Nats 5, Braves 3

Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals – Box Score – July 04, 2009 – ESPN

Great, a bullpen meltdown. Hadn’t had one of those in a while. Gonzalez came out to start the eighth, leading 3-1, and allowed a single and two walks while getting only one out — or being given it on a bunt. Moylan came in with the bases loaded, and he got the grounder to get out of it, but it found a hole up the middle and scored two runs. O’Flaherty allowed two singles, the second on another grounder that looked at first even more like a double play ball, and it was 5-3. The Braves got two on with one out in the ninth, but McCann lined out pinch-hitting and Conrad grounded out to end it.

Tommy Hanson, however, just keeps getting better. In seven innings he allowed one run on a mammoth homer by Dunn; he’s hardly the first that’s happened to. He allowed just two other hits, struck out five, and walked just one, and 74 of his 105 pitches were strikes. His ERA is 2.25. But I guess he just forgot how to win since his last start.

The Braves took the lead in the third on a single by McLouth to drive in Conrad, and got RBI singles from Chipper and ACHE in the sixth. But they hit into four double plays, which just killed them and kept them from big innings — even in the sixth, Yunel hit into a double play to more or less kill the rally.

The worst part is that the Braves didn’t start Francoeur, who sucks, and now they’re going to go back to starting him because they were winning despite his presence. Trust me, that’s how their minds work. One of ACHE and Diaz, who were a collective 4-7 with a walk and an RBI, will be on the bench tomorrow. ACHE is now hitting .290; it’s not a particularly productive .290, because he doesn’t walk or hit many homers, but it’s a lot better than Francoeur’s .250 with even fewer walks and homers. (Jeffy’s secondary average is .152, which sucks.) Diaz is hitting .315 with walks and some power.

UPDATE: Jeez, I forgot — thanks to Stu for covering for me the last couple of days. Weird timing on my Internet outage, and he stepped up in a hurry.

56 thoughts on “Nats 5, Braves 3”

  1. …from the last thread…

    Sam, one of Cox’s strengths over the years has been managing for the marathon and not the single game. Rendering your best relievers ineffective for the long haul does not help the marathon.

    Medlen is the answer, believe it or not. So, is Acosta.

  2. The answer is to score more runs.

    One of Kotchman, Anderson, and Diaz has to be replaced with someone who can hit for some extra bases.

  3. I thought the Zimmerman hit was going to be a dp for Medlen in the 8th. I dunno maybe Yunel is working with ACHE to get lazier in the field or maybe he just wasn’t in position.

    Also: I would like to see the outfield like this until Infante returns
    LF Diaz
    CF Blanco
    RF McClouth

    Blanco is a good fit as a lead off hitter, and ACHE really doesn’t add anything to the team except a single every 3 or so PAs. Plus Nate is leading the team in Homers, and while I don’t think he is our premier power hitter he really would be better off lower in the order

  4. Just downloaded the MLB iPhone app and it’s pretty awesome. Got to listen to the game on the radio and watch the video highlights during the game. Well worth the $10.

    Let’s win the series tomorrow.

  5. @5….As stated earlier, the Braves were playing Zimmerman more to pull than any other team according to the Nats broadcasters. So it wasn’t Yunel. By the way, Yunel had a very good defensive game today.

  6. 5-3, 9-8, 5-2, 5-4, 2-1, 4-1, 4-0, 2-0, 6-5… which of these games were we supposed to keep Moylan, Gonzalez, and Soriano out of? That takes us back to June 20.

    Moylan pitched 2/3rds in a 7-11 loss. All three were held out of a 3-0 loss. All three were held out of 4-8 loss. All three were held out an 11-1 win.

    They’re tired because we’ve been playing in a lot of close games. Bobby IS managing the marathon. Right now is the time when we’re in it, right now we can strike, right now we’re playing close and tight and we’re in almost every game. And if he can pull out the close ones NOW, he might have a chance to rest them later.

    If he rests them now, and we don’t pull out the close ones, he’ll be able to rest them all of August and September, because we’ll be playing meaningless games.

  7. This team should be able to score more than 3 runs vs the Nationals who are on pace to be the worst team in major league history. This team should be able to hold a 2 run lead for the final 2 innings vs the Nationals. That the Braves nevertheless sometimes don’t score more than 3 runs vs the Nats or hold a 2 run lead against them is why they are under .500 and in 4th place.

    Wouldn’t it have been nice if Wren had spent $10 million on Adam Dunn rather than on Francoeur, Anderson, and other spare parts? I wonder what it would take to undo that mistake and make Adam a Brave.

  8. I think Bobby should have rested one of Soriano and Gonzales yesterday and the other today. The beauty of having two closers is that you have more ways to finish a game.

    If you have to pitch those guys in every close game, you are not managing for the marathon. You need to trust a close lead to someone else if you get 8 games in a row like that.

    Is this really under debate?

    I really find it hard to believe that some people do not recognize that Bobby is mismanaging the bullpen. I thought it was as obvious as how poor of a player Francoeur is, who, by the way, Bobby has started in almost every game for four years.

  9. jj – you added this after I replied:

    “If he rests them now, and we don’t pull out the close ones, he’ll be able to rest them all of August and September, because we’ll be playing meaningless games.”

    You illustrate the point about not managing the marathon.

    Managing the marathon is sacrificing a game if you must to keep your closer effective for the long haul.

    But, it is just possible that Logan or Medlen or Acosta can go an inning without giving up 2 or 3 runs. It might be nice to know and to give them the confidence in those situations.

  10. It doesn’t matter if the situation calls for them. Sometimes they’re off limits no matter what. You can’t throw injury-prone relievers coming off major surgery out there 3 and 4 days in a row. And Bobby has done this a few times this season. Bobby just plain lacks the ability to tell himself, OK, Gonzo and Soriano are off limits today, I’ve used them too much over the past week, it’s hot, and we’re playing a day game after I used them last night. And yeah, you lose a few games because you’re forced to go with low-leverage relievers in high-leverage situations. But you don’t lose 10 because you get to keep your important bullpen pieces healthy and effective for the entire season. When’s the last time that happened?

  11. I’ll repeat myself in different words: if you start sacrificing the games when we have a chance at them, there might not BE a marathon.

    Wins now effect the team’s morale. Wins now effect the rest of the division’s morale. Wins now make wins later meaningful. Wins now mean we might be in a position to be buyers, maybe Wren makes a deal to get some offense, and maybe the closers get more rest later.

    The team traditionally plays better in July, August, and September. June always seems to be our worst month. Riding them hard now to preserve wins when wins are at their rarest makes more sense to me than saving them to preserve wins when wins are more common.

  12. We didn’t win today because the back end of our bullpen was cashed and we used it anyway. With the amount of abuse it has endured over the past 2 weeks, we would’ve had a better shot with Medlen and Acosta finishing the game. Plus that puts us in a better position in the future because we’re giving the important arms a day off. And this isn’t second guessing. We had a conversation last night about how Soriano and Gonzalez shouldn’t be available today.

  13. Also, as an aside, these guys are FA at the end of the year, we can’t keep both, we might not be able to keep either. I don’t particularly care what it does to their arms. Wins now are worth more than wins later.

  14. What JJ said @11.

    Yeah, JJ nailed it. End of story.

    Their grounders found holes for runs our grounders found fielders for double plays. Sometimes it’s that simple. Turning it into a referendum on Bobby’s bullpen management is, um, probably not wise.

  15. If I were to make a change to Bobby’s bullpen management, set rules, it would be that only one of those 3 be used when we’re LOSING by TWO RUNS or more. If it’s a one run game, everyone’s game. If we’re ahead by 3 or fewer, everyone’s game.

    Two plus down, or 4 plus up, only one of the three would be used.

    But when we’ve got a real shot, you gotta put your best on the field.

  16. Everybody just wants someone to blame when we lose. Bobby is an easy target, but he has done very well over the past few weeks. Why don’t you guys just stick to holding the players accountable? We had baserunners all over the place tonight and just couldn’t get them in. This offense needs to help our pitching.

  17. Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays, and now Steve McNair. Tough time to be famous.

  18. Different with McNair, though. Everyone knew that Farrah was dying, that Ed was sick and old, and (if you really thought of it) that Michael was obviously not physically thriving. McNair? Gosh, this is a guy who retired from the sport last year, and someone who (from all I can tell/remember) was well-liked and well-respected.

  19. there are 11 guys in national league that have pitched 40 or more games in relief. we have 3 of them. did you hear that? there are some teams that dont even have 1, and we have 3…approaching 4. it is, without question, ridiculous.

    how many times have they been used when there was a 4+ run lead? yesterday’s game, it was 9-6. since it’s a “hold and close” situation, bobby HAS to use his holder and closer combo when, surely, medlen or acosta could get 6 outs.

    examples:
    6/19: braves win 8-2 gonzalez pitches, soriano pitches
    6/23: braves win 4-0 soriano pitches, gonzalez pitches

    those are 2 in the last 2 weeks.

    if not bobby’s fault for overusing his pen, josh, then whose? blaming bobby for the loss today, this single game, is too secluded of a view. blaming bobby for flaming out the arms so they cant pitch effecitvely in today’ s game is where the argument begins.

  20. Braves lose !! Cox is an idiot!!! you crybabies are a real hoot. if my wife whined like Ryan C, i’d move to Iran.

  21. 29, thank you. Especially since we’ve gotten the 4th most innings from our starters in the NL. We have 7 pitchers in that bullpen, we need to be using all 7 for health’s sake.

  22. From Carrol:
    Mike Gonzalez: (pitched for third day in a row and four out of five) “I didn’t really feel like I had anything going today. It was one of those days, where your fastball may not have so much zip but you can get away with breaking pitches but today I wasn’t throwing strikes. None of my pitches were working for me.”

  23. Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman were just promoted to Double AA Pearl.

    At least exciting for me.

  24. with a name like barrycuda, i dont think anyone will miss you here. barry, if you want to get personal…bring it..i’m fiesty!

    i’m glad you call it whining. i call it stating facts. bobby’s done.

    whether we lose this game with medlen or acosta…who knows? but with bobby cox as manager, gonzalez, moylan, and soriano arent the only ones who are going to need career jeopardizing arm surgeries. or maybe they are….surgery #2.

  25. #30 – “In other news, the sky is blue.”

    JJ – and here I thought you couldn’t admit the obvious.

  26. “Jeez, I forgot — thanks to Stu for covering for me the last couple of days. Weird timing on my Internet outage, and he stepped up in a hurry.”

    For sure. Nice work, Stu.

  27. Cody Johnson made BA’s Midseason Minor League All Star team, albeit as DH. Hanson was the #2 starter.

  28. Not fair to say they should score more runs. Lannan is a good pitcher. Just because the Nats are a bad team doesn’t mean you can expect to score 8 runs every game. The fact is, the bullpen is supposed to win games like this and too many times, they don’t.

    I don’t know what to say about this team. Every damn time in the last four years when it looks like the Braves are going to get some momentum, they blow a game like this. And I pretty much knew they were going to lose it. It’s just the kind of game they lose so frequently.

    This should have been a routine win, except there are no routine wins anymore for the Braves. They were getting great pitching and good defense; sure, they blew opportunities to get more runs, but you ought to win a game like this.

    I don’t know if Bobby’s to blame or not. But they didn’t lose games like this very often in the 90s.

  29. Heyward – an rbi triple in his first official AA at bat.

    It’s cool to be able to follow these guys on Gameday.

  30. Parish, you’re going a little far to say that by disagreeing with you, I can’t “admit the obvious.” Considering there are several people who feel both ways about it, you can hardly call it common knowledge. I said nothing condescending nor demeaning toward you, it’s unnecessary to be a prick about it.

    It would be a fool’s errand to continue arguing the same points, especially with a person who is going to imply I’m some kind of idiot because I happen to disagree. I personally am okay with going to Gonzo tonight. Conversation over.

  31. The last two games haven’t been that great,” said Francoeur, who had one hard-hit ball to straightaway center caught on the warning track Friday, but teams are defending him up the middle instead of to pull, as he did last year.

    “If I keep that approach I’ll be fine,” Francoeur said. “I’m not worried about that part. I’m not going to go up there trying to do something different because that’s when you get yourself in a rut.”

    Is this guy mentally ill?

  32. We’re playing too many close games because our offense can only score 5 runs on a good night. It’s not just Lannan, it’s the several innings last night against the Nats’ bullpen, etc. Maybe it’s psychological, but it seems like we can’t hit with a lead – AKA shutdown mode.

    I could maybe see using Medlen or Acosta today if you thought using Gonzalez was not an option or excessive. To use them 2 days ago or whatever is second guessing though. There’s no guarantee that we’ll have another save situation this week.

    I figure it’s pretty much a tossup whether or not the B squad gets the job done, anyways. Pick out the games in advance that you don’t really mind losing, and then get back to me. Otherwise we need more offense, our starters to go 8 or 9 scoreless every night, or someone else from the bullpen to make the jump.

  33. So, Heyward finished his night 2-for-3 with a triple, BB, rbi, and run scored.

    Freeman managed a 1-for-3 with an rbi and a run scored.

    Both were hit by pitches.

    By the way, Ka’aihue was indeed released.

  34. Kotchman was put in as a defensive replacement late in the game…and in the 8th…his slow ass couldn’t catch up to a foul ball that lead to the Natties big inning. Oh well.

    So we won 5 in a row. And lose an ugly one today. Tommy Hanson’s performance has been absolutely incredible. Tommy Glavine, despite your “warts”, I love ya man…but I don’t think Glavine could touch what Hanson has done for this team in the last few weeks.

    With the repeated use of the same pen guys, you can expect this to happen ever so often. Geez, how many games is Gonzo gonna see? With a surgically repaired arm, I wonder how he can keep up.

    I sure would like to see the surge continue…but would love to think we see a big offensive trade in the next week or two. Man, what could’ve been with the addition of a bat like Adam Dunn (how many times have heard that?).

  35. On the other hand, Gonzalez struck out the side in the series opener and was the Braves’ most effective pitcher in that game.

    I am concerned about bullpen overusage, but I really don’t know what that is. Gonzalez is on track for about 82 appearances/80 innings. The latter really shouldn’t be a problem; the former might be. He, Moylan, and O’Flaherty are all on track for over 80 appearances. There have been 107 pitcher seasons with 80 or more appearances in baseball history (one by Moylan in 2007). Some guys can handle that workload, some guys can’t.

    Of course, the Braves might not be doing this if they were really concerned with their relievers’ futures. Soriano and Gonzalez are free agents, and Moylan and O’Flaherty came off the scrap heap. Under those circumstances, it’s no surprise that they’re more likely to get their shoulders shredded than the valuable, signed-for-long-term starters.

  36. On the other hand, Gonzalez struck out the side in the series opener and was the Braves’ most effective pitcher in that game.

    Right. Find me the manager that will watch a pitcher strike out the side on 17 pitches and conclude: “That guy needs a day off tomorrow”.

    Bobby has always treated – in my opinion correctly – bullpen arms as disposable. That goes double when the pithcers in question are going to walk at the end of the year.

  37. #52, but even if the Braves don’t care about Soriano and Gonzalez beyond this year, overpitching them from March through July is likely to backfire in September and make it harder for the team to win a playoff spot. Doubtless Bobby doesn’t have much confidence in his other relievers aside from Moylan and with justification but that doesn’t make what he’s doing the best way to handle the staff.

  38. Bobby has always treated – in my opinion correctly – bullpen arms as disposable.

    I agree with this to a point. There are two goals with respect to the pitching staff — 1) to win games, and 2) to maintain a healthy staff. Those two goals intersect in terms of the starting rotation — the guys pitching 2/3 of the innings have to be healthy. And successful teams tend to have a stable rotation year-to-year. If you have a budget, you can’t be turning over 60% of your rotation every year. We can’t do again this offseason what we did last year — throw tens of millions around on starting pitchers. So you have to watch their workload, and Cox has done that.

    And what is overwork for a reliever? Is it the number of games, innings, batters faced, pitches thrown, what? Right now Gonzalez, Soriano, Moylan, and O’Flaherty are tenth, 26th, 40th, and 60th in batters faced, and seventh, 26th, 39th, and 68th in pitches thrown. We play a lot of close games, so they’re going to see a lot of action, but there’s an argument there that they AREN’T overworked.

    Acosta and Medlen? They’ll have to help, too, but we’re talking about one guy who hasn’t done well historically in high-leverage situations and another who is a talented rookie who can’t always find the strike zone.

  39. Frankly, the only thing I’d like to see are longer outings. Instead of Moylan/Gonzo/Soriano (in whatever order), why not go Moylan for 1.2 and, when a lefty comes up mid-way through the 8th, bring in Gonzo for the last 4-5 outs? Or something to that effect, anyways. Maybe have a LOOGY (not Gonzo) come in to pitch to the leadoff lefty in the 8th inning and back him up with Soriano to finish the game? When Sori is out there getting 6-pitch innings, why not let him go for two innings some times and end up with 80-85 IP on 70 appearances?

    And finally, no reason to complain about ‘pen over-use. This is the first game they’ve lost us in a good long while. It was only getting 3 vs. Lannan that sunk us yesterday. Luckily, I have faith that they’ll score well more than that today.

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