Good afternoon. Happy Father’s Day. It’s Kawakami time.
Of all the things the Braves and manager Bobby Cox have accomplished this season, where would finally getting a win for starting pitcher Kenshin Kawakami (0-9) rank?
Would it rank higher than being in first place for 20 straight days? Higher than not having lost a series since the first week of May?
Is it something that could be eclipsed only by, I dunno, a World Series?
Seriously, this is just too goofy. It’s one thing for a starter to go thr0ugh his first 13 starts (nine losses, four no decisions) without a victory. It’s another to do it for a first-place team that has gone 28-10 since May 10.
It’s precedent setting in major league baseball for a pitcher to have this kind of start for a first-place team. The Braves’ franchise hadn’t had a pitcher start 0-9 in 101 years. The last to do it was Tom Tuckey of the 1909 Boston Doves (seven starts, two relief appearances). Kawakami has suffered from little run support but he also has been banged around in two of his last three starts: 10 runs, 16 hits and six walks in 11 1/3 innings against Los Angeles and Tampa Bay.
The Braves, who have the best home record (23-7) i n the majors, close out a home stand today against Kansas City. They leave town for only a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox, then return home for nine games (Detroit, Washington, Florida).
One last thing before I turn it over to you. It struck me when Cox called for his second successful squeeze play in a week — last Saturday at Minnesota and Friday against Kansas City — that this might be the best managing job he has done in a while.
Some in the clubhouse disagree. They believe Cox is just taking advantage of having better base runners at his disposal than in the past. Either way, there’s no question he is pulling more strings. The Braves are having more hit-and-run plays than in recent memory. I may make that the focus of the column.
Does it seem to you Cox is being more aggressive in his final season?
And here’s the biggest question of all: Will Kawakami finally win a game today?