LIVE BLOG: Lowe starts as Braves try to win one vs. Cards (Update: McDowell suspended)

Pitcher Derek Lowe will try to get Braves back on track today. (Bob Andres/AJC)

Pitcher Derek Lowe will try to get Braves back on track today. (Bob Andres/AJC)

(UPDATE below on Roger McDowell, 1 p.m.)

After winning five out of six to close a West Coast road trip, the Braves returned home and reaffirmed they’re not quite in a groove yet.

They blew late-inning leads and lost consecutive games to St. Louis to open this series (5-3 in 11 innings on Friday; 3-2 on Saturday). Now they find themselves scrambling just to avoid being swept in today’s series finale. And as unusual circumstances go, here’s one: The pitcher who will try to turn them around is Derek Lowe, who spent late Thursday evening and early Friday morning in jail on charges of DUI, reckless driving and improper lane change.

In addition to off-field incidents involving Lowe and pitching coach Roger McDowell — who remains on “administrative leave” for alleged anti-gay slurs and inappropriate language with San Francisco fans — the Braves have a few lingering issues.

– Despite high expectations for the offense, the team batting average remains at an anemic .229, which ranks 28th in the majors. (The Cardinals are first at .295.)

– The Braves’ team ERA is a solid 3.11. But one reason for the 13-15 record is the bullpen has blown five of 12 save opportunities. Craig Kimbrel has six saves in eight chances, Jonny Venters is 1 for 2, Scott Linebrink and Jairo Asencio each are 0 for 1. The Braves’ ability to replace the retired Billy Wagner is one key to this season.

– Keep an eye on Dan Uggla. He is hitting only .194 but he has hit the ball hard in this series. In his career, Uggla is hitting .238 in March/April but .294 in May. Today is May 1.

That’s it for now. I’ll be back to live blog. Let me know if you have any early questions. I’m here to serve. Happy Sunday.

UPDATE:

There’s is still no news for the Braves or Major League Baseball on discipline that may be handed down to McDowell. But a story in today’s San Francisco Chronicle doesn’t paint a good picture of the incident. Columnist Gwen Knapp interviewed one of the fans who witnessed McDowell’s exchange with others and pretty much corroborated everything that has been alleged. Here’s a link to the article. Here’s are excerpts, quoting Todd Achondo, who attended the game with his young sons.

Two days after attending the April 23 game at the Giants‘ ballpark, Achondo wrote a two-page letter of complaint, which he mailed to MLB’s Joe Torre, Giants general manager Brian Sabean and Atlanta CEO Terry McGuirk. The letter supports most of Quinn’s allegations about profane and hostile behavior by McDowell during batting practice, although it makes no mention of the explicit homophobic language that Quinn described.

(In an interview, Achondo said he did hear an apparent allusion to San Francisco’s large gay population as McDowell said he would shove a bat up three fans’ backsides: “That’s how you like it here, right?”)

But baseball can’t afford to discount a point made in Achondo’s letter, which ended up in the hands of Pat Courtney, senior vice president for public relations, Saturday afternoon. Achondo identifies himself as a small-business owner and describes bringing his sons, 5 and 7, from Sacramento for their first Giants game. While his wife and younger son played near the Coke-bottle slide, he and the older boy went to the outfield seats for batting practice.

Achondo wrote that he hoped to re-create his childhood trip to Candlestick “when I caught one along the right field line in BP and a player later tossed one up to me, so I had two balls on my first major-league game – so I truly know the memories my kids can have.” Instead, he wrote, McDowell ruined the day.

If MLB believes Achondo’s version of events, then it believes McDowell devalued its main currency – the moments when one generation transfers a connection with the game to another.

UPDATE II: McDowell has been suspended for two weeks. Here’s a link to the blog:

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

139 comments Add your comment

Randal Patrick McMurphy

May 1st, 2011
12:27 pm

Uggla will be fine… he is the LEAST of this teams concerns at this point in time…

Will

May 1st, 2011
12:28 pm

bravesfan

May 1st, 2011
12:30 pm

Firs…..ah, make that third.

Hope the team can shut out the off-field distractions and end up with a ‘W’..

Will

May 1st, 2011
12:31 pm

Awww darn … almost “first” for the first time ever … oh well, #2 ain’t so bad. About Lowe, the guy has an ERA higher than a Japanese earthquake against the Cardinals, the hottest hitting team in the NL. And his head is still probably a total mess after Thursday’s reenactment of the Fast and the Furious, Peachtree Style. With that in mind, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him toss a shutout.

Keybanger

May 1st, 2011
12:32 pm

Who cares about being first? Nerds

Steve

May 1st, 2011
12:38 pm

Jeff, in all seriousness, is it time yet to worry about the Braves? I know they had a bad start last year and got very lucky with all of those comeback wins so who knows how good they really were. I know it is early but those Phillies sure are good.

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
12:53 pm

Just announced: Roger McDowell has been fined two weeks without pay. I’ll be doing a blog shortly.

Joey

May 1st, 2011
1:01 pm

Good. Hopefully McDowell has learned that Thumper’s mom taught him years ago.

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Joey

May 1st, 2011
1:01 pm

…has learned what Thumper…

Steve

May 1st, 2011
1:02 pm

Thank goodness! It would have been silly to fire him for that. NFL and NBA players have done so much worse (including jumping into the stands and fighting fans) and have not been fired or banned.

Joe Tess Fish House

May 1st, 2011
1:11 pm

Hears the problem:

Braves hire a managar with a loosing record.

Braves loose 2 many games.

Loosing managar = loosing team

Furman Bitcher

May 1st, 2011
1:11 pm

Whatever. Lets play ball.

Bill

May 1st, 2011
1:21 pm

Man, thats like go to the corner Roger and miss your ice cream today. Tomorrow you can play again and get two dips of Ice Cream.
I took up for RM but after hearing more I believe RM needs to be fired..MLB has no place for that crap. Sorry Roger but you know better. Braves need to step up and do whats right but that only applies to certain people I guess.

Now win the game today for a change.

Steve

May 1st, 2011
1:26 pm

Joe Tess learn how to spell moron.

Sonny Clusters

May 1st, 2011
1:26 pm

We was wondering if you have a little dog with you today?

Steve

May 1st, 2011
1:28 pm

Bill, you are crazy. It’s just words. No way he should be fired for what he said (we have only heard one side and will never know what he really said). How about the NBA players who jumped into the stands and punched fans a few years ago? Even they were not fired or banned.

Dr. Phil

May 1st, 2011
1:28 pm

There is no cursing in baseball?

Sonny Clusters

May 1st, 2011
1:30 pm

Like Roger McDowell would say, dogs shouldn’t be at the *&*&^*(& baseball game. When we was playing ball we was always wary of running on grass where dogs had been playing. One thing, though, we never called any names when we was wearing the uniform.

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
1:38 pm

Obviously my above comment should be “suspended” two weeks without pay and fined.

dumbarss

May 1st, 2011
1:42 pm

Man you people are stupid. Nobody in the south knows how to spell.

WV Braves Fan

May 1st, 2011
1:44 pm

Does anyone know of an audio or video internet feed for today’s game? I am at the office this afternoon and do not have access to MLB.TV.

WV Braves Fan

May 1st, 2011
1:48 pm

Does anyone know of an audio or video internet feed for today’s game? I am outside the Braves radio network and do not have access to MLB.TV today.

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
1:50 pm

Sorry folks, been a little busy (duh). Cleaned up the Roger McDowell blog a bit. How’s this for timing: He’s eligible to return from suspension on Friday the 13th for Philly.
Here’s the link: http://blogs.ajc.com/jeff-schultz-blog/2011/05/01/roger-mcdowell-fortunate-suspended-only-two-weeks/

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
1:51 pm

Steve — “Jeff, in all seriousness, is it time yet to worry about the Braves?”
… I’ll stick by the standard baseball observation: Look up at standings after Memorial Day. I’m confident bats will come around, including Uggla. Defense has been good. Biggest concern to me is blowing saves.

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
1:54 pm

Checking in late: In the first inning, Derek Lowe looked like he might have had a bad night’s sleep earlier in the week.

dick waters

May 1st, 2011
1:57 pm

Here’s a problem: too many Braves fans cannot spell “Losing”. Or is that a problem?

D Lowe not himself

May 1st, 2011
1:59 pm

I don’t think he cares too much about an embarrassing DUI—in time it will pass—-wonder why a man with 40 million would drink and drive? Kinda looked up to him but maybe not

[...] FOR LIVE BLOG ON TODAY’S GAME: Click here. [...]

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
2:12 pm

Lowe seems back on track. He has retired 7 straight since Berkman’s RBI double in 3-run first.

Steve

May 1st, 2011
2:19 pm

Does anyone know why athletes or celebrities drive drunk? Really, why? If I had that much money, I would have a limo driving me to bars and clubs. It makes no sense to me.

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
2:21 pm

Delscaso in for Punto at 2nd for Cards. No announcement why but Punto had a recent hernia operation.

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
2:23 pm

Braves’ offense: 9 up, 9 down. … So much for offensive breakout so far.

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
2:29 pm

Punto: injured leg.

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
2:31 pm

Lowe now has retired 11/12 (1 walk) since first. 4 strikeouts, 4 groundballs in there.

Steve

May 1st, 2011
2:36 pm

I smell a no hitter. Braves are due for one.

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
2:37 pm

Chipper hit it far but just loud out — that’s 12 straight. Anybody want to start a no-no pool? Or pick the first Brave to get a hit. (Coming up next inning: McCann, Uggla, Gonzalez.

Steve

May 1st, 2011
2:40 pm

I’ll play. I will go with McCann in the bottom of the inning.

Joe Tess Fish House

May 1st, 2011
2:40 pm

Braves hire a loosing managar a pitchin caoch that talks dirty to kids and have Uggly who cant hit a beech ball

Way 2 go Braves

headley lamar

May 1st, 2011
2:40 pm

Braves haven’t had that home field magic so far in 2011

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
2:41 pm

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
2:44 pm

Headley — Braves only 4-7 at home so far, better on the road (9-8).

Steve

May 1st, 2011
2:44 pm

Joe Tess do you spell wrong on purpose? If so, what’s the point???

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
2:44 pm

Two on with Pujols a chance to break it open.

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
2:44 pm

There’s one.

Steve

May 1st, 2011
2:46 pm

I wonder if Roger McDowell will take a vacation now that he is off for 2 weeks? OK McCann, make me a proud winner.

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
2:47 pm

Steve — OK, you’ve got McCann, the favorite of this inning.

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
2:49 pm

FYI, Lowe has thrown 91 pitches. He’s due up sixth in inning.

Jeff Schultz

May 1st, 2011
2:49 pm

Steve wins the pool . . . of one.

headley lamar

May 1st, 2011
2:49 pm

I think we have a winner

retired

May 1st, 2011
2:50 pm

way to go Steve now call a big inning