Atlanta 4, Washington 0 – MLB – Box Score – Braves at Nationals

The Braves bounced back with a convincing win. Jorge Sosa had his most successful start with the Braves, Andruw Jones tied the team home run record, and Jeff Francoeur continued to work miracles in right field.

andruwometer.PNGAll the runs came in the fourth. With one out, Andruw hit a high arcing shot to the opposite field, his 47th of the season and his 119th RBI. (He’s currently on pace for 54 and 136.) LaRoche, of course, grounded out, but Francoeur doubled, and Hernandez pitched around Langerhans to face McCann. That was a mistake; McCann bit a three-run bomb to right to cap the scoring for the day.

In the fifth inning, Francoeur took a home run back that would have cut the score to 4-2. Sosa allowed just six hits, all singles, didn’t walk a batter, and struck out three. He needed only 99 pitches in eight innings, and 74 of them were strikes. It was the Natspos, but it was impressive. Farnsworth pitched the ninth and retired the side in order.

All the other relevant games are tonight… The Natspos don’t even have a starter available tomorrow and are expected to use a committee of relievers. The Braves have John Smoltz. That sounds good, except that the Braves have been completely unable to hit middle relievers over the last few weeks. The game is on TBS XTRA! so we’re probably looking at the worst possible broadcast crew again.

40 thoughts on “Atlanta 4, Washington 0”

  1. I want to take this opportunity to say that I was wrong. This season could be just a career year, statistical outlier, whatever you want to call it but Andruw Jones is playing at a superstar level. I won’t even say ‘finally’ after that statement. I posted many times that Andruw wasn’t a superstar just a good player and that the Braves could afford to trade him if for nothing else some financial flexibility. I was wrong (at least this season). So to a guy who posted a lot at the beginning of the season but has since disappeared named Raoul Duke and all those that I chided for hoping above hope that Andruw would ‘breakout’ I am having my crow now with a light brown butter sauce some fava beans and my favorite vintage, Corona 2005 and enjoying watching Andruw Jones, superstar outfielder, play.

  2. I gotta gut feeling that JSosa is going to come up BIG for us in the postseason. He’s got some fire in that belly.

  3. I like the 3 man rotation of Smoltz, Hudson and Sosa in the playoffs with Horacio as the third guy. I’m afraid they’ll use Horacio as the third guy though and I think that would be a mistake.

  4. That was very big of you, Johnny. As someone who has been an Andruw guy since he came up in ’96, I couldn’t care less about being “proven right” – I’m just enjoying the ride he’s taking us on.

    I am really surprised at the success Sosa has had without a third pitch. He is locating his fastball very, very well these days, though, so maybe he doesn’t need a changeup. What a pleasant surprise! Is Nick Green even still on the D-Rays roster? You gotta feel for them – they could use another starter even more than we do.

  5. Green’s hitting .241/.331/.350 for the D-Rays. He was playing a lot better earlier in the year and is starting to lose his playing time. I doubt Sosa would have ever pitched this well in St. Pete.

    BTW, Damon Hollins: .257/.306/.427. Not great, but better than Brian Jordan or Raul Mondesi.

  6. On the play that Francoeur made – as great as it was – why not look into your glove and act like you missed the catch, wait for the runner on 1B to round the bases on an apparent homerun and THEN trow the ball back to 1B for an easy DP? THAT would have been a blast.

  7. I was at the game today and it was such a fast game I was back with plenty of time to spare to sit down for kickoff in a few minutes between my Dawgs and Steve Superior.

    Needless to say, Jorge looked great. At RFK they actually have this little electronic board up now that keeps up to the second track of your pitch count and also shows your balls vs. strikes. Sosa was better then a 3 to 1 K to Ball ratio ALL day. To be fair, the Nats are fiedling a mostly Triple A lelvel lineup right now (which makes Fridays loss MORE painful), but it was a great start for Sosa, his best of the year because he went 8 innings and saved us all from our unreliable middle relief. Maybe Smoltz can give the ‘pen another day off tomorrow.

    I went to the game with 3 of my buddies…one, cary, Mac knows and he’s a fellow Braves fan. The other two buddies are a Padres fan and a guy who’s from oregon who grew up a Braves fan (which is random I know but he’s mostly neutral.

    When we weren’t spending time calling up find out college football scores (particularly the shocker from Ann Arbor) we had several ‘bravesbeat’ style arguments on the merits of Bobby Cox and whether the Braves should use Franco more.

    Needless to say, I was always the voice of reason whether I was in the minority or not…Yes Cox is overrated and yes LaRoche sucks. Our Padres fan friend feels Cox is the best manager in best Baseball–interesting perspective from a non Braves fan.

  8. Do we all have to admit things we were wrong about? I could be here all day. I believe I stated that if the Braves were dumb enough to let Smoltz return to the rotation he would never make it past June without a trip to the DL. Yes sir.

    All though I’m comforted by the fact that I was the only one who correctly recognized at the time that the Nick Green trade was bringing in the guy who would start Game 3 in the playoffs for us.

    Just kidding obviously.

  9. Needless to say, I was always the voice of reason whether I was in the minority or not…Yes Cox is overrated and yes LaRoche sucks. Our Padres fan friend feels Cox is the best manager in best Baseball–interesting perspective from a non Braves fan.

    Just curious Alex, who do you think is the best manager in baseball and what do they do better than Bobby?

  10. With regards to a possible post season rotation.

    I think Bobby has no choice at this point BUT to make Sosa the 3rd starter after Smoltz & Hudson, and I dare say Solsa is slightly better right now then Hudson but that’s cemantics.

    If we play Houston, and I think it’s INEVITABLE, we have to have a strong third starter…a guy who can mostly keep the opposing team off the board. Assuming a GAME THREE start was IN Houston and Minuit Maid, a big home run and hitters park, that’s even MORE reason to start Sosa in Game three over Horacio. In fact, considering the kind of park Houston is, I am almost wondering if we either just go 3 man or go with Horacio in Game 2 IN Atlanta, especially if we win Game 1…then even if we lose Game 2, we head to Houston with Hudson & Sosa starting.

    It’s not a bad thought but the idea of Horacio starting in Houston is not appetizing.

    Now if we play the Padres in Petco, a completely different story but I am convinced we are PLAYING Houston.

  11. I think Bobby Cox is the best REGULAR season Manager in Baseball. I emphasize the words REGULAR SEASON.

    I would take Joe Torre, Mike Scoscia and others in the post season.

  12. Bobby is the best manager in baseball. He’s in a slump is all. He’s not perfect, but who is? Torre bears a lot of responsibility for last year’s ALCS collapse. The Sox swept Scioscia out of the postseason last year, too. And LaRussa, the other guy who normally comes up in these conversations.

  13. So, the logical extension of Mac’s statement is that Terry Francona is the best manager in baseball. I’m sure that’s not what he meant, I just wanted to be obnoxious and point it out.

  14. As a total package, Bobby is the best manager. But, IMO, in-game tactics are his weakest point, and this tends to be most conspicuous in the playoffs. What I’d like to see is for the Braves to hire a bench coach who actually can contribute something to on-the-spot decision making. I’m thinking someone like Larry Dierker, who has some understanding of statistics (such as run expectancies) as well as experience managing a game. This won’t happen since Pat Corrales has been with Bobby for a long time, and if Bobby is anything, he is loyal. But I think Corrales does nothing but reinforce Bobby’s worst tendencies.

  15. Torre responsible for the postseason ALCS collapse? Please…

    He gave the ball to Rivera in the 9th inning of the clinching game. You can quibble about Game 5, but not much. Schilling skunked m in Game 6 & Game 7 they didnt have a chance. Im not sure who you wouldve started in Game 7 instead of Brown or Vasquez. Either way both guys got bombed & the Yanks didnt score.

    BTW, if thats the worst hes done in his run with NYY, hes still ahead of most.

  16. $200 million and the best pitcher they could put out was Kevin Brown? Or Javier Vazquez and his ruined psyche? I don’t think that was Torre’s fault. What happened was the top of their lineup stopped hitting. He couldn’t control that. I don’t LIKE Joe Torre at all but I don’t think he was very much to blame for the ALCS collapse. Whoever is to blame, I’m just glad it happened.

  17. A little off-topic, but I had a hard decision to make this afternoon. I won’t lie, I anguished over it, but I think I ended up making the right call. I picked going to the Braves/Nats game and I missed the Notre Dame/Michigan game. I’m ok with it.
    But I do want to mention one area where baseball could improve by imitating college football. It’s probably both impractical and impossible, but there were a lot of Braves fans at today’s game (and last night’s game) all spread out throughout RFK. How much sweeter would it have been if there everyone was all consolidated in one section or at least like one swath (where it would kinda depend on the price of your ticket how high you sat)? I realize this is just a pipe dream, but still, what a pipe dream.
    Also, I was impressed that the Francoeur’s Franks made it to the game. Or do they have different chapters in different cities? I don’t know how they work or where they get their costumes, but I appreciate what they do. And here’s to anonymously passing by some of the Braves Journal crowd at tomorrow’s game.

    Anyways, it was a cool game. I like Jorge Sosa. Hopefully, we’ll get at least one of Hampton and Thomson back and kick Horam to the bullpen for the playoffs. Someday Nick Green is gonna proudly tell his grandkids that he was traded, straight-up, for Jorge Sosa, THE Jorge Sosa.

  18. ermoore, in the UK, all soccer games reserve specific sections of the stadium for visiting fans too. I think it is practical for games like football in the US and soccer in the UK before the games are not as frequent as baseball and basketball. When there are games only once or twice a week like football, the attendence of the visiting supporters is more predictable and consistent. I may be wrong about the argument, but this is my observation.

  19. I meant “because” when I wrote “before” in the above message.

    I don’t trust HoRo with any playoff game. When someone needs 110 pitches to get through only five inning the Natpos’ weak lineup and allowing three runs in the process, it means he will throw away a playoff game in no time like what Glavine did three years ago against the Giants. I would rather throw Thomson or Hampton out there because at least there is some hope that they may pick up their game in the playoff, I just don’t have any faith in HoRo at this moment.

    In respect of Bobby, I am never a big fan of him. I agree with Alex R that he is a great regular season manager. Is he the best? I think he is as good as any other managers who have taken their respective team to win one World Series, which is pretty good but not the best. I think that is a fair statement.

  20. By that standard, Torre is the only candidate for the best manager in the game.

    Most college games designate a certain number of tickets for the visiting team, which are sold through the school. They’re usually bad seats in an endzone corner. That isn’t really practical for baseball. They used to allow a certain number of tickets behind the visitors’ dugout but those are prime seats now and are usually season tickets.

  21. Marlins win; magic number remains 15, though the number to clinch a playoff berth might be 14 or 13, since the Marlins play the Phillies and Astros four times each.

  22. The other question is, though, how much does a manager actually have to do with winning games? Yes, I know he writes the lineup cards, brings in the pitchers, and makes substitutions, but he doesn’t pitch, he doesn’t make defensive plays, he doesn’t hit, and he doesn’t run the bases. I just think a manager’s fortunes and how good he is seen to be is largely dependent on his players, so the title “best manager in the game,” “lousiest manager in the game,” etc. really doesn’t mean all that much. People will probably disagree, but I think most major league teams could run themselves okay without a manager, and when you have guys like Frank and Larry Bowa, they’d probably run themselves better. Just my thoughts.

  23. I strongly disagree. For one thing, most baseball players are a bit dim and need direction. They can do the onfield stuff fine, but the clubhouse would quickly turn into a cross between a frathouse, a gang war, and New Orleans.

    The most important thing for a manager is controlling the clubhouse. Bobby and Torre probably do this better than any other managers of the last forty years.

  24. Yes Mac. I mean, this is like the Olympics where only gold medals count. So, Bobby is like a nation at an Olympic winning one gold medal (world series), five silver medals (LCS), and 14 plus bronze medals (adding the division titles he won with the Blue Jays). One of the best, but not the best. LaRussa is very close behind Cox, and Cox is better than every other managers in the last 20 years except Torre, Kelly, and Gaston. So, yes, Bobby is one of the best, but not the best.

  25. I don’t think I said LaRussa is better than Cox. I thought I said LaRussa is behind Cox. As much as you don’t like the result, the Braves did lost to the Twins in 1991 and the Jays in 1992.

    Nobody has mentioned this for a long time, but Bobby and the Braves have lost eight straight World Series games, and they all happened to be against the Yankees and Joe Torre.

  26. I was (clearly) saying that Cito Gaston wasn’t as good of a manager as Cox or LaRussa.

    Gaston simply wasn’t a very good manager. He took over a great team at the right time, but he had no staying power. He was exposed pretty rapidly once that team started to age. There’s a reason he hasn’t had another job.

    Frankly, I think that any standard that rates people only by a single final result is stupid.

  27. I learned that Cito Gaston was a bad manager from David Wells’ book. Does that make the conclusion invalid?

  28. Well, all quantitative analysis will lead to qualitative arguments, and I am just raising a point from one perspective. We can assign points to World Series title, league series title, and division title which will take Cox, LaRussa and other managers above Gaston. At the end, there is no quantitative measure available to evaluate and comparing managers. It is sort of like the MVP argument.

    So, Mac, whats your opinion on Bobby?

  29. The trouble with Joe Torre is that as successful as he has been, he has been unable to suppress dissent in the clubhouse. During the World Series years, when he had a bunch of young kids scouted by Gene Michael, he was able to keep them all together. Now that he has overpaid, aging, egotistical, has-been stars, he’s done a pretty terrible job at patching over the open wounds in the clubhouse.
    Bobby does a much, much better job at squelching prima donnaship in his players. Even David Justice and Gary Sheffield toned it down under Bobby’s watch. He makes an atmosphere where everyone’s a member of the team, and young guys don’t feel that the first time they fail will be the last time they’ll get in a game. His ability to build the confidence of young players must be considered one of his greatest legacies–the fact that the Braves have at times this season fielded an entire diamond of home-produced players (Langerhans/Johnson, Jones, and Francouer; Jones, Furcal, Giles, and LaRoche; McCann; and Davies) is one of the great unspoken stories of the season. No team does this. But Bobby gets all of them (well, except for LaRoche) to play together, and they’ll win another 90+ and division title despite the fact that the Braves have played more rookies than any other team in baseball.
    You work with what you’re given, and that’s what Bobby does best. I would daresay that Bobby could have won the NL East with any of the other teams in the division (other than the Nationals). The Marlins, Phillies, and Mets have all underachieved, and during the regular season Bobby avoids that remarkably well.

  30. I think Bobby is the best manager in baseball and one of the greatest of all time. Look at it this way… Bobby is certainly a Hall of Famer, right? Now, do you think that Cito Gaston should be in the Hall of Fame? What about Ralph Houk (Bobby’s role model) who won the World Series each of his first two years, the pennant the next year, and never won anything again while presiding over the collapse of a forty-five-year winning tradition?

    If you can find one, pick up a copy of Bill James’ managers book. Great book, and we’re rehashing many of the arguments, and James uses a ratings system similar to what you suggest. At the time (late nineties) Bobby was tied for twentieth all-time, LaRussa tied for 22nd, but both will have moved up significantly since then, Bobby into the top ten. (I don’t feel like working it out right now.) The Irish Mob (McGraw/Mack/McCarthy) is uncatchable under current conditions as the top three.

    When I asked James in that ESPN chat a few years ago, he rated Bobby in the top three all-time, though I don’t know that I’d go that far. James was probably using another system, working on “expected wins”. Bobby’s teams never underperform (in the regular season, of course) and often overperform.

  31. Nice observations, Mac.

    I would say that I have to agree with you. Looking at this season, I have definitely questioned a lot of Bobby’s in-game moves, more than I remember in past years. But, I think that may be a function of the uncertainty on the team – a heap of rookies and very unreliable arms in the bullpen, not to mention the injuries. In short, I think more questionable players lead to more questionable moves.

    But, it appears that some fans find a way to blame Cox after every loss by alleging that one of those questionable moves would have yielded a better result if the “obvious” alternate choice had been made. This is an unproveable assertion though it is pretty much an indefensible position to say that the manager was right, because we lost. While it’s true that any other move might have yielded different results, we have no way of knowing if they would have been different, better, or possibly worse.

    Even the very best teams will lose 60 times a year. And it’s not because the manager made 60 terrible moves, though some who post on this board would have you think so. It happens because this is baseball and sometimes the worst hitter finds a hole off of the best pitcher. And sometimes a worthless pitcher strikes out the side.

    And I don’t think the Braves are one of the very best teams, at least on paper. They have a couple of serious holes in their lineup and a terrible bullpen. The fact that they will likely win their very tough division with something in the neighborhood of 90 wins should tell you all that you need to know about Bobby Cox’s in-game decision making.

  32. Cox’s teams since ’91 never underperform because the pitching always signifigantly overperforms.

    And Cito Gaston’s career winning percentage is still better than Cox’s without Mazzone.

  33. Not that anyone asked for my opinion…

    I personally hate some of the crap Bobby Cox pulls, the most blatant being when he put Beatsma in Game 5 of last years NLCS. It was a clear sign of us giving up. And I didn’t like that. But from my point of view managers shouldn’t be measured by wins and losses and whatnot. They didn’t build the teams sow hy do they get credit for the wins? JS has much more of an impact on W-L than Bobby does. What Bobby should be praised for is that he doesn’t let anything collapse around him. I would compare Bobby to Tommy Tuberville down here at Auburn. No, he isn’t a great game coach. But Auburn isn’t a great football school(as much as it pains me to admit it, we are a consistent 7-4, 8-3 type of team, with sporadic greatness). BUT, Tuberville graduates everyone, players even come back when they are surefire first round picks to graduate. No one ever gets in trouble off the field. And that’s his main job right? And Bobby is better at that than anyone.

    Bobby is a HOF for sure, and the best manager of my (short, 18 year) life. However, JS deserves to go in with him.

  34. “Cox’s teams since ’91 never underperform because the pitching always signifigantly overperforms.”

    Which might be a powerful argument – except that Cox’s teams BEFORE ’91 also consistently exceeded expectations.

    Cox took over a Blue Jays team that was the worst team in baseball, and within 4 years won a division title. Gaston took over an extremely talented Blue Jays team that had been over .500 for 6 consecutive years beforehand. Just slightly different circumstances, don’t you think?

    The 1992-1993 Blue Jays had a ton of young talent. Roberto Alomar, John Olerud, Jeff Kent, Derek Bell, Shawn Green, Carlos Delgado, Juan Guzman, Pat Hentgen, and Dave Weathers were all 25 or under. Devon White, Al Leiter, David Wells, Woody Williams, Todd Stottlemyre, Duane Ward, and Mike Timlin were all under 30. Paul Molitor was getting up there in years, but he was still turning in one quality season after the next. The ’93 Jays had something like 16 players that were future or recent past all-stars.

    And yet, Gaston managed to post losing records every year from 1994 on (until he was fired in 1997). The Blue Jays had the worst record in baseball in 1995, so the circle was now complete. Good job, Cito.

    I agree with Mac. Any formula that tells you that Cito Gaston is one of the top 3 managers of the past 2 decades is hopelessly flawed.

  35. Bill james had a wonderful essay in one of his books about the job of managers and how you couldn’t just look at one area of performance and judge him by that. Managers have decisions to make at the play-by-play level, the inning level, the game level, the near term level, the seasonal level and the long-term level. no manager has ever been great at all of them.

    Bobby excels from the near-term level on up — he built great pitching staffs in Toronto too! Looking at the other hall of fame managers, none of them were tactical geniuses either (Lasorda comes closest) because long-term results win in baseball; it’s the direct result of the season’s length.

    Bobby is particularly good at building for the future — he has broken in more regular players than Larussa and Torre combined. He also has a knack for putting players in roles where they can succeed. Only earl weaver is really close to a match for him among modern-day managers.

  36. “Only earl weaver is really close to a match for him among modern-day managers.”

    Many people would rank Earl Weaver as the best manager of the era immediately preceeding Cox’s era. Weaver has the highest winning percentage of any manager with more than 1000 games managed in the past 35 years (Cox is second).

    And yet, Earl also won only 1 World Series title.

    Do some posters think that Cito Gaston was a better manager than Earl Weaver?

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