Pittsburgh 3 Atlanta 1

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Braves at Pirates

I’m afraid I might start throwing things. Shut out until two out in the ninth. Another terrible umpire’s call costing the Braves a run, maybe more. Adam Bernero pitching a 1-2-3 eighth with a strikeout — thank God we saved him from pitching in the Washington series! Chipper in a terrible funk, striking out three times.

Tim Hudson was okay, seven innings, three runs, just like Ramirez yesterday. He gave up six hits, just one for extra bases, but walked three. Not great, but good enough to win if you get any offense. The Braves had four hits while he was in the game.

Good news in that Kelly Johnson finally got a hit, a hard infield single in the eighth. Wilson Betemit continues to be red-hot, going 2-4; Pete Orr, playing for Marcus (routine day off) was 2-5. Other than the ersatz double-play combination, the Braves were 5-27. Their only run came on Orr’s two-strike, two-out single in the ninth, scoring Langerhans, but Johnson flew out to end it.

The Marlins and Natspos are tied late. I hope it goes eighteen innings and Jose Guillen has to pitch. The Phillies and Mets were rained out. Davies versus Mark Redman tomorrow. We’ll also probably find out if Hampton can go Sunday or if Smoltz will start on three days’ rest. I don’t panic, normally, but they have to turn this around soon or things could snowball.

28 thoughts on “Pittsburgh 3 Atlanta 1”

  1. We need to figure out a way to get Andy Marte in the lineup. The Braves need a spark. Give him a first baseman’s mitt vs lefties have him platoon with KJ in left. This offense is DOA….and I agree with Mac, I’m getting sick too.

  2. “Chipper in a terrible funk, striking out three times.”

    Chipper is limping, and his injury is clearly affecting his swing.

    If Furcal wasn’t out hurt, Betemit would probably be giving Chipper some rest. If Furcal’s shoulder continues to keep him out of the lineup, they may have to put someone on the DL and call up Marte.

  3. For the rest of the country that doesn’t get UPN20/MASN, the Nats just won on a cheap sac fly with the bases loaded in the 11th. The throw was 10 feet off home plate. So the Braves are still tied for first and out in front by half a game.

    I can’t take much more of this. We don’t deserve first place. I’m usually okay if either the Braves or the O’s win, but they both lost to sub-par teams (O’s lost to Tigers) and the only thing keeping me going today is the knowledge that Brian Roberts did NOT tear his rotator cuff. Thank God for small favors, anyway.

    If it’s not our pitching, it’s our offense. People keep saying this is not as bad as last year, and to that, I say, no, you’re right. It’s worse. We are in first courtesy of a weak division that has 1.5 games spread between 5 teams. Our bullpen could not get an out on my mom. Our offense could not hit a beach ball. Last year we had the potential and were just underachieving. This year, I’m not sure we have the potential. Our lineup is full of unproven minor league talent who will probably be very good in the future (like, 3 months or more when it’s too late) but are hurting us right now. The veterans we do have are either just way too old to perform the way we need them to (Jordan, Franco a lot as well) or not producing the way they should (Chipper, Andruw, Marcus, Raffy, LaRoche, Estrada). This last group is our potential, but it is rare that they are all in the same lineup and they can’t seem to produce all at once and usually do it in groups of one or perhaps two. I don’t need to say anything about our bullpen. The topic’s been beat to death and all I can say is, it’s been misused and it stinks. We are hogtied by financial restraints and our morale seems to be AWOL. I’m sorry to be so negative, but frankly, I can’t see a lot to be encouraged about right now.

    Maybe we will pull off a miracle like last year and get hot after the All-Star break. The offense will turn on. Chipper, Andruw and Marcus are proven hitters. Furcal, LaRoche, and Estrada I’m not so sure about, but when they produce, they make a big impact. But we cannot win with this bullpen. It is physically impossible. Something absolutely must be done immediately before this gets any worse. Long losing streaks are killer. The O’s went through a 12-game one last year that took them out of contention. We cannot afford the same. What will it take?

  4. I was out & didn’t listen to the game or watch it on my computer, but at least we can be encouraged by a quality Bernero performance–that gives me 4 relievers I can live with.

    Jenny, I also live in the Washington area and as a resident, I can’t ever root for a team owned by Peter Angelos…sorry, he’s pure evil. while I hate what the Nats did to my Braves, I will back them when they aren’t playing us.

    Just my 2 cents.

  5. Kelly Johnson could play third base for a game or two if Chipper needed the time off. More likely, though, Orr would. Maybe tomorrow.

  6. We need to sit Chipper. He is only playing becuase I think Bobby Cox is starting to panic. Can WB not play in the outfield? How hard could it really be? He is a big leaguer!

  7. Hockey may be dead, but with this offense I have a hockey state of mind. If we get down 3-0 the game is freaking over. It’s not that unexpected I guess, we started four rookies tonight. With that lineup we look like the fifth best team…in the division.

    I’m usually a huge Bobby supporter but the fact that he never uses is best arm in the pen (Sosa), and continues to hit his hottest hitter eighth (Betemit), makes me wonder if he’s gone off his medication.

  8. It is encouraging to see so many rookies from the Braves system given a chance…I hope all of them are here at the end of the season. But I doubt it

  9. Sosa is this year’s Juan Cruz – the guy they trade for in the spring so we fans can spend all year wondering why Cox doesn’t use him enough. As I’ve said before, I actually understand the Kolb and Gryboski things (I hate it with a passion, but I understand that it’s just Cox’s way). But I do not understand why Sosa seems to never be used in key situations. Maybe I’m wrong… maybe it just seems that way. But it seemed to be the same way with Cruz last year. Sosa has had some bad outings, and there are still some questions about his control, but he certainly seems to be grossly under-utilized.

  10. I am curious…does anyone think this could be kind of a racial thing?

    I don’t think Bobby is racist per say…he has never shown a tendency, openly, like that…but how do you explain the billion chances in a row for Gryboski & Kolb but no chance for Sosa? Or why did Keith Lockhart wear a Major League uniform for 4 years that said “Braves” on it?

    I mean, Jesse Garcia stunk and was completely useless but Lockhart was no better then Garcia?

    If I am starting to sound like Terrence Moore, I truly, truly apologize…Moore throws around anything racial he can possibly think of. Hell, Moore claimed it was RACIST that the Braves traded Brian Jordan back in 2002…even though he was replaced by Gary Sheffield!!!!

    I am just saying that there has to be a reasonable explanation for why he would continue to choose Kevin Gryboski or Dan Kolb over Jorge Sosa in KEY situations.

  11. I was hesitant to come out and say it…

    A friend and I have an ongoing to discussion about this. And I have to wonder, but more about Leo than Bobby. This seems to be specific to pitchers. Every oddity of position players, I think, can be explained by Bobby just falling in love with somebody (like Lockhart) and not being ready to trust the alternative (like Giles).

    I hate to even think about it, but there are things I can’t help but wonder about… Jorge Sosa now, Juan Cruz last year, Odalis Perez, Bruce Chen (debatable, I guess), even as far back as Marvin Freeman.

    Oh, and Terrence Moore is a complete and total idiot.

  12. I’ve been wondering for a couple of weeks now if it is possible that Bobby Cox isn’t in a slump himself? He seems, like a batter, to be guessing wrong (batting Betemit eighth; having Andruw down in the lineup when he’s cold and up in the lineup when he’s hot) on a great many matters. And, of course, there’s the whole bullpen management…

  13. Racist?!
    Utter nonsense! Are things really this bad?
    Bobby Hernandez. Anotonio Alfonseca, in his first Atlanta year. Dennis Martinez. Denny Neagle (who’s clearly from another planet).
    These guys got chances.
    As this division race begins to look like a sprint in September, let Bobby manage the arms.
    That’s the only race I hope we’ll discuss here.

  14. It’s just odd, but I don’t know. I don’t mean to make accusations, it’s just a question that I’ve had for a while. The thing about Hernandez, Alfonseca and Martinez (and Alejandro Pena and Ray King, for that matter) is that they were all “proven”. I’m talking about the guys where I assume Bobby is depending on Leo for the evaluations and suggestions as to how they should be used. Bobby has the final say, but you know he counts on Leo’s advice. He needs it less when the team acquires a veteran. I’m not one to jump on racism as a gut reaction to much of anything, although I won’t get into politics. It’s just that I can’t help but wonder if a pattern isn’t staring us right in the face. Not necessarily something overt and conscious, of course. I wouldn’t even suggest that without real evidence. I just wonder if maybe there isn’t at least some communication issue evident, and maybe Leo doesn’t have confidence in the guys he can’t relate to. If Leo isn’t confident, then Bobby won’t be either. I guess it strikes me as an odd thing, and I can’t help but wonder what might explain it.

    Good point about Neagle.

  15. Sosa, like Cruz before him, has plenty of talent, but he hasn’t yet learned how to harness it. Vasquez may also fit into this category. These pitchers’ inability to take command is the reason why they haven’t seen a lot of playing time as a Brave, not the fact that they are Latin American. Leo and Bobby are looking to the future, and, accordingly, perhaps they are guilty of being too cautious, but they certainly aren’t racists.

  16. Chen has been with more teams than Rickey Henderson. Were all the releases racially motivated? The Cubs had problems with Juan Cruz before the Braves did, and he certainly hasn’t done well in Oakland this year.

    Jorge Sosa has a load of talent, but needs to learn how to hit the strike zone. Even so, he’s made almost as many appearances as Kolb or Bernero, and actually is third in the bullpen in IP. It’s not like he’s rotting out there.

  17. I did say that Chen was arguable. Juan Cruz had issues before coming to Atlanta and has had them since leaving. But he was pretty effective last year, and at least appeared to be under-utilized. You can count appearances if you like, but I think it’s pretty clear that the situations that Sosa has been used in have generally been far less critical than those of Reitsma, Kolb and Bernero.

    Again, it just seems odd to me. A very realistic possibility is that Cruz was successful last year and Sosa has been so far most of the time this year precisely because of the way they’ve been handled. I could buy that. But please don’t tell me that Sosa is somehow more questionable than Bernero and Kolb. Just look at Bernero’s career. And as for Kolb, well, I don’t think we want to talk about someone else needing to learn how to hit the strike zone. Kolb hasn’t even shown any interest the strike zone, much less any ability to keep the ball in it.

  18. I don’t think it’s racially motivated (after all Horacio isn’t exactly white and he seems to get every benifit of the doubt with Bobby) but there is something that makes Bobby take to some guys while ignoring others.

    Has “it”: Kevin Gryboski (HOF “it” guy), Chris Reitsma, Rudy Seanez, Adam Bernero, Horacio Ramirez, Roberto Hernandez
    Doesn’t have “it”: Juan Cruz, Trey Hodges (please don’t get me started), Jorge Sosa, Buddy Hernandez

    I would love to know what “it” is.

  19. This “it” quality may be malleability, the willingness to sublimate personal ego for the benefit of the team. How well a pitcher accepts the role Leo and Bobby assign to him may determine, in large part, how much playing time he receives, provided, of course, he can execute.

    However, picking up on what creynolds posted above, Odalis Perez always impressed me as someone who had a very definite idea of how he should be used, and that didn’t include being an occasional fifth starter. He made a lot of noise about finally getting a chance to start when he landed in Los Angeles, didn’t he?

  20. Racism never even crossed my mind. I think we’re fishing for reasons because their performance is baffling and the bullpen is so bad and Bobby is, for one of the first times, making decisions we don’t understand or agree with. If Bobby were racist, Furcal would have been gone after that DUI, or at least severely punished. 40% of our active roster is not white. That can’t be the reason.

  21. I still find the pitching thing more mysterious than position players. But looking for any kind of concrete reason (positive or negative) to tell why certain guys get used and others don’t is probably only a pointless and maddening excercise.

    I’d have a lot more faith in Sosa than either Bernero or Kolb, but I ain’t making the decisions (and I’d probably be a miserable failure if I were anyway).

  22. “Or why did Keith Lockhart wear a Major League uniform for 4 years that said “Braves” on it? I mean, Jesse Garcia stunk and was completely useless but Lockhart was no better then Garcia?”

    The suggestion that Bobby is racist is ridiculous (and a little offensive).

    1) Lockhart was a lousy player in 2001-2002, but he was clearly a major league quality player from 1995-2000 – including his first 4 years as a Brave. He had a well above average glove, he hit well his first year as a Brave, and he had a lot of key pinch hits his first couple of years in Atlanta – all of which caused Bobby to trust him, probably more than he should.

    2) Jesse Garcia was, in fact, clearly a worse player than Lockhart. He has a career OPS+ of 40, for God’s sake. The 2 years Garcia and Lockhart were on the same team, Garcia’s OPS+ were 4 and 8 (I am not making this up). Lockhart’s worst season is better than Garcia’s entire career.

    3) Lockhart probably did get more playing time that he should of his last couple of years as a Brave, but that playing time should have been going to DeRosa and Giles. How does that make him a racist, again?

    4) Brian Jordan.

    5) Julio Franco (who has been taking playing time away from Adam LaRoche).

    6) Rafael Belliard (who took playing time away from Jeff Blauser).

    7) Eddie Perez.

    8) Terry Pendleton, take 2.

    Bobby uses players he likes and trusts. There is no clear pattern of racial preferences (plenty of his favorite players, like Andruw and the Big Cat, have not been white). He also uses the players that *he* thinks will win ballgames, and after 14 years of unparalleled success I trust his judgement more than that of most independent observers. 1 or 2 bad weeks aren’t enough to convince me otherwise.

    By the way – 2 months ago the Braves were criticized by lots of fans for acquiring and keeping Sosa (who was described here as “useless”). Now Bobby and Mazzone are racists for not already using him in higher leverage situations? Nice.

  23. Why not add players like Jason Marquis and Tim Spooneybarger to the list? And why mention Kolb and Grybo getting extra chances and not Roman Colon?

    It’s just cherry-picking from a list of pitchers that didn’t succeed for whatever reason in Atlanta. Some were traded for better players, many went on to little success elsewhere. The only ones that have come out and said anything anti-Braves to my recollection are Marquis, Odalis, and Spoon.

    I could also rattle off names like Seanez, Berenguer, Pena, Cabrera, Wade, Borbon, etc, etc, etc…I just don’t see the reasoning behind this argument.

  24. First, I am not saying for sure that A) Cox is a racist or B) everything he does is racially motivated.

    It’s very easy for us to list names of non white Braves since 1991 and say, case closed.

    What I am saying is asking everyone to examine various choices he’s made or is making, here or there.

    Look, I am white and I have met Bobby before and he was very nice to me and gladly signed autographs as well for all kids in the lobby of the hotel, regardless of color. I don’t even think it’s overt or even a conscience thing.

    However, the case of Sosa vs. Kolb & Gryboski is at least damning, if not full evidence. There’s no reason why these two fat, out of shape, usless relievers should be used–but they are a lot more in KEY situations then a Sosa is. The evidence of Juan Cruz last year is IDENTICAL.

    Also, to be fair, let’s look at the various members of the starting rotation the last 15 years: John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Tim Hudson, Denny Neagle, Steve Avery, Charlie Liebrandt, John Burkett, Andy Ashby, Jason Marquis, Trey Hodges, Jason Schmidt, Jaret Wright, John Thomson…the glaring exceptions have been Odalis Perez (for 1 season) & Russ Ortiz & Horacio Ramirez. No African American starters.

    Look…most of those starters have been solid to great and I am not saying we should have gotten rid of Greg Maddux in 1997 just to have a below average African American starter. And frankly, if we had a roster of 25 white guys and win a world series, GREAT. I care about wins & losses!

    My point being is that Bobby seems overall to trust white guys, and in particular veteran white guys. I really think Cox is a decent enough guy and this maybe on a subconscience level.

    But just because you disagree with me about this Sosa vs. Kolb/Gryboski thing, or Juan Cruz last year, doesn’t mean there’s not occasional evidence.

    I probably shouldn’t have use JESSE GARCIA as an example to compare with Lockhart, but, Lockhart sucks. mac knows me well enough to know there’s been no Brave I have hated more then Keith Lockhart who basically stole money for 4-6 years.

    A better example might be that we had BETTER pinch hitters in the farm who NEVER GOT A CUP OF COFFEE BARELY in the Majors like Damon Hollins (aka the Mayor) so that a piece of trash like Keith Lockhart should sit on the roster?

    Amd the only reason Furcal wasn’t dealt is because the Braves didn’t see who the hell could replace the guy. They hated the whole DUI thing and the image it gives the Braves as an organization; but, they weren’t going to just GIVE him away and suddenly play Betemit if Betemit hadn’t proven himself as a hitter.

    And yes, I also agree that BETEMIT, not KELLY JOHNSON, should be hitting higher in the order?

    Personally? I think we are at a stage that unless the Braves come back and win a World Series (and that will not happen with the current Major League roster…at least 4-5 changes have to take place in the lineup and bullpen for that to even be a pipe dream), I think it’s time for Cox to retire….look, he’s been the Larry Brown of Baseball so why not go out the same year as Brown?

    I know half the Braves fans are in love with Cox but it’s time to hand over the reigns to someone who could balance egos like Cox, but is younger and more willing to try people out at different times when changes are clearly necessary.

    Ironically, while I haven’t like what he has done as hitting coach, I am not so certain that Pendleton wouldn’t make a good manager. He seems to get along very well with Cox and the team, has a long history with the Braves, is a quality, respected guy (even if he’s not a good hitting coach per say) & might actually make a fine manager. Keep Leo as pitching coach and its a double win because then we get a new hitting coach. But most importantly, Cox retires which should have happened like 5 years ago.

  25. “What I am saying is asking everyone to examine various choices he’s made or is making, here or there.”

    No, what you are asking is for everyone to examine cherry-picked choices he’s made – while ignoring contrary examples.

    Why harp about Kolb & Gryboski while ignoring Colon?

    Why is the use of Lockhart past the point of effectiveness indicative of racism (despite the fact that the better 2b alternatives were white) while the use of Belliard over apparently superior alternatives is irrelevant?

    “However, the case of Sosa vs. Kolb & Gryboski is at least damning, if not full evidence.”

    Poppycock.

    Kolb had a 1.96 ERA in 2003 and a 2.98 ERA in 2004, and 60 saves combined for the 2 years. He also has a much larger salary than the other players he’s competing against, and he started the season as the designated “closer”.

    Gryboski had a 2.84 ERA last year, and has a career ERA of 3.35 in over 200 appearances.

    Whereas Sosa had a 5.53 ERA last year and was deemed “useless” by Mac at the start of the season. His ERA is good so far this year (but so is Gryboski’s), but his K/BB, BB/9, and K/9 ratios have all been mediocre to poor.

    I like Sosa’s potential a lot (I defended him extensively in threads here and elsewhere after his acquisition), and I hope that he will be an important part of our bullpen moving forward, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see rational reasons for why the Braves might have been giving Kolb and Gryboski a little more rope. Pulling out the race card is obscene.

  26. A racist wouldn’t have Pendleton as his hitting coach. The one game I watched at the TED this year had Furcal, Mondesi, Pena, Andruw, Franco, Betimet, Jordon, and Ramirez in the starting line-up. Now, the pitching staff may have more to do with Leo.

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