And it’s another goose egg for the punchless Atlanta Braves

It was hailing at the ballyard, but it wasn't raining hits. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

It was hailing at the ballyard, but it wasn't raining hits. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

It was business as usual for the Braves’ non-pitchers on a stormy Wednesday that lapped into Thursday, and business isn’t exactly booming. They managed two hits off four Mets pitchers. They hit five balls out of the infield, two of those coming in the ninth inning. They lost 4-0. They were two games behind Philadelphia as of Monday; they’re five in arrears now.

The good news, such as it was, is that the Braves are beginning to get some of their position players back. Jason Heyward returned from the disabled list Wednesday night. (He went 0-for-2 with a walk; his throwing error on Jose Reyes’ leadoff double led to an unearned run, which was all the Mets needed.) Nate McLouth is scheduled to begin his rehab stint at Gwinnett today. Freddie Freeman is set to return to the Braves’ lineup tonight.

The bad news: There’s no assurance Heyward and Freeman and eventually McLouth will galvanize this lineup. As noted, the Braves have the best pitching in the majors. But you can’t, as the saying goes, win a game 0-0.

“Two hits,” said Fredi Gonzalez, the manager. “It’s hard to win a baseball game.”

Then: “We gave up four runs, and that felt like a big mountain to climb the way we’re swinging the bats.”

Dan Uggla, of whom much was expected, had consecutive two-hit games in Houston over the weekend; he has had one hit in the three games since, all losses. Jordan Schafer went 0-for-4 Wednesday and saw his average plunge to .211. Brian McCann went 0-for-4 and saw his fall below .300. Chipper Jones went 0-for-3 and saw his dip below .260.

There’s a good team in here somewhere, but on such a night it was tough to detect. Nobody can explain why Uggla, who has always hit in the majors, hasn’t hit here. Nobody can explain why this team, built to score, cannot. But the Braves have mustered six runs over the past 27 innings, and four of those have come via the homer. This club sustains nothing.

If this gifted team is to reach the postseason, that must change, and soon. The Braves don’t have to lead the league in hitting; they only need to score enough runs to give their splendid pitchers a chance. Tim Hudson threw one bad pitch — Angel Pagan hit a two-run homer off the foul pole — and saw his record sag below .500.

We say again: Surely this team will start to hit. But if we’re still mouthing those words when July arrives, it might be time to give Julio Franco a call.

By Mark Bradley

117 comments Add your comment

J.J.M.

June 16th, 2011
1:27 am

Mark Bradley

June 16th, 2011
1:32 am

Kudos once more, J.J.M.

J.J.M.

June 16th, 2011
1:35 am

I couldnt even watch the game because of my dish went out but by reading this I didnt miss too much

J-Man

June 16th, 2011
1:56 am

I think that even when Prado and McClouth return the Braves have a fatal flaw on offense. The only 1 true fix IMO is Matt Kemp but we would have to take on a ton of $$$$$ to get him and give up a ton. But if they don’t get him they definately need to trade for a right handed bat off the bench because Mather has not shown enough and especially yesterday showed us our lack of depth when goin against lefties

jwdavis 88

June 16th, 2011
2:10 am

when are the braves going to wisen up and fire larry parrish and try a new hitting coach.the braves bats are even worse than last year when everyone was hollering to fire terry pendleton.the pitching staff is carrying this team but if the bats dont wake up we dont stand a chance to reach the playoffs.there is no reason why the braves should not be scoring more runs.the players we have are to talented to be hitting this bad.

STRETCH

June 16th, 2011
2:22 am

Larry Parrish cant go out there and hit for these guys! People, its just like going to the DMV, getting our license, driving on to have an accident. Do we go back and fire the instructor? NO, cause he cant driver for you.

Players with these gigantic contracts should be the ones held accountable. And when are these owners gonna start making these guys sign performance based contracts when they do perform? Cause right now, i would dock Dan SUCCLA about 2 million for his performance so far.
Heyward, i would dock him too.

oldschool

June 16th, 2011
2:28 am

BLAH,BLAH,BLAH….I’m tired of all the excuses about this team not hitting,Listening to Chipper and Fredi you would think they were the 1927 Yankees in a slump,Bottom line is,,they are not a good team….average at best.

South ga boy in the atl

June 16th, 2011
2:39 am

As I have said many times before this is Wren’s fault. Anyone with a brain could see, 3 yrs ago, that the Braves needed at least 2 right handed power hitters, preferably in the outfield. But what did he do. Knowing he had constraints of 85 mil to spend, he panicked and gave chipper 4 yrs at 13 mil per and he really panicked when he gave Lowe 4 yrs at 15 mil per. Over 30 percent of the payroll given to a guy that can’t hit above 260 and to a pitcher whose record could easily be reproduced by one of the young pitchers at 400k per yr. Any dumb Dora could see that with Heyward and Freeman, 2 lefty’s, coming up that we would be overloaded with left hand hitters with McCann and Nate or Jordan. Chipper should have been given 2 yrs, Prado at 3rd this yr and 2 right handed power hitters in left and right field while moving heyward to center. It’s almost as egregious as Billy knight drafting 47 forwards in a row

STRETCH

June 16th, 2011
2:41 am

Frank Wren said last season, “You can usually tell what kinda team you have by the 50 game or so of the season.” Well Mr Wren?

Ted M

June 16th, 2011
2:53 am

yep the braves have to start hitting… the trouble with that is we are looking for every single hitter on the team, except McCann, to turn around their season. the odds of that are low this late.
Even Hinske is down to .262 and he’s about to go back to the bench.

The Grinch

June 16th, 2011
3:53 am

MAN. Y’all are some negative folks. Yeah, the offense looks like crap now. But going in to tonight we were in the top few teams in the majors in wins, and not that far from Boston at the top. Not sure where we’re at now, but not THAT far out. Relax. The team will come around, we’ll go on a long run and be in it right at the end. Step outside, grab a smoke or the equivalent and try again in a few. It’s a long season.

The Grinch

June 16th, 2011
4:05 am

Hey, Mark. I know we’ve been here before, and it was actually my intention to apologize because I heard you actually did get back to me in a previous blog about my disappearing posts. And now I have no post as usual (said when I tried to post again “Duplicate comment! You’ve already said that!”), I don’t expect this one to go through either…I now know you have nothing against me but you have to admit it’s odd this doesn’t happen to me on any other AJC blog and I post a lot.

The Grinch

June 16th, 2011
4:06 am

And that one went RIGHT through. The other one I tried four times. No language that doesn’t get posted on the other ones.

STRETCH

June 16th, 2011
4:18 am

6 runs in 27 innings and 4 of them homers? what does that tell us? that they rely on the home run and have no idea of how to score runs and put pressure on teams.
And management once again walked into this season stubborn and clueless! Im still trying to figure out, how does managers, coaches and players all go throught spring training and not know what a team needs? Arent they supposed to evaluate the team and what areas they need to improve in???
No speed and NO batting. ANYBODY can swing at a ball, but what about putting the ball in play, putting pressure on the pitcher, speedsters on base, manufacturing runs on nights like these? Can someone tell me how many times have they been shutout this season???
Look at the Phils and Sox, they make you make every pitch and you better not slip up. while the Braves go out there trying to swing for the fences every night!
Its really sad when the pitchers go out there and work their tails off night in and night out and have hothing to show for it.
Until they get a real owner, they will continue to suck. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup last night. And get this, all of Boston’s professional sports teams have won the championship in their leagues within the last 6 years! And we got the 1-14 Braves from 91-2005….ATLANTA IS CLEVELAND SOUTH!
YEP IT WAS BOBBLEHEAD NIGHT AND THEY WERE ON THE FIELD LAST NIGHT!!!!

rpidge

June 16th, 2011
4:52 am

Until the Braves decide to obtain some quality players via trade, and I don’t mean players who are fixing to retire, then we will need to be sellers this time of the year instead of buyers. Also, as a buyer you can’t sit back and take what’s left after serious contenders do what is necessary to be successful in the Fall. If we don’t have any better offensive talent in the minors than what I’m seeing then we stink and management should re-think their scouting personnel or prepare to sell to someone with a desire to be successful.

ted williams head

June 16th, 2011
5:39 am

about to give up on them this year. its not worth my time watching if the other team gets an early lead because I already know the outcome. what a difference from last year.

Sloan

June 16th, 2011
6:10 am

Braves are PREtenders this year and not CONtenders like last year. Disappointing!

J-Bone

June 16th, 2011
6:20 am

Just, very disappointing. Had high hopes for this team…..

bull-gator

June 16th, 2011
6:33 am

Pathetic. Painful to watch.

Daniel

June 16th, 2011
6:42 am

So what is next for this team, another Derrek Lee trade??

J-Bone

June 16th, 2011
6:49 am

and which outfielder do the braves move to bring in Kemp, J-Man? They’re not moving Prado or Heyward, and the dodgers will not want Mclouth…..

TommyP

June 16th, 2011
6:49 am

This team is built to PITCH, not built to score.

The OF is atrocious. Worst CF production around, a 2B in LF, and Heyward has not given us what the hype promised.

Throw in an aging Chipper (who is due for an injury in the next week), a rookie 1B and low OBP middle guys in Uggla/Gonzalez and you have a team that will be streaky. Not enough professional hitters in the lineup.

And when you rely on a catcher to be in the middle of your lineup, you’re in trouble. All those 95 degree days/nights with that gear on is going to sap you. You don’t need that guy to be your most reliable thumper.

Honest Ingine

June 16th, 2011
6:58 am

Man, there is no fire in the dugout. This team is lost without a leader, Freddie is just not the answer. Again, I saw a controversal call, the player is upset, and where’s their manager out to defend his players? Sitting watching the game… Freddie, needs to show some emotion…back his players, Dont mean argue with each call. but at least come out of the dugout….show the players that he cares.. more importantly, SHOW, us the fans that he cares……

longtimefan

June 16th, 2011
6:59 am

The Braves are tied for the sixth best record in all of MLB. They arguably have the best pitching staff. The Braves lose a few games and the whiners come out of the woodwork. Some “fans” wouldn’t be happy unless all position players batted over .300 with power. The management has fielded teams that have made the playoffs 15 of the past 20 years. I think JS and FW know just a little bit more about baseball than the constantly critical bloggers.

Joey

June 16th, 2011
7:02 am

“They managed two hits off four Mets pitchers. They hit five balls out of the infield, two of those coming in the ninth inning”
******************************************
Not to mention the 12 Ks.

Pathetic . . .

braveshoo

June 16th, 2011
7:19 am

I’m sorry. I usually try to make positive posts. But 2 hits against the pitching they faced last night is ridiculous. I dont blame FW. This team should be one of the top hitting teams in baseball. They just are not performing. They all look like they are lost without Bobby Cox. They all need a kick in the butt, and FG needs to go. I dont see him fight for the players; I dont see him raise hell with the players; I dont see him show any fire at all. On top of that, I have been critical of his management of game situations all year. Its time for the Braves to get mad and start playing, or just go home and call it a season.

Jason

June 16th, 2011
7:22 am

There’s always a couple of teams in this division that have our number. And it’s pathetic. The mets? With all their issues. And hey just f**kin walk reyes to start the game. How many back are they now? One thing is sure. The phillies won’t “squander” their lead this year. Funny how we have injuries this year like they did last and they are pulling away. By July 1, it will be a 10 game lead.

Willie Coyote

June 16th, 2011
7:22 am

When they are patient, they hit better. Their problem is all the bad outs early in the count. They started hitting in Houston and they got swing happy again. Once they get back to making pitchers work, they will begin to score again. Someone on this coaching staff surly has to see that.

Case in point. Freddie Freeman was going great, then he hit that ridiculously long homer in Houston. After that, his swing got more violent; there was a noticeably bigger upper cut; and he started striking out and having bad at-bats. He is a rookie though so what’s the excuse for the rest of this bunch?

Greg

June 16th, 2011
7:23 am

No speed, only a couple of guys(Jones and Prado) who can hit for average and no proven power hitters. That was a recipe for disaster from day 1 and it can’t be “fixed” without making some trades.

When McLouth is one of your three best players in the outfield, you know you are in trouble. And nice hair, Nate. With those highlights, are you trying to be a baseball player or a runway model?

Rupe

June 16th, 2011
7:24 am

Knock it off with the best pitching. That is the phillies. They are 5 games ahead. That settles it idiots.

jerry

June 16th, 2011
7:24 am

As Munson used to say “just get us to football season” and I might add “you wussies.”

joe

June 16th, 2011
7:34 am

Geez Mark, I love sports but it’s hard to watch any team from Atlanta. Braves are painful to watch offensively, Hawks have no heart and the Falcons ( great record and all ) were so predictable and had so little explosiveness that you knew they were only going so far in the playoffs…..
Ps don’t even get me started on the Bulldogs !!!

OUCH

1991Braves

June 16th, 2011
7:42 am

This is a .500 baseball team with no speed, no clutch hitting, 2 overpaid, overthehill sinkerball pitchers, and no manager. The Phils are just starting to pitch like they are capable of pithcing, and there everyday lineup makes the braves lineup look like a little league team. Hudson&Lowe both have era’s over 4 and they both lose starts when the team needs a lift. They aren’t clutch, hell they aren’t much of anything, and i guess the braves want try to trade either on them because that is what they would get for them, not anything. So sick of hearing these 2 clowns after another one of their losses say they only threw 2 bad pitches. Problem is everytime they throw a bad pitch it ends up in the bleachers, and with this bad news bears offense, 2 bad pitches get you beat. Braves=no playoffs. Good job WREN!!

JJ

June 16th, 2011
7:42 am

Pitching doesn’t win titles. Pitching and Hitting do. That’s what the phillies have and have had for years. The braves have never had an offense. Philly will take this division by 15 games. JJ and Hanson will come back to earth. Braves will win 85 games. Remember this team will win 5/6 and then lose 4/5. They are bi polar chokers

Brother John

June 16th, 2011
7:52 am

Wish we in another division. We’d be one game out of first place!!

Turtsnap

June 16th, 2011
7:55 am

If this team does not make a trade soon for a legitimate bat (Dan Uggla apparently was NOT the answer), they can forget about the Wild Card too!

JMF

June 16th, 2011
7:56 am

I know Terry P. is thinking “I glad I’m not the hitting coach this year”. lol

Deb Mavrick

June 16th, 2011
7:58 am

Guess it has nothing to do with D. Gee and the Met’s bullpen.

foultip

June 16th, 2011
8:01 am

So we keep one of our better hitters on the bench because he’s a backup catcher. Play Ross at first and see if he can help the team instead of him sitting on the bench except when he catches every fifth game or so.

wins-by-a-link

June 16th, 2011
8:04 am

The Braves have two major problems, The first is Liberty Media, As long as they own the Braves they will never win a championship, The second major problem is Frank Wren, As long as he is GM the Braves will never win a championship. Solution: Local ownership, Fire Frank Wren, Bring back Roy Clark as GM.

Steve

June 16th, 2011
8:07 am

I dont hink our new hitting coach is work out…..TP wasnt great, but better than what we have now…..

Hatfieldgeoff

June 16th, 2011
8:12 am

The Brave have got to put together an attractive group of pitching prospects and trade with Houston for Hunter Pence. They need a legitimate .300 hitter in this lineup for it to consistently produce runs. The Braves do have great pitching but they need to start drafting and developing some hitters as well. Heyward and Freeman may turn out to be great hitters but right now .240 and .260 ain’t getttin it done.

SimpleDawg

June 16th, 2011
8:28 am

Bad swings = poor hitting. Trying to pull outside pitches = ground outs. Swinging at pitches out of the strike zone = wasted at-bats.

These don’t look like Professional Hitters. Time and time again we see Braves batters putting a pull swing on an outside pitch…..hips open, hands rushing through the strike zone and weakly grounding out, instead of sending the hands more towards the backside and hitting the ball deeper in the hitting area and with an inside-out path. Throw the nob of the bat at the ball…..if the ball’s inside, the nob should take a different path to the ball than if the pitch is to the outside. If the pitch is inside the hips should open prior to contact; if the pitch is outside, then the hips remain closed until contact.

The philosophy is pretty simple. The implementation is based on the proper mechanics…..and of course, discipline.

mb

June 16th, 2011
8:30 am

Six wins in a row and we were hitting fine, now we come home, the bats go back to sleep, and we lose 3 in a row. This is one frustrating team.

We (UF) Own UGA

June 16th, 2011
8:31 am

Bark Madley,

By no means does this pathetic excuse of a team have the “best pitching staff” in baseball as you say. I’d much rather have any one of the following:

-Phillies
-Cardinals
-Giants
-Red Sox
-Rays

The Braves may lead MLB in ERA, but that’s an inflated stat due to Venters and O’Flaherty. Look at the starters for the joke Braves:

-Jurjens 2.13 and he has been shelled by the Mets 2 straight starts.
-Hason 2.48 and someone who can’t win outside of Turner field.
-Lowe 4.02 ERA and 2 wins. Wow. Nice #1.
-Hudson 4.06 ERA
-Minor 4.50 ERA

Don’t even try and tell me this Braves team has any chance of competing for anything more than another possible 1st round loss.

Appalachia Brave

June 16th, 2011
8:37 am

Tough game last night. Lets shake that one off and go get’um tonite! This team does have a chance, but they have to hit. I know, duh! I’m trying to remain positive here…..I feel a HOT streak coming up! GO BRAVES!

dap01

June 16th, 2011
8:37 am

The Braves need help.

Bernard

June 16th, 2011
8:38 am

Good pitch, no hit!…miss Omar Infante?…Dan Who?

urban redneck

June 16th, 2011
8:38 am

my bobblehead is still wet.

keep the faith, boys.

MJC

June 16th, 2011
8:39 am

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