St. Louis 3, Atlanta 2

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Braves at Cardinals – 08/10/2003

This is a game the Braves had no business losing, but probably deserved to. They were all over Cards starter Woody Williams, getting eight hits and three walks, but couldn’t get a hit with a runner in scoring position. Their only runs came on a solo homer by Sheffield in the fourth and a sac fly, also by Sheffield, in the seventh. Nine left on base, plus Giles was caught stealing in the first. A big problem was that the Braves got nothing from the Joneses. Chipper is still slumping and went 0-3 with a walk. Andruw’s side looks to be acting up again and he went 0-4.

Horacio Ramirez got another no-decision he didn’t deserve, allowing two solo homers. He was very efficient, throwing only 90 pitches, and had only one inning when his control was a problem. Having Furcal turn the unassisted triple play didn’t hurt, of course. It was fluky, like any UTP, but was also a genuinely outstanding play.

But with the Braves leading 2-1with two out in the eighth, Ramirez allowed his second solo homer. Bobby brought in John Smoltz to pitch to Albert Pujols. Now, I’m a big believer in getting more out of Smoltz, and he hadn’t pitched in awhile. But I never would have pulled Ramirez there. You gain the lefty-righty advantage, but Ramirez had handled Pujols as well as anyone has all year, getting him three times, twice on strikeouts. He’d retired six in a row before the homer, and he had only thrown 90 pitches. Smoltz allowed a homer to give the Cards the lead and half an inning later the win.

The Braves have today off before hosting San Diego for three. That’s a prelude to the last rough stretch of the regular season: four hosting Arizona followed by a six-game road trip to San Francisco and Colorado. The lead remains 12 over Florida and Philadelphia.

5 thoughts on “St. Louis 3, Atlanta 2”

  1. You have to use Smoltz to face Pujols. You’ve got to put your best again their best. Had Horacio served up a bomb to Pujols, we’d all be bitching about how Cox doesn’t like to use Smoltz in a tie game. It was a dynamic matchup and you’ve just got to tip your cap to Pujols for getting the best of that one…

  2. If Ramirez hadn’t handled him so easily, I might agree. Or if he’d thrown more pitches. It’s not an unjustifiable move, but it’s not one I would have done, and I’m essentially Captain Hook.

  3. The way Ramirez was throwing the ball I don’t know how Cox was able to pull him out. Even the homer before was well off the plate and Perez somehow hit it. Plus, if the game went into extras (which looked like it would0, who would close out the game if/when we got a lead? Kevin Gryboski? Roberto? Give me a break.

  4. That one was a painful way to lose. It reminded me of a playoff game…not enough hitting with runners on base. Too bad Cox didn’t let Ramirez face Pujols. He did handle him very well throughout the game. But I can’t blame him for bringing Smoltz in. After all, you had two of the game’s best facing each other, and one just got the best of the other. As Creg said, you’ve gotta give credit to Pujols.

  5. Bobby is a manager who likes to support his rookies, and he often tries to prevent them from having a chance to fail when they’re building on success. I think that would have been his reasoning in taking out Horacio, and I don’t think one can really second-guess any move that involves actually putting in Smoltz, especially since he’d only allowed one home run all year prior to that point. Besides, Smoltz hadn’t pitched in 8 days.

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