Braves 5, Nats 3

Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – April 11, 2009 – ESPN

After a bit of a rough start, Kenshin Kawakami was as good as we could have hoped, picking up a quality start and a win. Kawakami allowed a run in the first and a two-run homer in the third, and his control was shaky early. But after that, he was strong, retiring his last eight in a row. He walked four, but struck out eight, and got some nice defense behind him.

Meanwhile, KJ was the offensive hero again, hitting a solo homer in the third and a two-run double to tie the game in the fourth. Chipper singled him home to give the Braves the lead. The bullpen, for once, was solid. Peter Moylan looked like a completely different pitcher — heck, a completely different species — striking out the side in the dreaded seventh inning. Soriano gave up a leadoff double (he was lucky it wasn’t a triple — Francoeur chased it like he was wearing lead boots) but struck out the next man, and after pitching around Dunn got a double play to end it.

Schafer doubled with one out in the eighth, and after KJ was hit by a pitch, Escobar singled him home to make it 5-3. Gonzalez started off the ninth with two overthrows, but then found the strike zone, striking out two for the Braves’ first save of the year.

Schafer continues to be outstanding, going 3-4 and scoring twice. KJ also had three hits, and Escobar two. The Braves are, once again, getting great work from the up the middle positions. Imagine how good this team could be if the first baseman and the corner outfielders are even average.

30 thoughts on “Braves 5, Nats 3”

  1. Finally, a win after taking a one run lead to the bullpen. Maybe they’ll finally realize that scoring insurance runs is the way baseball should be played. I still thought Soriano was very lucky, he was throwing way too many balls for my comfort.

  2. Soriano, Moylan, and Gonzalez all have their velocity down, and Gonzalez still is having trouble keeping the ball down. Moylan really did look different, though. Almost every pitch was at the bottom of the strike zone. We’ll see if that turns out to be the exception or the rule.

  3. I’m particularly concerned with Soriano’s velocity being down. He was in the 90-92 range tonight, and he throws fastballs like 80% of the time. The only thing keeping that from being BP is changing locations.

  4. Lastings Milledge is reaping what he has sown, I think. He has a surly rep with the umps, and now he’s getting squeezed. He didn’t go around on the third strike in the fourth inning — but the first base ump called him out and was ready for Milledge’s reaction before it happened. And the last pitch he saw from Moylan never even got to knee level, never mind where it crossed the plate. He’s acted out enough times that it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Also, anyone else think Sciambi was rolling on the floor when Mark Fein brought up Zone Rating to Joe? Oh my….

  5. Anyone else watch the game on Extra Innings and have to listen to Dibble all night. It was absolutely horrid. I think he may be worse than Chip Carray – and I can’t stand Chip…

  6. Sansho, I think you may be right about Milledge. He got rung up on a checked swing and got so mad that he got reprimanded by the ump — but the replay showed that he really did check his swing. He had a right to be mad, but he didn’t do himself any favors by getting that mad.

    He’s got talent, but he’s not quite ready for prime time.

  7. FWIW, the Braves actually have 10 HRs.

    I think Milledge went around on that third strike, but just barely. Nonetheless, I agree with sansho & AAR’s takes—that ump couldn’t wait to pump him outta there.

  8. I agree Jared about Soriano. I hope his control and velocity gets better! It was a fun game to watch though. I’m glad to see Kelly off to such a great start!

  9. Bravos looked sharp tonight. KJ is really playing well. I’m glad BC let Moylan START and inning for once. It is too early to ask him to be a hero. Baby steps people. Soriano looked like he CARED tonight. Huge win tonight, glad to be 4-1 at this stage.

  10. @8 – Contrast that to the same call made on Schafer last night late in the game (he didn’t go around on that pitch either) – but he handled it MUCH better. Sure, he looked suprised, but he didn’t throw any fits either.

  11. Might be going to the game tomorrow, though I’d prefer to not go alone. Easter game sounds fun though.

  12. Nice win for the Braves….

    Its good to see Cody Johnson off to a strong start (3 HR in 3 games at the Beach). Also, JJ Hoover had it going at Rome last night: 4.1 innings and 9 Ks…

  13. The DirecTV feed of Peachtree doesn’t cut away for commercials, could be useful in the future I guess. It also didn’t have sound for a while there. Fein apologized to Joe during a break for bringing up Zone Rating (which I wasn’t paying attention to) and then Joe went on a nerds with computers mini-rant (which may have been what he did in the inning too).

    Looks like it was covered in the game thread too. DirecTV’s just has a shot from behind home plate during commercials and crowd noise usually, I think. Today they were testing promos, swapping camera shots, and they kept the mics live apparently. Last night I think they showed the behind home shot for the entire rain delay without interruption (of course I didn’t watch to make sure).

  14. Went to the Jacksonville Suns game tonight against the Tennessee Smokies (double-A Marlins vs. Cubs). I learned around the sixth inning that the Suns are no longer the Dodgers affiliate, but they’re now the Marlins’. Which made sense. I looked up the Dodgers’ prospect lists and couldn’t find anyone from their list on Jacksonville’s roster. I just thought the team sucked. Anyway, it made me think of something. The Marlins are poor. But since the Suns have a nice stadium, they draw well, and they’re probably pretty profitable, I wonder if the Marlins are making any more money from a better double-A club. Anyone think that actually changes how the Marlins are run? Which leads to another question: has it affected the big league club from a financial standpoint when Braves AAA moved from Richmond to Gwinnett? Something to think about…

  15. Someone talked about Joe’s latest rant during the game. (Maybe he thinks he’s Joe Morgan. Maybe there’s something about guys named “Joe”.) What struck me is he was complaining about computers and not watching the game, when zone rating is based upon direct observation…

  16. Rob — good questions. I’m interested to know if anyone has any insights as well.

    My in-laws are visiting for the holiday. My father-in-law told me that he has disavowed the Braves because of the move away from Richmond. It seems (I have no data whatsoever) that spreading the area of appeal of the team as much as possible (AAA as far away as Richmond, being on TBS) would help generate fans in the long run.

    I can only assume it’s financially advantageous to move the AAA team to Gwinnett. Why else would they do it?

    The Diamond wasn’t exactly a beautiful place and Richmond’s further away (but still only a puddle jump away in the air), but are those reasons to move? I don’t know. Anyone got ideas?

  17. Rob, living in a place that has had minor league baseball for 120 years, including the Marlins Triple-A team for the last six years, I can assure you 100% that whether or not the team is good or not has very, very little, if any correlation with the team’s attendance. In minor league baseball, it’s all about the ‘fan experience’ of going to the park, enjoying a reasonably priced family outing. I probably go to 15-20 games a year and I can tell you that maybe 1% of the fans could name more than one player on the team, let alone identify who are prospects and who aren’t.

    The Albuquerque Isotopes ranked 12th of 263 minor league baseball teams in attendance in 2007, and I’m sure attendance will be down this year somewhat because of the economy, like most minor league parks, but it won’t be because of the fact that the fans in Albuquerque will be subjected to the likes of Jeff Weaver, Eric Milton and former Braves great the Grand Tanyon, Tanyon Sturtze, and the other greats currently on the Isotopes roster this year.

  18. 23- Richmond had terrible facilities and didn’t draw well. The Braves didn’t like sending their top prospects there because of the former. Gwinett gave the team a sweet-heart deal (just ask JC Bradbury), will provide a great stadium with top-teir facilities, and is about 30 minutes away from Atlanta. It’s a much better situation for the Braves. As for spreading the brand, the bigger (really only) issue there is the loss of TBS as a national broadcast center. When the Braves were (one of) the only team(s) getting shown nationally on a near-nightly basis, it was easy to develop fans everywhere. But now that a bunch of teams have similar arrangements while the Braves no longer do, it’s a completely different situation. A Richmond affiliate wasn’t going to do a whole lot to change that.

  19. This offense is hitting much better than I have anticipated. Obviously Chipper and McCann are doing their share of works. KJ, Yunel, and Schafer have been absolutely solid. I still think Anderson, Diaz, and Kotchman will deliver league average performances this year. If Ross turns out to be ok, we may actually indeed have an above average offense!

    I honestly have no clue what to expect from Frenchy. His swing still looks pretty weak, he is still not drawing walks, and he still looks to be in slow motion on defense when he was chasing that double in the eighth…things are not looking good…

  20. Mac, the whole thing about it was he admitted he didn’t read the article. He didn’t know anything about it, but he dismissed it offhand. And he said he hated the whole “Moneyball thing” but he talks about OBP all the time now. And he cares about defense, and I think he cares about getting good value out of your players.

    I think it’s just a name brand thing. My friend hates walmart, but if I told him I found a place to buy that stereo he’d been wanting for 20 bucks less, he’d probably be interested.

  21. @27 – I don’t think the problem with Frenchy was his stance (which is what he went out to correct). He has a big swooping swing which causes he bat speed to go way down. If he could make more compact swings, the bat speed would be there.

  22. lineup:

    O. Infante 2b
    Y. Escobar ss
    C. Jones 3b
    B. McCann c
    M. Diaz lf
    J. Francoeur rf
    M. Prado 1b
    J. Schafer cf
    J. Jurrjens p

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