As noted in the comments yesterday, a role reversal has made pitcher’s duels into the A’s kind of game. And slugfests are now the Braves’ kind of game. The Braves hit five homers in the first four innings — four solo shots (Furcal leading off the game; Marcus, Andruw, and Vinny) and a three-run Javy Jomer — and then held on for the win.
The Braves wound up with 11 runs even with nothing from their leading hitter — Sheffield was 0-5 — and with Chipper out of the lineup nursing his wrist. Darren Bragg started in left field, and this being an AL park hit ninth. If the Braves played a softball lineup he’d hit tenth. He’s now at an unbelievable (for this stage of the season) .119 BA. Going up against the A’s Parade of Lefties didn’t do him any favors, but he really can’t hit.
Horacio Ramirez started and had four good innings, then started to run out of gas. (When the A’s are on, that’s what they’ll do to you, though he wound up with only 88 pitches.) Trey Hodges came on in relief with two out in the sixth but couldn’t get anyone out and Ray King bailed him out. Hodges allowed two inherited runners to score, and that’s been a problem for him all year. I tend to think he should be used to start innings and not to try to bail out another pitcher. (Actually, I think he should be starting.) Holmes allowed a run in the seventh. I start doing the math; it’s now 10-6 after the Braves got a couple of insurance runs. Most of the better relievers have pitched, Bong was the loser last night, that means….
Boom-Boom Bobby time! Hernandez actually didn’t stink. He got out of the eighth when he knocked down and chased down a comebacker, then threw the runner out. He was breezing through the ninth, but with two out and two strikes, something snapped. Bobby and the new assistant trainer came out and took a look at him, and Boom-Boom was lifted for Smoltz, who wound up throwing 1/3 of an inning. Hernandez is being reevaluated today but he may have torn a muscle. We’re all broken up about it.
Two weird incidents involving Scott Hatteberg… First, Javy was credited with a single and an RBI on what was clearly an error in the fifth. Hatteberg simply misplayed an infield popup, but because he misplayed it so badly he couldn’t get a glove on it, it’s not a error? Right… King struck out Hatteberg to get out of the sixth, but a few pitches before struck him on what was called the bat. Hatteberg had gone to first base, saying it was a HBP. I couldn’t tell from the replay one way or another, but (a) it sure sounded like the bat, and (b) he didn’t try to get out of the way of the pitch. The bases were loaded at the time.