Fish 1, Braves 3

ESPN Box Score

Aaron Harang continues to look more like Grover Cleveland Alexander than a pitcher the Indians (whose starters have a combined 5.12 ERA and 4 wins) released during Spring Training this year, Frank Wren continues to look like a genius for picking him up, and big white bears like to eat fish for a mid-afternoon snack. These factors combined to give the Braves the victory in the rubber game of a series with the Marlins that featured a total of 78 strikeouts and 11 runs.

The Braves struck first this game, when Regression reached on an error in the 4th and stole second. A good throw would have had him easily, but Jeff Mathis threw the ball into centerfield. Ryan Doumit then singled to bring him home.

The Marlins got to Harang in the 6th, when Giancarlo Stanton hit a popup into no-man’s-land in shallow left-center. Four Braves tried to get there, but no one could catch it and it scored a run. It left men on second and third with two outs, but Harang got out of the inning with a strikeout.

Harang started the 7th but left with men on first and second without recording an out. Jordan Walden relieved him and struck out the side swinging. Hopefully the Braves’ bullpen has weathered the rough patch they went through during last week’s road trip and we’ll continue to be able to enjoy good performances like we got today.

Most starters would love the outing Aaron Harang had this afternoon: 6 IP, 11 K, 1 BB, 1 ER. For Harang, however, his ERA actually ROSE a full 0.15 points to 0.85. During the game, Jayson Stark tweeted that against the first 106 hitters Harang faced this season he allowed only 10 hits. Cliff Lee, by contrast, is averaging 11 H/9 innings. That’s baseball for you.

The score stayed tied until the 8th, when El Oso Blanco’s pinch-hit double with two outs scored the deciding two runs. His at-bat meant that all three Braves catchers batted that inning. That’s not something you see every day.

Craig Kimbrel, coming off his first blown save of the season, looked more like the guy who struck the last three guys out in that appearance than the guy who blew that save and nearly blew a four-run lead the game before. The Kraken picked up his 6th save of the season while recording two strikeouts in a perfect 9th.

Of note: Freddie Freeman’s eyes have been bothering him since the harsh wind got to them during the first game in New York. He saw the team optometrist (whose name just so happens to be David Ross) about the issue last night. To make matters worse, his contact broke in his eye today before the game. His slump continued this afternoon with a GIDP and 2 Ks.

Despite the fact that the offense has done little to inspire confidence for the first three weeks of the season, this team continues to roll right along. If they keep winning series like they’ve been doing, this season will be as fun to watch as last season was.

The Braves have a scheduled off day tomorrow and then welcome the Reds to town for a weekend series.

Natspo(s) delenda est.

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71 thoughts on “Fish 1, Braves 3”

  1. Chances that Heyward’s performance today was the first step to slugging his way back into our good graces? (Well, he’s never left my good graces. I do want him to hit like he knows how again.)

  2. Am I the only person who grows weary of the eye excuse? We must be the only team in the Major Leagues who have players that wear contacts.

  3. With the eye issues, I am starting to think the Boston Red Sox catcher is the team optometrist.

  4. @1 – Don’t look now, but since sitting on 4/18, Heyward’s got a 5-game hitting streak in which he’s hitting (if my back of napkin math is correct) .363/.416/.409 (.825).

  5. Walking back to my car after the game today I passed a sign on Georgia Avenue that I hadn’t noticed before. Turns out Leo Frank lived about 200 yards from the Ted site:

    https://twitter.com/sansho1/status/459046943306813440/photo/1

    Terrible story that got some press last year, which marked the 100th anniversary of Frank’s arrest. But certainly one of the top five or ten news events in the city’s history, so respect should be paid.

  6. “Johnson’s hot temper led to him being benched for two games last week after he unleashed his emotions during a dugout tantrum while going 0-for-5 during an April 12 win over the Nationals. ”

    Mark Bowman, releasing state secrets.

  7. My God, the Diamondbacks! With the caveat that Arizona has played four more games than their runner up Philadelphia, Arizona pitchers lead the NL with 148 runs allowed! #2 Philly has allowed only 98 in comparison. #3 Colorado has played 22 games and allowed only 96 runs.

    Gibson needs to get some grittier pitchers in that stable fast!

  8. They suck, but they aren’t scared to knock a guy down if he hit’s them too hard. In fact, they do it all the time, because they suck, and get hard, like, all the time.

  9. Matt Williams just pulled Gio Gonzalez with nobody out in the 6th, only 83 pitches thrown, because he gave up a double to Pujols that tied the score at ONE.

    I think things are already getting tight in the Washington clubhouse.

    EDIT: This 6th inning, he walked Trout and gave up the double to Pujols… but had retired 11 straight prior.

    And the reliever allows Pujols to score.

  10. Yeah, I was about to note that Gio had retired 11 in a row before walking Trout and giving up a double to Pujols. Hardly sins, either of those things. Maybe there’s some reasonable explanation we don’t know, but I will always prefer incompetence and dissension in the Nationals clubhouse!

  11. I haven’t seen a Harang start yet this year, so a question for those who have: is his stuff really good, or is this just an incredible streak of luck? I guess since guys aren’t hitting him much at all, it would seem he’s really throwing some electric stuff up to the plate. Or maybe he’s on a streak of sloppiness not unlike the kind of grooves Rick Mahler could get in for a few weeks at a time.

  12. Wow. And now Harper bunt fouls out with two strikes. Assuming Gio isn’t injured (and the shots of him looking pissed in the dugout suggest he isn’t) I anticipate some dysfunction in the clubhouse.

  13. They say Harang is throwing harder, throwing fewer changes, fewer cutters and staying down in the zone more. His change got crushed in previous years. He’s not thrown a cutter all year. Sticking to mostly 4 seamers, 2 seamers and a slider. Occasional show me curve.

  14. @14 I honestly can’t see how Matt Williams is a better manager than Fredi. Seems like just another former player who is trying to preach the old school ways of doing things.

    @18 And I saw his fastballs topped at 93. It’s surprising that he still has that in him.

    For all the Josh Johnson fans who were thinking we should take a chance on him during the offseason, it is good that we never did. Otherwise, he would be joining Medlen and Beachy.

  15. @17 – Yeah, I would expect him to go to the clubhouse if he was hurt. But he’s milling around in the dugout.

    @16 – To my eye, it’s a little bit stuff, and a little bit command. He’s stayed out of the middle of the plate, but around it enough to draw swings. Today he had swing-and-miss stuff, even when he was in the zone. But all season he’s seemed to have just enough command and just enough stuff to survive. Having consistently had both, he’s thrived.

    He’s been insanely lucky on fly balls, having yet to allow a single homer, and traditionally being a bit homer prone. Anecdotally, it seems that every single game he pitches, the announcers note that the wind is blowing in. And despite allowing fewer hits than anyone in baseball so far, it isn’t as though he hasn’t been in trouble. But every single time he’s faced a “need to get this guy” moment, he’s gotten him. There’s no way that will continue.

    So my prediction, he can live like this. He won’t dominate like he has, but he can survive a regression in BABIP and still get enough outs to keep the team in games.

  16. @21 And as long as our outfield defense is decent, the Ted has traditionally been more friendly to flyball pitchers than other parks.

  17. and in the bottom of 8 Harper gets bailed out jogging out of the box again!!! after Pujols bobbles the grounder then throws away the toss to the pitcher. My goodness

  18. Harper dogging it to first until the misplay, got bailed out by a bad throw. It was worse than the one he got benched on (he waited for that one to be fielded). No benching thus far, there may be a limit on Mr. Williams’ idiocy.

  19. @22 Outfield will be better than decent. BJ isn’t smooth but he covers a lot of ground, Hey is outstanding, J-Up is probably better than you think when compared to the average(many left-fielders are just awful).

  20. So, who do you guys think will win NL Cy Young:

    Aaron Harang, Ervin Santana, or Alex Wood?

    I’m sure most of you had at least two of these names on your pre-season Cy Young watch list!

  21. From ESPN:
    ‘This is the second time since 1900 that two pitchers age 23 or younger both had at least 11 strikeouts in the same game.

    The other game was on July 31, 1901, when the Reds' Noodles Hahn (age 22) had 11 and the Cubs' Long Tom Hughes (age 22) had 15.’

    It’s a travesty that Pickles didn’t figure into a game meriting those guys’ mention.

  22. There’s really no reason to move Harang or Wood to the pen to make room for Gavin Floyd at this point. Minor replaces Hale, Floyd stays in AAA until he’s needed, traded, or moved to the pen.

    Gio being hurt would be a huge loss

  23. I wonder if part of the problem with our player’s eyes is the horrible pollen we get here. I know when I walk outside it feels like my eyes are almost instantly covered in a fine layer of pollen dust and when I try to move my eyes in their sockets I swear I can feel them grinding like ball bearings needing some grease. I hate this time of year (and so does my black (now yellow) car).

  24. Yeah, the Braves have a logjam with Wood and Harang performing so well. I think Wood should go to the pen.

  25. I wonder if the decision to give Minor another MiLB start, and thus give Hale another MLB start, is part of a showcase strategy for possibly flipping Hale.

  26. I kind of doubt it, since he’s got options and the depth is nice, but we’d certainly be selling high on Hale at this point, IMO, so I could see the logic.

  27. @45&46
    Thus far, the Braves haven’t been a sell-high kind of team, a strategy that needs to change. Flipping Hale for a future bat would be smart.

    There’s only one team that would even consider Uggla, and that team is getting good production at 2nd base.

  28. The only teams that are going to want Hale are going to want him for the same reason we do: they want credible depth because they’re trying to win now.

    So why wouldn’t we just keep him? He’s not going to get us that much. And we’re going to need him. We all know it, or should. Better he’s available for us than for another contending team.

  29. I was disappointed to see that the Yankees and/or Red Sox appeared in the top three in basically every single county in America. Guess this truly is a nation of frontrunners.

  30. @50 That map is a liar. I live in the Spokane, WA area. Mariners fans HATE the Yankees. Hate hate hate the Yankees. You do not openly like the Yankees in the Pacific Northwest. HATE.

    That being the case, I see equal numbers of Red Sox and Braves apparel up here. Did I mention that we HATE the Yankees up here?

  31. @50, Questions of the map’s accuracy notwithstanding, it was nice to see Braves constituencies in such faraway places as rural Utah and Wyoming. Remnants of the “America’s Team” era, no doubt.

  32. @49 – agreed. You keep all your pitching because you’re going to see your #8 guy a few times over the course of a season. (And sometimes he starts Game 4 of the NLDS…) It wasn’t that long ago we were all freaked out because the projected opening week rotation was Teheran/Wood/Hale/Pickles. There is never such thing as too much pitching depth.

  33. The thing about that map is that aside from the two mega-market NEC teams (Yanks, Red Sox) the biggest national team is still the Atlanta Braves. This is useful to keep in mind when dealing with people from other regions who irrationally hate the Braves. While they may seem slow and stupid at first, it’s probably the case that they have been inundated with sustained competitive greatness out of Atlanta for decades now, and in addition to being slow and stupid, they’re probably also very jealous.

  34. @53

    I’ll admit that I’m sort of curious as to why there seem to be so many Braves and Red Sox fans in a region, considering that those teams are on the opposite coast and that the Mariners aren’t that far away from Spokane.

  35. I lived in Denver for a while before they got the Rockies and almost everyone there was a Braves fan because that was the team you could watch on basic cable TBS. Maybe the Red Sox were the same way in parts of the country on cable systems since they had almost a dedicated channel like the Braves.

  36. Another interesting fact from the map link: as you coming in from Virginia and Ohio, concentration of Braves fans increase, building to a massive majority (60-70%) in the suburban metro counties. “Braves Country” as they call it on the billboards. But then, as you get into the urban core of Atlanta proper, the zip codes of Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, the percentages fall. Specifically in the zip codes surrounding Turner Field. In those zips, Yankees fans jump from 4-8% representation to double digits up to 15-16%.

    Cross reference the move to Cobb County as you will…

  37. @59, 60 – I think that TBS really drove this team nationally. Probably the same thing with the Red Sox. I know that for Mariners fans, the sentiment is that the Mariners may as well be a major league farm club for the Yankees, so it follows that the Red Sox are the best way to root against New York.

    There’s also the transplant factor. I grew up about a hundred miles from Atlanta. I’ve met about a dozen other Braves fans up here who moved from the southeast.

    I wish I could care more about the Mariners, but I just can’t. If I step inside another MLB stadium, it’ll be for the Braves.

  38. On what national channel were the Red Sox broadcast? Other than the Braves on TBS and Cubs on WGN, I really didn’t think there were any other such team-channel relationships.

  39. NESN was launched in 1984. I’m not sure when it began being carried nationally. Apparently in 2001 it moved from being a “premium” channel to a “basic” channel. They are affiliated with the various Boston teams including the Red Sox.

  40. @62

    I noticed that too, Sam. You would imagine the Turner Field zip would be the highest percentage, but it’s the suburbs. Not to get too political, but I would imagine the urban communities have more people that are swayed by mainstream media, and wearing the backwards Yankee cap means they identify with the Yanks more than the Braves. The reality is that if they just go to one Braves game, they probably will have supported the Braves more than the team they’ve claimed allegiance to.

  41. I grew up in Texas and got into the Braves via TBS, so the nationwide fan base doesn’t surprise me.

    @67, I think you’re close to the mark but I’d tweak it a bit. I don’t think it’s “swayed by mainstream media” so much as “don’t care about or identify with this sport.” The more casual a fan, the more likely he is to just toss off the name of the most iconic team when asked who he supports, because really, how much has he ever thought about it?

    The “RBI” program has been a baseball initiative on this point for a while. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reviving_Baseball_in_Inner_Cities

  42. 56: I think that’s probably an artifact of those remote locales having only a few dozen citizens who claim both their location and their favorite baseball team on Facebook. Very probably, Yankees are truly the kings there, too.

  43. @68 – Yeah, it seems like I remember ESPN covering other teams besides the Red Sox and Yankees, but it doesn’t happen often.

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