(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)
OK, there has been enough has been said about the Colorado game for the last two days solid that I should leave it alone here, right? But what if one thing popped into my head that wants to get out?
Too bad, I’m saying it. As the Rockies comeback was happening, which I saw bits and pieces of in and around Coolray Field in Gwinnett, I thought back to what the Braves did the Reds on May 20. Remember Brooks Conrad and a certain walk-off grand slam? How demoralizing must that loss have been for the Reds? And they didn’t have wide gaps and weird conditions of Coors Field to blame, just stinkin’ ol Turner Field and the raw-dogging Conrad.
But the Reds kept trucking along. They won three of their next four games and seven of their next nine. Now, they’re in first place in the Central, four games ahead of the Cardinals, with an identical record as the Braves at 73-54.
Good teams absorb blows like that and just keep going. The Braves are looking to do that tonight when they open a three-game series with the Marlins.
It’s a welcome return for the Braves, who have gone a majors’ best 44-17 at home. No other team has won as many at home or lost as few. The Braves have gone 10-4 at home this month.
Have a look at their home and road breakdowns:
Record Batting average Runs/game ERA
Home: 44-17 .269 4.87 2.97
Road: 29-37 .250 4.51 4.06
Hip, Hip, Houston
The Phillies sure have been a big help to the Braves lately, getting swept in a four-game series by the Astros at home. After a 2-4 road trip, the Braves actually gained a half-game on the Phillies and now lead by three games in the NL East.
It is pretty odd how in sync these two teams have been lately. Ten times in the last 10 days they both played, the Braves and Phillies have either both won, or both lost. Since Aug. 15, on days when they’ve both played, the Braves and Phillies have matched up while going 5-5. Weird, isn’t it?
Well, sooner or later somebody has got to start separating. The Phillies are at San Diego this weekend and then at LA. They face Mat Latos tonight, which is no picnic for a team that scored seven runs in four games against the Astros. The 22-year-old Padres’ stud has allowed two or fewer runs in a franchise-record 12 straight starts. He’ll be going against Mr. Left Fielder Roy Oswalt.
Tommy Hanson is going tonight for the Braves against Chris Volstad, trying to revert back to that dominant run he was on before his five-run hiccup in Chicago. Hanson had gone five straight starts while allowing one or no runs. Of course, he hasn’t gotten much run support either and is winless in five starts in August despite a 1.89 ERA in that time.
Lee’s home debut
Tonight will be Derrek Lee’s first game as a Brave at Turner Field. He’s coming off a 3-for-24 (.125) road trip, though he does have five RBIs in six games.
For his career, Lee has hit only .237 (55-for-232) with nine doubles, one triple and eight home runs in 66 games at Turner Field. The good news for him, though, is he won’t be facing Braves pitching. The Braves have had their fair share of good pitchers in his 14-year career, dating back to 1997, the year Turner Field opened.
More on Freeman
I had some extra quotes from Gwinnett manager Dave Brundage about Freddie Freeman that I didn’t have room to put in today’s story, so I thought I’d share them here.
It has a lot to do with the adjustment Freeman made in June, working with hitting coach Jamie Dismuke, where he opened his stance, moving his front foot back, so he wasn’t as closed off.
“He was making a lot of outs to the right side on the ground, and rolling over for easy outs,” Brundage said of his struggles early. “Jamie went back and noticed from spring training where he was back-spinning balls to the right side and not rolling, hitting the topspin ball.”
“He covers both sides of the plate with authority,” Brundage said. “He’s driving the ball so well to right field. Right-handers, left-handers it doesn’t matter.”
As you probably know by now, Freeman went 5-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs last night to raise his average for the month of August to .435 (40-for-92). For the season, he’s hitting .324 with 18 homers and 87 RBIs in 120 games.
“It’s been fun to watch the other team try to pitch to him too,” Brundage said. “In Triple-A, you don’t have an advance (scout), so they see a big 6-foot-5 guy and they say ‘We’re going to go away.’ He’ll drive a couple balls to left center, so ‘Maybe let’s try him in.’ They try him in and hurts them with a homer to right, a double to right. He’s certainly been on an absolute tear.”
The young Kris Medlen is trying to keep himself entertained following “Tommy John” surgery and has started a blog about his recovery. Being the well-spoken, dry-witted, funny guy that he his, I imagine it will be a good read, not to mention informative.
His first blog post went up yesterday. And I knew he actually wrote it when I read: “I look like a mummy…. And I could smell like one too.”
Check it out at: http://krismedlen.blogspot.com.
Speaking of “Tommy John,” it’s a drag to hear Stephen Strasburg is headed for TJ surgery himself. That means we won’t be seeing him in any of the remaining six games against the Nationals in September. Well, there’s consolation in that for the Braves, maybe not the people who watch and/or write.
More from the ballpark this afternoon. Let’s hope more fans show up for these games than what we saw for the last three games against the Nationals, including two of the worst crowds of the season: 16,911, 18,105, and 15,593.