Atlanta 1 Montreal 0

ESPN.com – MLB – MLB RECAP

If baseball were predictable, there wouldn’t be any point in playing the games. Scott Downs came into tonight having pitched in two games this year, in both of which he’d been knocked out in the third inning. Tonight, he pitched 6 1/3 and was credited with one unearned run. (I’m not sure why it was unearned; more on it in a bit.) He still lost, because that’s the Expos for you.

The Braves had a number of chances to score in the middle innings. In the fourth, they had back-to-back singles with one out, but Estrada hit into a DP. In the sixth, they had first and second, none out, but Chipper hit into a double play. Then then loaded the bases on walks (one intentional) but Estrada struck out. In the seventh, they got their one run when Drew hit a sharp grounder with the bases loaded and Johnson couldn’t handle it. There was only one out at the time, and I’m not sure why it was ruled unearned; I’d guess that they thought Johnson would throw the runner out at the plate. But with a chance for more, Chipper and Andruw struck out.

Russ Ortiz had a fabulous night, going seven, allowing three hits and three walks, and striking out three. Actually, he handled everyone but Brad Wilkerson well; Wilkerson had three of the Expos’ five hits on the night (two off of Ortiz, one off of Reitsma; two of the three hits were doubles) and walked. Everyone else on the Expos was pretty much hapless.

Reitsma pitched 2/3 of the eighth, then Smoltz came in and got his 15th save, striking out two and allowing one hit.

The Mets are beating the Phillies 4-1 and the Marlins are winning 6-3 as I type. If that holds up, the Braves will remain in fourth, but stay only half a game out of second, and move to 2 1/2 out of first. Night game tomorrow, Livan Hernandez pitching for the Expos against Wright. You’d think that this was the Expos’ best chance of getting a win, but these are the Expos.

19 thoughts on “Atlanta 1 Montreal 0”

  1. A win’s a win. Every team please step up one space. Okay, Braves win tomorrow night and the Mets and Marlins can both lose. We got the Phillies next and they play each other. Looks like we can’t have batting practice against Millwood. I guess we’ll settle for scoring 8-10 runs against a slightly overrated Milton on Friday.

  2. Russ is throwing the ball real well right now. I hope Bobby finds somebody to skip in the rotation so that Russ can pitch Sunday’s game against the Phils. He would be on his normal rest, but it would mean passing over either Hampton, Thomson, or Byrd which would be fine by me.

  3. I was very glad to see Bobboy go to Smoltz in the 8th; I actually wished he would have gone to Smoltz to start the 8th in such a close game, but stranding that run at 3rd was huge nonetheless.

  4. I just read ESPN’s interview with Schuerholz. He says we are looking to improve the team. That we are buyers this year. What an interesting first half. By all rights the Phils or the Marlins should be way ahead and we’d be looking to dump our free agents and arbitration cases. But here we are again. I’m not saying that we are going to dominate this weak division but we actually have a chance.

    Just to beat everyone to the punch I’m going to put out some first half thoughts.
    Best pulled Hamstring award:
    Chipper moving back to 3rd has had a nice ripple effect. He is happier and looking like he is getting back to form, our first option off the bench in the infield is DeRosa and not Jesse Garcia and Marrero/Thomas has proven to be a decent LF platoon. If I am the Braves I would make the move permanent until Marte can beat him out of the position.
    Second best pulled hamstring award:
    DeWayne if I were you I’d be looking for an apartment in Richmond.
    The I apologize for all of the early season negativity from me award:
    When J.D. Drew went down in April because of a sore neck I thought, crap its true. This guy doesn’t want to play. All he has been is our best player. What a great gamble by Schuerholz. Although Marquis and King are pitching well for the Cards (Marquis has to be getting some outstanding run support) we’d be in the toilet if not for Drew and Marrero looks like he wants to play every day. And poor Base12! He is in good form and is doing his job of pitching one inning very well.

    The I hope that they don’t turn to pumpkins award:
    Nick, Charles, Johnny keep up the good work. Estrada worries me a little because a lot of his value is tied up in his excellent batting average but the more I see him the more I think he is legit.

    The creative thinking award:
    Schuerholz’s attempt to move Andruw was smart 21st century baseball management. Ordonez is an impact bat in the Sheffield mold and he gains financial flexibility for future seasons. Alas it didn’t pan out but hey nice try.

    The he aint as bad as he looks award:
    DeRosa is NOT a major league regular, but if you look at his monthly breakdowns had he not gone into the tank in May, Chip would be at first base.

    The I’d be looking for a 1B award:
    Adam still looks lost to me. If we are to contend we cannot continue to give the most at bats to a guy with a .278 OBP.

  5. If the run was unearned, then Drew did not deserve an RBI. The box score showed both an unearned run and an RBI. One of the two has to be changed for consistency of statistics.

  6. Hm, am I losing my mind (real possibility) or did Bobby say at one point that Julio is the starter, and Laroche will be used to rest him?

  7. The I’d be looking for a 1B award:
    Adam still looks lost to me. If we are to contend we cannot continue to give the most at bats to a guy with a .278 OBP.

    At the beginning of the year, I thought LaRoche might be able to be Robert Fick, but now I think he’ll never get even to that lousy career path.

    Something that will keep you up nights if you let it: Two seasons ago, what if JS instead of spending a million dollars to bring in Fick, had spent $1.25 million on another very available FA firstbaseman like this guy? Where would we be right now? Defending WS champs, with a five game lead on the Phillies?

  8. drzachary you aren’t crazy. I heard the same thing, but Adam is getting all of the starts and they left him in there against a lefty the other night. I can understand patience with a prospect but LaRoche just ain’t getting it done. Isn’t 1b one of Marrero’s positions? Wouldn’t it be ok to have Thomas’ and Marrero’s bat in the lineup?

    I had read that both Travis Lee and Robert Fick were offered a 1 yr. 1 million dollar contract. Lee turned it down and wound up playing for TB at 700,000. Talk about overestimating your value. Fick wasn’t actually all that bad the 1st half of last year but boy did he crater the second half.

  9. Fick did sign for $1 million for one year, which was not a bad gamble. Hindsight is 20/20 on Ortiz. At the time, he was a bad defensive player with a history of injuries. Even if he had stayed healthy, I don’t think Cox would have stomached his defense for long.

  10. I’ll do you one better — Hee Seop Choi was available after last season, and would have made a perfect platoon partner for Julio. I looked at Choi’s performance so far this season against RHP, and Julio’s against LHP (strangely, he has a reverse platoon differential this season, he usually kills southpaws). Since we’re midway through the season, I doubled the totals.

    For a total cash outlay of $1.06 million (310K for Choi, 750K for Julio), they could have had this guy:

    548 AB, 90 R, 154 H, 26 2B, 2 3B, 26 HR, 64 RBI, 98 BB, 134 K, .281 BA, .390 OBP, .478 SLG (868 OPS).

    Sounds pretty useful, no? And this includes Julio’s uncharacteristically poor numbers against LHP. These numbers are similar to Phil Nevin production, and he’s making $8.5 million. Talk about a missed opportunity….

  11. I’ll do you one better — Hee Seop Choi was available after last season, and would have made a perfect platoon partner for Julio.

    Well, Choi was available in trade. The Marlins had to give up Derrek Lee to get him, so he wasn’t exactly free. The Braves were not in a position to get him.
    This guy
    could have been had though. First base help isn’t that hard to find. It’s hard to believe we are making due with a struggling rookie and a 80 year old man.

  12. Doug, I think that an RBI can be awarded because Johnson made no play. He muffed the ball. There was only one out. Ergo, the official scorer cannot assume either Johnson going home with a throw or a successfully turned double play to end the inning and an RBI can be awarded. I believe if Johnson had thrown home and his throw had been errant, there would not have been an RBI.

    If there were two outs, I believe you would be correct.

  13. Um… The Cubs didn’t exactly give away Choi. Heck, if they’d have had Derrek Lee, the Braves would probably be modeling NL Champs rings at the least. (They would have beaten the Cubs, in my opinion, with anyone but Fick playing first.)

  14. There are a lot of guys available. Heck last year Manny Ramirez was available for 50,000 or what ever the waiver claim price is.

    nyb has the right idea. 1st base is one of those positions that you can get major league average talent cheaply if you look hard enough. I guess I feel good that the Braves have tried to resist the temptation to spend big bucks on a 1B but at the same time I sure am hoping that they recognize that LaRoche/Franco isn’t going to cut it if they truly want to contend.

  15. Unfortunately, they didn’t know that LaRoche was going to struggle, just like they didn’t know Derosion was going to stink it up.

    Even though Milton’s last 2 starts against the Braves he gave up a total of 2 runs, he has had 2 starts in the past month where he gave up more than 6 earned runs (and actually won both). I don’t believe he will have the same fortune against the Braves this time around.

  16. I’ll be the first to admit that LaRoche isn’t tearing the cover off the ball, but let’s not forget what he brings to the team defensively. He’s already proven a few times since his return that he can save us some runs. One reason why the Braves have pulled within striking distance of first place is because they’ve cut down on errors. The same philosophy that brought Pendleton and Bream to the team in ’91 can also work this year, I think. LaRoche will give Julio a break and buy the Braves some time until they can find a more reliable bat.

  17. Tim Kurkjian has a story on ESPN.com hinting that the Braves won’t be sellers at the deadline.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=kurkjian_tim&id=1835544

    The gist: Schuerholz takes umbrage at rumors that the Braves will trade any of their pending free agents, but doesn’t really offer any indication of what the team might do to improve.

    I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks if this is just lip service, but at least Johnny S. isn’t raving about this team’s “chemistry” …

  18. David, good point about cutting down on errors. I wish Horacio had been pitching throughout our less error-prone stretch to enjoy it. Maybe his low ERA can translate into some solid wins when he gets back.

  19. The LaRoche decision made sense at the time; he was a prospect and they thought he was ready. At some point, you have to use the farm system, especially if you are short of money. LaRoche doesn’t look lost to me; he just looks like he hasn’t quite adjusted to major league pitching yet. It’s dangerous to give up on guys too early, especially when you have tight budgets. That said, I agree he hasn’t brought much offense to the table and they really need at least one more bat, especially a right handed bat given how bad they are against lefties. The other guys are all good in hindsight-who would have thought David Ortiz would be an MVP candidate. Sometimes its just luck.

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