Archive for August, 2009

Braves turn to the Fish

(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien during this Florida Marlins series.)   Miami – Well, technically at the moment I’m in Fort Lauderdale, but I don’t want to confuse. Getting ready to pack up and head over to Land Shark Stadium and see what’s what, as we pick up the reins from David O’Brien (hint) after his coverage of a disappointing weekend in Philly.
   I was watching the end of the game last night, and that one seventh inning lapse kind of makes you realize how little can separate you in winning and losing a key series and how interesting it is that the ball found the two seemingly weak links in the Braves defense – Chipper Jones and Garret Anderson.
Not that either play was simple and not that either one of those guys is not capable of making really good defensive plays. But neither is what they used to be defensively – that’s an assumption I make with Garret because I didn’t get to see him much with the Angels – and it hurt there.
   There …

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Sizzling Diaz helps Braves stay in wild-card race

 Philadelphia – Before the Braves take it south to Florida for a four-gamer with the Marlins that begins with the much-anticipated return of Tim Hudson on Monday, they’ve got some business to finish in Philly tonight. [NOTE: Kenshin Kawakami now starting tomorrow, Hudson moved to Tuesday. Please look down in blog comments at 6:01 p.m. for explanation on this late development.]
  Jair Jurrjens will try to continue his success against the Phillies and his mastery of Citizens Bank Park, while Joe Blanton aims for an overdue win against the Braves. Winner takes the series and possibly more, as Braves try to whittle their wild-card deficit with Colorado or San Francisco.
  If the Giants beat the Rockies again this (Sunday) afternoon, the Braves would be three games behind wild-card co-leaders Colorado and San Francisco before tonight’s series finale in Philly. If the Rockies win, the Braves will be four behind the Rockies and threee behind San Fran.

Diaz ... hottest hitter in majors?

Diaz … hottest hitter in …

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Could Hanson be Rookie of the Year?

 The Braves haven’t been able to gain a lot of ground in the wild-card race or the National League East standings, but Tommy Hanson has gained steadily on the leaders for NL Rookie of the Year.
 Unlike, say, my luggage, which has not gained steadily on me. Yes, it’s still lost. Delta somehow misplaced a bag on a direct flight from Atlanta to Philadelphia, even though I checked in some 80 minutes before my flight this morning. Stunning. Really.
  Anyway, Hanson: The Braves’ lanky redhead enters tonight’s important start against the Phillies — as if all games aren’t important for the Braves at this point — with a 9-2 record and 3.19 ERA, and a win would give him a better record than Phillies ace J.A. Happ (10-3), whom many observers consider the ROY favorite.
 Happ has a significantly better ERA (2.63), and has made four more starts than Hanson (14), in addition to 12 relief appearances in April and May before moving to the rotation.
  Happ has pitched in 30 games and …

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Is this it?

(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)

Wow, just watching the games on TV the last two nights, Turner Field just looks dreary. So few fans in the stands, such long faces in the dugout. When’s the last time we saw Chipper smile?

Too bad the Braves can’t have a “Senior Skip Day.” Remember those? Or was it just my high school? Just when you were dying of “Senioritis,” when it was sunny and lovely and you just needed a break from school, we all blew off school and did things like go to the lake for a day. Shoot, I can’t even remember if the school knew about it, or what, but we didn’t get in trouble, I don’t think.

The Braves are in some trouble themselves.

Things just absolutely fell apart last night with that six run sixth inning. The loss Monday night to the Padres hurt, yes, but the Braves had bounced back from series-opening losses to win four of their previous five series (of three or more games) after dropping the first game. That’s …

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Braves’ postseason hopes take hit

 It’s a good thing for the Braves that the Rockies are about to overtake the Dodgers, because Atlanta’s prospects of catching Colorado in the wild-card race were beginning to look closer to none than slim.
 Not that it will be a whole lot easier to catch the Dodgers while also finishing ahead of San Francisco and those pesky Marlins, either. But at least the Braves have a fairly reasonable chance of getting that done.
 I said fairly reasonable, folks. Not good. Fairly reasonable.
 Anyway, last night’s loss obviously stung, just as any loss against a sub-standard team does these days. The Braves have to win every series and sweep a few, too. Meaning they need to win these next two games to continue their recent trend of winning series after losing the opening game.
 It’s hard to believe, but last night marked the sixth consecutive opening loss for the Braves in series of three games or more, including twice against the lowly Fathers of San Diego.
 The Braves have …

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Braves must catch Rockies … or Dodgers?

  So here’s the deal. The Braves have the second-best record (32-18) in the National League since June 28, yet they gained only one game on Colorado in that stretch, before the Rockies’ late game Monday night against San Francisco. Damn, son.

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 And they lost 1-1/2 games on NL East leader Philadelphia (33-16) in that same period.

  Yes, I’d imagine it can be disheartening to watch your team produce its best 50-game stretch in recent memory, yet have it result in almost no net gain on the wild-card leader –and actually lose ground on the division leader. Those Philthy Phillies….

 But here’s another way to look at it for Braves fans, which might give you a bit more hope: If the Rockies keep playing like they have since early June, they’ll catch the Dodgers soon.

  They have a three-game series against them in Denver beginning Tuesday, and the …

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Glad to have Don Sutton back?

From Carroll Rogers:

Hey y’all. I’m working on a story about Don Sutton for Tuesday’s paper and wondered if a few of you might feel strongly about what it’s been like to have him back, especially in light of the loss of Skip and departure of Pete.

You can comment on the question below or if you’re interested in chatting with me, please e-mail me at crogers@ajc.com with your name, your phone number and your hometown, and I”ll give you a call back.

Thanks much.

Carroll

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As Chipper, Escobar go, so go Braves?

  If it seems the Braves’ offense has returned to a mediocre state after a nice little burn through July, well, it’s probably because a couple of their biggest guns have suddenly stopped firing anything but caps.
  We’re talking Chipper Jones and Yunel Escobar. Since Aug. 12, the two of them have combined for no extra-base hits and two RBIs in 63 at-bats. The Braves are 5-4 in those nine games.
  You can recite Chipper’s still-solid .401 OBP and .873 OPS or anything else you want, but folks, he has no extra-base hits and a .194 average in those past nine games, with two RBI, nine strikeouts and four walks in that span. Not Hoss-ian, for sure.

Braves have missed Prado

Prado and Braves offense ailing

  Chipper has hit (and slugged) .194 with two RBI in those nine games. And in his past six games, he’s 1-for-20 with eight strikeouts.
 Meanwhile, Escobar — perhaps the MVP of the team if the vote were taken today — has gone from one of his hottest stretches of power-hitting to almost nothing, in …

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We got Marlins, We got Smoltz, We got Minor

(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)

 

   Hey I get called up from low Class A to the majors in a matter of 24 hours! OK, maybe not quite the same deal. But I spent the last two days in Rome, visiting some old friends from Macon who now work in Rome – always great to see – and getting to know first round pick Mike Minor

   I think you guys are going to like him. And I’ll get to that in a minute. But first off, I should set up the weekend series with the Florida Marlins in town. The Fish are tied with the Braves in second place in the NL East, 6 ½ games behind the Phillies, and one of several threats in the wildcard.

   The Marlins have been swinging some hot bats too. Until their 4-1 loss to the Astros last night, the Marlins had put up double-digit hits in 15 consecutive games. That’s the longest stretch since the St. Louis Browns had one of 15 games in 1937, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The major league record …

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Kawakami vs. Santana … one-sided?

 New York – I’d like you to take a look at the stats for the past 13 starts for each of these two pitchers, see what you think.
 • Pitcher “A” is 6-5 with a 4.00 ERA and .257 opponents’ average, with 88 hits, 39 earned runs and 13 homers allowed in 87-2/3 innings in that span. He has 55 strikeouts and 25 walks, and his team is 6-7 in his past 13 starts.
 • Pitcher “B” is 2-3 with a 3.70 ERA and .238 opponents’ average, with 65 hits, 30 earned runs and 10 homers allowed in 73 innings in that span. He has 41 strikeouts and 26 walks, and his team is 7-6 in his past 13 starts.
 The two are the opposing pitchers for tonight’s Braves-Mets series finale.
Pitcher “A”, with the 6-5 record, 4.00 ERA and .257 opponents’ average, is Mets ace Johan Santana.

Kenshin's Maserati ... Johan can't top that ride

Kenshin's Maserati … Johan can't top that (Forbes Magazine composition)

 Pitcher “B” is Kenshin Kawakami, with the 2-3 record, 3.70 ERA and .238 opponents’ average in his past 13 starts for the Braves.
  I mention this …

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