The good news is that the Braves are 2-1 and have scored an average of ten runs a game. The bad news is that they’ve allowed over eight runs a game. In fact, their best pitching performance was in the game they lost, when the relievers managed to hold the Mets more or less in check.
John Thomson had the Braves’ best start yet, but it still wasn’t very good, allowing four runs, two earned, in five innings. (I’m not actually sure why both runs scoring in the fifth were unearned.) He needed 86 pitches, 57 strikes, struck out four and walked three. It was positively Koufaxian compared to the first two games, but not quite what the Braves needed.
The bullpen… Ick. Cunnane got a completely undeserved win for blowing a 5-4 lead in the sixth, though he didn’t seem to be pitching that badly. Nitkowski, pitching for the third straight day and apparently carrying on the legacy of Ray King, walked the only two men he faced. Gryboski allowed those two to score, but none of his guys did. Reitsma actually pitched a scoreless inning, but allowed two hits. And Smoltz allowed a solo homer before settling down to get the save.
I’m getting depressed, so let’s talk offense. The Mets did not start Scott Erickson after all. They say that he pulled a hamstring warming up, but I think this whole Erickson thing is some kind of weird fraud. Dan Wheeler, who pitched last night, got the start, and actually pitched okay. But the rest of the pen didn’t do their part. This time, everybody got a hit. Marcus Giles is now hitting .692 on the young season after a 4-5 night. Johnny Estrada had three hits and four RBI and he’s hitting .462. LaRoche had only one before lifted for Julio in the sixth, when the Braves scored three runs, one of them on Julio’s bases-loaded walk against John Franco in the long-awaited battle between the two ancient guys named Franco. The Braves had fifteen hits in all.
Three against the Cubs now. Greg Maddux won’t pitch in the series. Nor will Mark Prior, who is on the DL.
A final note… As you no doubt know, this is the thirtieth anniversary of Hank Aaron’s 715th homer. The Braves wore throwback uniforms for the occasion. Personally, I’d just like to say that Hank’s 715th is my first identifiable memory.