SAN FRANCISCO — Hello. We begin this evening with some good news, Braves fans. Tim Lincecum is not pitching. So the rest should be easy, right?
OK. Maybe not. The Braves and their depleted lineup aren’t much of a threat against most pitchers, let alone a two-time Cy Young Award winner. But if they have any hope of winning this National League Divisional Series, they’ll have to be far more patient at the plate tonight against Matt Cain than they were in Thursday’s series opener against Lincecum, who had 14 strikeouts and allowed only two hits in a complete-game shutout.
Hitting coach Terry Pendleton clearly believes the Braves could have done better. When the word “great” was used in a question about Lincecum, Pendleton responded: “The guy [Roy Halladay] in Philly the other night was great. That’s a no-hitter. That’s great.”
This much is certain: There’s a ton of pressure on every Braves pitcher, knowing one run can decide it. Derek Lowe and four relievers allowed the Giants only one run and five hits, but Lincecum reduced them to an afterthought.
Just a few other things about tonight:
♦ Tommy Hanson will start for the Braves, as expected. You may have heard or read that he was hit in the eye by a batted ball in batting practice Thursday and immediately went to the clubhouse to be examined. Obviously, he’s fine. (But if he walks out to the mound with an eye patch and a parrot on his shoulder, we’ll know something is wrong). Hanson has allowed only one run in his last three starts (18 2/3 innings).
♦ Manager Bobby Cox made only one lineup change – Melky Cabrera replaces Matt Diaz in left field and will bat fifth. The batting order:1. Omar Infante (5). 2. Jason Heyward (9). 3. Derrek Lee (3). 4. Brian McCann (2). 5. Melky Cabrera (7). 6. Brooks Conrad (4). 7. Alex Gonzalez (6). 8. Rick Ankiel (8). 9. Tommy Hanson (1).
♦ Many readers continue to wonder why Troy Glaus is not getting into the lineup. To repeat, Glaus’s knees are so shot that he can’t play in the field and there’s not much left of him at the plate, either. But here’s something else that our David O’Brien dug up. Glaus is only 13 for 80 (.163) with one homer at AT&T Park. (He’s also 1 for 10 in his career against Cain.)
Finally, as mentioned in this space last night, I don’t believe the Braves lost the series opener because of a blown call but because they couldn’t hit or field. If they score a run off Lincecum, it doesn’t come down to one run. And if Omar Infante can knock down a ground ball in the fourth inning, Buster Posey never scores. That said– yes, baseball needs to expand its use of instant replay.
That’s it for now. I’ll check back with you shortly.
Do you believe the Braves can get out of here with a split?