Miami - So, keep me company while I replenish fluids from the three pounds I think I lost running this morning. Wow. Earlier in the day doesn’t necessarily mean better in this muggy South Florida heat, and maybe later doesn’t either. I’m starting to feel for these pitchers, like Javier Vazquez and his 120 pitches last night.
So there were about five glaring things that went wrong last night, and they’ve been well-documented on the last blog (I’m thinking maybe a punching bag with Greg Norton’s face on it would help a lot of folks get through the day).
But I figure a lot of it had to do with Vazquez running out of gas, not having his usual control, and maybe staying in little too long in what blew up into a five-run inning by the time Kris Medlen was through. I imagine Bobby Cox was concerned about not having some of his bullpen available, aka Rafael Soriano - and wanted to get as much as possible out of Vazquez.
But a 29-pitch first inning set Vazquez on course for a relatively short night, something the Braves have had a lot of lately.
In the first three games of this series, the Braves have gotten six innings from Kenshin Kawakmi, 5 1/3 from Tim Hudson (all you can expect from a guy coming off Tommy John) and 5 1/3 from Vazquez. Running in this weather for the last three days, I can see why.
But it goes beyond this series. Only twice in the past eight games have the Braves had a starter go seven innings – Vazquez on Aug. 27 against the Padres and Jair Jurrjens on Sunday night in Philadelphia. Tommy Hanson’s start in Philly was cut short by rain, so that doesn’t really count, but it helps me make my point anyway (why let the truth get in the way). It does mean Hanson should be extra well-rested for his start tonight.
The Braves could really use six, and if humanly possible, seven innings tonight from Hanson. Peter Moylan and Mike Gonzalez have both pitched three games in a row this series. Soriano got his rest yesterday, though he did warm up in case the game went into extra innings.
So yeah, once again, tonight is a big game, what’s new. The Braves can walk (or fly) outta here with either a two-game lead on the Marlins or tied once again. And with 29 games to play, that four-game deficit in the wild card is looming a bit large.
Chipper lets ‘er rip
Expect Chipper Jones back in the lineup tonight against Ricky Nolasco. First because he would be anyway, second because Jones is hitting .500 (10-for-20) off Nolasco for his career, including four homers.
From the looks of things last night, Chipper is taking his dad’s advice to heart. Get a good pitch and rip it. That goes for the sounds of things, too. Here’s what Chipper said after the game: “I’m tired of thinking about mechanics and fundamentals. I’m just going to go up there and hunt the first straight one I see and try and wail on it.
MattE for emotion, not to mention excellent verbal control
We have to have a little fun with Matt Diaz’s outburst last night. Basically after watching Omar Infante buzzed back on a ball at his head in the seventh, Diaz did not take kindly to being hit by reliever Tim Wood. Obviously Wood didn’t want to hit him in the situation, to load the bases in a one-run game, but logic wasn’t the first thing on in Diaz’s mind at the time.
He started jawing at Wood. Then, he said, as soon catcher Ronny Paulino jumped up and told Diaz to shut his mouth and get to first base, a little more adrenaline kicked in. And at that point the Braves relievers came onto the field and some Marlins were up on the top step.
Ordered was restored quickly and Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez came for Wood, who was surely rattled by the whole thing. But what cracks me up is how in the heat of the moment, Diaz manages to keep the words coming out of his mouth so G-rated. Oh to have that kind of control. I’m guessing it takes practice, and I should try it. (As maybe should, ahem, some of you?)
“I kept saying ‘find a clue,’ which looks really bad on film,” Diaz said. “(I’m thinking) why does everyone think I’m dropping f-bombs? I went and looked at the film. If I didn’t know what I’d said, I’d think I’d dropped an f-bomb. I did tell Ronny Paulino ‘Get out of my way,’ which is kind of funny because you can’t move that guy.”
Another beauty that came out of Diaz’s mouth was: “If you keep throwing like that we’re all going to have to wear those goofy helmets.”
Hey, make a political statement, while you’re at it too!
McLouth in Rome
A little business…Nate McLouth is scheuled to play tonight in Class A Rome, three at-bats or five innings, whichever comes first. If his hamstring holds up, he could be activated as soon as tomorrow when the Braves open up a three-game series at home against the Reds. If not, he’ll hang out in Rome a bit longer.
OK, more from the ballpark this afternoon.