After assist from Mets, Braves’ magic number at 5

WASHINGTON – It’s a rainy, dreary day in D.C., but something tells me Braves players and staff weren’t about to let it get them down. Not after the day they had Thursday, when they were off and nonetheless moved a step closer to a playoff berth.

The Mets’ amazin’ six-run ninth inning – with huge contributions from ex-Braves Rafael Furcal (error) and Willie Harris (leadoff walk and two-run go-ahead single) – lifted them to an 8-6 win over the Cardinals and reduced the Braves’ magic number to five to clinch the NL wild-card berth.

With six games left, any combination of Braves wins and Cardinals losses totaling five gives the Braves their second consecutive wild card.

Neither of these fellas plays for the Braves anymore, but the one on the right, Willie Harris, sure helped their cause Thursday by delivering a two-run single to cap the Mets' ninth-inning rally against St. Louis.

Neither of these fellas plays for the Braves anymore, but the one on the right, Willie Harris, sure helped their cause Thursday by delivering a two-run single to cap the Mets' ninth-inning rally against St. Louis.

“I guess those guys over there [the Braves] are pretty excited about it,” said Harris, a Cairo, Ga., native who played for Atlanta in 2007. “But we come here to win no matter what the situation is, and fortunately we were able to come through and get that win.”

So five is the new magic number, and two games is the Braves’ lead over the Cardinals.

A total of four Braves wins and Cardinals losses would force a one-game tiebreaker that would be played in St. Louis, which would host based on its 5-1 record against the Braves. (Coin flips aren’t used anymore for these purposes.)

Acerbic scribe Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said it might have been the worst Cardinals loss in the 10 years that he’s covered the team. I’m sure the Braves know the feeling, having experienced something similar just last weekend in Atlanta.

It was only the third loss in 15 games for the Cardinals, who looked devastated in postgame interviews. Meanwhile, the Braves and their followers let out a collective sigh of relief, and plenty also did some whoopin’ and hollerin’ during that ninth inning if they were following the game.

One female Braves fan on Twitter wrote that she shouted, with her windows down, when Harris got his hit to put the Mets ahead.

So now where are we? Well, the Braves are in a better position, without question. It was only a half-game in the standings, but at this point that’s not as important as the full game knocked off the magic number and the schedule.

The Braves six games left against the Nationals here in rainy Washington and against the Phillies in Atlanta beginning Monday. The Cardinals have the easier remaining schedule, no doubt, with three against the Cubs in St. Louis and three at Houston against the 102-loss Astros.

That means the Braves finish the season against the team with the best record in baseball, while the Cardinals finish against the team with the worst record.

So you can see where knocking a game off the magic number yesterday was doubly important for the Braves.

It means if they could muster four wins in their remaining six games, the Cardinals would have to run the table to just to force a one-game tiebreaker. If the Braves went 4-2 and the Cardinals 5-1, the Braves win the wild card.

If the Braves go 3-3 and the Cardinals go 4-2, the Braves win the wild card.

And so on.

Not that it’s going to be easy. At all. (Has anything come easy this season?)

After going 40-20 with a 3.49 ERA and 4.5-run scoring average from June 19 to Aug. 25, have a 9-15 record with a 4.34 ERA and 3.25-run scoring average since then.

They are 4-8 in past 12, including 1-4 in one-run games. The Braves scored three runs or fewer in six of those 12 games.

It might make you all feel a little better to know the Phillies are banged up and playing their worst ball of the year. They are 4-10 with a puny .210 batting average and only 34 runs scored in their past 14 games, and have a 4.42 ERA during their current six-game losing skid.

But before they worry about the Phillies, the Braves must take care of business against a Washington team that’s playing its best ball of the season.

The Nationals are 10-2 with a 1.99 ERA in their past 12 games, includig a three-game sweep of the Phillies that ended Thursday.

In tonight’s series opener, weather permitting, the Braves will send ace Tim Hudson up against Nats phenom Stephen Strasburg, in his fourth start since returning from Tommy John elbow surgery.

The Braves have struggled to an inexplicable degree against the Nationals in past seasons, but have done better this season – 8-7 overall and 3-3 at Nationals Park.

♣ Facing Strasburg, Pt. II: The Nationals’ celebrated rookie has no decisions with a 1.29 ERA and .188 opponents’ average in three starts since coming off the DL, allowing nine hits, two runs, no walks and 11 strikeouts in 14 innings.

The Braves face the streaking Nationals and their phenom Stephen Strasburg in tonight's series opener, weather permitting.

The Braves face the streaking Nationals and their phenom Stephen Strasburg in tonight's series opener, weather permitting.

They’re being careful with Strasburg and his three starts have lasted five innings (56 pitches), three innings (57 pitches) and six innings (61 pitches).

That longest start was Saturday against Florida, when he gave up four hits and one run with three strikeouts. Nothing eye-popping so far since he’s been back, but it’s worth noting that left-handed hitters are only 3-for-21 with seven strikeouts against him.

The Braves faced Strasburg once last season, when they got six hits and four runs (three earned) in 6-1/3 innings against the flamethrower in a June 28 game at Turner Field. It was his sixth major league start, and until then he hadn’t allowed more than two runs.

Dan Uggla is 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs against Strasburg when Uggla was with the Marlins. Brian McCann is 2-for-3 against him.

For the Braves, Hudson snapped out of his recent funk with eight dominant innings of a win against the Mets on Saturday. He had 10 strikeouts and allowed only four hits and two walks.

Hudson had been 1-3 with a 5.55 ERA and .323 opponents’ average in his previous four starts, following a sizzling two-month stretch in which he was 8-1 with a 1.91 ERA.

The veteran right-hander has excelled against the Expos/Nationals throughout his career, going 13-3 with a 1.95 ERA in 22 starts, including 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA in four this season.

Laynce Nix is 7-for-19 with a homer against him, and Jayson Werth is 11-for-30 with three homers and 10 RBIs.

Werth hasn’t played since injuring his right elbow Tuesday’s doubleheader, but could return in this series. I’m sure the Braves would just as soon he doesn’t, because he’s hurt them even as his overall 2011 numbers have been disappointing.

Against the Braves, Werth 20-for-64 (.313) with six homers, 13 RBIs and 1.092 OPS in his past 18 games, including four homers and eight RBIs in 14 games this season.

♣ Where are seven-inning starts? Veteran pitcher Derek Lowe has become such a lightning rod for criticism that he was the focus of most fan ire after Wednesday’s 4-0 loss, even though he had what is considered a “quality start” while Braves hitters mustered just two hits.

(Personally, I think the quality-start definition – six innings or more with three earned runs or fewer — should be changed to make it a little more difficult. Make it seven innings of three earned runs or fewer, or six innings with two earned runs or fewer.)

Going through my scorebook over games of the past few weeks, I came upon a startling stat that says something for why the bullpen is so overworked: Lowe’s 6-2/3 innings on Wednesday marked just the second time in 23 starts that a Braves pitcher worked more than six innings. The other was Hudson last weekend against the Mets.

Think about that. Just twice in 23 starts over more than a three-week span.

Seems that “five-and-flys” have become the norm with their rookie-infused rotation during that span, and Fredi Gonzalez has not hesitated to pull a young guy if his pitch count gets up around 90 or he’s showing any sign of getting hit harder before or as he’s starting to go through the third time in the batting order.

Only Pittsburgh and Washington have pitched more relief innings than Atlanta (498). Braves starters have pitched more innings than only four NL teams – Nationals, Pirates, Cubs, Rockies — and have pitched 104 innings fewer than Phillies starters.

Tim Hudson, who had 10 strikeouts  in eight scoreless innings Saturday against the Mets, will try to continue his career-long success against the Nationals.

Tim Hudson, who had 10 strikeouts in eight scoreless innings Saturday against the Mets, will try to continue his career-long success against the Nationals.

Philly has 18 complete games to the Braves’ three, and Phillies relievers have pitched 107 fewer innings than the Braves, or 21 percent fewer.

Here’s another stat that’s a bit startling: The Braves have used four or more pitchers (at least three relievers) in 34 of 45 games since Aug. 3.

The Phillies used four or more in only 18 out of 47 games in that same span, and four of those games came in the past week after they’d already clinched a playoff spot.

♣McCann’s worst slump: Brian McCann led the Braves in most major offensive categories before the All-Star break, including average (.310), homers (15, tied with Uggla), RBIs (50), slugging (.514) and OPS (.895) in 80 games.

Since the All-Star break, McCann has hit .197 (ahead of only Eric Hinske among current Braves) with nine homers, 19 RBIs, a .388 slugging percentage and .695 OPS in 47 games.

In 32 games since returning from the DL for an oblique strain, McCann is 19-for-113 (.168) with 14 RBIs, 27 strikeouts and a .299 OBP and .345 slugging percentage.

BRAVES LINEUP

  1. Bourn CF
  2. Prado LF
  3. Jones 3B
  4. Uggla 2B
  5. McCann C
  6. Freeman 1B
  7. Wilson SS
  8. Heyward RF
  9. Hudson P

♣ OK, let’s post this and get over to the rainy ballpark. Did went mention there’s a 90 percent chance of rain the rest of the day and late into the night? And that tomorrow’s forecast is just as bad. Sunday, it’s about 70 percent chance of rain in last forecast I saw. Don’t know what they’ll do if they don’t get the games in, because they have to play them for playoff implications, obviously. It’ll be a long night before they’d postpone it, I have a feeling.

Oh, and before I forget, you’ve got to check out the latest video from Batting Stance Guy, which he sent to me this morning.  Click here to see it. It’s him impersonating players who made Sports Illustrated “meanest players” list in a poll of major leaguers. He also reprises his hilarious impersonation of ESPN’s Pedro Gomez.

Let’s close with a great country tune that would never get played on today’s mostly awful country stations. You can hear it by clicking here.

johnnyrodriguez_e

“RIDIN’ MY THUMB TO MEXICO” by Johnny Rodriguez

This old highway seems so lonesome when you’re going where you’ve been
And the lonesome song will make you cry time and time again
If I had listened to a friend of mine ten years ago today
I’d have a better job than what I’ve got today

But the billboards on the highway and the brake-lights on the cars
Make me jump out on the highway with my bag and my guitar
If she comes or if she goes it doesn’t matter anymore
’cause I’m ridin’ my thumb to Mexico

Chorus: Ridin’ my thumb to Mexico
Well it don’t matter when or how I go
I’ll ride this thumb till I see her again
So I’m ridin’ my thumb to Mexico

Well the reason why she left me’s not the reason that I’m here
I’m a travellin’ kind of man just need a change of atmosphere
If there’s any place I haven’t been at all that’s where I’ll go
So I’m ridin’ my thumb to Mexico

– David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

2,056 comments Add your comment

richbrave

September 23rd, 2011
3:00 pm

Steady rain right now in S.W. RICHMOND. Precip intensifying toward 7:00 p.m. 2-3 inch accumulation between this a.m. and the next. Possible twi-night double-headed tomorrow. If they play tonight, I will be surprised.

Efrim

September 23rd, 2011
3:00 pm

Jimmy

September 23rd, 2011
3:00 pm

Could have been first..but why?

Jimmy

September 23rd, 2011
3:02 pm

Thanks for the update richbrave. Good to have someone “there on the ground”.

richbrave

September 23rd, 2011
3:02 pm

Need that D.C. sweep, and put the monkey squarely on the CARDINALS’ backs.

Jimmy

September 23rd, 2011
3:05 pm

I heard on MLB Network that the Cardinals lead MLB in losing game that they lead going into the 9th. They’ve lost 11 games that way. Wow!

Let’s keep that in mind the next six days.

richbrave

September 23rd, 2011
3:06 pm

Jimmy
September 23rd, 2011
3:02 pm

Thanks for the update richbrave. Good to have someone “there on the ground”.

Heh! If this keeps up anyone outside walking, ‘on the ground’ just might start sinking into it. Almost a toad-strangler going at the moment.

Bob the Blogger

September 23rd, 2011
3:06 pm

Many bloggers, including myself, have complained about Fredi over-using Kimbrel and Venters, but I checked the stats, and the other relief pitchers are 1 for 14 in save opportunities. If they had converted a third of them, we’d have the wildcard in the bag.

ncscoots

September 23rd, 2011
3:06 pm

You win….low OBP though.

Run scored, man, that’s what counts. :-)

b

September 23rd, 2011
3:06 pm

Please tell us why Constanza was benched a month ago.
And it wasn’t his ankle. He only was hurt one game.
And the Diaz trade didn’t warrant the georgie benching.
Please tell us why Somebody.
And I don’t think any of our four writers have even questioned it.

Arkansas Transplant

September 23rd, 2011
3:06 pm

My wish list for things to happen in the offseason.

1. dump Lowe and his contract somehow.
2. Move JJ and Prado in some package to acquire Moustakas and Crow from KC.
3. Sign Jose Reyes
4. Sign 1 these guys. (Willingham/Cuddyer)
5. Sign Omar Infante
6. Let these guys walk – Mclouth, KK, Linebrink, Sherrill and Moylan (if your going to have to pay in excess of 2mil.)

One thing I forgot to add to that list.

7. Sign Vazquez (if we felt we needed one more veteran presence and another durable arm.)

southern hope

September 23rd, 2011
3:06 pm

I have an idea for a rained-out night…go see Moneyball! I was invited to a screening last night…when I went into the movie, the Cards were up 6-1…when I exited, the Mets had won!

Plus, it is just a great great movie…and there’s even a bit of Tim Hudson (well, an actor playing Tim Hudson) in there….if you love baseball stats, you will love it. If you love drama & no stats, you will love it. :)

trey

September 23rd, 2011
3:07 pm

first, go braves

Murph

September 23rd, 2011
3:07 pm

I’d love the sweep but will be plenty happy with 2 out of 3 in Washington, considering the way the Nats have been playing lately.

Jimmy

September 23rd, 2011
3:08 pm

ncscoots – That’s right. As long as you score.

Efrim

September 23rd, 2011
3:08 pm

Constanza has been terrible for the last month, that’s why he isn’t playing.

Arkansas Transplant

September 23rd, 2011
3:08 pm

richbrave, did you happen to notice how speaking in Dutch helped the Braves position yesterday? I knew something had to work.. glad we found it.

Murph

September 23rd, 2011
3:09 pm

It’s gotta be so embarrassing to post “first” and end up “thirteenth”.

b

September 23rd, 2011
3:10 pm

Why are all these mlb players, mostly Braves getting these nasty haircuts.
They have no taste and I guess they must not care what the women think about them.

ncscoots

September 23rd, 2011
3:10 pm

Need that D.C. sweep, and put the monkey squarely on the CARDINALS’ backs.

I’ll take the first win tonight, and see how much pucker that gives the Cards. Every Braves’ win makes it that much harder to stay loose in the other dugout. A Braves’ win and a Cards’ loss on the same night? Beaucoup pucker.

richbrave

September 23rd, 2011
3:10 pm

Did anyone miss my in-depth statistical analysis of bonus-baby ED SALCEDO’s errors at ROME this season [his 2nd]?

richbrave

September 23rd, 2011
3:11 pm

scoots:
Amen brother, a-men!

Efrim

September 23rd, 2011
3:12 pm

A Braves’ win and a Cards’ loss on the same night?

Hasn’t happened since last Saturday. I think we’re due.

b

September 23rd, 2011
3:12 pm

efrim, Constanza has not been terrible.
He’s had NO consistent playing time and our record with hin starting
was the spark that ignited the team.
An at bat here and there does not constitute terrible.
He’s still hitting over .300.i

phil

September 23rd, 2011
3:12 pm

If we get rained out tonight, our BABIP will suffer terribly…

Train Wreck Bystander

September 23rd, 2011
3:13 pm

I feel better knowing that Huddy has the rock tonight.

I could easily see the Cards winning 5 or 6 of their last 6.
I could easily see the Braves going 3-3.

Let’s hope my pessimism is not prophetic.

GO BRAVES

ncscoots

September 23rd, 2011
3:13 pm

7. Sign Vazquez (if we felt we needed one more veteran presence and another durable arm.)

I knew a good outing from Javier would get us a few of these posts, LOL. Luckily, the man has spoken pretty candidly about possibly retiring after this year.

richbrave

September 23rd, 2011
3:13 pm

AT:

Si, amigo. I could only offer an assist in Spanish.

RC

September 23rd, 2011
3:13 pm

Efrim,

That link would hold a little more water if JJ hadn’t imploded in the 2nd half (yes, injuries did play a major part).

phil

September 23rd, 2011
3:14 pm

It makes me sad when our BABIP suffers…

Efrim

September 23rd, 2011
3:15 pm

RC, but it’s more that you can’t just look at FIP or xFIP and determine that this guy is better than this one. Gotta look at the whole picture, imo.

Arkansas Transplant

September 23rd, 2011
3:15 pm

ncscoots, yeah I heard of his retirement talk but I was actually wanting us to sign him before this season actually started too.

richbrave

September 23rd, 2011
3:15 pm

scoots:

Heh! you didn’t hear it from me. I liked JAVY, but que sera, sera.

RC

September 23rd, 2011
3:15 pm

richbrave,

Did not see your post about Salcedo’s errors…do you mind reposting? I need watching him miss 5 pops ups in a row during infield practice at spring training last year. (Seriously, 5 pop ups. It was like little league.)

phil

September 23rd, 2011
3:15 pm

If our BABIP suffers, can our OBP be far behind?

Shaun

September 23rd, 2011
3:15 pm

Efrim, guess you saw on the previous blog, I would take Cain over Nolasco, but it’s fairly close.

I don’t think Jurrjens is the new Cain. Cain’s career K/9 is 7.41 to Jurrjens’s 6.15. And Jurrjens’s walk rate is a little higher. I think it’s pretty clear by now that Jurrjens was lucky in the first half, to a large degree. Doesn’t mean he’s a bad pitcher.

keylargo

September 23rd, 2011
3:15 pm

JOE STRAUSS (St. Louis version of DOB)

I believe the Braves are in full meltdown mode due to Lowe’s fade and an overused bullpen. My projection is four wins earns the Cards a one-game playoff, five wins it outright. Thursday was a brutal loss, but not fatal. Except for Furcal’s recent defensive lapses the Cardinals are playing the game well and appear to have found a higher offensive gear with Allen Craig. No NL team is playing better at the moment, which should compound the disappointment if the Cards don’t make it.

Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/round-two/article_c2de0ea8-e611-11e0-bdc8-0019bb30f31a.html#ixzz1YnwwDbFt

Efrim

September 23rd, 2011
3:15 pm

Luckily, the man has spoken pretty candidly about possibly retiring after this year.

I’d love to have him back. Too bad.

Arkansas Transplant

September 23rd, 2011
3:17 pm

Jeg håber, at Braves komme til at spille i denne række mod statsborgerne.

Ward

September 23rd, 2011
3:17 pm

Hello evrey one! Arkansas: I agree with part of your list,like Infante.Letting Lowe go,andLinebrink,and Sherrill go…..I don’t agree on trading Prado or J.J.All we have to do is sign a vetran pitcher.Call up Pastornicky,and sign Infante! Good post buddy.

phil

September 23rd, 2011
3:17 pm

Yeah, Shaun….it was all luck for JJ and had nothing to do with him being healthy then.

His luck ran out when his knee went out on him again….oh wait.

He just stinks and it wasn’t luck at all….

RC

September 23rd, 2011
3:17 pm

Efrim,

Of course. But the point of the article seemed to be that those players are outliers, and it’s too soon to determine if JJ is an outlier, or a player waiting on a correction. Based on his 2nd half, the evidence would point toward correction (though there still isn’t nearly enough evidence to feel strongly either way).

Shaun

September 23rd, 2011
3:18 pm

Efrim, who is just looking at FIP or xFIP? Those are not the primary reasons that I don’t think Jurrjens is ideally a number 1 or 2, though I’m not completely ignoring FIP and xFIP. I’m just looking at other things, too.

Ward

September 23rd, 2011
3:19 pm

I want to say Go!!!!! Braves!!!!! Let’s Do It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Efrim

September 23rd, 2011
3:19 pm

My projection is four wins earns the Cards a one-game playoff, five wins it outright

Braves aren’t going 2-4.

The A Bomb

September 23rd, 2011
3:19 pm

Make Mr. Met the Braves’ new mascot.

phil

September 23rd, 2011
3:19 pm

I’m ignoring FIP AND xFIP….

Ward

September 23rd, 2011
3:20 pm

Come people let’s stop throwing are players under the bus…….

phil

September 23rd, 2011
3:20 pm

I’m paying attention to actually winning games….

Arkansas Transplant

September 23rd, 2011
3:21 pm

Ward, thanks for the encouragement… How’s life been treating you?

Murph

September 23rd, 2011
3:21 pm

I think it’s pretty clear by now that Jurrjens was lucky in the first half, to a large degree.

I’m trying really hard to resist the urge to call you stupid right now.

ncscoots

September 23rd, 2011
3:21 pm

I believe the Braves are in full meltdown mode due to Lowe’s fade and an overused bullpen. My projection is four wins earns the Cards a one-game playoff, five wins it outright.

Whistling past the graveyard. You cannot discount the reverse mojo engendered by that loss yesterday, which offsets that Kimbrel blowup the other night. Had the two happened in reverse order, I’d be handing the WC over. But they didn’t.

DAP

September 23rd, 2011
3:21 pm

DOB, thats really funny from batting stance guy. i liked his teixeira impression.

Efrim

September 23rd, 2011
3:21 pm

I don’t think there is enough evidence for Jair. Not based on his second half, and I think it’s conservative to just call him a legit 4th starter and an adequate 3rd starter. I don’t think he’s a #1, but he’s better than a mid-rotation starter, imo.

Murph

September 23rd, 2011
3:22 pm

phil

September 23rd, 2011
3:22 pm

Ward, it’s ok to throw are players under that bus, just not our players….

except for McSlump, of course…

BravesFanSince'91

September 23rd, 2011
3:23 pm

Doesn’t sound as if we’ll get the game in tonight. No matter what, the Braves have to treat each of these six games like a playoff game, because we won’t get to the playoffs otherwise. GO BRAVES! JUST WIN, WIN, WIN!

RC

September 23rd, 2011
3:24 pm

Make Mr. Met the Braves’ new mascot.

Isn’t “Homer” just Mr. Met in a Braves’ uni?

Ward

September 23rd, 2011
3:25 pm

Arkansas: I’m doing good. Keeping every thing real,and just having fun this year.I love baseball just like you guy’s. Hang in there,and be tough. I’ll be back on later tonight for sure! Talk to you later my friends,and never give up! peace friends………”Go!!!!!Braves!!!!!”

timthebrave

September 23rd, 2011
3:26 pm

JJ was pitching with great location the first half of the season and people weren’t squaring up the ball. I wouldn’t call it luck. Lucky is winning the lottery not shutting down major league hitters….If I get lucky maybe I can also be an effective major league pitcher even though I have no movement and my fastball tops out at 75 mph

Efrim

September 23rd, 2011
3:26 pm

guess you saw on the previous blog, I would take Cain over Nolasco, but it’s fairly close.

Fairly close. Of course.

ExBraves Fan

September 23rd, 2011
3:27 pm

I find it hard to disagree with the St. Louis writer above. These Braves never were going to win the division or the wild card. I said it at the beginning of the season that Lowe would be a drag on this team and his team high 16 losses now prove that. I said that injuries would kill this team as it seems they can never stay healthy. Well, Chipper, Prado, JJ, Hansen, McCan all prove that. McCann’s numbers are down. He normally hits lots of doubles, but only has 17 this year. Chipper has decent number for a 39-40 year old. The young relivers are wearing out. The SS’s offense has been a real drag. Even with a 88 game hit streak, Uggla has not hit for average. His power number are good, but he strikes out way too much. The next great thing, Heywood, turns out too be a Brad Kominsk type this year. Will he come back next year or continue to be just an average at best player? Time will tell. But, I looked closely at this roster and compared it to Brave rosters of the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s and was not impressed. Reminded me more of the 1970s loosing teams. I have been watching these Atlanta Braves since 1966. This team did not disappoint. It was never good enough to disappoint. Simple as that.

Murph

September 23rd, 2011
3:28 pm

I was all down earlier today, but Ward’s words of encouragement have lifted me up.

He’s like the blog Mr. Miyagi.

Brave4life-1995 all over again???

September 23rd, 2011
3:29 pm

I hate to say it but you have to bench McCann right now.

He just isnt cutting it, He has choked too many times this month.

ncscoots

September 23rd, 2011
3:29 pm

Based on his 2nd half, the evidence would point toward correction (though there still isn’t nearly enough evidence to feel strongly either way).

Had he stayed healthy and not maintained his stellar first-half numbers (and, personally, I don’t think he would have), the argument for correction due to talent would have a little more heft. As it is, the injury clouds the issue.

It’s just hard to say, on the guy. When healthy, he’s totally outpitched his peripherals, both in 2009 and this year’s first half. The injuries can be laid at the foot of his periods of poor performance, but could just as easily be masking what would have been corrections from talent, had he been healthy. No clear-cut answer on the kid, from where I sit.

phil

September 23rd, 2011
3:29 pm

JJ is a pathetic excuse for a pitcher….he stinks worse than Proctor, Linebrink, Sherrill and Rick Camp combined….

He has always been nothing but lucky, and I couldn’t agree with shaun more!!

Snotboogie

September 23rd, 2011
3:29 pm

Where is Pedro Gomez in that video? Supposed to be Scott Boras.

Efrim

September 23rd, 2011
3:30 pm

I know the offense is struggling, but Chien Meng Wang, Ross Detwiler, 60-80 pitches each for Stras, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels?

Come on….better than 2-4 for good sakes.

phil

September 23rd, 2011
3:31 pm

Bench McCann?

Release the bum….right?

southern hope

September 23rd, 2011
3:31 pm

Just because I need something to think about here other than 7 p.m. games.

So let’s say that the rain is really terrible & we miss all 3 games….but that the Cards play their games and they lose, say, 2 out of 3. So we move further ahead of them, yes? Or is the loss column all that we look at now?

cricket

September 23rd, 2011
3:32 pm

They have no taste and I guess they must not care what the women think about them.

One advantage of being major league baseball player – don’t have to worry what women think about them ;)
I bet they are doing pretty well in that department, never mind the haircuts.

Shaun

September 23rd, 2011
3:32 pm

phil, who said it was all luck? Who said he stinks? This is the problem with bringing up things like BABIP and luck and Fielding Independent Pitching to folks who can’t grasp the nuances. They think if you say a pitcher is lucky, you are also saying he stinks. Could it be that Jurrjens is a pretty good pitcher and luck and/or defense just helped him look better than he was? If you say a pitcher is lucky, you are automatically saying he stinks, right?

BrianSC

September 23rd, 2011
3:32 pm

I believe Huddy will pitch well tonight. I think he will show the veteran poise he has. He will sieze the opportunity to show he is the #1 leader and ace of this staff heading into the playoffs.It will be easy to tell early if he is on (Groundballs and pound the bottom of the strikezone).

The batting strategy against Strasburg… Make him work. Get the counts as deep as possible. Foul off pitches. See as many pitches as you can. Get his pitch count up.

Take care of business! GO BRAVES!!!

bronkelliott

September 23rd, 2011
3:32 pm

It’s been a long season and a few thought s came to my mind. Anything can happen in the playoffs if the Braves get there. Things that have to change in order to get there.

1. McCann has to get his stroke back. He is now a below average player and is severely hurting this team.

2. Hit & run or small ball is so important right now! without basestealing which is very rare, you have to move runners up no matter who is at bat.

3. Uggla is back to being average also and needs to hit under stress. Too many strikeouts.

4. Freeman should be moved down the lineup to sixth or seventh. He seems exhausted and might need a game or 2 off down the stretch.

5.Give the pitchers some breathing room, You cannot survive on 2 hits or 1 or 2 runs with this team.

6. Off season thoughts: Try to acquire some 300 hitters. I was so jealous of the cardinals lineup. with all the 300 hitters and the power they have.

If the Braves make the playoffs they will by far be the weakest hitting team. We need a miracle.. Just saw a mouse run across my floor.. oh well !

Markian S

September 23rd, 2011
3:32 pm

Deal, Cards, DEAL. Beat them Braves.

Arkansas Transplant

September 23rd, 2011
3:32 pm

Always nice to hear from my BFF Ward.

phil

September 23rd, 2011
3:32 pm

Corrections from talent?

Peripherals?

Lord, give me strength…. :-)

Brave4life-1995 all over again???

September 23rd, 2011
3:33 pm

phil

Yes, bench McCann.There is no excuses…..especially this part of the season.

If the Braves dont make it, I will be putting much of the blame on Lowe and McCann.

Brian McCann had too many opportunities to cash in runs this September. When you are hitting 4th or 5th that’s your job.

ncscoots

September 23rd, 2011
3:34 pm

A day off, plus a gift loss from the Cards, and Huddy on the mound. There aren’t too many other planets that can line up, I don’t think. Get this one tonight, and then worry about the next one tomorrow. All the different win-loss scenarios mean about was much as the ones thrown about when the Braves lead by ten. That is to say, not worth the dust in an empty snuff can.

timthebrave

September 23rd, 2011
3:35 pm

Shaun, Why use a word like luck?

Why not say based on xyz he was pitching better than what people should expect going forward?

phil

September 23rd, 2011
3:36 pm

I love the notion that baseball players are EVER exhausted.

Please.

They stand there, or sit in a dugout, for 3 hours or so each evening and rarely ever move beyond a slow jog.

Exhausted? maybe from staying out too late, too much drinking, too much golf or whatever else they’re doing that they usually shouldn’t be doing. They get hurt at the least little movement because they aren’t in any kind of decent shape.

Excuses get so old. Exhausted? How?

cricket

September 23rd, 2011
3:36 pm

This team did not disappoint. It was never good enough to disappoint.

Does this mean they overachieved? FG for Manager of Year?

ncscoots

September 23rd, 2011
3:37 pm

Lord, give me strength….

Stick with me, phil, I’ll have you VORPing before you know it. :-)

MFin04

September 23rd, 2011
3:37 pm

“Since the All-Star break, McCann has hit .197 (ahead of only Eric Hinske among current Braves) with nine homers, 19 RBIs, a .388 slugging percentage and .695 OPS in 47 games.”

Well these guys need to reverse their trends, especially McCann….get hot and beat the Nationals! :)

Efrim

September 23rd, 2011
3:37 pm

That is to say, not worth the dust in an empty snuff can.

True. Hudson has been this team’s best starting pitcher in 2011. I felt good about this weekends set of games, and I still do, even with the rain.

CrαZy

September 23rd, 2011
3:37 pm

Streesed

September 23rd, 2011
3:37 pm

Oh no….wake me up on Thursday morning at midnight……stressed

Shaun

September 23rd, 2011
3:38 pm

This seems to be the logic of some on here: If a pitcher is hit lucky, if he’s getting breaks in terms of batted balls turning into outs because of defense or some other reason, that means the pitcher stinks. There is no such thing as a pitcher being pretty good and also being lucky or being pretty bad and also being unlucky. All lucky pitchers are bad and all unlucky pitchers are great.

Arkansas Transplant

September 23rd, 2011
3:38 pm

Hopefully last nights lost will cause the Cards to press a little more and allow us to relax.

phil

September 23rd, 2011
3:39 pm

McSlump gets his fair share of the blame, absolutely. Benching the man isn’t going to do us a bit of good at this point. A day off for Ross to play? ok.

Uggla is going back into the tank, Chipper is slumping, FF appears to be slumping, Heyward is totally unreliable and unpredictable, Prado is totally unpredictable right now, Bourn as well….

What are we to do? Bench em all? I’m afraid we’re just stuck with what we have…

Tom O'Hawke

September 23rd, 2011
3:39 pm

Steady rain right now in S.W. RICHMOND. Precip intensifying toward 7:00 p.m. 2-3 inch accumulation between this a.m. and the next. Possible twi-night double-headed tomorrow. If they play tonight, I will be surprised.

Sorry, richbrave, but I have to disagree with you. I’ll be surprised if they DON’T. See ya’ later.

bruce

September 23rd, 2011
3:39 pm

I would expect to see the headline and photo on the home page if this was a philly or new york paper, but it is just wrong for atl and sad for folks who are fans. I’m looking at the hourly forcast try to decide whether to go to the game tonight with my wife. That photo is offensive to me.

Shaun

September 23rd, 2011
3:40 pm

timthebrave, because I think that’s the most appropriate word to use when talking about chance things that are outside of a pitcher’s control that lead to results the pitcher wants or doesn’t want. But use whatever term you like for that.

phil

September 23rd, 2011
3:40 pm

ALL pitchers are bad that let ANY pitch get touched by a bat….the evidence is clear on that one.

Murph

September 23rd, 2011
3:41 pm

Shaun, given the number of disagreements you’ve had with people on the blog, perhaps it is not everyone’s lack of understanding but is instead your lack of communication skills that leads to the issues.

I don’t know, sounds more like a case of user error than a system wide problem to me.

ncscoots

September 23rd, 2011
3:42 pm

ALL pitchers are bad that let ANY pitch get touched by a bat….the evidence is clear on that one

As a former pitcher, let me just say that all base hits are the fault of the catcher. :-)

Heisenberg

September 23rd, 2011
3:42 pm

Thank you Raffy 4Kal (as former ESPN broadcaster John Miller pronounced it) for NOT re-signing with the Braves a few years ago. You are forgiven.

reckingball

September 23rd, 2011
3:43 pm

McCann needs to talk to his brother again, Freeman needs to talk to his Daddy, Uggla needs to try and remember what he was doing right, up until a couple of weeks ago.
The Braves will win their last two series, and that will give them the WC berth.
GO BRAVES!!!!!!

timthebrave

September 23rd, 2011
3:43 pm

Shaun, If JJ is hitting the corners one night and then throwing it down the middle the next night was he just lucky on night one? IMO JJ stuff is not good enough for him to miss his locations. Accuracy can throw off numbers of what you can expect from a pitcher…Someone like Halladay or Lincecum can get away with more bad location pitches than someone like JJ but if JJ can locate like he did at the beginning of the season he can be effective as both of these guys….Just less margin for error

richbrave

September 23rd, 2011
3:43 pm

RC
September 23rd, 2011
3:15 pm

richbrave,

Did not see your post about Salcedo’s errors…do you mind reposting? I need watching him miss 5 pops ups in a row during infield practice at spring training last year. (Seriously, 5 pop ups. It was like little league.)

O/K/ RC this one’s for you.

Last night tiger 297 asked what kind of errors, fielding or throwing. I went through every game stats box to find that he had 22 fielding, and 25 throwing for a total of 47. The frequency did not vary from month to month and improved not at all as the season wore on. His ratio of fielding miscues to throwing may have improved very slightly over the course of the year. Sad to say, your visual ST take appears spot on. BTW, he had one game with four errors, two of each. and a handful of two error games. He should be screened for ADD, or taken to the wood-shed by management, I’m not sure which.

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