Atlanta 2, Washington 1

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The Braves needed Cristian Guzman to make a two-out, two-run error in the bottom of the ninth to win the game or even to score, but I’ll take it. So will the Braves. After loading the bases with nobody out, Jordan and LaRoche predictably struck out and then Mondesi grounded to short. But on a wet track Guzman threw the ball away and Giles and Chipper scored.

John Smoltz still can’t get a win even though over the last three games he’s given up a total of five runs in 21 1/3 inning and struck out 28. John, if you want to take some hostages, I understand, and I’m here to help. I’ll hold the video cameras while you put a slider to their heads. Smoltz today gave up five hits, one run, no walks, and got five strikeouts in seven innings. So chalk up a no-decision! Reitsma threw a perfect eighth to get the win; Kolb, finally throwing strikes (though he was still high in the zone from what I can tell) a perfect ninth with a strikeout to get a save.

Andruw, in the midst of a slump of Biblical proportions, didn’t get the start. He came in for defense in the ninth and made a sliding catch on the wet grass. (One thing about that field is that it doesn’t have any modern innovations and doesn’t dry like every other park in the majors.) The Braves were held to four singles and three walks. Marcus was 2-4, with Furcal and Estrada getting the other hits. The Braves’ 4-8 hitters end the game hitting .217, .211, .222, .218, and .200. Meanwhile, Kelly Johnson is hitting .340/.431/.600, James Jurries is hitting .316/.372/.763, and Brayan Pena is hitting .367/.441/.400. I’m just pointing it out.

The Braves finally return to Atlanta; maybe they left their swings there. I hope so. It’s a short homestand, three games with the Phillies with Hampton and Myers starting it off. Thanks to Dan; I should be in the house for the forseeable future.

23 thoughts on “Atlanta 2, Washington 1”

  1. I’m pretty sure that Smoltzie had 8 Ks today. I was watching the beginning of the game in a bar on my lunch hour, and he had 5 strikeouts the first time through the order. Good ole’ Vinny was K-riffic.

  2. Do we have any stats of how many innings the Braves have season had where the total score for the game at the end of the inning is -0-??? Just curious.

  3. Smoltz did have eight Ks.

    Kelly Johnson should get the call soon if there’s any justice. Knowing the Braves, though, they’ll send Langerhans down and put Johnson in the pinch-hitting role.

  4. Actually, according to the official boxscore on mlb.com, Smoltz had nine k’s.

    I’m with Mac in that at this point I’ll take a win any way we can get it. If nothing else we saved Smoltz the L and may have gotten a little bit of a psychological boost that will hopefully carry over to the homestand, where our bats finally wake up from the coma that they’ve been in. If I recall correctly, most of Myers’ problems in the past have been psychological, so hopefully we can get to him early and get inside of his head.

  5. I expected to have one more day in the driver’s seat, but since Mac made it back early, I’ll give my short version of the opening …

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/ATL/2004_sched.shtml

    Last year, the Braves didn’t go over .500 to stay until July 4th. On paper, I don’t like our team. But Cox and Crew have succeeded beyond the on-paper expectations year in and year out.

  6. It looks like in some cases, Bobby is trying to find the right mix for all of the new players he has this year.

    The run support that Smoltz and Hudson has received is horrible. In Smoltz’s 4 starts, he has received a total of 2 runs of support (the 2 today don’t count for him since he was out of the game at that point). Let’s hope the Phillies’ confidence was totally destroyed by the Mets and Marlins and the Braves’ bats wake up.

  7. For those of us who have short memories:

    Braves records through 16 games since 2000:

    2000: 12-6
    2001: 8-8
    2002: 7-9
    2003: 8-8
    2004: 9-7
    2005: 8-8

  8. Thanks Jeff–that helps to put things into a comfortable perspective. I am also glad that Kolb came through; lets hope it will be habit forming.

  9. I understand about the Braves not really taking off until later in the season in recent years. In the past, though, seems like it was the pitching that let them down early (and came around later). I guess we can only hope that the bats come around (or that they get rid of the dead weight…)

  10. I think the road trip was about as good as we could have hoped with the slumping bats. We stole two game we should have lost. It could have been much worse. We are a Marlins starter or two going on the DL (which will happen) from being in first.

  11. did any1 else think that mondesi’s game winner could have been ruled a hit with a throwing error to let the 2nd run in. he did have to throw it from deep, after sliding, and standing in a lake. i understand that the second run could have went down as unearned, but i thought mondesi deserved an rbi. maybe i am way off.

  12. Johnson, Jurries, and Pena haven’t faced Martinez, Clemens, Lieber etc. etc. either. Our guys aren’t going to finish the season at .200, no reason to get worked up over that yet.

    As for Mondesi’s at bat, it was definitely an error. Not that it wasn’t a decent hit ball, but he could hav egot him at first with a good throw.

  13. We got lucky with the error. If Johnson had come off the bag and gotten the ball, preventing the second run, if not tagging Mondi before he got to the bag, we night be talking about a different outcome.

    It was neat to see that the puddle made the difference in this one. Especially after all the hemming and hawing by the umps. Guillen totally put his throwing hand in a big pile of muddy water bracing himself when he made the stop. You could see the excess flying off his hand when he threw the ball to first. No wonder it was off. In a modern stadium, with better drainage, it’s an out. This might be one to chalk up to the ball park.

  14. I was at the game and, yes, ryan c, I think you’re right–should have been a hit for Raul and an error on the throw. One of the Nats’ hits came on a similar play when Furcal, because of the terrible field conditions, didn’t have the footing to get anything on his throw to first.

    As for the field conditions, it started sprinkling ten minutes before the game and sprinkled, drizzled, or just plain rained for the entire game. But there were no delays except between innings when the not-very-experienced ground crew ran out to pour dry dirt onto the puddleds in the basepaths. Can’t remember ever seeing a major league game played under such lousy conditions. Smoltz looked great, but wasn’t throwing real hard–most of the fastballs were 90 or 91, occasionally 92. I thought this was probably because of the poor condition of the mound. But then Reitsma and Kolb both came in an threw harder. 93-94-95 on their fastballs (if you can believe the RFK radar). For not having played the whole game up till then and probably not being very warmed up (we were all getting hypothermia up in the stands) Andruw made a hell of a play on that ball in the bottom of the ninth. That was all Kolb needed to get the job done.

  15. This team, thus far, reminds me a lot of the 2001 edition of the Braves; a team that expended enormous numbers of at-bats on offensive sinkholes Rico Brogna, BJ Surhoff, Keith Lockhart, Wes Helms, and Ken Caminiti. Andruw also had his worst-ever full time season (.251/.312/.461) that year. The good news is that team still won the division; the bad news is they scored only 729 runs and won just 88 games. I’m not sure that will cut it this time.

  16. Where is the radar gun reading in RFK? I couldn’t find it last night.

    Grst: while Johnson and Marte haven’t faced Clemens or Lieber, as you say, they couldn’t do worse than Mondi and Jordan did against them, so I’m not sure that matters much. If you meant to imply that the pair will not have .600+ SLGs in the majors, point well taken; however, there is still a very good chance that one or both of them could outperform our current corner OF situation. They don’t need to hit for much to do that.

  17. Kyle–the radar readings are on a scoreboard behind home plate. At least they were today. I don’t think they’ve figured out how best to use all their scoreboards yet, or even how to update them during the games.

  18. Maybe the rules should be changed so that the pitcher wouldn’t be charged with a blown save if the game is won on an error. That was an ugly way to win for sure.

  19. I was at the game too, and I thought that maybe the radar gun was incorrect because it didn’t register more than 92 or 93 until Kolb came in. I thought Smoltz looked great and Kolb throws a lot harder than I realized. But Jordan is totally overmatched against right handers. I actually thought that Mondesi’s ball might have gone through for a clean hit on a dry field.

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