Our weekly Heat Check commences where you’d expect, although falling five games behind the team you’re chasing does tend to lower any case of pennant fever.
BRAVES: They’ve lost only two of 12 series since the All-Star break, which is good. Less good is this: They haven’t won a series from a team that is currently above .500 since June 26-28, when they took two of three from Arizona.
Dropping the final two games of the Dodgers series only served to underscore a sore point: The Braves are 26-30 against plus-.500 opposition, and they’re 10-20 against teams that are leading divisions. This week they’ll play three games against Washington and four against San Francisco, and they’re 5-10 against those two.
That said, the September schedule is, to borrow a line from the great Joe Dean Sr., as soft as church music. Heat Index: So long as the Braves don’t go 1-6 these next seven days, they should be fine.
BEN SHEETS: It almost seemed too good to be true, and maybe it was. He won his first three starts, yielding one run in 18 innings. On Saturday he lost for the third time in his past four starts, yielding three runs on four pitches. Granted, the loss to Los Angeles was one of the weirdest you’ll ever see: Sheets was touched for only four hits, but all were homers, meaning the Dodgers’ BABIP (batting average on balls in play) was .000 on a night they won 6-2. Heat Index: Even if Sheets doesn’t win another game, he was worth the investment. And he’ll surely win some more games, don’t you think?
FALCONS: They lost another exhibition, which means they haven’t won a game that doesn’t count since August 2010. But I would remind you that the 1990 Falcons of the Great Glanville were 4-0 in preseason and 5-11 in the real season. Heat Index: Wake me when September rolls around.
MATT RYAN: Even as we note that exhibition stats aren’t to be taken as gospel truth, we must note that the quarterback seems to have taken to Dirk Koetter’s offense as (inelegant image upcoming) a pig takes to slop. Ryan has completed 27 of 34 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns (against one admittedly bad interception). He has not been sacked. Heat Index: If Ryan doesn’t post banner numbers this fall, my name’s not Mike Mularkey.
GEORGIA BULLDOGS: Mark Richt was upset because Scrimmage No. 2 was festooned with eight turnovers. “It wasn’t just awful, but it wasn’t great,” Richt told reporters. “I didn’t see a team that was ready to be great. I saw a team that was still pretty good. So I wasn’t that thrilled about it.” Heat Index: Just wondering if any team has ever looked “great” in a scrimmage. And if so, why?
GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS: Paul Johnson wasn’t happy because Saturday’s scrimmage was, to use his word to reporters, “ragged.” Also it included “a lot of mistakes.” But Vad Lee apparently looked pretty good, so there’s that. Heat Index: See above.
By Mark Bradley