LIVE BLOG: Braves hope they’ve reached turning point

Flags aren't quite in the order of the standings: Phillies-Braves-Marlins-Mets-Nationals.

Flags aren't quite in the order of the standings, which read: Phillies-Braves-Marlins-Mets-Nationals.

So. Is it soup yet?

For those younger than, well, me, there was a Lipton instant soup commercial back in the 1970s in which a son kept asking his mother that question. That’s sort of what we’ve been asking about the Braves most of the season. Are they the Braves yet?

Finally, maybe yes. After a bumpy first 60 games, the Braves won six straight at Florida and Houston before closing the road trip with an 8-3 loss to the Astros. They’re nine games over. 500 (38-29) and start the night 2½ games behind Philadelphia despite injuries and all of their offensive problems this season.

“You’re like, ‘OK, we’ve taken off a little — and now we have a chance to really take off,’” manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

The Braves open a nine-game home stand tonight against the New York Mets, but their home record (17-13, .567) isn’t any better than their road mark (21-16, .568).

There also are signs that Dan Uggla is starting to come around, and Jason Heyward may return this week following a rehab stint for shoulder surgery. Uggla’s average is at only .180 but he had consecutive two-hit games against the Astros for the first time this season.

Tonight’s pitcher (and the likely subject of the game column) is Jair Jurrjens. He is 8-2 with a 1.82 ERA and has been one of baseball’s best pitchers. He) lost to the Mets 5-0 on June 4 but even that wasn’t a horrible outing (three earned runs and six hits allowed in 6 1/3 innings). It was the only time in 11 starts he has allowed more than two earned runs.

Tonight’s lineup: Jordan Schafer (8), Uggla (4), Chipper Jones (5), Freddie Freeman (3), Alex Gonzalez (6), David Ross (2), Joe Mather (9), Matt Young (7), Jurrjens (1).

That’s it for now. As always, I am here to serve you. So, you think the Braves have finally reached the turning point, or is it too early to know?

By Jeff Schultz

Earlier: Countdown: Vote for LeBron, someone else in Count’s first hate poll

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

204 comments Add your comment

Phillisux

June 14th, 2011
6:15 pm

With the picthing staff the Braves have they should be able to win most games if they score 4-5 runs. Getting Heyward and Prado back healthy and having Uggla starting to hit would be like adding 3 all stars to the team. If that happens, we have definitely reached a turning point. GO BRAVES!

"Chef" Tim Dix

June 14th, 2011
6:23 pm

Like this ballclub as lead footed as it is. Who wants pie?

Zing

June 14th, 2011
6:27 pm

Don’t you just cringe a little bit looking at the current batting order?? No Heyward, no Prado… Matt Young? Every day?

But the Braves keep pitching lights-out and go back to the early ’90s well of timely, late homeruns.

Look for this team to take off in July when Heyward comes back and gets in a rhythm and (presumably) Uggla starts batting closer to his career average.

J-Man

June 14th, 2011
6:31 pm

Mather and Young = inning killer

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
6:33 pm

LINEUP CHANGE!!! … Scratch Freddie Freeman with a mild oblique strain and has been replaced by Eric Hinske. Freeman is day-to-day. So that’s five regulars out of the starting lineup: Freeman, Prado, Heyward, McLouth and McCann (just resting).

Skeezix

June 14th, 2011
6:33 pm

Jeff: Things are headed in the right direction offensively, so I am optimistic we’ve turned the corner. I sure don’t want to see us lose another series to the Mutts, so hopefully the bats will provide enough run support.

Puma

June 14th, 2011
6:34 pm

its still early to say they have turned it around. I think its all about Uggla, if he can keep it going and be a factor in the middle of the lineup, it makes everyone else so much better.

But we basically beat up on two bad teams, so lets not get too excited. I guess the good news is that we are 2.5 back and we have not played our best baseball yet.

I wonder what the chances of Schafer staying in the lineup are once McClouth and Heyward are back.

Sonny Clusters

June 14th, 2011
6:37 pm

We was hoping you’d be blogging, Jeff. We have been wanting to get some things off our chest. One, seeing Hicks at shortstop reminds us how good Gonzales is and Hicks isn’t. Two, we are right on top of Jason Heyward Bobblehead Night and we was wondering if you have a Bobblehead collection? Three, we was wondering what people are going to do with those Uggla Bobbleheads if he’s still going bad? How many Bobbleheads will hit the field? Four, we have been feeling bad about suggesting Chipper was not, uh, all that smart when he “didn’t call out” Jason Heyward. We still think that but we’re feeling bad about it. Let us know when they start playing ball.

Skeezix

June 14th, 2011
6:39 pm

Last night Mather looked a lot like Frenchy when he was in his funk b-4 the Braves traded him………….
(Frenchy’s had a decent 2011 so far).

Brian

June 14th, 2011
6:40 pm

Jeff,

If this team can continue to scratch out wins with so many players out, they will be golden when it counts the most late in the season. This is Uggla time, and I think he continues to help carry the team. Call it a hunch.

Or a damn big hope one.

BlueHoseDave

June 14th, 2011
6:43 pm

I think it’s a little too soon to say they have come around. Puma- I’m interested on the moves they are going to make once everyone comes off the DL. I like what Schafer brings with his speed. will they send him back to Gwinett when Nate comes back? Uggla has to start hitting for the Bravos to have a realistic shot. GO BRAVES!!!

Sonny Clusters

June 14th, 2011
6:44 pm

We was wondering what is an oblique, anyway? Sounds like the Braves need to hire an oblique man as trainer. Stonewall Jackson used to be partial to oblique movements but that is another story for another day.

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:07 pm

Sonny Clusters — Thanks for asking. I do have a very modest Bobblehead collection (maybe 8 or 10) but it suffered one tragedy a few years back when the Michael Vick bobblehead fell off the shelf and the head broke off. So it’s been glued. But of course, athletes are never the same after major surgery like that.

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:08 pm

Brian — that would be the logical way to think: when healthy bodies come back, the team takes off.

FACTS

June 14th, 2011
7:11 pm

Stop fooling yourselves when any sports team has over 50% of their out or injured you just hold on for ride & hope it doesn’t get 2 bumpy. Whether you win 5 straight or lose 5 straight, this is when a team bonds & benches gains exp…..not to mention pitching having to step up their game as well

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:13 pm

And there goes the no-hitter.

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:16 pm

Apparently too much moisture on the first-base path for Reyes’ liking.

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:17 pm

What’s the odds after all this that Willie Harris hits into a doubleplay?

Ben`

June 14th, 2011
7:18 pm

Are there any concerns about Freeman’s oblique other than day-to-day??????

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:18 pm

Reyes got a great jump. Not sure how much the dry dirt helped.

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:21 pm

Infield single, walk, single — Mets up 1-0. Not the usual Jurrjens’ start so far.

the truth...

June 14th, 2011
7:22 pm

I am so sick of seeing Freddie Gonzalez standing at the railing WATCHING what is going on and doing nothing on field…..

Like now with the “wet” ground at first base? Two umps and the Met’s first baseman decide that the ground is too wet?

Freddie just watches…just like every time there has been any strike zone dispute…. no thought of going out and making a point or sharing his viewpoint…. no arguing no defend his players….

Get tossed Freddie….let someone know you have some fire inside….cause if you have NO FIRE…..your players won’t either…

Run Sid Run!

June 14th, 2011
7:23 pm

willie harris kills the braves

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:24 pm

Ben — He was scratched after media already was up in pressbox so nobody has been asked. But they’re saying day to day. Saw him walking in clubhouse before game and he was fine, joking. So he wasn’t in training room getting treatment or anything.

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:25 pm

Nice play by Schafer.

Run Sid Run!

June 14th, 2011
7:25 pm

when everyone is healthy i hope jordan is in CF and nate on the bench

Run Sid Run!

June 14th, 2011
7:27 pm

hopefully nate plays well while prado is out so he can generate some trade interest

Steve

June 14th, 2011
7:28 pm

Is it just me, or does Fredi give McCann too many days off? He is our best hitter! I understand that the catcher has the toughest position but it would be nice to see him with just maybe one or two off days per month. How many off days per week did Piazza, Bench, Fisk, I-Rod get??? Then again, obviously I have never played the position.

Run Sid Run!

June 14th, 2011
7:29 pm

Ross is the best backup in the game…..why not take advantage of that and keep Brian healthy for the playoffs

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:29 pm

The Truth … Would you like Fredi Gonzalez to have an air soft or paintball gun in the dugout and just start going postal any time he sees something he doesn’t like?

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:32 pm

First inning: Jurrjens 23 pitches, Niese 7.

Run Sid Run!

June 14th, 2011
7:35 pm

need a quick one here from JJ

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:37 pm

And that inning Jurrjens threw only 7. That’ll do.

Sonny Clusters

June 14th, 2011
7:41 pm

Landing on your knees when you swing and miss may be a sign something is wrong with your swing mechanics. When we was playing ball we never did that. We was state championship.

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:45 pm

Clusters — what was your career average, and where did you like hitting in the order?

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:47 pm

That was a nice bit of hitting there by Mather (and it was funny watching Ross chug around third).

Bill

June 14th, 2011
7:48 pm

How about that J-Man..inning killer hits and gets RBI

Bill

June 14th, 2011
7:49 pm

That was no strike……..

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:51 pm

Every time I see Matt Young at the plate, I think Eddie Gaedel.

the truth...

June 14th, 2011
7:57 pm

….Jeff…..

I’d like to see some emotion…some fire….that is one thing Bobby Cox never was short on….

Steve

June 14th, 2011
7:58 pm

Is that Dan Kolb out there in a Jurrjens jersey?

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
7:59 pm

Mets are hitting some of these pitches very hard — like that one by Pagan. Jurrjens fortunate to be down only 2-1.

Run Sid Run!

June 14th, 2011
7:59 pm

mets are turning into the washington nationals for the braves

Bill

June 14th, 2011
7:59 pm

Eddie was only 3′7″ 60 lbs…….Young is short but don’t deserve all the jokes. He is listed as 5′ 8″ but more like Willie Harris.

the truth...

June 14th, 2011
8:00 pm

JJ is not on……

Fire him up Freddie…..wake him up…..

No think he’ll just sit there and watch…..

J.J.M.

June 14th, 2011
8:02 pm

where is Tim Spooneybarger?

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
8:03 pm

The Truth — Well, ya — you’re certainly not going to see as many arguments with umpires.

Steve

June 14th, 2011
8:04 pm

I think “The Truth” had a bad day at the office.

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
8:04 pm

Steve — Kolb is a four-letter word.

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2011
8:05 pm

Bill — All in fun (but no way Young is 5-8).