Archive for April, 2010

Skidding Braves need big series in St. Louis

St. Louis – Much rain and little sleep later (at least for those of us who fly commercial), we’re here in St. Louis to see if the skidding Braves can muster something resembling their performance the last time they visited Busch Stadium.

God knows they need it, as improbable as it would be.

Swpt by Mets, now they face this.

Swpt by Mets, now they face this.

When the Braves came to St. Louis in September, they were playing their best ball in the past few years and hit .290 with a 2.33 ERA while sweeping three games. In the finale they handed Chris Carpenter his worst home start in two seasons (six innings, nine hits, seven runs) while Javier Vazquez dominated.

Does that seem like an awful long time ago, or what?

The Braves arrived in the wee hours today for a four-game series, mired in a five-game losing skid and lugging the worst team batting average in the National League (.228) after being swept by the Mets  at Citi Field, where they totaled 18 hits and more than twice as many errors (seven) as runs …

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Stat of the day: 14 runs in past eight games

14 – Braves’ scoring total during the past eight games, including six losses.

They’ve hit .201 during that stretch including .135 (7-for-52) with runners in scoring position. They were 1-for-14 with RISP during the past two nights against the Mets and 3-for-22 while being swept in the three-game series.

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Rain-shortened loss extends Braves’ skid to five

New York – Rain or shine, the Braves seem all but incapable of driving in runs.

They stranded 10 runners in five innings during a rain-shortened 1-0 loss against the Mets on Sunday night at Citi Field, the fifth consecutive defeat for a Braves team that has almost its entire lineup slumping at once.

The Mets scored an unearned run in the first inning on a Chipper Jones throwing error, then held on for the win and series sweep, keeping last-place Atlanta three games behind National League East leader Philadelphia.

“Things couldn’t have gone any worse for us this weekend,” said Jones, who returned to the lineup sooner than expected after leaving Saturday’s game with a sore hip. “Hopefully things go better for us in St. Louis.”

The Braves (8-10) were swept for the first time this season and slipped to 1-1/2 games behind bunched-together Florida, Washington and New York in the division standings.

After totaling more than twice as many errors (seven) as runs (three) in New York, …

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Jones surprised at Brian Jordan’s criticism of 3B

New York – Chipper Jones was surprised to hear former teammate Brian Jordan call him out on a nationally syndicated radio show when Jordan said the veteran third baseman should train harder and stretch more to avoid injuries.

“Until I talk to B.J. I’m going to have to reserve judgment,” said Jones, who returned to the Braves’ lineup Sunday after leaving Saturday’s game with a sore right hip.

“B.J.’s not a switch-hitter, so he doesn’t go through the same things I do. B.J. doesn’t know what I do in the offseason, doesn’t see my workout regimen. He’s not in here 24/7.”

Jordan, a broadcaster for Braves’ pregame and postgame shows and Triple-A Gwinnett TV games, said on a MLB Network Radio that he wasn’t sure if Jones, 38, was “dedicating himself” to staying healthy.

“He leaves you scratching your head because, you know, it’s been a problem, especially his obliques the last couple years,” Jordan said. “I think he just doesn’t think he’s aging.

“As you get older, you’ve got to …

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Next for Braves: 4-game series at St. Louis

Series preview: four games at St. Louis

When (TV): 8:15 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (PTV), 1:40 p.m. Thursday (SPSO).

Radio: 680 AM, 100.5 FM

Probable starting pitchers:

Monday: Braves RH Tim Hudson (1-1, 2.89 ERA) vs. RH Kyle Lohse (0-1, 7.31).

Tuesday: Braves RH Derek Lowe (3-1, 5.24 ERA) vs. RH Chris Carpenter (2-0, 3.60)

Wednesday: Braves RH Kenshin Kawakami (0-3, 4.76 ERA) vs. LH Jaime Garcia (1-1, 1.42).

Thursday: Braves RHP Jair Jurrjens (0-2, 5.48 ERA) vs. RH Adam Wainwright (3-1, 1.69).

Monday’s matchup:

* Hudson is 3-2 with a 3.39 ERA in 10 starts since returning from elbow surgery in September. Against the Cardinals, he’s 3-2 with a 5.02 ERA in seven career starts. He’s 2-1 in the past four despite a 5.96 ERA and .337 opponents’ average (Hudson received 13, 10, 4 and 5 support runs while in those games). Albert Pujols is 8-for-20 with a homer against him.

* Lohse has allowed 19 hits, 13 runs and seven walks with only five strikeouts in 16 innings (three …

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Braves’ offense has been alarmingly bad

New York – Only 17 games into a 162-game season, it’s not time for the Braves to panic about their currently pitiful offense.

However, it certainly should be raising some red flags and at least getting the wheels turning in the front office.

Chipper's hurt again; most other Braves just have hurting numbers.

Chipper's hurt again; most other Braves just have hurting numbers.

Oh, it’s gone bad in a hurry, folks. Beyond bad. Took about one day, really.

After teasing us all with a 12-hit, 16-run Opening Day performance against the Cubs since-demoted-to-the-bullpen Carlos Zambrano, the Braves have hit — are you ready? – .219 in the past 16 games. They’ve scored 54 runs in those 16 games, including nine in one game against Colorado.

In the other 15 games, they totaled just 45 runs. Three runs per game. Whew.

And it’s gotten worse instead of better lately. A lot worse, in fact.

• The Braves have hit .194 and scored 14 runs in their past seven games. That’s horrendous. They’ve hit three homers in that stretch, and all three came in one four-batter …

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Stat of the Day: .081 avg. for Braves leadoff hitters

New York – No matter who bats leadoff for the Braves, results have been the same almost every game. It’s the black hole of a rather shaky lineup.

Omar Infante got his first crack at the leadoff role this season on Saturday and went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in a loss against the Mets.

Through 17 games, Braves leadoff hitters are a majors-worst 6-for-74 (.081) with one RBI, six runs, seven walks and 19 strikeouts.

How bad is it? Consider this: Braves No. 1 hitters entered Saturday hitting .087 with a .169 on-base percentage and .145 slugging percentage. Meanwhile, Braves No. 9 hitters were hitting .111 with a .186 OBP and .204 slugging percentage.

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Chipper (hip) says he could be out several games

New York – Explaining before Saturday’s game that second baseman Martin Prado was out of the lineup to rest a sore hamstring, manager Bobby Cox said, “It’s tough taking your best hitter out of lineup.”

In the third inning Saturday, Cox scrapped that plan and called on his “best hitter” to replace the guy who held the distinction for so long. He did so because Chipper Jones was hurt. Again.

For now the Braves are calling it a sore right hip and listing him as day-to-day. Jones, who turned 38 Saturday, said he expected the injury to keep him out of the lineup for more than one or two days.

The veteran third baseman said he felt something pop in his hip on the first swing of his first-inning strikeout Saturday, and it felt worse during his third-inning at-bat, another strikeout.

“I felt it some [Friday] night,” Jones said. “Today, first swing, first at-bat, it popped. I couldn’t push off at all [with his back foot batting right-handed]. They said it could be bursa, or some kind …

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Next for Braves: Mets

Series finale against Mets

Who: at Mets

When: 8:05 p.m. Sunday.

TV; radio: ESPN; 680 AM, 100.5 FM

Sunday’s matchup: Braves RH Tommy Hanson (1-1, 2.81 ERA) vs. RH Mike Pelfrey.

* Hanson has run up high pitch counts early in his starts this season, leaving games after throwing 100-102 pitches in 4-2/3, 5-1/3 and six innings. He pitched seven scoreless innings with three hits, three walks and eight strikeouts to win his only start against the Mets on Sept. 15.

* Pelfrey has three wins, a save and a .181 opponents average in four games (three starts) this season, including 15 scoreless innings over his last three games (two starts). Against the Braves, however, he’s just 2-5 with a 6.09 ERA in 10career games including nine starts, including 0-2 in three starts in 2009. Brian McCann is 12-for-27 (.44r) with a home run against him, and Martin Prado is 4-for-9 with a homer, and Chipper Jones is 6-for-18 with two homers.

* DAVID O’BRIEN

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Proctor (11.25 ERA) sent back to extended spring training

New York – Scott Proctor’s return from elbow surgery has stalled and the veteran reliever is being sent back to extended spring training in Florida.

The decision was made Saturday, a day after Proctor gave up four runs and seven hits in 1-2/3 innings to blow a save in Class AAA Gwinnett’s 5-4 loss against Durham.

He had an 11.25 ERA and .462 opponents’ average in eight appearances at Gwinnett, allowing 18 hits (one home run), 10 runs and two walks with 10 strikeouts in eight innings.

In making the announcement, the Braves said Proctor, 33, had no physical setbacks in his recovery from ligament-transplant elbow surgery that was done on May 5, 2009.

Rather, they said they made the move to allow the hyper-competitive veteran to step back, “reorganize” his rehab program and get stronger and sharper before he’s back throwing in high-level minor league games in preparation for a return to the majors. He will pitch in Gulf Coast League games in Florida.

“It’s a process,” manager …

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