Can’t anything be easy?
The Braves jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first two innings, all the runs scoring on homers. McCann hit a titanic shot to the second deck in right field, scoring Chipper, with two out in the first. Francoeur hit the first pitch he saw on the season hard, making it 3-0 on a drive down the left field line. And Jordan Schafer, hitting eighth, hit a homer in his first major league plate appearance, taking it out to the deepest part of the ballpark.
Yunel Escobar almost hit the Braves’ fourth homer leading off the third, to basically the same part of the park, but came up just short for a double, and after that it was time for Hibernation Mode, as the Braves couldn’t get anything going. Fortunately, Derek Lowe was magnificent. I can only describe him as “Maddux-like”. He allowed just two hits, a double in the third and a single in the sixth. He didn’t walk anyone, and only went to three balls on rare occasions. After a couple of early long flyouts, he mostly got ground balls, and mostly weak ones, on his way to eight shutout innings.
After eight, Lowe had thrown 97 pitches (59 strikes) and I wanted him to come out to at least start the ninth. But Bobby went to Gonzalez, who really didn’t have it, throwing pitches all over the place. He very easily could have blown it; with one out, a run was in and the tying run at the plate, in the person of Howard. He went 3-2 on him before getting a strikeout, and 3-2 on Ibanez before getting another.
Chipper had a single and a double. Schafer also had a single and was intentionally walked, the only walk the Braves drew. (They struck out ten times.) Kotchman looked just terrible at the plate but good at first base.