San Diego 3, Atlanta 2

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Braves at Padres

Let’s face it, Dan Kolb has moved well beyond “shaky closer” status and all the way to “just plain bad pitcher”. He picked up what, remarkably, was only his third blown save of the year last night when he came in with a 2-1 lead and immediately walked Ryan Klesko on four pitches, gave up a hit-and-run single to Brian Giles after actually getting ahead of him, got one out on a chopper to score the tying run, then a single, intentional walk, single, game.

Yet again, a terrific outing by John Smoltz was wasted, this time eight innings of one-run ball. He took a shutout to the eighth before giving up his lone run. For the game, he allowed but four hits and two walks, striking out five.

Chipper missed the game with a muscle sprain and is, of course, day to day. Wilson Betemit filled in more than admirably, going 2-4 — the only Brave with more than one hit — and making a genuinely fine defensive play on a swinging bunt. He hit probably the second and third hardest balls of the night for the Braves, a liner that hit the first base bag for an “infield single” that could have been a double, and a long drive to center that might have gone out of most parks but was just a noisy out. Andruw hit the hardest, a rocket to left for his tenth homer, but popped up in his other three at-bats.

Raul Mondesi failed to get Estrada from second to third with none out in the ninth and a 2-1 lead. Afterwards, not only were the announcers critical but the director was calling him out, putting him on screen whenever the subject of just having a one-run lead came up. The theory some have had in comments that the broadcasters want Mondesi gone is looking pretty good. He did draw a walk and score the game’s first run, but the rest of the time was pretty much himself.

The Braves try to salvage something from this series today, but Ramirez versus Adam Eaton isn’t nearly the mismatch the first two games looked like. At least the Marlins and Natspos lost.

18 thoughts on “San Diego 3, Atlanta 2”

  1. Questions about game on May 17

    Top of 9th

    -Why not replace Johnny Estrada with a pinch runner someone like Pete Orr. Eddie Perez could catch the bottom of the 9th, is his shoulder bothering him so much that he can not catch one inning?

    -Why not pinch hit for Mondesi with Langerhans to get a righty/lefty match up?

    -Why not give Mondesi (or what should have been a pinch hitter) the bunt sign? With Betemits deep fly ball on the next play, that gets the runner home and Braves should be leading 3 – 1.

    -If your 8th batter in the line-up is too good to bunt, then who should be bunting? I am inclined to think a sacrifice by Mondesi might boost his confidence by giving him a sense of offensive contribution.

    Bottom of 9th

    -Johnny Estrada and Dan Kolb appear to have communication problems. Is the problem Johnny Estrada and the way he calls or sets up for pitches?

    -Why was Sosa warming up in the bull pen if you were not going to bring him into the game?

    -As Joe Simpson noted, Mr. Kolb did a terrible job of holding Klesko on at first base. That allowed him to go from first to third rather easily.

    -I cant imagine Mr. Kolb is very popular in the club house right now. Smoltz, Hudson and Hampton all dream of getting to the hall of fame and blowing saves does not help their WIN totals.

    -Theories for Dan Kolbs possible meltdown
    a) He is a total drunk and he boozes every night
    b) He is a bum, anyway
    c) He was on steroids in prior years
    d) The closer role of the braves is too big shoes to fill

    -It appears Bobby and Leo want to teach Kolb a lesson by allowing him to crap his own bed. Maybe there is something going on where they want to show the world and John S that Kolb sucks and the scout who made the recommendation is a bum, too.

    -I would teach Mr. Kolb a lesson by pulling him out of the game after he gave up the first walk to Klesko.

    -I wish Chipper Jones was playing last night. The TV cameras always do a good job of showing Chippers glares to the dugout when Kolb starts his meltdowns.

    -I have never been a fan of walking the bases loaded to get a force at the plate. It just leaves zero room for error.

    -Bobby was quoted as saying that his mechanics are fine, I dont know what the problem is. Wake up Dan Kolb is a bum and he does not have what it takes to be a closer in Atlanta.

    -How many more times do we have to see Mr. Kolb lose a game? Lets envision this scenario Game 7 between Braves and Cardinals in NLCS. Braves are on the road. Braves lead by one run. Puljos, Edmounds and Rolen are due up in the bottom of the 9th. Even if Kolb does not blow another save the entire season, wont the blown save factor be in the back of your mind? If it is in the back of your mind, dont you think it will be in his mind too?

  2. I didn’t get to see the game last night, since DC, like most of the country, doesn’t get TS. So I wound up watching the Orioles game, which was much better. They made up an 8-2 deficit and won 12-8 (granted, against KC, but whatever). I can’t even imagine the Braves doing that. I didn’t even need to see the game, it was beyond predictable: anemic offense, small lead blown by the Dank Lob in the 9th. Something has to be done. It’s almost a certainty now that when he comes into a game, it’s as good as lost. Logic tells me that KolBB’s experimental period is over. I know it’s necessary to accommodate Smoltz, but it’s costing the team wins, and a lot of them.
    On another note, happy birthday, Marcus, and let’s try to avoid any catastrophic injuries this year!

  3. I was at the game last night and what a bummer. In the 9th, guy next to me asked who the Braves closer was. I told him and then said we’re in for a real adventure as he will likely not throw a strike for the first 7-8 pitches. Bingo! I hate that feeling of sitting there watching everyone celebrate. Cox should have pulled him after the walk so they had a chance. Seemed liked Kolb was warming up forever, Sosa too. Don’t know what the point of that was. Some of Cox’s decisions are just beyond me. Oh well, back this afternoon for the day game. Hope they don’t get swept or it will be a real earful.

  4. In the AJC, Damn Kolb says, “leadoff walks don’t bother me”. I say that’s reason enough to knock him out of the closer spot…and hopefully, the team.

  5. I am now in favor of what I partially suggested in jest yesterday: Trade the scuffling Furcal for a corner outfielder…

  6. Since (1) Furcal is a free agent, (2) Betemit has been doing rather well, and (3) Mondesi and Jordan stink; I wouldn’t be surprised if Furcal isn’t with the team after the All-Star Break. He’s a good ball-player but maybe the chnage-of-scenery scenario applies here. Trade Furcal for a corner outfielder + Betemit at SS + Langerhans/Jordan in left? Looks pretty good to me.

  7. For Jenny in DC, I signed up a month ago for the mlb.tv since I dont always have access to the Turner South/Fox Sports games. It is great! All you need is a high speed connection. Try it for a month @$14.

    Corner outfielders are a dime a dozen. Shutdown Closers are not. We have to sacrifice Smoltz for starter since Power starting pitching has proven to rule the roost in post season. (i.e. what Kerry Wood did to the braves in NLDS two years ago).

    I wish they traded anyone else besides Charles Thomas. He is the dimension this team needs. He would have bunted Estrada over last night.

    Agree with Jenny – Kolb experiment is over. Reitsma should be given a chance. He has blown some games recently but he can deliver. Provided he was not on the juice last year, too.

    I really believe the relievers were the “sneak” roid users and these bullpen meltdowns are the result of the new MLB roid policy.

  8. Ok, I’ve had it. Get rid of the bum. I don’t want him on my team anymore.
    I know you’ve all been waiting for this insightful analysis of mine.

    More seriously: Rip, I agree with you about Langerhans. I was wondering the same thing. I know that pretty much every aspect of Mondesi’s offense has been pathetic so far, but his hitting against righties has almost been beyond pathetic: .192/.220/.327. That run at second was obviously huge. And while neither Langerhans nor Orr have set the world on fire against righties, they look like Ted Williams compared to Mondesi (who doesn’t?). And even if they don’t get a hit, they’re far more likely to hit the ball to the right side and advance the runner. At that point, Bobby hadn’t used a single player off the bench. Since Bobby himself doesn’t appear to be overly confident in Mondesi, I really don’t get it.

  9. I’m sure it’s still too early in the season for the team I’m about to mention to officially signal panic/rebuilding mode…but is it crazy to hope the Braves can get Wagner from the Phillies? Since they’re in the division, I’m sure it would be unlikely that the Braves would trade directly with Philly – but maybe JS could swing it by bringing another team in w/ a 3-way deal. Re: outfielders – are there any good options out there? I know that Huff’s name has been thrown around, but 1) Lamar is known for exorbitant demands and 2) is he the answer we’re looking for? I mean, he’s obviously head-and-shoulders about the mighty mites we have running out there now (BJ/RM) but it’s not like we’re getting Albert Pujols or Miguel Cabrera. Don’t get me wrong – Huff’s a solid major leaguer (comps include Jim Edmonds & Larry Walker, as well as Richard Hidalgo, Dmitri Young & Bobby Higginson), but he’s not a STAR.
    Wagner, OTOH, could solidify the pen (assuming he stays healthy – there is some risk if they get him), and no doubt we’d have to give up serious talent to get him. Then you give Langerhans more PT & let BJ/RM fight it out until Marte arrives. Or something…
    LaRoche has been playing well too. Kind of a shame that none of the 3 (Laroche/Chipper/Marte) is comfortable in the OF, because 1b is the spot that people talk about moving players to in order to accommodate others, but it’s full already. Kind of like the problems the Twins have with all their hitters (1b/DH types). The BP interview with JS was interesting – he doesn’t really give anything away (as far as plans), but you know he’s been keeping track of things and mulling what to do.
    As long as the Braves are not falling out of the race, Braves management keeps a steady hand. They don’t make moves out of panic (like I would be tempted to do after seeing Kolb continually struggling) – they do understand the marathon mentality…

  10. There was a shot of Mazzone rolling his eyes after the third straight ball that was priceless. Then a pitch or two later they showed him grabbing for the phone to get Sosa warmed up.

    I have to imagine that Leo’s talk with 790 tomorrow will be pretty interesting.

  11. To clarify: my 1st sentence above (talking about the team who probably is not going to announce rebuilding) was talking about the Phillies potential to pack it in early (not the Braves). I’ve seen Wagner’s name mentioned (in talks about guys who may be unloaded by their team once they fall out of contention) by guys like Gammons or Rosenthal, but am not saying I’ve heard anything that makes me think it likely – just that I wish it would (kinda like I thought last offseason that Randy Johnson should go to the Braves instead of the Yankees – I can’t help being a homer like that)

  12. We’ve talked earlier about the Braves liking to take a look at what they’ve got after 40 games. Tonight will be game #40.
    I hate to use the terms “what I know” because they “know” a lot more than I do about baseball. But what I “see”:
    1)Mondesi is through; he won’t even give himself up to move a runner over.
    2)KolBB is no answer. The margin for error this year is too fine to risk him getting the ball.
    3)Furcal is gagging during a contract season. The braves deserve better. But who’d take him?

  13. Kolb has spent the better part of two years successfully getting big league hitters to ground a hard sinker to short or second base…hitters have finally figured out that pitch is a ball when it crosses the plate, therefore they don’t swing at it anymore. Stick a fork in him, he is DONE.

  14. I’m willing to give Furcal some more time before I declare him in the toilet. Yes, he’s hitting terribly and his OBP is probably lower than Hampton’s, but he’s not an unqualified disaster. Dank Lob is an unqualified disaster. Furcal’s very good defensively (it just looks like he’s not because when he makes an error, it’s outrageous, but you are not going to find an arm like his in the majors) and I’m still convinced, maybe stupidly, that his offense will improve. I mean, the guy is not as bad of a hitter as he’s showing right now. Maybe he needs to be bounced around the lineup or sat down for a few games or something, but I don’t think he’ll stay at .228 all year. Something’s just not clicking right now. That being said, I think he’ll probably be gone next year. He’s going to want more money than he’s demonstrated his value is this year and his personal problems are an added aversion (although if the O’s can put up with crappy pitching, a DUI, and two drunken barfights including punching a judge from Sidney Ponson in one winter, what’s Furcal’s problem again?). But I don’t think he’ll be traded in the middle of the year. Because it won’t just be the shortstop position that’s affected, what do you think it’ll do to Marcus up the middle? These guys have been a pair there for 2 or 3 years now. I don’t think they want to throw that off in the second half of the season. This may not be a big enough concern to be valid, but it’s something to throw out there.
    Free KolBB! But not from the minors. From our team! I think we need to just dump him. What would we get in a trade, a bat boy? If Leo can’t fix him, no one can. Experiment with Reitsma, and if that doesn’t work (which I don’t think it will), go fishing for somebody else. They both give me spasms whenever they come into a game with a lead less than 5 runs.
    Notice how good Milwaukee is this year? At least for now? Any connection?

  15. I agree with Jenny on Furcal. I don’t see it happening anyway, mostly because trading an established player in the middle of the year is not something I can see the Braves doing. But, even if they would, I don’t think it makes a lot of sense. You would have to find a contending team that both needs a shortstop AND would be willing to give an established player in return (almost certainly an outfielder). I can’t even think of a contending team in need of a shortstop, much less one meeting both criteria. And I don’t think there’s any reason to give up on Furcal anyway. He’s been a good player, although not nearly as great as he appeared to be in his rookie year (which was somewhat misleading in itself because he was really nothing more than decent against right-handers, if I recall correctly). I don’t think there’s any reason to believe he won’t have value this year, in spite of his struggles so far. I hate him now, but I don’t want him gone. He will almost certainly walk, and Atlanta will get draft picks in return. Which isn’t a bad deal. The Braves can draft more trade bait, or they can offset the signing of a free agent who’s been offered arbitration.

    As for Kolb. Well, hell, who knows. Bobby is SO stubborn with relievers sometimes that it wouldn’t surprise me if he kept sending him out there. My guess is that they aren’t particularly interested in elevating Reitsma. Fine with me, he’s got plenty of value right where he is, assuming he isn’t falling apart again. The guy I’d like to see get a shot is Sosa. And I actually find it a little more likely than Reitsma, because it would be less upsetting to the structure of the bullpen (right or wrong, I think this is important to Bobby and Co.). Maybe Kolb can be rehabbed in some lopsided games. I don’t see them dumping them, it’s going to be enough of an ego blow when they have to dump Mondesi.

  16. I think rehabbing KolBB would be a waste. We don’t have the wins to expend necesary to rehab him in the majors and we never get a big enough lead for it to be comfortable sending him in, besides maybe that 16-0 game last week. And the atmosphere when you’re way ahead is totally different from when you’re just barely in the lead, which is where a closer is supposed to come in. If we have a 20-4 lead, let Mondesi pitch or something (uhhhhhh. .). Forget KolBB. He loses games, he destroys the dugout, and sooner or later, maybe even currently, it’s going to cause problems in the locker room. I agree about Sosa, though.

  17. I’d like to see Kolb out of the closer’s role as well (and it looks as though he is gone), but I don’t think Sosa will be any better. The guy’s control is just as bad. I realize he throws hard but so have a lot of pitchers who have had little-to-no success (Matt Anderson says “Hi” from Toledo). I guess them giving Bernero a shot is okay though I suspect he’ll flame out. Try Reitsma as well. Sosa should appear as little as possible, IMO.

  18. What makes anyone think that the Braves are going to trade for someone like Wagner? Have you heard of a little thing called MONEY and that Time Warner won’t spend it? I think it’s highly unrealistic that they would do that and, besides that, it’s awfully early to throw in the towel.

    As for Furcal, who in their right mind would give up anything for a guy in his free agent year who is struggling? I suspect part of his problem is that he is playing for a contract and is pressing.

    I am afraid, given the financial constraints, that this is pretty much the team unless they decide to give young guys a shot. But, let’s not lose perspective–they are in first place and while they are having a bad road trip, they are much better off than last year. Having said that, I always thought the predictions of the Braves winning the World Series were a bit overblown given the lack of offense and mediocre bullpen. Unfortunately, I think this is what we have and it might be ok to get us to the playoffs and maybe even win the division, but I don’t see much more than that.

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