Atlanta 6, Montreal 1

ESPN.com – MLB – MLB RECAP

Amazing. Mark DeRosa had two hits! Two extra-base hits, one a homer! I wax sarcastic, but it’s a good sign if he can at least provide a little offense. Typically for him, he didn’t manage to be the player of the game; that was Furcal, who homered and twice singled, and also walked, scoring three of the Braves’ six runs. Adam LaRoche, whipping boy #2, had three hits.

Russ Ortiz pitched a complete game. I wouldn’t call it a great start — I don’t think any start where you only strike out two is great — but it was very good. He allowed a first-inning run but was great from there, and retired the last 17 men in a row.

All the regulars had hits except Nick Green… Estrada left the game after getting hit by a pitch on the leg. No word on severity, but I’m sure he wants to play in the upcoming four-game series with the Phillies.

17 thoughts on “Atlanta 6, Montreal 1”

  1. DeRosa hits when we are just about to give up on him… I just hope JS and Cox don’t stick with with him like he did with Blauser for so many years.

  2. Two words. Mo mentum. Don’t want to get carried away, but it look sliek some things are starting to gel. Another complete game, DeRo above the Mendoza line, Furcal getting it done. Let’s hope some of this carries over to the Phillies.

  3. Allowing only one run on five hits (and just one walk!) in a complete game is pretty darn good. It’d win most ballgames today. Retiring 17 batters in a row doesn’t hurt, either.

    I don’t think the best way to judge the greatness of a game is by seeing how many strikeouts the pitcher had.

    You could easily make the case that a pitcher was dominating the other team if he had lots of strikeouts in a game.

    However, you can pitch a great game without striking out hordes of batters. Basically, I thought tonight’s start was a great start, but was not really a dominate start.

    One last observation on his start: 129 pitches, 90 strikes. That’s a very good strike/ball ratio.

  4. I realize you hate complimenting people, but that was a great start. One run, complete game, 5 hits and 17 straight hitters retired. That’s a great game, period.

  5. I just got back in. 1-1 after Andruw left the bases juiced when I took off.

    Looks like a nice effort all around. Darren’s mentioned the stat that leapt out at me when I looked at the box. That has to be Russ’ best strike-to-ball ratio in a Braves’ uniform.

  6. For some reason, the game was not on Fox Sports South in my area. Did anyone else have the same problem?

    Hopefully, it was the cable company’s fault. I would like nothing more than to have an excuse to give them an angry phone call tomorrow.

  7. Hey, that’s my opinion. He was really, really good. But if you’re not getting strikeouts you’re depending on your defense a lot. And you know how much of a problem that can be. I think in a truly great start you’ll have more strikeouts than hits.

  8. Hmmm. Russ throwing only 2Ks is very unlike him, but so is throwing only 1BB. At least he kept the ball in the “yard,” which Russ has been very good at this year. Grst, I suggest visitimg Futility Infielder’s DIPS primer to see why Ks are preferred to outs on balls in play from a pitcher. (www.futilityinfielder.com/dips03)

    Did anyone else think that HBP against Estrada was intentional? So what if it was a curve ball, curve balls still hurt. That’s just the latest trend in plunking to avoid a suspension. It looked pretty diliberate to me. And the fact that the Braves came out of the dugout furthers my suspicion. I thought Tom Pacorek was way off, as usual.

  9. The major league average strike % is usually in the mid-60’s. 90 of 129 is 69.8%. Let’s not get carried away.

    As Mac said, nice performance, but heavily dependent on the defense.

  10. Infielder’s DIPS primer to see why Ks are preferred to outs on balls in play from a pitcher.

    K’s are preferred in a way because you don’t give Chipper’s D a chance to kill you, but they also drive up the pitch count limiting the innings you can pitch. You can get a long way just by keeping the ball in the park and limiting walks, which of course are the other two DIPS components.

    Complete game victories are pretty rare these days, combine that with the 17 outs in a row and the fact that he gave the whole bullpen the night off right before a critical series and I think it’s fair to use the word “great”.

  11. I don’t think pitchers who strike people out actually throw that many more pitches per inning than ordinary pitchers. Would you rather throw six pitches to one guy, ending with a strikeout, or three to each of two guys, one of whom grounds out and the other singles?

    The rare Maddux-type (of course, Maddux’s strikeout rates were good for most of his career) or slightly more common Tewksbury-type can get through with fewer pitches thrown, sure. But unless you have that kind of control (none of the Braves’ current starters do except maybe Thomson) you’re going to throw about 13-15 pitches an inning pretty much any way you go about it. It’s the balls and hits, not the strikes, that control how many pitches you throw.

    Of course, that’s basically an opinion. JC or Bamadan or someone might have a link to a study.

  12. Tangotiger, over at baseball-primer, did some good work with pitch counts. His basic pitch count estimator is (PA x 3.3)+(K x 1.5)+(BB x 2.2). Or 3 extra pitches per 2 strikeouts, not a significant workload until you get into Kerry Wood territory.

  13. I get, and appreciate, the basic tenet of DIPS, but I think it does underestimate the value of a pitcher’s command.

    I read a couple of pieces by Tom Tippett that point out some of the flaws in DIPS. They certainly aren’t “trash” pieces. I think almost everyone can agree with the basic concept that luck and lack of defense can have a profound effect on a pitcher’s performance measures.

    Has anyone ever done any correlation studies on ground hits to air hits similar to ground outs to air outs comparisons? Maybe that all washes out to, but just from eye balling it, I see more hard hit balls in the air, which can be credited to both hitting ability or lack of location on the part of the pitcher. Further, there should be a way to judge how many infield hits are purely “luck” hits (toppers, balls in “no man’s land).

    Makes for good conversation and again, I can agree with the basic concept of DIPS. I just think a pitcher’s ability to “pitch to spots” ala Maddux (Yes, I know the year-to-year on him doesn’t necessarily correlate. See the Tippett article for the rebuttal.) can make for easier plays and I think DIPS downplays the pitcher’s contribution in those cases.

    As for last night, it was clearly an anomaly for Russ.

    Sam, I would have to see the stat you mention on the aveage strike-to-ball being in the mid-60s in terms of percentage. Just from perusing box scores, I would guess that it may be around 60, but certainly not in the 2-to-1 range that would be in the mid-60s. I’ll be happily proven wrong. I don’t analyze the game the way I used to.

  14. Surprising that Bobby bunted LaRoche there, in retrospect I bet he wishes he hadn’t- AJ just walked to load the bases, LaRoche is still the only out of the inning…

  15. 50#,

    Mike Emeigh (SABR and baseball-primer) has done some really good work along those lines. I’ll try to find a link. Long story short, there is a *lower* BA on balls hit in the air than balls hit on the ground, but there is a *higher* slugging on flys than grounders. DIPS more or less works despite ignoring the differences between flyball and groundball pitchers because the trade off between extra men on base and extra power is almost dead on.

    More directly, some folks like Emeigh, Chris Dial, Mitchell Litchman, and others are working with the Pitch-by-Pitch data from STATS, Tendu, and Retrosheet to try to apportion the velocity and arc of balls in play. I anxiously await their findings.

    Tippett’s piece was a wonderful follow-up to McCracken’s original DIPS work. But in examining every pitcher since the 1910s, he found that the most extreme pitcher (Charlie Hough) saved about a dozen hits a year and the vast majority of pitchers saved or cost their clubs less than 2 hits per season.

  16. Thanks Bama.

    I think the one thing that might get lost in all of this and it certainly will be remedied by closer study is the relative “cost” to a pitcher for lack of command or use of their strongest attribute.

    To me, there is more physics than math at play here. You have someone throwing a small round object typically at a velocity between 85 and 95 mph from a distance of 60 and one half feet to someone trying to strike the ball with a wooden object usually varying in length from 32 inches to 34 inches and in weight from 30 ounces to 36 ounces.

    The main weapons of the pitcher are velocity (and change of velocity pitch-to-pitch), movement of the ball from a straight path (curves, sliders, other breaks), and location. In battling this, the hitter relies on the ability to tell a ball from a strike and the ability to hit different balls differently (when to pull, when to “go with the pitch”).

    The varying abilities of each party to accomplish their task is going to determine–for the most part–the result of the confrontation. I put “for the most part” in, because of defense and, as in the terminology DIPS uses and I tend to agree with, luck.

    My questions mostly revolve around the differences in the relative effectiveness of different approaches. Take Maddux and the Big Unit in their primes. They have radicaly different approaches, but were both quite successful. I would be curious to see, through analysis, what the typical results of their relative ineffectiveness on given days. In their poor performances–typically when Maddux’ location was off or Johnson’s velocity was down a bit–what was the result for hitters?

    Thanks for the great reply. The ground/air thing surprised me. I thought there would be more success for hitters on balls hit in the air. The slugging difference is self-explanatory.

    Basically, I like the idea of DIPS, but I still think there is a “ghost in the machine” that simply cannot be accounted for.

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