(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)
Once again, things come down to one game to either make or break the mood around the Braves right now. They beat the Dodgers tonight? And they can head out west knowing they just matched up with the team with the best record in baseball and took the series.
Lose? And it’s back-to-back series losses at a critical time. And an even longer flight out to San Diego after the game tonight.
Not that it is ever a bad thing to fly to San Diego, one of the great cities on the planet (and a place I used to visit frequently because Mr. Richmond used to be Mr. San Diego). But because ESPN wanted this game tonight and moved it to an 8 p.m. start, it’s going to be a rough night for both the Braves and Dodgers, both of whom fly west in the wee hours of the night, and both of whom play tomorrow.
The team that takes the series gets to do it happy.
The team that loses won’t have long for a little revenge. After three days in San Diego, the Braves head up to LA for a four-game rematch with the Dodgers. Got to love the schedule-makers on this one, not to mention such a short, three-game turnaround at home amid 13 games on the road. Anyway…
We’ve got Jair Jurrjens going tonight against Chad Billingsley, a good match-up of one All-Star against a should-have-been All-Star.
Jurrjens has been on his game all year, but especially so in the last month. He went 4-1 with a 2.09 ERA in six starts in the month of July, allowing more than two runs in a game only once, when he allowed four runs that night when Derrek Lee homered off him in Chicago.
He’s faced the Dodgers twice in his career and beat them twice, allowing only two earned runs in 13 innings. He’ll try to keep Andre Ethier inside the park for the first time all series.
Billingsley has been hit around of late, giving up five or more runs in three of his last four starts. Maybe the Braves are catching him at a good time.
Billingsley one-hit the Cardinals for five innings in his last start before the wheels came off in a six-run sixth inning.
I admit, I might be doing this because I just opened the paper to see one of my Adam LaRoche quotes lopped out of the notebook, and I want to get it back in there somewhere. I posted this last night in the body of the blog, but I’m going to put it on here again. Because I can. (Then I’ll give you a new quote.)
This is LaRoche on how it felt like coming home yesterday at Turner Field:
“It’s weird,” LaRoche said. “I’m standing there next to Bobby (Cox) on deck, and I’m looking around and I’m like ‘Man, it feels like I never left.’ It feels like I was gone for a month or two, three years later wind up back here. This turned out great. I’m not going to lie and say Boston wasn’t fun. I did not see this coming at all. But if I was going to go anywhere from Boston, this is where I’d want to be. Couldn’t have drawn it up any better.”
And here is LaRoche talking about all the recent change, and what it meant to be traded away from Pittsburgh, a place he had come to really enjoy playing.
“I loved Pittsburgh,” LaRoche said. “It was kind of bittersweet. It was obviously a rough stint there, but I had my little brother playing across the diamond from me. That’s something I would have loved to have done for another 10 years. Luckily I got a year with him. But them moving to Boston right into a pennant race, coming here, in the heat of it, this is a good change for me. I’ve missed the playoffs for too long.”
THE PEAVY TRADE THAT WASN’T
Somebody mentioned this to me the other day – and he knows who he is – but now, looking back, you’d have to think the Braves did the best thing by pulling out of the Jake Peavy trade talks.
Some of the names mentioned in that trade were Yunel Escobar, Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez and Blaine Boyer.
Escobar has had one heck of a year for the Braves. Morton and Hernandez got the Braves what they needed in Nate McLouth after Jordan Schafer’s jump to the majors fell short. And with Peavy, the Braves would have either not traded for Javier Vazquez or signed Derek Lowe, and both those guys have made a big impact, while Peavy hurt his ankle and has been out since mid-June.
Just makes you wonder if the Padres would have rather had Escobar to be their everyday shortstop, Charlie Morton pitching in their rotation, Gorkys Hernandez ready to patrol center field soon, etc. Who’s to say Peavy would have agreed to the Braves trade, and who’s to say the Padres aren’t excited about building for the distant future which pitching prospects allow for, not to mention dumping as much salary as they just did.
I just wonder if the Padres got as much value as they would have, and if they had that trade to do over again if they would have. The Braves sure wouldn’t.
Just something I thought I’d throw out there as the Braves prepare to head west and play the Peavy-less Padres.
PITCHING MATCH-UPS FOR PADRES:
Monday: RH Kenshin Kawakami (5-8, 4.37) vs. RH Mat Latos (2-1, 2.70)
Tuesday: RH Javier Vazquez (8-7, 3.01) vs. RH Tim Stauffer (1-2, 2.57)
Wednesday: RH Tommy Hanson (5-2, 3.25) vs. RH Chad Gaudin (4-9, 4.76)
Last but not least, tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of Skip Caray’s death. Let’s all pause and reflect tomorrow. There will always be a void at the ballpark without Skip’s huge personality around. It was larger than life.
OK, more from the ballpark this afternoon. Just had to go ahead and post and give you some relief for the 4,000 posts on the last blog!