Marlins 8, Braves 7

Atlanta Braves vs. Florida Marlins – Box Score – September 02, 2009 – ESPN

The Braves are playing a bit too well to reinstate the Miserable Braves Loss Type-Index, but this one was a standard one that I hate more than any — the team came back from a big deficit, but couldn’t get the big hit to take the lead, and wound up losing, this time on a walkoff homer from failed Braves prospect turned Braves nemesis Wes Helms. It came off of Mike Gonzalez, on the dreaded third day of work in a row, but Bobby didn’t have a lot of other options — it was either Soriano for the fourth day in a row, or Logan or Valdez or Carlyle.

This was actually another Miserable Loss Type too, the Hibernation Mode Loss, where the Braves took a 2-0 lead in the first but couldn’t add on against an ineffective pitcher, and after it was tied at two they made it 3-2 but couldn’t add on against the bullpen. Javier Vasquez had a weird game where he either blew the batters away or they hit rockets against him — there were very few softly hit balls. One of them, however, was a killer, a flare single with one out and one on in the sixth. Vazquez hit the next batter to load the bases.

Last night, in a similar situation, Bobby brought in Moylan. Tonight he brought in Medlen, who has been really good lately, but didn’t have it tonight. He gave up a double down the line to clear the bases and give the Marlins a 5-3 lead. If it had just stayed there, the Braves actually would have been in good shape. But he allowed two more runs of his own to score, making it 7-3.

The Braves answered back, also loading the bases with one out, and then getting a pinch-hit double from Chipper (in for Church, who started the game in center; Chipper’s day off didn’t turn out that way) to make it 7-6. But unlike the Marlins, the Braves couldn’t get any more runs, as Bobby again used the useless Norton to hit with first-and-third, one out, and he struck out, and after Diaz was hit by a pitch Prado flew out to end it.

In the top of the ninth, Yunel led off the inning with a solo homer to right field, tying the game. Infante and KJ (pinch-hitting) walked after Chipper flew out, but Diaz hit into a double play. Gonzalez came in, got the first guy, then Smelms got him.

90 thoughts on “Marlins 8, Braves 7”

  1. Greg f**king Norton…what is it so hard to see? He can’t even catch up with an average fastball…Bobby, are you listening?! Or are you even watching?!

  2. I know that more moves have been blasted here tonight, but the Norton one is the only one with which I take issue. What does it take to go to somebody else first?

    I still fall short of blaming Bobby on this one (and I am one that wishes he would retire). Our players had plenty of chances to blow the game open and no one converted. I know we had some nice at bats to keep it close, but with many chances we never got the hit to give us the lead.

  3. The Braves scored in the 1st, 5th, 7th, and 9th, totaling 7 runs. I’m not seeing “hibernation mode” there.

  4. Let me preface this by saying that this comment in no way indites Vasquez on tonights loss. Although I am not his biggest fan, Vasquez has done well for us.

    That said, I think tonight shows the difference in the forthcoming or soon to be forth comming Huddy vs. Javy keeper debate.

    Remember back to last night, in the fifth inning with two outs that Cogalin guy singled, bringing up Helms with 2 outs, with Ramerez on deck. Huddy rapidly and easily disposed of Helms, thus ending any chance of a two out rally. Those situations would be where Javy would issue a free pass to Helms and then give up a bomb to Hanley, or something like that. (Or on nights he is on Javy mows down Helms too.)

    Fast foward to the sixth tonight. Javy’s lone walk was a leadoff one to Ross. Then his only other free pass was to hit Bonafacio while ahead in the count. Obviously he did not get the help that Huddy got from Moylan last night, but had he not walked Ross or hit Bonafacio while ahead in the count, none of the sixth happens.

    The things about Javy are this: 1. He has great stuff. 2. When he is rolling few are better. 3. He has been great for us until recently.

    That said, it has been wondered on here how does someone with the periphial numbers Javy has not have won more games. What is the difference between someone like Huddy with an incredible winnging % and Javy who is barely a break even pitcher. I think the reason is that Javy has an uncanny ability to shoot himself in the foot, whereas Huddy rarely does.

    Make no mistake, Javy should have never been in the game vs. Bonafacio, but Javy was ahead in the count when he hit him. His lone walk also came in that inning, so the only two free passes the Marlins got were in that inning. They made the Braves pay, whereas the braves did not make the Marlins pay enough. Story of the year, and quite frankly a microcosim of Javy Vasquez’s career.

    Please don’t think I am blaming or bashing Javy. Game really wasn’t all his fault, but he deserves some blame. I just had an opinion to share while trying to wind down for bed.

  5. @5 – I don’t understand your comparison of Vazquez and Hudson’s performance. In my eyes they were almost exactly the same. It’s hard to find any difference at all in their results. Hudson allowed 6 hits and 3 walks, Javy allowed 7 hits, a walk, and a HBP.

    Huddy left after allowing 2 early runs with one out and the bases loaded in the 6th and Moylan saved his cookies plain and simple.

    After giving up 2 runs tonight Javy, left in exactly the same situation. The only problem was Medlen didn’t have it tonight and let all of Javy’s runners, along with 2 of his own, score.

    I’m confused at the distinction between the two and the implication that Javy isn’t as clutch based on this game. I just don’t see it.

  6. I watched the game but still got mad when I read that Greg Norton pinch hit in that spot. It defies logic.

    Diaz yelling into his helmet after hitting into that DP reminded me of the John Rocker days. Ah, memories…

    Tough loss, but it was bound to happen. If it wasn’t Gonzo blowing it (who has been stellar recently), it would have been Soriano or one of the other lesser guys in extras.

    I love Javy, but I’m certain he’ll be traded for a bat this winter. And that’s a-okay.

  7. i’m not sure we need a bat anymore. sign laroche. sign gonzo or soriano, pick up hudson’s option, trade vazquez for bullpen help, bring up heyward, and stamp our butts to the playoffs.

  8. Mac–I like the quiz–but I am bit surprised that Shane Reynolds did not make the list. While I don’t think it is entirely fair to blame a failed closer (we used to blame Danny Frisella for all the Braves’ problems) I have to go with Dan Kolb….

  9. The previous comparison of Vazquez to Tim Hudson is pretty funny. We all know what Ozzie said last season: Javier Vazquez is not a big game pitcher and he is correct.

    Javy has had a great season overall but it’s obvious at this juncture of the season, he will be the odd man out when it comes time to trade one of our six starters.

    Fatigue has become an issue in the bullpen. Get ready for a few more blown saves. By the way, our vaunted pitching staff has just one complete game. The connection should be obvious.

    Here, check this out.

    Moylan (75), Gonzalez (68) and O’Flaherty (66) rank 1st, 3rd and 5th in game appearances among all major league pitchers. Soriano is a distant 19th with 61 games. The Braves are the only team with four pitchers who have at least 60 game appearances.

    Can you say mismanagement real fast, ten times?????

  10. @11 You know, I have been saying that for months and have been blasted by different individuals for saying it.

    Besides using Norton, I don’t understand why Bobby brought in Medlen instead of Moylan in the sixth inning. I mean, Moylan got the job done last night, why not do it again tonight? These couple of moves just don’t make any sense.

  11. Cox won’t allow Moylan to pitch in more than two games in a row this late in the season. Peter Moylan leads all pitchers in game appearances with 75.

    Cox has had a seven man bullpen all season long. But he won’t use more than four of them consistently.

  12. My bad KC. I didn’t watch the game and it was the third game in a row for Moylan. Who by the way, hasn’t given up a HR since March 30th 2008.

    Fox sports notes on the Mets:

    Outfielder Jeff Francoeur says that manager Jerry Manuel told him to drive in runs, score runs and prevent runs and not worry about batting average. Manuel says that Francoeur’s continued lack of plate discipline will be addressed later.

    “I had Carlos Lee (with the White Sox),” Manuel says. “He was that way, swinging at everything. When you get to know him, you’d say, ‘Carlos, look at it this way, make some adjustments.’ He was able to.

    I think Francoeur will be able to do it, too.”

  13. I blame Escobar. He selfishly killed the rally in the ninth with a homer.

    Remember the RBI video game. When your pitcher was tired he’d start sweating then start bouncing up and down. That’s what Vazquez looked like in the sixth.

  14. I was at the game

    It was bleeping awesome when Chipper drove in three and then Yunel tying it was insane. All 20 Marlins fans were groaning in pain.

    and WOW… seeing Norton suck live is a whole new level of sucking.

  15. #16

    ububba…you beat me to the punch. I normally dislike Bradley but this is his best work.

    If you ask me a #1 reason why Bobby freaking Cox needs to stop being the Manager of this team already, it’s his incessant LIVING IN THE PAST on certain players and insane over loyalty to guys he likes. Norton fits the bill on both accounts.

    Bobby Cox has been insulting (at least) MY intelligence for years with this kind of stuff. Keith Lockhart will always be the longest and most painful example, but there’s always Chris Woodward or Rico Brogna as well, to remind Braves fans that if Bobby Cox likes a guy, and he’s heard of him because the guy is either a veteran or once did something, Bobby will keep rolling him out there.

    It’s been downright psychotically stupid that Greg Norton gets Major League paychecks, while Brooks Conrad was forced to go back to Gwinnett to toil away. How many other games might we have won in the end in the last 6-8 weeks, had Conrad been pinch hitting late instead of Norton? I don’t know the exact count but there has to be at least 3 games…and what would the Wild Card standings look like now with that ONE SIMPLE CHANGE.

    I went to bed angry about the loss but mostly about GREG NORTON. I want to kill him. I want wrap my hands around his and Bobby’s neck for the fact that he keeps putting this cretant out there to ruin tight ball games late for us. It’s disturbing.

    For all those Bobby defenders out there who want to bury me for my angry rant this morning, you cannot, SIMPLY CANNOT defend Bobby Cox for Greg Norton.

    As for Mike Gonzalez giving up a game winning home run the night after Soriano gave up a 9th inning home run? Guess what…you can thank Bobby Cox for that, too. Why? Overuse of his relief pitchers throughout the season and they are all worn down right now. Peter Moylan looks homeless to me he’s so worn out.

    The bottomline is let’s think back to all those 9-3 type of games that we saw Gonzalez, Soriano, Moylan et all come into and now see how tired these guys are. If there’s one reason to have a useless pitcher like Manny Acosta on the roster, it’s to roll his pathetic butt out during every 9-3 game (whether it’s a 9-3 lead or down 9-3).

    I am officially done with Bobby. Just DONE. If we make the post season by some bloody miracle (despite the existence of Norton on this roster and Cox managing) GREAT…the downside is Frank Wren and Schuerholz will shove Cox down our collective throats again.

    I will sya this about Tony LaRussa. He maybe a gigantic douchebag, but if he were managing the Braves right now, Greg Norton would be back home with his wife and kids picking up groceries and stopping by Home Depot like a “normal” useless, past his prime, retired ballplayer.

  16. Maybe Gonzo deserves some of the blame? He gave up a walk-off (how many is that for the Braves pen this year–three at least that I can think of) to WES HELMS. But, no doubt, Bobby has officially passed the senility/insanity threshold by continuing to use Norton and hope for better results.

    It’s a shame. This could have been a signature win, but turned into another dispiriting loss. As for Vazquez, he had a bad game and he may be wearing down. To say he is not a “big game pitcher” because of one bad game seems sort of short-sighted.

  17. Marc,

    Where in my “rant” did I pick on Javy Vazquez? He’s been really good for us overall this year so I won’t be criticizing him anytime soon.

  18. You know, IMO Cox’s managing has gotten better over the last few months. I know that all managers look better when the team plays better (even though they may not change anything they’re doing), but I have seen some positive changes lately. Batting Diaz leadoff, sending Acosta down and giving Medlen more innings are a few of the changes that I’ve seen for the good. However, continuing to bat Norton in key situations is beyond belief. My only partial explanation for it is that Cox thinks a “veteran presence” on the bench is crucial for team chemistry. My feeling is that having someone who can actually hit on the bench has a greater impact on team chemistry.

    The best case scenario would be for the Braves to make the playoffs this year and Cox to retire after that. I think he’ll keep hanging on as long as he can until he at least gets back to the post-season.

  19. Is there any chance we could add a non sequitur filter to go along with the spam filter?

  20. Alex,

    As Mac said, my comment about Vazquez was not directed at you but at a previous comment.

  21. Time for Frank Wren to step up and release Norton. It’s the only way to stop Bobby from sending him up to bat to fail while better hitters sit on the bench earning DNPs.

  22. I will sya this about Tony LaRussa. He maybe a gigantic douchebag, but if he were managing the Braves right now, Greg Norton would be back home with his wife and kids picking up groceries and stopping by Home Depot like a “normal” useless, past his prime, retired ballplayer.

    And LaRussa would be making veiled insults about him to reporters and leaking to the press that no one liked him.

  23. Who here is the best slow pitch softball center fielder that lives in Atlanta and wants to play with my lawfirm team at 7:40?

  24. If I am Norton, I would pull a Bennett for the good of the team. Yes Greg, get hurt, then they will put you onto the DL, you can keep collecting your payments, and disappear from our lives forever please.

  25. I don’t think Cox’s managing has changed over the last 20 years. The difference is the talent on the team is not as good. He always did a lot of things that made you shake your head, but it didn’t matter–at least until the playoffs.

    But, let’s face it, managers do dumb things all the time that work out–for example, having Diaz bunt against the Phillies in Atlanta on the play that Lidge made the error on–or smart things that don’t work out. At some point, Norton might actually get a big hit and then everyone will say what a genius Cox is for staying with him. And I distinctly remember LaRussa pitching to Chipper Jones in the 13th inning years ago and Chipper hitting a home run.

  26. “And LaRussa would be making veiled insults about him to reporters and leaking to the press that no one liked him.”

    Wait, is that a bad thing?

  27. @40 “At some point, Norton might actually get a big hit and then everyone will say what a genius Cox is for staying with him.”

    Marc, that’s exactly what Bobby is thinking.

  28. Marc-

    Sorry about my confusion on Vazquez – my bad.

    You are absolutely correct about the way Bobby has managed for 20 years and I don’t like it.

    It’s an interesting comparison to make, but as many on here know, I am also a big San Antonio Spurs fan in the NBA.

    In a lot of ways, I’ve compared Bobby’s style to that of Spurs Coach Greg Popovich, in terms of players loving to play for him, respect of opponents, the type of guy who will never ever say one bad word about anyone else…those are good things. And long both have had long term success.

    The difference though is when a guy isn’t performing for Popovich, he decreases his role drastically and the guy either gets off the team, or else Pop at least greatly reduces minutes and what part of the game that player plays in. Not Cox.

    Cox will continue to take the most important spot of a game, a tie game in the 8th, and stick the worst hitter alive out there (Lockhart, Woodward, Brogna, Francouer, Norton) to basically suck the hope out of the room.

  29. #44

    I second KC. And yeah, Norton drew a walk a week ago that kept the inning going. Every now and then, even a blind man can find a needle in a haystack.

    It doesn’t change the fact that Greg Norton should be dealt with in the way Tony Soprano dealt with Big Pussy at the end of season 2.

  30. guys id nunno why us o mad at me
    cannot you not seee im
    tryin
    oh so
    hard i mean majorwbleaguefastball it’s hard catching up fastball fastonhands
    andno

  31. @46 We have shared the same opinion on Bobby for many years!

    @47 Are you the same guy who impersonated Dan Kolb years ago?

  32. Norton hit that big three-run shot off Luis Ayala to win the game last September vs. the Mets. That rocked.

  33. Norton hasn’t passed the Lockhart Line as yet. For those of you unfamiliar with the Lockhart Line, that’s the point where I no longer feel the need to treat you at all fairly and will start making relentless fun of you not only as a player but as a human being. Generally, this occurs when a player, who has gotten numerous extra chances from Bobby/the front office when I would have jettisoned him long before, sits for a couple of days and then goes to the media and complains about how he’s not getting a chance. The only players who have done this are Lockhart, Kolb, and Francoeur.

  34. I of course recall Klobb and Frenchos (the Outmaker), but I don’t recall Keithiepoo doing that. If so, I re-hate him even more.

    As far as Norton is concerned, does he ever speak? I can’t think of a more boring-looking human.

  35. Once again, we can’t escape a conversation without mentioning Frenchy. The kid is just so special to us.

  36. Farm news:

    G-Braves one win and one Syracuse loss away from clinching the IL’s wildcard berth. Also, Barbaro (as DH) & Luis Valdez made the postseason IL All-Star team. Props to Valdez as the IL only chooses one starter and one reliever for their team.

    M-Braves- Matt Young won the SL’s “Best Hustler” award. Young set M-Braves highs in walks, runs and steals. Heyward was named USA Today’s minor league player of the year- the third Brave to win the award in its 21 years of existence, following Mark Wohlers and Andruw Jones (twice).

  37. As Sam noted a few weeks ago, we should all keep in mind that Norton watched his father murder his mother, and therefore grant Norton, the person, some slack.

  38. If Arthur Blank can’t buy the Braves, he could at least do the city a favor and pay Greg Norton to not play.

    @56

    Not sure I agree with you. Bobby Cox watched his wife get brutally beaten right before his eyes and we don’t cut him any slack…

  39. @44,

    KC, let me emphaisize that I was describing the phenomenon, not endorsing it.

    Alex,

    I still think managers have less impact on games than other sports, but Bobby has made a number of dumb moves that, given the talent level of this team, has probably cost them a number of games. I think with a real good team, clubhouse management is probably more important than game management, but game management becomes more important for a team that is more marginal like the current Braves. In general, I think the rule for managers should be like physicians, first, do no harm. During the 90s, the team was good enough that, at worst, Bobby’s game management was neutral; now he seems to be having a negative effect.

    But, they still need better players.

  40. Using Norton in that situation is simply indefensible. You just don’t send up .140 hitters at crucial times late in the year when every game is important. I fault Wren as much as much as Cox for even having him on the roster at this point, but that’s another discussion. As for Cox, I agree with the notion that he hasn’t really changed, it’s just the lesser talent has really magnified his deficiencies as a manager. He’ll continue to make these bonehead decisions and mismanage his pitching as long as he sits over there and diddles in the dugout.

    As for the entire game, it was a tough loss, and there were some good chances to blow the game open. The Braves actually hit several balls hard and deep, but right at defenders or not deep enough. Thems the breaks.

  41. @59 Good call…I keep thinking there must be more than three who Mac has mentioned…

    @58 “But, they still need better players.”

    100% agree.

  42. Wickman was revealed as a total douche, but after he left, so there was no point. A player doesn’t actually have to whine in the media to cross the Lockhart Line. He could be Michael Vick’s dogfighting partner or something. But so far, since I’ve been writing, it’s been those three.

  43. #62, didn’t Wickman complain to the media about being used in a non-save situation leading to his release or trade (can’t remember which it was)?

  44. Not sure if Robert Fick ever complained to the media, but he was just a loathsome individual. And maybe one of the rare human beings Bobby Cox actually DIDN’T like. I mean, hell, Bobby even liked Gary Sheffield. If you can get along with Sheffield…well, you should retire from the Braves and get a job with the United Nations. (win-win?)

    #56

    Stu – I didn’t know that. And that’s horrible and makes me feel really sorry for Greg Norton, the human being, I don’t wish him to have a bad life…I hope that he retires, say TODAY, like, 2 minutes from now, and has a happy life with his wife and kids!

    I just don’t want him on the Atlanta roster. The problem is Bobby will keep using him. And this is even more asinine now that Brooks Conrad is back up. It makes no sense. How can Brooks get those infamous Lockhart photos to ensure being the top pinch hitter?

  45. I agree with you, Alex. He’s done. We have better options. Even Robert acknowledged the folly of Norton as our primary pinch-hitter.

  46. Marc,

    Yes, I wish we had the Red Sox/Yankees roster and payroll. But the Braves aren’t a bad team.

    And as you accurately said, if Bobby Cox would simply play the best players he has, whether it was back in April and May when Francouer and Schaefer were killing us, or the last 2 months when Greg Norton was wiping out late rallies, we’d likely have anywhere from 7-10 extra wins.

    Amnd what would say even 7 extra wins mean? Neck n neck with the Phillies and in front of the Wild Card chase at worst.

    That’s the difference between constantly throwing your trash on the field vs. simply playing your best players you have on hand.

  47. “I mean, hell, Bobby even liked Gary Sheffield. If you can get along with Sheffield…well, you should retire from the Braves and get a job with the United Nations. (win-win?)”

    Can you imagine how Bobby would deal with, say, Ahmadinejad? “You know, all this corruption of the election–hey, everyone has a bad night. The opposition did a hell of a job, they had some bad breaks on the vote counting.”

  48. So it sounds like the two reasons that the Braves aren’t calling up more players are financial concerns and letting them get extra playing time in the minor leagues. The AA and AAA seasons are both set to end on Sept 7. AAA Gwinnett will probably make the playoffs, but after that we should bring up a few more players. Canizares, Blanco and Brandon Jones are the most likely candidates.

    Couldn’t a reliever like Gomez (2.05 ERA) or Nunez (2.21 ERA) help us more than Marek (7.94 ERA), Parr (5.40 ERA), Redmond (starter- 4.41 ERA), or, heaven forbid, Manny Acosta? – All currently on the 40 man. It also seems odd that we haven’t put Schafer on the 60 day DL and removed him from the 40 man roster.

    Given our tendency for extra inning games I wish we had another pitcher not named Acosta that we could bring up in the near future.

  49. @56

    That is incredibly awful, and I therefore won’t be making any jokes about shooting him or taking his family hostage or something. I don’t wish the man general malady. However, he is horrible at his job and needs to be fired. And every day we keep Greg Norton on the team is another day we risk losing a game because Bobby brings him up in the most important situation in the game.

    Incidentally though, there is absolutely no way that Norton will be released before the end of the season. Not now with the 40-man roster in effect. I think it’s pretty clear we’re stuck with him for the rest of the year. At least it’s almost certain he’ll be gone next year. There is almost no way he doesn’t retire after this year.

  50. I really like that idea, Marc. There is an excellent blog waiting to be written: How Bobby Cox Would Have Managed History.

    1066, Hastings: “We felt good going in, but you have to tip your cap to the other guy. William pitched a great battle, and we just weren’t able to come back.”

    1815, Waterloo: “It was my decision to stick with Boney. He’d been fighting really good the past few times out, and he seemed like he was just one good shot away from getting out of it.”

    1865, Appomattox: “Robbie fought a great war. I said to him just before the battle, just go out there and do what you’ve been doing. Grant fought a great battle. We’ll go out there and get them next time.”

    1983, Grenada: “Our kids fought hard, but the other guy over there was real good. That Reagan’s a good pitcher.”

  51. Alex,

    How would Bobby have handled the Lindsay Lohan/Hillary Duff dispute? What about the current feud raging between Screech and the rest of the “Saved by the Bell” alums?

  52. @ 68,

    And Marc, going into this year, if it had been a one year deal for the very reason of how well Bobby dealt with Sheffield, I wondered if our best bet was Milton Bradley (rather than Dunn, ACHE, etc.). However, I would have never gone 3 years and wouldn’t have cut the deal because of injury concerns, even if I could have thought we might be able to handle the personality.

    Now, I am not sure I would want him even if Cox is the manager and even if he was cut and all you had to pay was ML minimum.

  53. Alex R.

    I must dispute your total.

    Cox has cost at least 3 games probably more like 5, but 7 is too many to put on him.

    But Wren must end the bizarre man crush with Norton. And, that is probably coming real soon. When the main stream AJC starts lambasting people if Wren thinks there is a reason, they are gone.

    I really think that Wren uses that on Schuerholz and McGuirk. I think Wren fully understands how stupid the Norton thing is. Wren just has limited authority over Bobby and is playing his cards slowly to assure that he isn’t submarined again by somebody above (like on Glavine).

  54. Bradley is a canary in a coalmine. (Actually, that’s his new nickname, the Canary. I’ve never liked Bradley.) When he turned on Jeffy, that meant that the end was near.

  55. If someone had told me in March that on September 3rd the Braves would have a better record than the Cubs, Brewers and Mets, White Sox, and Twins, I would have taken it.

  56. @73,

    That’s fabulous, Alex. But let me suggest that if Bobby had been President durign the Civil War instead of Lincoln, he would have said something like, “that McClellan hasn’t won any battles but he has been taking some good shots. Great job of trainig the troops, good in the clubhouse. Just had a few bad breaks against Bobby Lee and, you know, Lee is a hell of a general.” Grant would have stayed in the west and Atlanta would now be the capital of the United States.

  57. #86

    Chipper “caught it” for a few weeks but appears to be back on antibiotics.

    This doesn’t count the virus he once had from that ‘Hooters waitress’….hay yo!

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