Philadelphia 2, Atlanta 1

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JOHN SMOLTZ
C/O ATLANTA BRAVES
PO BOX 4064
ATLANTA GA 30302

John is now 0-3 on the year despite pitching gems in his last two games; the Braves have scored a grand total of two runs in his three starts. This time, they gave him a 1-0 lead like last time, and this time he gave up two runs, just like last time. It’s probably all Andruw’s fault. (He went 0-4 and is 0-9 in the series. Clearly, time to panic.)

The Braves got nine hits off of Jon Lieber and Billy Wagner, but no homers, only two doubles, and no walks. I’ve said it before; you can’t win if all you do is hit singles. It just doesn’t work. The Braves did get two hits off of Wagner and thanks to a wild pitch had runners second and third with two out in the ninth, but Jordan lined out, Chase Utley, the Braves-killer, making a diving stop. Jordan did drive in the Braves’ only run. Mondesi and Chipper had two hits each.

Thanks to Creg for filling in and doing a great job of it, too. The rubber game tomorrow sees Hampton against Brett Myers. It’s an ESPN Sunday Night game. The current Braves hitters who have faced Myers have hit .346/.382/.615 against him, so he’ll probably throw a two-hitter.

24 thoughts on “Philadelphia 2, Atlanta 1”

  1. So here’s my question. Does anyone else think that Chipper should have tagged up and moved to second on Estrada’s fly to deep center? No, this is not hindsight bias: as the ball was in the air I said, “Chipper, I hope you’re tagging.”

  2. He probably should have. But if you watched the game live (and I suppose you did), you could see Chipper scrambling to get back to first. Apparently, he thought the ball would get over Lofton’s head. Not an excuse I suppose, but probably the reason.

  3. I also thought/hoped Chipper should have tagged up on Estrada’s fly to center. It was certainly deep enough, especially with Lofton’s arm, and Lofton was tracking it all the way. Alas, woulda, shoulda, coulda. Let’s hope we get some hits tomorrow.

    Clearly it’s time to panic about Andruw’s lack of production. In fact, I started pulling out my hair whenever he batted today, no…wait…it’s too late for me to do that.

  4. Well, it’s not a coincidence that our “ace” starter is not getting much run support…as we are also facing everyones ace while he’s pitching. This will lessen in the coming weeks as off time starts staggering the matchups more.

    To Jordans credit he had two hard hit outs. That one in the 9th off Wagner particularly hurt.

    As for hindsight judgements, I actually look back at Furcal getting thrown out stealing as a big one. He had such a horrible jump, if he hadn’t of tried to steal, or stopped after that bad jump, he might have scored that inning (I don’t remember exactly what happened next so I can’t say for sure).

  5. They showed Bobby Cox talking to the umpire about Lieber stopping twice before delivering. It was a good pickup by Don Sutton, and probably did factor in Furcal getting thrown out.

    It was a gut wrenching loss. I still don’t know how Utley got to that ball.

  6. I was at the game, and half the crowd didn’t cheer Utley’s grab because they were too busy burying thier faces in despair. A heartbreaker for Smoltz. Also, Mondesi marred his performance by that pathetic steal attempt. It was if he knew it was a bad idea half way through and slowed down for the dive. The crowd laughed at him. Fucal’s CS was a very close call.

  7. I disagree and say that Chipper should not have tagged. If that ball gets over Lofton’s head and Chipper is tagging up, that means he doesn’t score on a 400 foot double, and we’d be lambasting him for that.

  8. “Mondesi’s failed steal was actually a failed hit-and-run with Smoltz.”

    Ah. In that case, maybe try that play with someone who can actually run. He looked painfully slow.

  9. I knew it was over when Jordan came to the plate. He should have steped into one and took it for the team. To quote Crash Davis “(He) couldn’t hit water if he (the word we use to say when Martin would come in the game) boat.”

  10. Jordan had two strikes on him, I think, but he managed to hit the ball up the middle, forcing Utley to make a great play to prevent one, if not two, runs from scoring. Jordan came through in the clutch–he hit the ball in the right place–so all you can do is tip your hat to Utley, who’s beat the Braves on more than one occasion. The Braves had other opportunities. Does anyone know how many Braves were left on base?

  11. smitty, did u watch the game? if utley doesnt make that great play,we are commending jordan. i disagree with your statement. he IS starting to hit the ball.

  12. I agree with ryan c. You can’t criticize Jordan on that–he did what he was supposed to. I thought it was a great at bat as was Julio Franco’s. The Braves hit in bad luck again–it happens over the course of the season.

    I heard one of the dumbest comments in history from Steve Phillips on “Baseball Tonight.” He was saying the Braves needed to get Smoltz a win or he would lose his confidence, implying that this would cause Smoltz to go in the dumper. How stupid is that!? What the Braves need to get Smoltz is some runs. He ‘s not going to lose his confidence from losing a couple of 2-1 games. The same crew of baseball geniuses was talking about Smolt losing his stuff late in games because he gave up the winning runs late in both games. Well, he’s not 27 so he probably did lose something like most pitchers, but if the Braves had scored some runs, it wouldn’t have mattered. You can’t seriously expect him to win 1-0 all the time, especially against good hitting teams. This isn’t 1968. Another thing that annoyed me on Baseball Tonight–to prove the point that the had lost his stuff they showed both of his bad pitches in the inning; Rollins’ home run and Utley’s hit. But they didn’t show him striking out Thome on three of the nastiest pitches you will ever see or getting Burrell to pop up. Talk about selective editing. It’s a pleasure to watch Smoltz pitch–unfortunately, he lost his command on a few pitches in the 7th and it cost him. The two walks were what really killed him, but if Smoltz is all the Braves have to worry about, they’re in pretty good shape.

  13. Jordan hasn’t hit anything this season other than the slam. Utley did make a nice play, I just don’t think Jordan can cut it anymore. I hope he proves me wrong.

    Steve Phillips is an idiot. Ask any Met fan.

  14. I don’t want to sound like Terence Moore, Jr., but I think Jordan will earn his keep in the end. Sure, he’s hit into a couple of rally-killing double plays, but he has come across with some big hits (a slam and a bases-clearing double). What I think is being overlooked, however, is his value in left field. Friday night, I believe it was, he played a carom properly to hold the runner (I forget who it was) to a long single instead of letting him leg out a double. Just a loud single, nothing more. It’s also important to remember that Jordan, like Mondesi, didn’t get too many at-bats last year, so it might take him longer to come around.

  15. I should add that the double scored three runs, and Jordan was smart enough to stay in a rundown until the third Brave crossed the plate.

  16. Jordan had two hard hit outs in the game, and has hit more than the slam. He’s not performing at a very good level at the moment, but from the indications I see he is going to be just fine. Mondesi’s swing, on the other hand, is very questionable to me, and the two HR day did little to make me feel better. But he needs more time to know for sure.

  17. Mondi had several good at bats yesterday. I liked Julio getting in his face in spanish, basically saying, “I told you so. If you do what I say, you’ll hit better.” Tell him, Julio!

  18. I think it’s obvious that Smoltz has labored after a while in both his last two starts. Part of the blame for this must be placed on our offense. In the Mets game, Smoltz threw 105 pitches through 7 innings to Pedro’s 86. In yesterday’s game, Smoltz threw 107 pitches through 7 innings to Lieber’s 69. Fifteen pitches per inning isn’t extraordinarily high, but the offense is only seeing 11 pitches per inning, which means Smoltz gets less rest between innings. Like MWS said, he’s not 27 anymore — a few extended rallies might help him recharge his batteries.

  19. Mac, Estrada ruined your prediction. It’s a three-hitter right now instead of a two-hitter…

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