every time he plays, he does something to help us win. Today, he carried us. He’s getting the opportunity to play and taking advantage. He’s been fantastic.”
From Peter Moylan: “He’s awesome. Love the guy. Not only what he does on the field, but off the field. He’s a champion. No other way to describe him. He’s a great guy, and he’s a gamer. He battles.”
Fans have until midnight Thursday to vote on-line for the All-Star game and perhaps right a wrong for Brian McCann. McCann was still trailing hometown boy Yadier Molina of the Cardinals (the All-Star game will be played in Busch Stadium) in a recent count by 1,846,629 to 1,458,909 – or 387,720 votes.
McCann is hitting .308 with 14 doubles, eight homers and 31 RBIS in 195 at-bats. Molina is hitting .279 with eight doubles, five homers and 24 RBIs in 240 at-bats.
McCann’s on-base percentage is .396, Molina’s is .348. McCann’s slugging percentage is .513, Molina’s is .383. Need I say more?
Chipper Jones was trailing David Wright 2,049,487 to 1,351,455 and just 50,000 votes ahead of Ryan Zimmerman. And wow, the injustice here might be for the Giant’s Pablo Sandoval, who has the best numbers across the board. Sandoval is hitting .338 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs, more productive than Wright and a better average than Zimmerman.
SETTING UP TONIGHT
Tonight we have Cole Hamels taking on Jair Jurrjens. Jurrjens has been almost as excruciating to watch in action lately as Javier Vazquez, given how unlucky he’s been with run support (or lack thereof).
Jurrjens has had four quality starts in his last five outings and won none of them. In four of those starts the Braves scored either none or one run while he was on the mound.
If the Braves are to turn things around for him, it’ll depend on whether they see the Hamels who’s pitched well against the Braves recently (7-1 with a 3.26 ERA in his past nine starts against Atlanta) or not so well recently in general (.347 opponents batting average in his past four starts).
COMING THIS WEEKEND
There’s more to look forward to on July 4 than just fireworks in the nation’s capital, apparently. Major League Baseball will honor Lou Gehrig on Saturday and the 70th anniversary of his “Luckiest Man” farewell speech. It’s an attempt to raise awareness and funds for the battle against ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Players, umpires, everybody will wear “4 ALS” patches on Saturday.
And I wanted to say a quick thanks for the support I’ve received about the Seattle Marathon and for putting up with the comments about running all the time.
It was a fantastic experience, my first ever marathon and – time will tell, I guess – if it’s my last. It was hard, but it was supposed to be. I finished in 4:43.47 or something like that. It was hilly, but the hills were do-able, thanks to running roads around here like Londonberry, Peachtree Battle, and Johnson’s Ferry.
What was hard was a ton of the marathon was run on concrete elevated highways and bridges, and concrete is harder than asphalt, so the legs started feeling it a little sooner than I thought. But the scenery was outstanding, I finished strong, and more importantly, we raised quite a bit of dough for the fight against blood cancers (Go Team in Training!) in honor of my brother Chip. Amen for that.
I was originally going to run the Peachtree Saturday, but I’m going to DC with the Braves instead, and I can see now that it would have been a little ambitious anyway. But I wish the best of luck to all you guys and gals who’ll be trucking up Peachtree Road on Saturday morning.
Thanks to a 90-minute massage and a few days’ rest, the legs are mostly back to normal and ready to get out to the ballyard! Chat with you from there.