Braves 2, Cubs 0

Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – June 22, 2009 – ESPN

Javier Vazquez has learned his lesson; he can win, just as long as he doesn’t allow any runs. He was not actually that sharp, allowing nine hits in 6 2/3, but all the hits were singles; he struck out five and walked two. In addition to not giving up any runs, the obvious need for Vazquez is to limit homers, which has throughout his career been his big problem.

The Braves got a run in the third when Diory Hernandez (playing for a gimpy Yunel) walked and went to second on a Vazquez bunt, then came home on a single from McLouth. The Braves had a shot at another run, but Chipper struck out and McLouth was thrown out at third running. The Braves, typically, still can’t score from first on a double with two out; both Kotchman (on a Groundhog double in the fourth) and KJ (on a Chipper double in the fifth) got stranded at third. The Braves finally got an insurance run in the seventh, when McLouth doubled with one out, went to third on a single, and scored on a sac fly by Chipper.

Moylan finished the seventh. Gonzalez pitched a perfect eighth, but Soriano ran into a little trouble in the ninth, allowing a leadoff hit and a two-out walk before getting a strikeout (he actually struck out the side) to end it.

68 thoughts on “Braves 2, Cubs 0”

  1. even though he didnt get a hit last night, kelly is looking a little more comfortable at the plate. he drew 2 walks and really battled for one of them. he should be in there tonight considering he came out due to leg cramps.

    prediction: if he plays, kelly breaks out tonight.

  2. Ryan, I hope you’re right.

    I thought tonight was one of Vasquez’s better starts. He pounded the strike zone. He had to because the cubs are disciplined and wouldn’t offer at his stuff out of the zone. I was more impressed with him tonight than most nights because he overcame adversity in the middle innings. For the most part he didn’t get too cute and was agressive, big props to Vasquez.

    BC was not on his game tonight. I thought the sending of the runners was a over agressive and we ran ourselves out of an inning. He almost left Vasquez in there too long as well.

    It was a fun game last night. I love to see those cubbie fans go home unhappy.

  3. Garret Anderson last 22 games:
    .307 .346 .467
    No power to speak of but at least he is doing SOMETHING at the plate.

  4. Sometimes I wonder if Cubs “fans” even care whether they win or lose — they just like to hear themselves. But then Cubs fans are my mortal enemy so I might be a tad biased.

  5. That damn Vazquez actually allowed hits. What a loser! Get his ass out of here. :)

    Two hits for Frenchy means he will never be out of the lineup. Sigh!

  6. #7 I’m sure that Joe Simpson alluded to that as a sure sign of a breakout from a 3 year slump.

    I know I am dumb as hell for having hope but we have some good pitching. If we could just hang in there another 2 or 3 weeks when the trading possibilities start getting more reasonable.

  7. If ACHE can hold that level of production, then LF won’t be a problem anymore.

  8. When you add up May and June he doesn’t look that bad except for the fact that he is a judy now for sure. Only 11 xb hits.

    If KJ cannot turn it around then Bobby will play Infante when he comes back and maybe Prado more. That means that we will only need one bat, maybe to give us some semblance of offense.

  9. If Infante and Prado are the answer, then the season is over. While Johnson is in a funk, these guys aren’t upgrades.

  10. I don’t understand the Rockies at all. They’ve won 17 of their last 18 games including an 11-game winning streak. What the hell? If the Braves had done that over the past three weeks, the NL East race would be over.

  11. @11,

    True, JC, but you have to do what you have to do. Maybe KJ will get out of his funk and maybe not, but you can’t just keep playing him if other guys are playing better (although that apparently doesn’t apply to Francouer). If he gets hot in August, that might be too late. He is killing the team right now. Even if KJ is a good player–which I am increasingly doubting–it doesn’t mean he can’t simply have a bad year.

  12. I am not opposed to giving Johnson less playing time (any player in a slump deserves some pine time), but I don’t think PradFante is better. If I had to predict who will have a higher OPS from hear on out from these three, I’d pick Johnson based on their historical performances.

  13. JC, how can PradFante not be better when KJ is working on an OPS of .400 during his slump?! KJ is not the kind of player who needs at-bat to get out of slump. Time will eventually cure his slump.

  14. Vazquez is slowly having his best season since his days with the Expos. He should have come to the Braves sooner.

  15. Pradfante is an upgrade over the current KJ. Yeah he is a better player than those two and yeah based on the past he should be given a chance to return to his proven level of performance but to Marc’s point how long do you let a guy thats actually playing worse the the Groundhog hurt you? Bobby has already shown far less patience with Kelly than he has with Jeff.

  16. KJ’s BABIP is .249, which is absurdly low. His strikeout rate is actually down, and his home run rate the same as last year, his walk rate just a bit lower. It doesn’t really make sense that he’s hitting so poorly, so the default assumption is that eventually he’ll stop doing so.

  17. Finishing the thought:
    Bobby has already shown far less patience with Kelly than he has with Jeff. So he’ll play Omar or Martin more anyway.

    Yeah a babip that low indicates that luck has something to do with Kelly’s season so far. But watching him and I have to admit that I haven’t seen much baseball this year, he isn’t hitting the ball hard at all. Lots of grounders and soft pop ups. So maybe more contact but not solid contact. Maybe your observations are different. I’m a big KJ fan and I want him to succeed because I think he can be a very good player but right now he is hurting the team.

  18. @4

    “Sometimes I wonder if Cubs “fans” even care whether they win or lose — they just like to hear themselves. But then Cubs fans are my mortal enemy so I might be a tad biased.”

    Don’t think I ever got over a postseason loss as fast as I did ’03, after watching those hubris-bloated bandwagoners implode against the freaking Fish.

  19. 1) I said that KJ should play less.
    2) I have not argued that a slumping KJ is better than PradFante’s current performance. Moving forward, I think KJ is the better player.

    Identifying when slumps begin and end, and identifying if they are real-talent fluctuations or artifacts of random fluctuation is difficult. The argument I am making is that KJ is a better player than either of them. Salary considerations aside, if you give all the GMs in baseball the choice of those three, right now, I believe Kelly is picked by every single one of them. I am focusing on true talent levels revealed by past performance (including minor league performance).

    At the end of the season, we can look back and see who had the higher OPS from June 24 on. Kelly’s may not be the highest, in fact, there is a decent chance he won’t, but I still think he’s the odds-on favorite to have the highest OPS out of this group.

  20. #5
    As much as I enjoyed the book, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how Moneyball would make an interesting film in the first place.

    And how did that idea get pitched to Hollywood?

    “Well, see, it’s sort of a Revenge of the Nerds for baseball…”

    “OK, so Billy Beane is a nerd?”

    “No, he’s an ex-jock who’s now a GM for a low-budget team & figures out a way to compete with high rollers like the Yankees.”

    “But the Yankees still win in the end. In fact, they beat the A’s in the playoffs 2 years in a row.”

    “Yeah, OK, there’s that, but see…in baseball it’s interesting that they even got there with that modest payroll.”

    “Maybe, but how do you make that interesting to non-baseball people? This needs to be Hoosiers or it’s just a documentary.”

    “OK, it could be like Rocky! Remember, Rocky Balboa loses in the end, too.”

    “When did Scott Hatteberg become Rocky Balboa?”

  21. We agree more than disagree I think.

    What has changed for me is that I used to know that KJ is a good player. Now I THINK he CAN be good.

  22. Maybe I’m just dumb, but I couldn’t make it through the third chapter of Moneyball.

  23. #24 Oh man, what did I do to deserve that? :)

    Hey I said Pradfante should play more, right?

  24. Was at the game last night, pretty sparsely attended and an embarassing percentage of Cubs fans in attendance, at least in the area I was sitting (got really tired of hearing “let’s go cubbies” chants). Kind of a weird game. The Cubs had plenty of baserunners, but Vasquez avoided the extra base hit and got outs when he really needed them. Braves didn’t do much better, but managed to scratch out a couple runs. Their baserunning was very aggravating to watch (not scoring on two out doubles, ACHE getting hung out to dry between second and third which cost a run, etc.)

    I think KJ’s problem is his lame at-bat music. Don’t remember what it was exactly, but it was definitely kind of wussy.

  25. I would normally agree on those doubles, which this team does a terrible job scoring on, but I believe neither of those doubles even reached the wall. It is terribly difficult to score from 1st on a double that doesn’t reach the wall. And we have one of the slowest teams I have ever seen.

  26. I think we have played well in the past week and had some bad luck. We might be turning this thing around. Anderson is hitting better. Frenchy had some good AB’s last night. Maybe?

  27. Having my new york friends over tonight to watch the game.

    One of the cruelest ironies of leaving dear ol’ georgia for nyc is having to look forward to yankee games so i can watch the braves on tv rather than online.

    Please Braves, win tonight, I know you only like to win one game in a series so please let it be tonight.

    Does anybody know of a site where you can listen to bill shanks online?

  28. 28—IIRC, KJ uses The Outfield’s “Your Love,” which is actually awesome in its own way, IMO.

  29. Regarding attendance…..the economy sucks and Atlanta is really suffering. For years this town has been built on jobs, population growth, and residential and commercial real estate. With unemployment going the wrong direction, and construction slowing down to a crawl, this town is suffering worse than I can ever remember. I just don’t think people are going to be using their discretionary income to drive downtown and watch a mediocre team when they can watch the game on tv. I know that’s my approach this season, and I usually go to 4-6 games a season.

    As for the season turning around, I’m still skeptical. The entire right side of the field and the left field position are pretty uninspiring, which means we have about half a lineup to work with.

  30. 33–Same here. I’ve recently been going to 3-4 games a year. I have to drive in from Upstate SC, which is about a 1:45 minute drive so it’s not that appealing when you have to spend about $75 bucks and roughly four hours of driving time to come see a team that puts you to sleep.

    Get this–I went to the Cardinals-Braves game last July on the night Mark Teixiera was traded, and was treated to this lineup:

    Blanco, LF
    Escobar, SS
    Kotsay, CF
    Norton, 1B
    Infante, 3B
    Johnson, 2B
    Francoeur, RF
    Miller, C
    Campillo, P

    At least I got to see Albert Pujols homer–haven’t been back since.

  31. There aren’t many SP available for the Phils right now. I bet they end up picking up Sheets when he comes back. And I don’t like the sound of that.

  32. Be bewy, bewy quiet. I think Francouer’s waking up a bit.

    Whether as our RF or trade bait, this is a very good thing.

    We should jump on the first good offer we see. Even if it’s a pitcher – then the Phillies can’t get their cheesesteak-smelling hands on him.

    Because the only way we make the playoffs this year is to win the Division.

    Wish we were as good as the Rockies.

    Sigh.

  33. when he starts slugging around .450 or so, Ill say he’s still a good hitter. Till then a singles hitter that doesnt walk or play good defense isnt a good player

  34. Looking at the splits, a reverse platoon would seem to be in order at 2B when Infante comes back with Omar hitting vs righties and Kelly vs lefties. Of course Bobby’s head would explode if you even mentioned the concept of a reverse platoon to him.

  35. its possible to score fron first on a double??? i guess i’ve been watching the Braves too long. the worst was last year when Tiexdouche jogged into third on a 2-out, stand-up double by speedster McCann.

  36. Atlanta is (according to Forbes) the 4th worst hit stadium this season (attendance-wise)… Worse than us are the Nats, and Detroit and the Canadian team. Attendance is off 20+% per game apparently.

  37. He basically said that, you know, with all the droves of Braves fans who just walk up to the gate on gameday and buy tickets, the rainouts prevented such sales from happening.

    *snickers*

  38. Atlanta has been hit hard just like every other city. They just don’t have very passionate(good) baseball fans.

  39. On attendance-we are being compared to other cities, so the economy is only an excuse if we are being hit worse than other cities.

    In 4 years, this once gold-standard of a franchise has kind of gotten run-down. More specifically, I think the front office and product on the field has looked pretty incompetant the last year and a half. We have been poor on the field; we have not transitioned out of our veteran core with any grace (or at least have been hit pretty hard in the press about it); we have looked weak in our personnel managment (Jeffie to Richmond and whining about Furcal come to mind); and our PR has been poorly thought-out or at best uncoordinated (Francoeur is the face of the franchise, with that background of success?)

    The chickens are coming home to roost fro Frank Wren; as Terry McGuirk said last week, the franchise isn’t about sentimentality; it is about winning, now. Frank had better win, now; the boss has just said that is what we do.

  40. @53 – It’s about mediocre baseball. Wren has actually done a pretty good job while in the seat. He has made some darn good trades, and stacked our starting pitching. You can blame the PR on whomever, but Wren has done a very good job, IMO. We just had way too many holes to fill this offseason – no way he could fill them all.

  41. While I recognize there are some talent deficiencies on this team, the team has also underperformed IMO. They often play sloppy, uninspired, fundamentally poor baseball. I have a lot bigger issues with #6 and his staff than I do with the front office when it comes to the team’s play this season.

  42. What can you say about athleticism, inspiration, and fundamentally strong baseball when you’ve got a 400-pound Chino Cadahia as your bench coach?

  43. Cadahia took over the job of beefy, Latin player translator after Pat Corrales left. I understand he’s working with Yunel on his bat throwing problem and general concentration lapses.

  44. Did anyone else notice that the Yankees have protested their 6-5 loss to the Marlins. If I read it correctly, the Marlins double-switched out Coghlan for De Aza in the bottom of the 7th, but Coghlan took the field to start the top of the 8th. After one pitch, Girardi protested and Coghlan came out. Yankees were losing 6-3 at the time and the pitch wasn’t put into play as far as I can tell.

    What happens there? I know if you bat out of order, an out is awarded to the other team, but playing with an ineligible man, even for one pitch, would that be grounds for a forfeit?

    (I can’t imagine it would, but interesting to consider).

  45. Then again, Atlanta fans have been so disappointed with the one World Series win and Bobby Cox’s numerous postseason failures…I don’t blame them for not showing up.

    Furthermore, there is not one player on the Braves that I would deem exciting and would want to see in person. B-Mac is nice, but he’s a catcher. Francouer is still a draw in Atlanta, so there is another he is still there.

  46. Re attendence: I have never been to Turner Field so I don’t want to disparage the problems people have mentioned about getting there. Here in DC, I can hop on the subway and get off in front of the ballpark; I would go much less if I had to battle traffic.

    That said, attendence started declining almost as soon as Turner Field opened and has been declining for most of the past decade (with some slight upticks the past couple of years). This despite the fact that the Braves provided a superior product for most of the period. To some extent, this was undoubtedly due to the transportation issue and to some extent probably a reflection of the failures in the playoffs (people stopped taking the regular season seriously). This is what led to the slashing of the payroll in the mid 2000s, which, I think, had a lot to do with the team’s decline, primarily because of the way the payroll had been structured–several large contracts for players that underperformed.

    Now, I’m sure JC would argue, correctly I’m sure, that the Braves remained profitable despite falling attendence and that ownership did not need to cut payroll as much and as precipitately as it did. I agree but, realistically, that’s what owners, especially corporations, do.

    I don’t blame people at all for not going to see a lousy product such as the Brave are now, but I can understand the disappointment of management when attendence declined even when the team was consistently winning 95-100 games per year. I think the decisons made in 2003-2005 were really the turning point for what has happened since 2005. It’s hard to believe that a team that was as good as the Braves once were now have such a dysfunctional lineup (of course, even when they were winning, the lineup was dysfunctional to some extent but not as much as now), basically one outfielder that should be starting on a good team.

  47. A couple of good points about attendence. I live in North Ga. (on the TN border) so it is a bit of a drive and the last few time we’ve gone to a game, the offense has been absolutely putrid (surprise, surprise). I love a good pitcher’s dual as much as the next guy but a consistant lack of an “exciting” offense is hard to get behind as a fan base.

    I’ll also add that offense is better live (more to cheer for at the game) while a well-pitched game I enjoy just as much from home (as long as it’s not a no-hitter or 10+ K game).

    Finally, has there been any talk of expanding MARTA to go right to the stadium?

  48. #48

    As much as we get on Joe, there really is something to this I believe. Numerous rainouts and threats of rain on weekend games will have an effect on attendence. We would still be down for sure but I believe not nearly as much.

  49. I’ve never lived in Atlanta, but I’ve been there for business. Driving the metro area is hell. Someone will correct me but my perception is that the affluence is north of Atlanta. The ballpark is situated in the south part of town that makes a drive there a pain in the ass at the very least. I agree that had the park been a MARTA destination attendance would be better.

    I know that Braves haven’t been as good as in the past during the halcyon days but just to be a contrarian I have to give the front office some credit for:
    a. not selling everything off and starting over like the Marlins do every other year.
    b. trying to compete knowing that an NL East crown is an obtainable goal.
    c. that once you get into the playoffs anything can happen. Yeah I know that some folks hate this attitude but the Braves simply have had limited resources to obtain MLB ready talent.
    d. still putting emphasis on obtaining talent for and leveraging a strong minor league system for the betterment of the MLB club.

    So while the product on the field as of late has been less than successful or desirable to see, I think the FO has done what it can with the resources it has to compete. Which as fans we should appreciate.

  50. Marta has actually been talking about cutting back service on their existing routes, and I’ve heard nothing about rail expansion in years. Considering they are apparently dripping in red ink, I doubt they’ll run a spur to the stadium for basically 81 dates. If they were smart they could incorporate a stadium station with expansion to either Grant Park and/or Carver Homes and Lakewood, but that’s probably a decade or more from happening, if at all.

    The leadership in this area regarding transportation has been nothing short of abysmal. They were once ahead of the game with public transportation but what they have now is a joke.

  51. @60 – and our 1 good outfielder is playing out of position. We need Schafer to start playing well so we can move McClouth to LF.

  52. At 67,

    If you move McLouth, don’t you move him to right? ACHE and Diaz together are comparable offensively to McLouth and McLouth is comparable to the French One.

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