As Braves’ lead shrinks, team remains cohesive

MIAMI – Twelve losses in 18 games reduced the Braves’ wild-card lead to a mere 2-1/2 games over St. Louis, but the clubhouse atmosphere felt no different Tuesday afternoon than it had throughout the season.

There was no quiet sulking, no whispered discussions. No finger-pointing or damning comments – on or off the record – about slumping hitters or struggling pitchers.

“I really believe when we have survived this – and we will – we’re going to be a better team for it,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose bullpen blew a late lead in a loss for the second consecutive game Monday. “Because I’m around them all the time, and not once – and this is a sign of a good club to me – not once have you heard anyone, ‘It’s your fault,’ or ‘How come you didn’t do this?’ It’s we got beat, let’s regroup and come back out there and get ‘em tomorrow.”

Players have pointed to clubhouse chemistry as a big part of the team’s success the past two years, and veteran catcher David Ross said that has helped the Braves stay together during one of their worst slumps of that period – a slump that couldn’t have come at a worse time.

“We can talk about it all we want, but you’ve got to go out there and play,” said Ross, one of the team’s leaders. “There’s no pep talk anybody’s going to give you. We know everybody in this room is trying their best. We know everybody is grinding it out as best they can. We’re just going through a stretch we haven’t been through all year.

“We’ve had some bad luck and the ball bouncing the other way a little bit. When you’re winning, it seems like everything is so easy. When you’re losing, winning seems so hard. It is nice to know that you have a good group of guys in here that you don’t ever doubt what anybody’s motives are when they go out there.”

As Ross spoke, some Braves directed their attention to TVs hung above lockers in the visiting clubhouse at Sun Life Stadium. The TVs were tuned to MLB Network, which at that moment featured a couple of analysts talking about the Braves’ recent struggles, their suddenly vulnerable bullpen, and how the team might be teetering on collapse after blowing most of a 9-1/2-game wild card lead.

Third baseman Chipper Jones, dressing a few lockers over from Ross, suddenly said aloud, to a group of players within earshot: “We’re going to win tonight.”

Catcher Brian McCann, seated a few feet away, seconded the statement: “That’s right.”

A while later, McCann told a reporter the Braves’ confidence was still strong.

“Bottom line, there’s a reason we’re 2-1/2 games ahead and that we’re in the position we’re in,” he said. “We’re a really good ballclub. We’ve just hit a rough patch in September. It’s not the best time to get in a rut, but what we’ve accomplished this year – we’re right there. We need to keep going and make this thing happen. That’s what everybody’s mindset is. We need to make this happen.

“We’ve got eight games to go. We need to give it all we’ve got, play a little better baseball.”

Out in the dugout before batting practice, Gonzalez did not have the bearing or tone of a man who sensed something important slipping away.

“We will survive this stretch,” he said again. “Everybody goes through stretches, unfortunately we’re going through ours in September. But we’ll be a better club as long as you don’t start pointing fingers or start saying, ‘Why didn’t you call a certain pitch?’or ‘Why didn’t you swing at that ball?’ As long as that doesn’t happen, teams will survive it.”

107 comments Add your comment

DOB in Effect

September 20th, 2011
7:12 pm

DOB…its you Fav here. As your peers are doing an ok job pointing out the choke job that is going on, we get the fluffies from the DOB BLOG! I guess someone has to keep the faith…

LuisG

September 20th, 2011
7:13 pm

I like it! Come on Chipper!

bravo_fan52

September 20th, 2011
7:15 pm

First to say I believe

Robert

September 20th, 2011
7:16 pm

DOB: Thanks for your work. Not to sound pessimistic (can you blame me?) but if there’s a playoff for the wildcard, has MLB decided where?

Larry

September 20th, 2011
7:17 pm

Nice job larry. Swing at ball 4. Take strike 3. Time to retire

Larry

September 20th, 2011
7:23 pm

great start guys!! 2nd and 3rd and no out with those big bats and can’t even get a run. this team is DONE

jmo

September 20th, 2011
7:23 pm

2nd and 3rd with none out….and nothing.

Like a broken record.

Chillahill

September 20th, 2011
7:24 pm

Nice jjob boys way to swing at the balls and let the strikes go by!!!
Gotta love a team that talks the talk!’

Chillahill

September 20th, 2011
7:25 pm

And in the late innings joe and chip will be saying. ” well the braves have had plenty of chances!!’

Larry

September 20th, 2011
7:29 pm

That’s two straight games Chipper Jones had ripped the heart out his team. Some leader!

Please retire you arrogant bum!

bravesgrl4life

September 20th, 2011
7:34 pm

Larry

September 20th, 2011
7:35 pm

Unlike the author of this blog, it is refreshing to hear Joe Simpson courageously question some of the poor decisions by certain braves players. It’s sad when just about anyone knows more about the game and necessities than the team’s own manager.

Brave-less

September 20th, 2011
7:37 pm

“Third baseman Chipper Jones, dressing a few lockers over from Ross, suddenly said aloud, to a group of players within earshot: “We’re going to win tonight.”

- M. Bourn to third, M. Prado to second on wild pitch
- C. Jones struck out looking

You have a chance to back it up in the very fist inning and “struck out looking ” …. talk is, of course, cheap

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
7:37 pm

Infante trying to make admends for his HR yesterday.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
7:37 pm

Hey stupid, why bunt at a man ten feet away?

jmo

September 20th, 2011
7:37 pm

what ineptitude.

BuckyBadger

September 20th, 2011
7:39 pm

Go Braves! Braves and Brewer fans want the Cards e-lim-i-nat-ed!

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
7:40 pm

I meant amends. Sorry, still drowsy for my post operations medication.

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
7:41 pm

Some contact will be nice

Larry

September 20th, 2011
7:41 pm

Larry, you have to be the dumbest person on this blog. He’s a pitcher – that’s his job – the guy wasn’t 10 feet away when he squared. He just made a great play! Tip your cap, move on.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
7:41 pm

If we could just add Constanza to Bourne and Heyward and get rid of the free swinging guess hitters we just may have a chance.

Go_Bravos

September 20th, 2011
7:42 pm

I wish CHipper would just keep quiet. He basically guaranteed a win tonight and then goes out and Ks with runners on with no outs. Seems like a week ago or so, he said the Braves were the only team that could hang with the Phillies in the Playoffs. Either back it up or shut up..

Casey

September 20th, 2011
7:44 pm

A lot of runs and not going to some of our bullpen regulars would be well needed! Keep ‘em coming!

Larry

September 20th, 2011
7:44 pm

Stupid Larry,

That’s why you look before you square up, you moron! This is taught in pee wee league!

Larry

September 20th, 2011
7:45 pm

Can Stupper Jones swing at a strike?

Larry

September 20th, 2011
7:48 pm

Two straight wasted at bats by the worst #3 hitter in baseball! He looks like his midget mind is already in the deer stand. What a waste of good money!

TN Jeff

September 20th, 2011
7:50 pm

I see Chipper’s doing his part – whatever happened to leading by example?

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
7:51 pm

I wonder how many Red Sox fans are rooting for the Yankees in their series against the Rays?

Larry

September 20th, 2011
7:53 pm

Fruity, I think Chumper needs a day off…maybe about the next 7 games would do just fine!

Put someone in there who wants to play hard and be there for his team when they need him the most. He almost got caught jogging to first last night before infante’s error but was saved the embarrassment when his throw pulled the first baseman off the bag.

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
7:55 pm

Rookie is getting squeezed by the Ump

Go_Bravos

September 20th, 2011
7:56 pm

I think Chipper’s been one of the few players who’ve actually hit lately so Im glad he’s in the lineup. I just wished he would keep his mouth shut. Oh and field a groundball.

Brian

September 20th, 2011
7:58 pm

Is the blog to get things off our chests or to talk to ourselves? Either way, it seems pretty lame when you’re the only on here Larry.. Chipper will be alright without you.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
7:59 pm

Is McCann just stupid? Fastball after fastball after fastball after….

These pitchers are so young they never shake McCann off–they should!

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
8:00 pm

Don’t have to give in to Dominguez.

Casey

September 20th, 2011
8:01 pm

It’s really demoralizing to the offense when we DO hit and our pitching gives it right back. That’s been more of a problem lately than grounders getting lost in the lights. Chip is still tops on my list when the game is on the line.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
8:01 pm

Brian,

Me, myself and I are the only ones who get it!

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
8:04 pm

Red Sox playing as bad as we playing. Reddick dropped a line by Guerrero. Misery loves company.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
8:04 pm

Casey,

All runs count in the end. Chumper had the game on the line in his first two at bats and failed miserably.

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
8:05 pm

Freaking Murphy plays against us like he is Ozzie Smith

Larry

September 20th, 2011
8:06 pm

Poor McCann runs like a pregnant cow!

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
8:08 pm

Sanchez was having trouble finding the strike zone and this guys just come hacking. What about take a few pitches and run his pitch count?

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
8:11 pm

@ Brian: Don’t worry, Cards trolls will come in soon and keep you some company.

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
8:13 pm

Delgado may become a good pitcher someday but he is a 2 pitch pitches at this stage of his career.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
8:14 pm

Another game changing moment for Chumper!

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
8:14 pm

I smell a HR now. That’s the way that has gone for us lately.

TJ

September 20th, 2011
8:14 pm

Larry

September 20th, 2011
8:06 pm

Poor McCann runs like a pregnant cow!

Someone that blogs as much as you do; I doubt you’re much of an athlete yourself. Was just scrolling up this page… geesh man put down the cheetos and go do something active. Most people post something and then get back off. Don’t count on me to read your response. I have a life.

jmo

September 20th, 2011
8:15 pm

And he doesn’t even go after the ball? Really? He just stands there? The shortstop has to run over? Wow. 2 Ks and just watching a ball roll away from you…definitely the way to win tonight.

TJ

September 20th, 2011
8:15 pm

Larry

September 20th, 2011
8:17 pm

Put Prado at 3rd, Constanza in LF, and ride the hot bat of Gonzalez at #3 right now.

Get Chumper some R&R.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
8:19 pm

TJ,

I prefer pretzels.

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
8:22 pm

We let Sanchez to hang around and he settled on a nice groove.

BananaJacket

September 20th, 2011
8:24 pm

Hey Larry—oh, never mind. You are just hopeless!

Larry's mom

September 20th, 2011
8:25 pm

Larry, dear I need the computer. It’s time for bed.

BananaJacket

September 20th, 2011
8:27 pm

Braves-less, you are so right: …”talk, of course, is cheap”. But, I am not referring to Chipper!

Casey

September 20th, 2011
8:33 pm

I’m still confident we’ll make the postseason. Let’s just take care of our business on the field. I hate pulling for the Mets – nevertheless the day after pulling for the Phillies –> painful!

Mark Duncan

September 20th, 2011
8:38 pm

I was down in Atlanta over the weekend and thought the game Saturday would ignite something. Hopefully it will. Let’s just get in and take it from there. Had a great time in Atlanta. My buddy who we were visiting is a big Buffalo Bills fan and we watched the game at some joint called Hudson? Had a great time even though the Braves lost. While everyone was yelling for the Bills I was screaming for the Braves. We’ll do this. Go Braves!

jmo

September 20th, 2011
8:44 pm

2-out walk in the 5th inning. Here we go–Braves typical playbook has been opened.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
8:47 pm

And Chumper falls down to appear as if he tried.

LOL!

Noone, Looser, Then, Than & Alot

September 20th, 2011
8:48 pm

Yup, cohesive. Like a solid lump of horse pucky.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
8:52 pm

A prediction. Within two years Delgado and Beachy will be the top two starters on this staff.

Kimbrel rocks

September 20th, 2011
8:52 pm

wow mccann is blind as a bat

Larry

September 20th, 2011
8:53 pm

McCann looks utterly helpless right now.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
8:56 pm

Good boy, Freddie!

Time for the new blood to take over!

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
8:57 pm

AGON 11-18 against the Fish in the last 2 series against the Fish.

Kimbrel rocks

September 20th, 2011
8:58 pm

i’m def not a heyward fan but i am certainly glad he is being more patient. it’s paying off

jmo

September 20th, 2011
8:58 pm

With a 4-0 lead in the 6th, Delgado is taken down. Really? Managerial brilliance. Tax that ‘pen some more.

Casey

September 20th, 2011
9:01 pm

Yep, all we need is to add some more innings to the ‘pen.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
9:02 pm

Infante’s a gamer. Miss this guy!

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
9:02 pm

Larry

September 20th, 2011
9:05 pm

Jmo & Casey,

Agreed. Sadly, we are saddled with the single dumbest manager in the game. The goatee goober hasn’t a clue.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
9:06 pm

Nice hustle Jason! See that Chumper?

Larry

September 20th, 2011
9:08 pm

Go Metropolitans!

Casey

September 20th, 2011
9:12 pm

Larry, if Chipper would’ve made that play he would’ve torn his oblique in half. Come on man. I love the guy, but lets be real.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
9:14 pm

Well I’ll be damn! Chumper hit the baseball!

Jo Bling

September 20th, 2011
9:15 pm

My wife just said, “And Chipper lines a hit to the 20-yard line.”

Larry

September 20th, 2011
9:22 pm

Why does McCow have to swing for the fence every time simple contact is required to get the runner in from 3rd?

Sit his dumb, selfish azz and play Ross!

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
9:25 pm

Empty again…

LOB Braves

September 20th, 2011
9:26 pm

And of course they do it again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LOB Braves

September 20th, 2011
9:26 pm

It all starts with McPopup.

watch it now

September 20th, 2011
9:27 pm

bases loaded, no outs and nothing to show. This is why the braves will lose this game.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
9:27 pm

Hold your head high, Freddie! At least you took good swings and hit the ball hard, unlike McCow!

David

September 20th, 2011
9:28 pm

Is it just me or are the Braves guaranteed not to score with the bases loaded and no one out?

David

September 20th, 2011
9:29 pm

I would love to see a team to team stat on that.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
9:29 pm

See that? Chumper was awake and caught the ball! Glad those lights are dimmer tonight!

Larry

September 20th, 2011
9:34 pm

David,

It’s their hitting philosophy…swing hard in case the bat finds the ball. This hard swinging “guess” hitting by too many in the lineup is why they go into extended slumps and why this Bobby Cox brand of offense fails so often in the postseason where contact, situational hitting is needed to manufacture runs when facing the great pitchers.

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
9:38 pm

Is it just me or are the Braves guaranteed not to score with the bases loaded and no one out?

We are dead last on the league on failing to score with men on 3rd with less than 2 outs.

Larry II

September 20th, 2011
9:46 pm

Larry: the idiot Your comment is awaiting moderation.

September 20th, 2011
9:28 pm

Larry

September 20th, 2011
9:05 pm

Jmo & Casey,

Agreed. Sadly, we are saddled with the single dumbest manager in the game. The goatee goober hasn’t a clue.

Yet no one calls me for advice. And he earns more in one year than I will make in 25. ROTFLMAO.

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
9:46 pm

I hope FG has very short lead with Varvaro tonigh.

David

September 20th, 2011
9:47 pm

And again! Even when they are winning all you can see is this huge problem with our annual September offense! Every year!

Larry

September 20th, 2011
9:54 pm

Larry ll,

Are you obsessed with me? Can’t you be your own “Larry,” Girly man?

Meanwhile, Chumper, as usual, jogs slowly to first base!

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
9:54 pm

Wisdom

September 20th, 2011
9:55 pm

Drunk, dumb and ignorant is no way to go through life Larry.

up north

September 20th, 2011
9:59 pm

Uggla needs to watch his language.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
10:03 pm

Wisdom,

I’ve only had one beer, ossifer! (hiccup)

Larry

September 20th, 2011
10:03 pm

I’m naked on my couch.

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
10:03 pm

5-5 Cards. That team may not lose another game.

Tom

September 20th, 2011
10:04 pm

Just think Freddie. If you had done that in the 7th, we’d be up 5-0 now.

Larry

September 20th, 2011
10:07 pm

Varvaro is dealing!

Larry

September 20th, 2011
10:13 pm

I’m still naked on the couch. And Mr Happy is happy!!!!

kwajbraves

September 20th, 2011
10:13 pm

Good game. Delgado guts out his 1st W and the bullpen did their job.

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