LIVE: Ailing Braves try to end skid against Strasburg

The Braves will go against Nationals' 23-year-old fireballer Stephen Strasburg today.

The Braves hope to break out of a slump today but will face Washington's young fireballer, Stephen Strasburg (AP photo).

The Braves are not completely devoid of positive signs these days. It’s just that after starting the season 22-13 and beginning to take the form of a wrecking ball, there has been a market correction.

And the question is: How ugly will this get?

Losers of five straight games and faced with the prospects of missing Chipper Jones for another several games, the Braves face the Washington Nationals today (4 p.m.).

Mike Minor (2-4, 6.96) — who allowed four home runs in his last start and generally has been a mess for the past month — will be opposed by Stephen Strasburg (4-1, 2.21). So much for positive foreshadowing.

It’s only late May. The Braves are two games out of first place, and trail

Mike Minor has allowed 31 runs and 11 homers in his last five starts. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Mike Minor has allowed 31 runs and 11 homers in his last five starts. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

a team (Nationals) who don’t exactly have a resume of Octobers behind them. So it’s hardly panic time. But yes, there is concern.

The positives: Martin Prado (.333) is on a tear. Michael Bourn (.307 with 13 stolen bases) is still doing his part. Dan Uggla (.256, 6 homers, 25 RBI) is fine.

But overall, the team is struggling to come up with key base hits — they stranded eight base runners in Friday’s 7-4 loss, including six in the first three innings — and the starting pitching has fallen off. Then there are the individuals:

• Jones was put on the 15-day disabled list after Friday’s game, retroactive to his pinch-hitting appearance Wednesday. His contused left calf is still to painful to play on and the Braves needed his roster spot because . . .

• No. 2 catcher David Ross suffered a minor groin strain Friday and will miss at least a few games. The Braves recalled J.C. Boscan, who will start today. Ross was playing because . . .

• Starting catcher Brian McCann is still weak from the flu. He replaced Ross in the game but by late in the evening felt sapped of energy. There’s a chance he could start Sunday night.

• First baseman Freddie Freeman is struggling with blurred vision and is adjusting to new contact lenses. Freeman’s batting average is down to .247, which isn’t much higher than Jason Heyward’s .239. Stating the obvious: The Braves can’t succeed with those two hitting at that level.

The Braves, only 4-8 since that 22-13 start, need a strong effort from Minor, who hasn’t had a quality start since winning at Los Angeles 4-3 April 24 (six innings, three runs, eight hits). In five starts since, he has allowed 31 earned runs, 37 hits and 11 home runs in 26 2/3 innings (10.46 ERA).

Sometimes in sports, teams win games they’re not necessarily expected to win. The Braves better hope that’s the case today.

And now, the cyber floor is yours. We’ll be live blogging from the first pitch.

By Jeff Schultz

234 comments Add your comment

Hillbilly D

May 26th, 2012
3:10 pm

And just a couple of weeks ago they were being anointed as the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s baseball, you have your ups and downs.

falconsrus

May 26th, 2012
3:11 pm

nice assesment Jeff maybe we need to get a rubber chicken to counter the nats

Jeff Schultz

May 26th, 2012
3:15 pm

Falconsrus — Or sacrifice a chicken.

Pepe Frias played here.

May 26th, 2012
3:16 pm

They recalled Boscan ? oy……….

Why didnt they call up Gaitis ?

I swear, the management of this team amazes me.

tulsabravo

May 26th, 2012
3:20 pm

Yea, that pinch-hit appearance by Chipper sure seems well thought out now. Sorry, but this is a .500 team at best, and unfortunately, they’ll be there soon.

falconsrus

May 26th, 2012
3:27 pm

The nats sacrificed a rubber chicken the other day it seemed to help them now we need to counter lol

Hillbilly D

May 26th, 2012
3:27 pm

They recalled Boscan ? oy……….

Why didnt they call up Gaitis ?

I believe Boscan was already on the 40 man and Gaitis isn’t. Simple as that.

Loosing Managar = Loosing Record

May 26th, 2012
3:28 pm

The Braves R domed. When UR best palyer is a 50 yer old hooters prevert who is alwyas injrued U no U R in truble.

falconsrus

May 26th, 2012
3:28 pm

Gattis has a wrist tendonitis problem the braves are gonna go on a tear in june onwward and upward

Braves in last palce by the all star brake

May 26th, 2012
3:32 pm

Mark my words

Jeff Schultz

May 26th, 2012
3:35 pm

Forgot to mention the “interesting” lineup decision today: Tyler Pastornicky batting second, Prado third. … With McCann/Chipper out, its: Bourn-Pastornicky-Prado-Uggla-Freeman-Heyward-Francisco-Boscan-Minor.

Quack Quack

May 26th, 2012
3:37 pm

Now now, we’ve only just begun. Lets hope Minor has read all the articles comparing him with Glavin. Maybe this will be his game changer. By the way Jeff, I’ve already sacrificed the chicken, and it will be on the grill before the games over. Who knows.

GO BRAVES!! FW…sign Bourn……give Prado a raise!! Pray for health!!

Bravissimo

May 26th, 2012
3:39 pm

they definitly might be in last “palce”{whatever that is} but not last place…hows the food looking there Jeff?

Quack Quack

May 26th, 2012
3:40 pm

Yeah Jeff wondered about that as well. My guess is that maybe Prado will have some base runners for all his doubles and triples of late.

falconsrus

May 26th, 2012
3:43 pm

I like the way Fredi shook up the line up

Braves in last palce by the all star brake

May 26th, 2012
3:43 pm

Why is Freman still in the lineup if he cant see? Or maybe its just a BS ecxuse for him suxing at the plate.

Braves in last palce by the all star brake

May 26th, 2012
3:43 pm

Why is Freman still in the lineup if he cant see? Or maybe its just a BS ecxuse for him suxing at the plate.

Larry

May 26th, 2012
3:47 pm

This is one of those periods where having a genuine, MLB quailty manager help navigate his team through troubled waters.

It’s easy being a baseball manger when Beachy is pitching a shutout and/or the hitters are all in sync; however, times like now it is most obvious the unproven Cox offspring handed this team is just way in over his head. Indeed a nice man and the players like FG but his aptitude ceiling showing its ugly face right now.

Larry

May 26th, 2012
3:50 pm

Actually, I’ve been telling you for days Prado should bat third…he’s our best hitter and your best hitter should be batting third.

Why is this “interesting” to you Jeff? This is one thing correct that FG is doing.

keepinitreal

May 26th, 2012
3:55 pm

What the lineup lacks is a difference maker. Bourn is arguably the only guy who could be considered one. McCann can’t be considered one because of the position he plays. Chipper can’t be considered one when he’s only out there about half the time. Freeman and Uggla are solid players at this point, nothing more.

I said before the year that Heyward was the key to the entire season. With his blend of power and patience, he could and should be the anchor of the lineup. And early on, it appeared that’s what he was going to be. But he’s reverted back to his bad habits from 2011, and the entire team is suffering the consequences.

Of course it’s not all Jason’s fault, but I feel he’s the one guy who could transform the lineup if he could ever figure it out.

Pepe Frias played here.

May 26th, 2012
3:57 pm

Boscan is not on the 40-man roster and he isnt even hitting his weight .

Gaitis has 14 homers at Mississippi.

Like i said , the management of this team amazes me.

iTiSi

May 26th, 2012
3:57 pm

The question is WHY did the Braves call JC Boscan up instead of the younger but very good Yepez? Boscan is hitting .192 at Gwinnett with only 12 RBIs. He’s only 20 for 104 with 37 Ks. Don’t expect any help from him offensively, WHICH IS WHERE THE BRAVES NEED HELP NOW! Somebody tell Dr. Fredi Gonzalez that! Yepez was 2 for 2 last night and is hitting .275. I know just does not make sense!

JoeFan

May 26th, 2012
4:00 pm

The Braves have a couple of open spots on the 40 man roster. They could have easily called up Bethancourt. Boscan is a weak hitter. Almost like giving the oppostion multiple outs with him and the pitcher batting. Braves management is painful to watch.

Jeff Schultz

May 26th, 2012
4:01 pm

Bravissimo — I had 2 small scoops of tuna and a salad, thanks for asking.

Jeff Schultz

May 26th, 2012
4:01 pm

Quack Quack — Yep. He’s one of only guys hitting so might as well put him in a spot where he can drive in runs.

falconsrus

May 26th, 2012
4:01 pm

I feel it coming J Hey picks it up in June I like Marteen in the three hole with the Pastor at two

Jeff Schultz

May 26th, 2012
4:02 pm

Larry — I don’t see Pastornicky as a No. 2 hitter, but late in order, but I understand options are limited.

iTiSi

May 26th, 2012
4:04 pm

Since FG is so good at diagnosing the flu, maybe he is in the wrong profession. He should have been a doctor instead of a baseball manager, that’s for sure. It’s so obvious he is part of the problem and not part of the solution with his asinine decisions.

Jeff Schultz

May 26th, 2012
4:06 pm

Late lineup change — Eric Hinske plays first, replacing Freeman. No explanation.

Jeff Schultz

May 26th, 2012
4:09 pm

There goes the no-hitter. …. Espinosa bloop double to lead off.

iTiSi

May 26th, 2012
4:09 pm

No Freeman, no BMac, no CJ, and a catcher that cannot hit. Looks like another “giveaway” game. I will go ahead and mark this one down as a loss, no use in waiting. FF said last night he had been seeing 2 baseballs. Wouldn’t that be even better? Just pick one out and hit it. Odds are 50/50 you’ll get the right one. If you get real lucky and hit both of them, then you’ll really confuse them.

Ralph

May 26th, 2012
4:10 pm

Ralph

May 26th, 2012
4:10 pm

I said it First.

Jeff Schultz

May 26th, 2012
4:14 pm

iTiSi — Using that logic, a guy could hit .500. That would work.

iTiSi

May 26th, 2012
4:16 pm

Ralph, check my post at 4:09, as I do believe I beat you by one minute. Sorry!

Jeff Schultz

May 26th, 2012
4:16 pm

And there’s one.

Hillbilly D

May 26th, 2012
4:17 pm

The Braves’ web site says he’s on the 40 man (if he wasn’t he couldn’t be in the game). The transaction list says he was called up, not that they purchased the contract, so he was already on it.

iTiSi

May 26th, 2012
4:18 pm

JS, well yes, I do see your point, but I was thinking of FF usually making contact.

Hillbilly D

May 26th, 2012
4:22 pm

The Braves have a couple of open spots on the 40 man roster. They could have easily called up Bethancourt.

That’s true but when you call up a guy who hasn’t been up before, that starts the Free Agent/Arbitration clocks running. Teams often shy away from that so they can maintain another year of team control.

robert todd

May 26th, 2012
4:22 pm

Jeff,how is Minor still in Atlanta?If he was a righty he would be in Rome!!!!!!!!!!

iTiSi

May 26th, 2012
4:24 pm

My weather channel temp page says it’s 91 in Atlanta right now, so I’m thinking at least half those people sitting out there in that hot sun must have purchased their tickets well in advance of the current doldrums. Otherwise they would be elsewhere. BTW, if BMac is feeling as bad as Joe and Chip was just saying(they gave him a pity party on air) what is he doing sitting out there in the hot sun? Why is he not in the clubhouse watching on TV?

Bill Donohoo

May 26th, 2012
4:25 pm

Uggla is his usual, many SOLO HRs, many after the Braves are far behind in late innings. Strikes out with less than 2 outs and a man on third. Somebody needs to research the number of 1. solo HRs 2 number of solo HRs after game out of hand 3. number of 2 run HRs and 3 run HRs. 256 is not fine for a “RBI’ man. Maybe I am wrong but it sure seems Uggla is not “clutch”
Until Minor develops good breaking ball he will continue to have difficulty. He gets behind too often and does not show confidence.

Jeff Schultz

May 26th, 2012
4:25 pm

Robert — He had 3 pretty good starts in a row early in season. They’re not ready to jump ship yet.

Jeff Schultz

May 26th, 2012
4:35 pm

Geez. Minor is toast. Espinosa hits 3-run shot on 1st pitch after Minor allows hard single by Strasburg. Nationals 4-0.

Fredi Kruger

May 26th, 2012
4:39 pm

Mike “Batting Practice” Minor

FSUBrave

May 26th, 2012
4:39 pm

this team sucks…takers on if the braves will be in the cellar by all star break?

Brian

May 26th, 2012
4:40 pm

Unreal…….shooting for 6 losses in a row! Come on guys!!!

Plate Appearance

May 26th, 2012
4:42 pm

LOWE

I’ll bet Wren wishes he now had D. Lowe back!

I know I wish Lowe were back, the way he’s been pitching for the Indians.

bronkelliott

May 26th, 2012
4:43 pm

Are they booing the Braves yet? This is a joke, sorry to see the once noble Braves reduced to dust by the likes of Cincinnati and Washington!

TURTSNAP

May 26th, 2012
4:43 pm

No Minor to the rescue, but hell atleast Glavine can relate!!!

I’m here at the game. With no Chipper, McCann or Freeman, and an ineffective pitcher on the hill….. Can’t help but wonder if I could get a 40% refund on my tickets!!!

After today 3-9 in the division! Gotta love it!!!!

So, if we are pitching rich, why does Minor toe the rubber every fifth day?????