Houston 9 Atlanta 3

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap

You could see it coming. Wright shut the Astros out in the first two innings, and the Braves had a 1-0 lead. But Wright’s control was just a little off — maybe it was the ankle, who knows? — and the Braves stranded four in those two innings. In the second, they had gotten the first two on and Wright bunted them over, only to see Furcal strike out (as he seems to do a lot in these situations) and Giles then ground to third on the next pitch. On the pitch after that, Wright hung a fastball to the Immortal Brad Ausmus (who hit all of six homers this season playing his home games in a bandbox) and it was tied. By the end of the half-inning, Wright had given up another homer and three more runs and the rout was on.

The Astros scored three more in the fifth to blow the game open, with Gryboski coming in to add the last of them after Wright was chased on the Astros’ third homer. They got one more, off Reitsma, in the ninth, and a run on an infield hit off of Cruz in the seventh.

Andruw was 2-3 with a walk and a homer. Furcal tripled and scored long after the game was decided. The Braves did get six walks, all in the first four innings, off of Clemens, only to strand them all. Garner let Clemens throw 117 pitches, which was just crazy considering the score unless he intends to hold Clemens out of a putative Game Four. Beltran left the game after getting hit by Cruz. I don’t know how serious it is.

65 percent chance of an Astro victory. Most likely outcome Astros in four.

23 thoughts on “Houston 9 Atlanta 3”

  1. The Braves announcers had mentioned that this team has stranded 12 runners on base on three other occassions in 1995, 2002 and 2003… It’s frustrating to see this team struggle and let pitchers off the hook… Furcal should concentrate on putting the ball in play… bunt, squeeze PUT PRESSURE ON AN ALREADY RATTLED CLEMENS TO MAKE A PLAY.. But it isn’t just Furcal, its the whole line-up.. Charles Thomas swinging on the first pitch isn’t good either…
    We need to get back to A-B-C baseball…and when we get away from that, we suffer…

  2. Well, regardless of how much one might have to say about the offense, the offense wasn’t the big problem today. 9 runs allowed is going to be hard for any offense to overcome, esp. against Clemens.

  3. Well…we did a very good job in getting on base, but the two-out hit never came, particularly in the first four innings. The only hitters who didn’t waste any runners was Andruw. If we got that two-out hit in one or two of those inning, it would be a totally different ballgame.

    But hey, we have lost game 1 for the last two years too, so it’s not like we are in unfamiliar territory! Hope third time will be a charm.

    Considering Clemens made 117 pitches today, I donít think itís likely that Clemens will pitch again on a three-day rest, which means we will face someone else besides Clemens and Oswalt for game 3 and 4. So, I still like our chances.

  4. Colin, I would agree with you, but only to a point. By leaving 9 men on in the first three innings, we completely changed the complexion of the contest.

    My seats were in the nosebleed section, so I don’t really KNOW, but it seemed that the Braves hitters were patient until runners got into scoring position and then started expanding the strikezone. Bad situational hitting. The Furcal K was like a knife.

    Every fan has particular favorites and disliked players. For me, the later is Furcal. First off, knowing first hand the potential harm, the two DUIs really bother me. But on the playing field, he drives me nuts. The swing for the fences mentality is crazy. Every non-bunt, he weight is rocking backward on the follow through, thus robbing him of at least a step towards first and fewer infield hits that a man with his speed should have. Argh.

    So with that caveat, let me say that I felt he just didn’t come to play this afternoon. On the post game show, I heard Pete’s call of the Kent double into the LF corner and him saying the ball was bobbled. I don’t know if anything was mentioned on the Bagwell shot into RCF that scored the go-ahead run, but Furcal muffed the relay there too.

    Fundamentals guys, fundamentals!

  5. However, the Braves offense is the problem because when a team scores runs, makes the game close, it puts pressure on the other team to make things happen which naturally affects their performance. Offensively and defensively. True, our pitching was lackluster but we should have sent Clemens to the moon. No excuses. The Braves had plenty of opportunities to hammer Roger and they did not. Clemens was begging to be put on the ropes but the Braves consistantly let him off. I’ve been a die-hard Braves fan for 27 years and I know from experience that this is their modus operandi in the post-season. The lesson to learn tonight is that if you don’t give up home-runs to the Astros then, basically, you have them beat. That is all they can really do compared to the Braves. Anyone see the kid they showed on ESPN with the Braves hat crying? That was me when I was 7 years old and the Braves would lose to the Dodgers. I am not pleased…Go Braves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Brian

  6. Brian, I always think Giles is our best clintch hitter. It’s disappointing that he couldn’t drive in Thomas and Andruw in the second inning…

  7. Look, guys, I agree that early opportunities miss change the way a game is playd. But it’s just bizarre for me to come in here and see everyone bitching about the offense when the pitching staff allowed _9_freaking_runs_. Jaret Wright imploded badly at the worst possible time. The bullpen added the the problems.

    We can go into the hypotheticals of missed opportunities all we want, but the result on the field is that today the pitching staff failed a hell of a lot more than the offense.

  8. Yes, but there’s a big difference between pitching with a 1-0 lead and a 2-0 or 3-0 lead. There’s every difference between pitching three runs behind and pitching in a tie game. (I mean, look how much more effective Clemens was once he got a comfortable lead and didn’t have to worry about a bad pitch changing the ballgame.) Even if Wright had been ineffective anyway, if the game had been close later they could have gotten it into a battle of middle relief, and the Astros’ relief after Lidge and maybe Qualls is still suspect.

  9. Hey Colin, I think it’s fair to say neither the offense or the pitching did a very good job. The main reason why more people are bitching about the offense more than the pitching is that we had oppurtunities to blow the game wide open in the first two innings before the trouble actually started.

  10. Read in an article on ESPN.com that Chipper may not play tomorrow. If Chipper really can’t go, do you think Cox will play Betemit or putting Giles at third with Green at second?

  11. Betemit, in the playoffs.. this can’t be happening.. we might as well let Travis smith start.

  12. Basically, you had a journeyman pitcher against a Hall of Famer. However you want to cut it, it was a mismatch. What really galls me about Wright is that he couldn’t even keep the team in the game pitching at a time that should favor the pitcher.

    It’s the same old thing with the offense; no clutch hitting, no one able to raise their game. That’s really the problem with the Braves in post-season; they simply can’t raise their game to another level like their opponents do. There are a lot of players on this team that make big money, but really aren’t the kind of players you win championships with–Furcal obviously comes to mind, but what has Chipper done lately in the playoffs (I realize, however, that today he was hurt.) It’s easy to overstate this, but when you look at someone like Derek Jeter in the playoffs and compare him to the Braves, the contrast is pretty stark. There is not one player on the Braves that really shines in the post-season when it counts, not when they are behind by five or six runs.

    A lot of the problems this team has in the post-season exists during the regular season as well. For the last month, they have been leaving tons of runners on base. The Braves formula obviously works well during the season–beat up on bad teams and mediocre pitching, but they don’t see that in the playoffs. They are abysmal against good pitching. Until that changes, they have no chance to go anywhere.

  13. Let’s just take it easy folks. We’re allowed to give up at least two. Just as strike one doesn’t mean the batter is going to strike out, losing game 1 doesn’t mean the series is over.

    I loved our patience at the plate, but sometimes the runs just doen’t make it in. That is just the breaks, and there is very little skill involved in this. I’m looking forward to game two.

  14. I think it’s fair to say neither the offense or the pitching did a very good job

    Well, the offense scored about 2 runs less than it did in a typical game this year, the pitching allowed over 5 runs more than it did on average this year. Clearly the pitching did a hell of a lot worse than the offense.

  15. I feel much better about the Braves’ chances knowing that Julio Franco will be in today’s line-up. Aside from Brian Jordan, who was perhaps the best clutch hitter the Braves have had in recent years, Julio has risen to the occasion when the Braves needed a big hit. Estrada has been clutch with men in scoring position, but he seems to have slowed down lately. Oswalt will be tough to hit, but the Braves will redeem themselves this afternoon. Go Braves!

  16. One positive to take from game 1: Andruw was 2-3 with a homer and a walk. Maybe he’ll be the spark this team so desperately needs to catch on fire.

  17. Hacktastic! Do the Braves have a team meeting in the day between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs where they drill it into the player’s heads that with men on base you must swing at the first pitch? It’s the same story every damn year. Men on? Swing at the first pitch and end the inning. Drives me nuts. Charles Thomas was the worst. Clemens walks the bases loaded and Thomas swings at the first pitch which was a foot outside. Unbelievable. Please give us Eli Marrero. Please.

    Chipper’s hand looks worse than I thought, I don’t think he’ll be able to contribute anything meaningful this series. Hopefully Andruw will hit cleanup.

    And for you conspiracy theorists out there, Tim McClelland. Wright has had trouble with McClelland before (see this game) so he was perhaps the worst umpire we could have gotten for Game 1. And of course there he was out there squeezing Jaret at every turn.

    I really hope we win today so this is at least competitive.

  18. I looked back at Jaret’s worst games this season. Of 7 games in which he allowed 5 runs or more, McClelland was behind the plate for three (and was in the field for another). I haven’t heard anything untoward about his umpiring yesterday, but it’s possible his being there got inside Jaret’s head, leading him to throw more meatballs to avoid walking guys.

  19. Joe Simpson had nothing good to say about McClelland during yesterday’s radio broadcast. He spoke of him in the same irreverent tones one reserves for the likes of Eric Gregg or C. B. Bucknor. For one thing, Simpson objected to how long McClelland waits before he makes a call. There’s more than a touch of narcissim there, Simpson suggested. And the consensus among the broadcasters was that McClelland is definitely a hitter’s umpire because of his shrinking strike zone.

  20. I haven’t heard anything untoward about his umpiring yesterday

    Then let me be the first. The strikezone was stupidly tight yesterday. Clemens didn’t walk six because he was wild, he walked six because he couldn’t figure out where McClelland’s moving, round strike zone was. Unfortuantely, the Braves kept letting him off the hook by swinging early in the count. The Astros were smarter and just wait until Wright had to groove one.

    As my friend said while we were watching the game yesterday: “That’s a first. Cruz just walked Clemens of five strikes”.

  21. Here’s my grasping-at-straws omen:

    Last time the Braves made it to the World Series (99) they played Houston in the NLDS, and lost game 1 at home, 6-1. They went on to win the series 3-1.

  22. Raul….. Freakin’ … Chavez.. He of zero regular season HRs. Someone put a bullet in me, I can’t take it anymore.

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