Braves 7, Blue Jays 6

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a Canadian city in possession of a baseball team must be in want of a decent place to play.

However little known the feelings or views of such a city may be on its first entering a series, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding territories, that it is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

“My dear Mr. Loria,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that the Expos are let at last?”

Things I hate, in no particular order: the DH, money that is called “dollars” but that is not actual US dollars, Robbie Alomar, baseball played indoors, astroturf, Melky Cabrera, astroturf, baseball played indoors, Kent Hrbek*, interleague play, and the DH. It’s not that I hate Canada; I love me some British Columbia, Vancouver is fantastic, and truth be told Toronto’s like a cleaner, more polite Chicago on the funny speaking side of the Great Lakes. And poutine, despite how disgusting it sounds in theory, is actually quite tasty.

Now, before we go to far, let’s go ahead and stipulate that I am from Georgia, and have lived in Atlanta since moving to college from the southern swamps many a moon back. So while I don’t hate Canada, me and Canada will never be able to have a meaningful relationship, because the only thing I can honestly think to do with a hockey team is to ship it to some godforsaken minor burg in the middle of the Canadian prairies and hope it survives the winters. I really don’t understand hockey at all. People who watch hockey are weirdos and scare me a little.

But, in case I didn’t mention it already, I truly despise the DH, interleague play, and baseball played indoors. If you live in a climate that requires you to build a building around your friggin’ baseball field, go play hockey or something!

After last night’s game, I was wondering if the Blue Jays were doing something like the Twins* did in the Metrodome and playing with the HVAC system to create favorable wind currents when the home team was at bat. But it turns out, no, the Braves offense just decided to suck eggs last night, which is an unfortunate thing to do when the emaciated corpse of Tim Hudson is pitching. But at least they came to play today.

Things got off to a very nice start, as Jordan Schafer, playing CF and leading off for the much put-upon Lesser Upton, doubled out the gate. This continues a trend we like to call “Jordan Schafer Being Surprisingly Useful For A Change.” Then Andrelton Simmons singled to left. Brian Snikter failed to get a player thrown out at the plate in the first, and things were looking good. 2nd and 3rd, no outs. After Jason Heyward struck out swinging, begging the question of where Jose Constanza might be these days, Freddie Freeman drove them in with a single to right, taking second when Jose Bautista threw the ball to Winnipeg instead of the cut off man. Evan Gattis did the Heyward tango, and it looked like the Brandon Morrow would get out of it with only two crossing, but then Edwin Encarnacion botched a Brian McCann grounder and Freeman scored too. Dan Uggla improved on the Heyward only by making weak contact to 2B rather than K’ing. Still, up 3-0 before you take the field. You’ll take that.

Except then Paul Maholm decided to pitch like Tim Hudson, and after one it was 3-4 Jays. We will not recap how that happened, other than to say that Melky Cabrera was involved, so someone’s child was probably eaten alive.

But then in the top of the second Jordan Schafer Continued Being Surprisingly Useful For A Change and homered to tie it up.

Things calmed down for a bit, or at least as calm as things get in Rogers Center, which is like a boring, antiseptic Coors Field north of the border, only with a ton of drunk, rowdy Canadians in the cheap seats. Maholm was allowing base runners left and right, and Braves not named Jason Heyward would occasionally get hits too, but it stayed tied until Bautista slammed a shot to LF and sent Jays back ahead. That lasted an inning, which are officially measured by how often Jason Heyward makes sad, pathetic looking outs while everyone is complaining about BJ Upton or Gerald Laird instead, until Evan Gattis did that thing he does on the second and third time through the order and crushed one to left to tie it up. And then Brian McCann was totally like “I am SO TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT YOUR GURU SHIT, SON!” and jacked one out to right to take the lead.

But it’s the AL and the DH and Rogers Center and Canada and suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, so of course 5 runs isn’t enough to win it, and you knew that coming in. And while a LH reliever named Brett Cecil mowed through two innings worth of Braves, closing it out with four straight K’s (McCann, Uggla, and both Johnsons), Bautista and J.P. Arencibia** clustered a couple of doubles together and tied it back up in the seventh.

Then it got weird and no one scored again for two whole innings. Bud Selig called to say he was concerned about offense levels and was thinking about adding a second DH to bat 10th, just as an extra guy, in order to keep the kids interested. He then ate a baby himself, but not the same kind of baby Melky ate earlier.

Then in the top of 10, Brian McCann got out a Sharpie and wrote “Dear Yankees, I will look so amazingly good in your lineup next year, won’t I?” to put the Braves up 7-6. That set up the bottom of 10 for Craig Kimbrel to come in and do his thing, by which we mean “terrify you by giving up ropes to left with the tying run on second, but lucky enough to have Reed Johnson out there to chase them down this time.”

Oh well. It’s a win. And now we no longer have to play in Rogers Center again, and the Blue Jays have to figure out which of their defensively horrific sluggers won’t be in the lineup for the next two against the Braves, this time in Atlanta.

Because when you think of the Braves and their “natural interleague rivals,” you mind flashes immediately to Toronto. Eat another baby, Bud.

That was about it really. Gattis continues to crush balls. One of the fantasy baseball tweeter feeds the other day said he’s the only bench player in the game you have to start every day in fantasy, and that’s about right. Brian McCann was the awesome sauce. Jordan Schafer continues to be surprisingly useful. No Upton was harmed in the filming of this event. Jason Heyward looks terrible at the plate. And Brett Cecil is currently your odds on favorite to be the guy Atlanta trades for to fill that black hole left by O’Flaherty and Venters’s elbows.

* I am aware that technically Minnesota is not Canadian, but it’s close enough for me.
** J.P. Arencibia has become a really good player.

76 thoughts on “Braves 7, Blue Jays 6”

  1. @211 from the last thread: The game logs are just telling us what we already know from the ERA-FIP split: that Avilan has been fortunate to spread his bad pitching out across outings. There’s no special skill to stranding inherited runners except being a high-strikeout pitcher, which Avilan isn’t. There may be a special skill to spreading out walks, but having watched Avilan I am deeply skeptical that his high BB total is a result of crafty intentional-unintentional walks as opposed to poor control.

  2. Maybe Juan can land us Gregerson from the Padres. They need to deal Headley anyways.

  3. Probably, but the Jays don’t need another defensively impaired corner slugger.

  4. Avilan has been fortunate to spread his bad pitching out across outings

    I have no idea what you are trying to say here. What successful pitcher doesn’t “spread his bad pitching across outings”? He has only had one “bad outing” ,so I am doubly confused.

    I am deeply skeptical that his high BB total is a result of crafty intentional-unintentional walks as opposed to poor control.

    He’s walked 11 of 85BF – considering he often pitches partial innings, it’s not particularly alarming. And again – brutally small sample (19ip). You are assuming a trend that has considerable anecdotal evidence (i.e, his other 450ip) that argues against it. But, fine, have it your way. Avilan is just lucky and will fall apart tomorrow.

  5. Every so often I think to myself “even though I have an engineering degree, I could write one of these game summaries”… and then I read something like what Sam wrote and come to my senses.

  6. This needs to win an award for something. Absolutely fantastic. I burst into laughter when I saw the first line.

  7. When Beachy’s ready, I’d try to trade Maholm for relief help. If that fails, I’d move Maholm to the ‘pen.

  8. @11 Wow, I didn’t know Maholm has such big left/right split differences.

    @9 Yeap, we have a bunch of great writers on this forum. Gotta know our own strengths and weaknesses.

    Every once a while, Mac will remind us why we used to love him. Maybe we should start loving him again.

    Sam, I love the baby-eating parts of the recap. That’s what baseball is all about!!!

  9. I’m sure this has already been covered, but what the hell happened to The Lisp? Did he take some “supplements”? Violate team rules? Murder spree in winter ball catch up to him? He’s been on the Fake-DL ™ for what seems like an eternity. What is the official party line on this one? Is he coming back?

  10. @14 Yeah, he will mess up the timing of all our hitters for two weeks. Fredi should start the whole bench that day.

  11. @7

    His strikeouts are of much greater concern than his walk totals. That said, if you’re going to strikeout 10% of the batters you face, which is like Minnesota Twins low, then you’re going to need better control than Avilan has shown. Will the trend continue? I sure hope not. He was much better last year – at least for the 36 big-league innings he pitched. But if the k/bb numbers do continue, then the ERA will rise. Because a .246 BABIP on a 23% Line Drive percentage is unsustainable.

  12. The bench is what’s been saving our bacon – start Heyward/BJ/Juan at least. They can’t get much worse.

  13. Just got the following email:


    Thanks to you and 597 other backers, The Eephus League HalfLiner Scorebook has been successfully funded. We will now charge your credit card.”


  14. Thanks for the support, John, and everyone else on Bravesjournal that backed the project. It did lightyears better than I thought it would.

  15. For those who keep track of such things, Arodys Vizcaino, who didn’t throw a pitch in 2012 due to Tommy John surgery, will not throw a pitch in 2013, either. Additional elbow surgery required.

  16. When Beachy’s ready, I’d try to trade Maholm for relief help. If that fails, I’d move Maholm to the ‘pen.

    This, but with Hudson. He’s done.

  17. Hudson has always been a summer-month pitcher. His career ERA by month:

    April – 3.54
    May – 3.70
    June – 3.22
    July – 3.25
    August – 3.20
    September – 3.79

    He has said the heat helps tire him out and adds sink to his pitches. Also, unscientifically speaking, he doesn’t seem like the kind of pitcher who would just lose it all at once. I expect a bounceback.

  18. Hudson was pitching well a few weeks ago. I don’t think 3-4 starts mean he is done.

  19. On Hudson,

    Several things I have picked up have his FIp and xFIP at about 3.7 to 4 and that is only about .4 or so over his career numbers. Meaning, if that were true, that part of this is bad luck. I must say it doesn’t look like bad luck.

    But to have Hudson now failing to meet his FIP and xFIp after a career of slightly exceeding them may mean that we are in territory explained so eloquently by Shelby Foote who said “Gettysburg was the price the South paid for having Robert E. Lee.” So, 2013 may be the price that we pay for having Tim Hudson.

  20. I didn’t find much when I Google searched Cristhian Martinez. He is on the DL with a right shoulder strain, duh.
    I did find an article dated 5/5/13 on with somewhat recent news…

    “Also, right-hander Cristhian Martinez, who has been on the disabled list since April 7 with a right shoulder strain, is headed to the Braves’ extended spring training in Orlando to begin a throwing program”

  21. I think Maholm will be a better starter than Hudson over the rest of the season. If Hudson doesn’t start pitching better, Beachy should get his spot and Hudson become the long-man or something.

  22. Good idea to rest JUpton on day game after night game after red eye flight from NYC. It is a long season.

  23. Nice work, Sam.

    I’m sure when I get into the office later, the Met supporters will be acting like they won the World Series.

  24. It’s Walden scheduled to rejoin the team. I guess a roster move has to be coming if we are going to carry te additional pitcher. Of course they could option Rasmus back and wait a couple of days until Ayala returns.

  25. For the month of May, Uggla has a .793 OPS. If he can keep that up, that will really help this team.

  26. @31

    I agree, it doesn’t look like bad luck. If Hudson isn’t getting enough action on his pitches, he gets well hammered.

    But as far as we know he’s healthy, his velocity is the same as last year (but a tick lower than in ’11), and he knows how to pitch. So I’m not that worried.

  27. Heyward has an OPS over 600 for May. That’s an improvement from March/April.

  28. Heyward is slugging .263 in May (well, the 2 weeks that he’s played in May). So he walks a little more than the average pitcher but has shown less power.

    Well aware that we’re still talking SSS, but he’s been pretty bad.

  29. nice recap Sam, but even the US dollar isn’t what it used to be.

  30. And BJ… has actually gotten WORSE in May with an OPS of 469 (vs. 500 in April). He’s striking out more and hitting for less power to cancel the gains from his “improved” .250 OBP. SSS and $75 million, but this guy is hard to watch.

  31. OK, this has been bothering me – is the statement “J.P. Arencibia has become a really good player” from the game recap meant sarcastically?

    I don’t really watch AL games, but all evidence indicates that Arencibia is bad at everything facet of baseball with the exception of hitting for power – over his career (1082 ABs) he has slashed .226/.273/.445, and factoring in his bad defense and base running, he’s been worth only 2.3 WAR for his entire career. He has 3 BB and 59 Ks this season – his plate discipline makes Juan Francisco (7/42) or B.J. Upton (16/60) look like veritable Joey Vottos out there. In short, Arencibia is most definitely not a really good player – he hits for an All-Star ISO but overall he produces about 1 WAR per year, which is pure bench material.

  32. @36: Do you know when Walden is coming back? I just poked around for news and found nothing; I assume that if he’s going to be activated in time for tonight’s game, it needs to happen in the next couple of hours, which leads me to believe it isn’t happening tonight.

  33. I normally pay zero attention to the draft or even prospects that are more than a year away, but I did look at this year’s draft order.

    Can anyone explain to me why the Braves’ first pick is the 31st overall?

  34. Can anyone explain to me why the Braves’ first pick is the 31st overall?

    B.J. Upton signing, I would surmise.

  35. @28 – If Hudson needs to be tired to pitch correctly, then put his ass on a stationary bike an hour before game and wear him out a little.

    @34 – Radio team mentioned that Upton had a lot of trouble finding the ball against the Rogers Center’s ceiling* in the first game of the series. They were pretty sure that he would not have made the plays Reed Johnson made to end the game.

    @42 – It’s not the exchange rate. It’s that they couldn’t even come up with their own word for “dollar.” Like, England calls it “the pound” and in Europe it’s the the “Euro” and even Mexico has (virtually worthless) “pesos.” But Canada? Just “a dollar.” Like it’s the same thing. Boring, uncreative lot, Canadians.

    @43 – BJ is breaking down his entire swing and starting over. He was going to get worse before he got better. He and Greg Walker are trying to rebuild him back into the hitter he was in 2007 (300/386/508) rather than the pull happy hitter he’d become by 2012.

    @44 – Low BA, low OBP, tons of slugging? We can call him Bear if you want to.

    And finally, yes, the Braves first pick is at #31 this year because they lost their first round due to signing BJ Upton as a free agent.

  36. @44 I suppose it boils down to whether or not you think Gattis will hit .270 or .220 for his career. I don’t think anyone really knows, but the profile is similar to Gattis. If Gattis was putting up Arencibia’s slash, I don’t think we’d be in love with him.

  37. 50- The roof was open on Monday night. Justin’s problem was the lights. It’s to be expected. Being poorly designed they take some getting used to and when the Braves took outfield practice they weren’t on yet. Schafer briefly lost a couple in center as well and then Heyward lost his first chance yesterday. Place ought to be bulldozed.

    Most Canadians call them loonies rather than dollars.

    Gattis has never had Arencibia-like BAs or OBPs at any level and even in his first season he’s rapidly leaving J.P. in the rearview.

  38. @52 Gattis was hitting HRs to center, then left and now right field. He has adjusted to pitcher’s adjustment.

  39. @53

    Cue rival pitching coaches thinking, “Uh oh…that means……he can learn!!”

  40. @55

    Not shocking, but I thought they would add an arm not stay with the same number.

  41. @50, 51 – Gattis is similar to Arencibia in that he is a catcher whose greatest asset is right-handed power. That said, Gattis is substantially better in a number of respects: 1) he makes more consistent contact than Arencibia, which should boost his batting line across the board relative to JP; 2) fielding metrics so far like Gattis’ defense (and it passes the eye test), whereas Arencibia’s defense is bad. JP is liable (pun intended) to post a SLG-heavy OPS just north of .700; on the other hand, I think Gattis’ talent will allow hit to put up lines of something like .260/.330/.500 for several seasons, and out-WAR Arencibia something like 4 WAR to 1 WAR annually.

  42. David O’Brien ‏@ajcbraves 18m
    “Beachy went 5 IP in his second official ml rehab outing today in Single-A Rome 3H, 0 ER, 1BB, 3 K. 7 groundouts, 3 flyouts. faced 18 batters”

    David O’Brien ‏@ajcbraves 20m
    “Braves lineup: 1. Simmons SS 2. Heyward RF 3. J. Upton LF 4. Freeman 1B 5. McCann C 6. Uggla 2B 7. Francisco 3B 8. B. Upton CF 9. Medlen P”

  43. Well, Rasmus didn’t exactly impress.

    Fredi’s refusal to work Gattis into the lineup really blows my mind. You would think even an old baseball guy like him would say “Well gee, this guy hits a ton of homers, I should play him more often.”

  44. @60: It’s legitimately difficult to find a spot for him. You don’t really want McCann out of the lineup, and maybe you do want B.J. and/or Heyward out, but I think the team’s (correct) philosophy is that both of them need to get right for this team to be what it should be, and they won’t get right sitting on the bench.

    Plus, Gattis is an amazing weapon to have as a pinch hitter, and there’s good reason to think he will continue to thrive against relievers.

  45. @60

    Yes, but the three guys who play the positions he plays are studs as well (McCann, Freeman, J. Upton). So who do you sit?

    And if BJ is Upton the Lesser, is Justin Upton the Greater?

    Or, if we want to go all astronomical and shit, we could just go Upton Major and Upton Minor.

    Edit – But then we might infect Mike with a bad case of BJ-itis, which would ruin our ace starter. Tough call….

  46. Esmil Rogers doesn’t show any notable splits vs RHB, but he is a RHP and Gattis has shown some weaknesses against RH starters. (Granted, his bad numbers against RHP dwarfs Upton or Heyward’s numbers in general, but as Anon said @61, you need those two right to win the division barring extreme luck, and they won’t get right sitting on the bench.)

  47. “Upton Minor” would confuse me with the pitcher. I prefer “Upton The Lesser” and “Upton the Greater”, unless Justin is on one of those tears like he was to start the year, at which point he becomes “Upton the Great and Powerful.”

    Actually, I sort of like Upton the Great and Powerful in general.

  48. Even though I’m an ardent supporter of Gattis, I am fine with sitting him in favor of McCann vs. RH starters. As far as the OF goes – in the long run, we cannot win everything this year until Heyward (and hopefully BJ) get their acts together, so I’m all in favor of getting them reps against substandard righty starters like Esmil Rogers.

    That said, I am going to the Braves game tomorrow, and am really, really hoping that Fredi will start Gattis against Dickey.

  49. I like Upton and Elder and Upton the Younger, personally.

    @61 But on a day like today, couldn’t Freddie sit? Freddie’s been doing well but he needs a day off just as much as anyone else. Gattis has proven he can clobber Jays pitching.

  50. I would not sit my hottest hitter (Freeman) just to get Gattis into the game. Gattis will get an at bat if the game is close.

  51. Gattis may start against the knuckleballer tomorrow.

    Either McCann or Laird starts against Strasburg on Friday (Teheran start.)

    I’d expect to see Gattis in the starting lineup on Saturday against Gio Gonzalez.

    Questionable to start against RHP Nathan Karns in the third game against Washington.

  52. The thought of Gattis v. Dickey makes me remember some time I spent working at a zoo. We had a bear there that liked to chase after insects, including butterflies, swatting at them with her big ol’ paws.

    Also, IMO it’s Upton the Great and Upton the Terrible. At least so far.

  53. Gattis could replace Heyward or BJ – permanently – and we wouldn’t miss a beat. Heyward’s or BJ’s mean-reversion resurgence isn’t going to be that much better than what Gattis can do, and there’s no reason to think that Gattis wouldn’t outperform them regardless.

    There’s 0% chance of this happening…I’m just countering the “we need Heyward and BJ to win the division” stuff. We haven’t needed them yet…

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