I had hoped to be writing about a sweet sweep in Philly to start the season, but that’s not the case, thanks to a disastrous seventh inning in yesterday’s 12-11 loss. So now the question is, did that one inning overshadow the two electrifying games before it?
It shouldn’t. Taking the series as a whole, there’s not a lot to complain about — aside from that excruciating seventh, of course. The Braves averaged more than six runs per game, and the starters allowed only three earned runs in 19 2/3 innings. Derek Lowe looked like the ace he’s supposed to be, Jair Jurrjens and Javier Vazquez produced quality starts in the two and three spots. The back end of the ‘pen performed well, too, as both Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez did their jobs.
And how about that offense? If you said you saw this power surge coming, no one would believe you. The Braves hit eight home runs and five doubles, with Brian McCann and Jordan Schafer each going deep twice.
That’s a whole lot of positives to build on, but the sour taste of that seventh inning is still with me. How do you overlook four bases-loaded walks? It’s too painful for me to recount, so check out Dave O’Brien’s game story if you need the play-by-play.
How does Bobby Cox, the ultimate player’s manager, put a positive spin on this eight-run debacle? “Everybody loses games like this in here,” Cox told MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. “Philadelphia loses them too. You get a five- or six-run lead and it’s like a two-run lead the way the ballpark plays. It’s a hitter’s park from the word ‘Go.’ But you can’t catch walks.”
Matt Diaz told O’Brien: “One of the solid parts of our team is our pitching, front to back. So that [seventh inning] is just an aberration. You can’t describe it. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen it, and hopefully it’s the last. I don’t count on seeing anything like that again this year, that’s for sure.”
I’m still excited about going to the home opener tomorrow night (fingers crossed it doesn’t rain), but, unlike Diaz, I’m definitely a bit more concerned about the middle relief. Maybe this year the Braves will have enough offense to overcome some shaky outings — as long as they don’t all lead to eight-run innings.
What do you think? Were the first two games the real indication of how this season’s going to go and that seventh inning was merely an aberration? Or does that one inning take away from the excitement of the first two games and have you concerned about this year?
Weekend TV Schedule
Friday: vs. Nationals, 7:30 p.m., Peachtree TV
Saturday: vs. Nationals, 7 p.m., Peachtree TV
Sunday: vs. Nationals, 1:30 p.m., FoxSports South