Stephen Decatur’s Neighbors 7, Pirates of the Monongahela 3

The team which now should take as its nickname “Sybil,” traveled north for a naval engagement along the Monongahela. A band of pirates was waiting. But Commander Decatur pulled out a can of “whoop ass”, and Sybil manifested her powerful personality.

I am sure some know how to check this precisely, but I know the Braves haven’t scored 6 runs in a first inning since at least before the All Star Break. That was nice.

We faced a pitcher that for some reason, the Braves have owned, Vance Worley. Not that Worley is really good, but a lot of crappy pitchers seem to be able to keep the Braves in check. Jason Heyward opened with a home run. Towering shot to right. A good sign. Followed by Andrellton Simmons with another home run to deep left center (probably pushed 400 feet). Maybe not as good because he may keep trying to swing out of his shoes. Tommy La Stella, batting sixth, made the first out of the inning after Freddie Freeman walked, Justin Upton (NO B to add to a J tonight) singled, and Chris Johnson singled. Then Gerald Laird singled, Emilio Bonifacio walked (STARTING IN CENTER FOR BJ. Will this be a trend?), and Ervin Santana grounded into a double play, but the Pirates threw away the ball to first, so Santana reached, and Another Fredi Gonzalez and Regression scored, and Ervin had 6 to work with.

But alas, “Near Great Ervin” didn’t show. “Smell baseball” was a good experience when smelling the offense, yet a bad experience when smelling Ervin’s pitching. He struggled all night and came out after 5 1 / 3 having given up 3 runs (all solo home runs, two of them by Steling Marte). Luis Avilan came in and a line drive to Regression started a double play and that ended the threat in the sixth.

Hibernation Mode ended in the top of the 8th when the Braves loaded the bases, but only got 1 on a Heyward sac fly.

David Hale came in after Avilan got one out in the 7th and then James Russell pitched 8 and 9 well. So, Walden and Kraken got a night off, which gives some room for tomorrow.

121 thoughts on “Stephen Decatur’s Neighbors 7, Pirates of the Monongahela 3”

  1. “the Braves…loaded the bases, but only got 1 on a Heyward sac fly.”

    You always want more, of course–but remember when we couldn’t hit a ball to the outfield with a runner on third to save our lives? Keep it up, Braves.

  2. Yeah, I remember like it was just last week. The Atlanta Sybils. We’re schizophrenic and so are we.

  3. Here’s a scenario: Braves win WC game, advance to play Nats in NLDS. No problem.

    From previous thread…

    Fave ’14 Flicks: “Boyhood,” “A Most Wanted Man” & “Grand Budapest Hotel”

  4. I’m catching a matinee of “A Most Wanted Man” this afternoon. Totally agree about the other two.

  5. There is a lefty pitching tonight, so I looked and figured the lineup should go as follows:

    La Stella 2nd
    Gosselin LF
    Freeman 1st
    J. Upton RF
    Johnson 3rd
    Gattis C
    Simmons SS
    Heyward CF
    Harang P

    I came up with this lineup based on people’s performances recently offensively and based on what I have seen defensively.

    As much as I would like to get Bonifacio in this lineup, he just worried me every time a ball was hit to CF last night. I will take the drop off in offensive production to get Heyward on the field defensively here considering how well the rest of the lineup does against left handed pitching. He doesn’t hurt us all that bad as long as we bat him 8th.

  6. @6

    It is not too bad of a lineup. I would go a slightly different route though.

    Bonifacio RF
    La Stella 2nd
    Freeman 1st
    J. Upton LF
    Johnson 3rd
    Gattis C
    Simmons SS
    Heyward CF
    Harang P

    This way we have someone with speed at the top of the lineup. Also, Gosselin has been great so far, but Bonifacio has had a good season against lefties on a major league level. I think Heyward should be in the 8-hole against lefties, but we need someone with leadoff potential up top which is Bonifacio.

    I do agree that Bonifacio is a bit scary in CF though which is why we should move Heyward over there permanently. His range would be twice as valuable there.

  7. I expect we’ll see this lineup:

    Bonifacio 2B
    Simmons SS
    Freeman 1B
    J. Upton LF
    Heyward RF
    C. Johnson 3B
    Gattis C
    BJ Upton CF
    Harang P

    Although subbing in Gosselin at 2B for Heyward, with Bonifacio moving to LF and Upton the Greater moving to right isn’t out of the question.

  8. @149 from last thread: Heyward’s a step ahead of you, SpottieOttieDopalicious has typically been his third-AB-of-the-game walkup song this year. He tends to change it up a lot, unlike the Chipper/Kimbrel “this is my theme song forever” philosophy.

  9. #5
    It reminds me of a ’70s-type movie, a slow-burn/actors’ vehicle that still soaks in the atmosphere. It’s a thriller, but not in the modern spy-movie sense.

    I really loved how it looked—the director almost turns the city of Hamburg into another character. And Hoffman, what can you say? Just about everything he’s ever done is worth seeing.

  10. Sounds great. The ads remind me of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, which is one of my favorite movies of the last few years.

  11. @4 – I agree with Nats in NLDS.

    IF the Braves make a run to the playoffs I’d rather they either sweep the Nats and take the division, or let the Nats take the best NL record so they would be the wild card foe*. Braves must avoid Dodgers at all costs.

    *Who am I kidding, that scenario would involve the Braves actually winning a playoff round. Nevermind.

  12. @9

    Man, seriously? I haven’t been to a game since the Angels were in town. I have got to get with the summer trends.

  13. Tooting my own horn! From last thread:
    “The Braves face Liriano today and BJ has had relative success against him(.762 OPS in 19 PA), so expect B.J. in there today. However, I’d love to see Fredi get real creative and find a way to get Gosselin and Bonifacio in there as well, but that would take benching Heyward and La Stella. My guess is that we see Gattis and BJ back in the lineup and maybe Gosselin at 2nd. My preference would be to pick this day to give Heyward a rest and let Gosselin (RF), Bonifacio (CF), and La Stella (2B) start. Unfortunately, we won’t see that as it requires too much brain activity.”

    Lineup: Heyward, Gosselin, Jupton, Freeman, CJ, Gattis, Simmons, Bupton

    I really don’t like that I was correct on this one…ugh.

  14. Re: playoff opponents, at this stage there can be no preferences. They either go on a tear and “maaaybe” get in or not.

  15. So, he sits La Stella with his .898 OPS against LH pitching.

    He starts B.J. Upton based on 19 at bats against Liriano instead of benching him based on 2 years of absolutely sucking for the Braves.

    I am completely fine keeping Heyward in the lineup, but he should be batting 8th. It is a toss up between starting Bonifacio or Gosselin which I would have went with Gosselin in LF and shifted J. Upton and Heyward just to see if Gosselin can play the OF.

    This is purely madness. Madness, I tell you.

  16. In light of all the conversations about batting order construction and platooning, I’m wondering what we think the result will be if all of these strings are pulled correctly? Can we sneak one game? Two games?

  17. About lefthanders and reverse platoon splits.

    Just because your lsd laced aunt said she saw a pink unicorn doesn’t mean there was one.

    The odds that a lefthanded batter EVER has a reverse platoon split are infinitesimally low. Righthanders occasionally have real reverse platoon splits because they grew up never seeing lefthanders either.

    Also, 100 PA’s or 200 PA’s at Major League level don’t throw out everything from the minors.

    So, if you want to platoon people, fine. But don’t play a lefthander over a righthander because of a reverse platoon split of the lefthander and think you are being smart. If the lefthander is Barry Bonds and the righthander is Rafael Belliard, then you play Barry because he is a better hitter, not because he hits lefthanders better.

  18. Cliff, I think that’s an excellent point regarding La Stella vs. Gosselin. My only question is this: what if you have seen a pink unicorn? Does that lend any credibility to the aunt?

  19. Rob @ 24,

    Nope, the chance that pink unicorns might exist is to low for a person trying to do something for rationality to believe in.

    So, if you want to structure a batting order based on your hunch of who would be better, you can use a lefthander’s reverse platoon split. But, if you want to structure based off of statistically provable likelihood of a better result, it isn’t such a good idea.

  20. La Stella stays on the ball against LHP much longer than the average left-hander. While I don’t think that his splits are this extreme in a few years, the chances of his splits being a negligible difference is pretty high.

    And can we at least agree that BJ sucks and should be platooned with Doumit on the bench?

  21. I agree that it is great points all around.

    Honestly, I think our second base situation looks great for the next few years.

    Both Gosselin and La Stella will be 26 going into next season. We have control over both for the next several years. We could have a perfect situation in having a great platoon situation at second base with Gosselin, also, being able to fill a super sub player along the way.

    Basically, La Stella starts games against RH pitching which frees Gosselin to cover players who are needing days off. On days LH pitching starts, Gosselin gets the call at second providing La Stella’s bat off the bench for key pinch hit situations later during the game.

    This is all conjecture that La Stella goes to the norm and doesn’t continue on with a reverse splits. If La Stella does continue to hit LH pitching, he is the full-time 2nd baseman which still leaves Gosselin as the supersub player we all know we want him to be. Or Gosselin becomes the full-time second baseman.

    Basically, the future looks pretty good for the Braves at second base if these guys continue to perform relatively to the level they are now. Personally, I like watching both of them play and hope they continue to succeed.

  22. If I was a coach, I would envy Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics.

    He works with management that knows they work with a small budget and has to get role players.

    Bob Melvin has free range at putting whatever players rate best in certain situations every day of the week without having to worry about superstars. He can play a lineup that is best for his team against RH or LH pitching without catching any flack from anyone.

    The Athletics have combined that formula with good pitching to the tune of a +161 run differential this year and the second best record in baseball.

  23. It is just nice to see a group of players buy into a way of playing. If they have any issues with the way things are managed, they sure do keep a closed lid on it because I never see anything in the media about players complaining.

    This does not mean that I think any of our player gripe about the way things are handled. I have never really seen anything come up in that sense. You just get the feeling that if certain players such as B.J. was outright benched that there would be an issue even though his numbers and play totally justify that outcome.

  24. Great play Heyward.

    Way to show us all why you deserve to play against Lefties even with crappy offensive statistics.

  25. It was a good play, but was sort of vintage Jim Edmonds; misread or bad jump made up by a spectacular catch.

  26. The point is that he was able to recover.

    Also, B.J. really needs to stop looking all annoyed every time he watches a called strike. You lead the league in strikeouts. I think the issue is you and not the umpire most of the time.

  27. Following on gamecast. Did andrelton really just steal 2nd with 2 out and harang at the plate?

  28. Harang: 1 for 1 with an RBI

    B.J.: 0 for 1 with K

    The funny part about that is it is believable and true.

  29. Freddie’s getting fined. Threw the ball around the horn on an inning ending strikeout.

  30. John WDB – It was a 3-2 pitch that struck out BJ. Andrelton, for his part, was out, but Neil Walker inexplicably raised his glove off the ground and tried to reach forward and tag him above the knee.

  31. Alex, ready to admit you might have been wrong about Harang’s 2 months? He’s been the same pitcher 3 of the last 4 years.

    Another note on Harang: Fangraphs has his 3.5 ERA (with almost equal peripherals) at 1.5 WAR for 153.2 innings of work. That seems awfully low.

  32. Justin doesn’t deserve the rest of this offense, but dear Lord, when he gets into one he gets into one.

    @48, I’m ready to admit that I was wrong about this year, and happy to be wrong. But then again, I’m not that surprised that he was able to be roughly league-average. He just stopped being significantly above-average, which was the real aberration.

  33. Phil Hughes: 3.76 ERA through 158.2 innings: 4.7 WAR. Mismatching peripherals or not, that’s a ridiculous difference for someone who has given up more runs in essentially the same amount of innings.

  34. BJ Upton got an extra base hit, and then one of our pitchers got a bunt down.

    I.. I don’t… What?

  35. Why would anybody throw B.J. a pitch in that location?

    It is the one spot that he crushes on a regular basis. Most pitchers are smart enough to stay away from his one hot zone.

  36. Jesus, Atlanta Braves. Y’all need to quit looking like a real ball club. Gonna ruin your reputation.

  37. Schiller, I still hate Simmons going with a K hitter at the plate and a sub .100 batter up behind. If bj walks Simmons is at second anyway. If he gets gunned down, you waste a chance to clear the pitcher who is one of the worst hitting pitchers in the league

  38. @63 – Oh I definitely wouldn’t have sent him. By all rights that should have been a strike-em-out-throw-em-out, leaving Harang to lead off the next inning. Only Neil Walker’s brain fart saved it.

    The ball beat Simmons so badly that Walker went fishing for him.

  39. Fredi used to send freeman on the bases with uggla at the plate. It never occurred to him that the combo of a swing and miss batter and slow runner was lethal. He also has no concept of clearing the pitcher. Also has no concept of the diminished value of stealing a base when a power hitter is up. Ugh I could go on

  40. Well I’m pretty sure Andrelton Simmons isn’t very smart, so he might have a.) Forgotten there weren’t 2 outs, or b.) Knew there weren’t two outs but thought it might somehow be a good idea.

  41. Walker doesn’t strike me as a defensively sound second basemen. He threw wild to first spoiling a great play by the shortstop to start a double play, and then that totally amateur high tag on Simmons. The throw beat him by a mile. He should have been out.

  42. You don’t get to say “Nice play, Chris Johnson,” very often, so I think I’ll say it now.

  43. @67 I think there was only one out – BJ struck out for #2 on the same pitch Simmons ran on

  44. @73 – There was 1 out, that’s what I’m saying. If there had been 2 outs and a full count, of course he’s running. But with one-out, full count, pitcher on deck, a strike-out-throw-out double play would have left Harang to lead off. And that’s what we should have had there, as BJ did strike out, and the throw beat Andrelton by 8 feet.

    So I’m saying it was either a “I’ll take ’em by surprise by doing what they’ll NEVER see coming!” like the squeeze bunt with Gattis on third.. Or he just thought there were two outs and there weren’t.

    I don’t think Fredi called for it, is all I’m saying.

    EDIT: Man, I said “I’m saying” three times in that comment. I think you know what I’m saying by now.

  45. What a streaky ass team. Didn’t we just get swept by the Padres on the way to an eight game losing streak.

  46. Best strikeout I’ve ever seen. Don’t ground in to a doubleplay, make sure Heyward gets a shot.

  47. I’m streaming surreptitiously from an unauthorized source, so I’m probably way behind everybody.

  48. Wow, I just turned this game on, but I think I must be on the wrong channel. Can anyone tell me where I can watch the Braves?

  49. Harang is through 6 with only 72 pitches thrown. Unless he seriously runs in to a wall, I’d let him go 8, maybe finish it. It’d be great to give the bullpen a mid-week night off.

  50. Question for those of you who watch more pro baseball in person than I do: is it common for the home team to announce to the crowd when there will be a weather delay/update the situation? I was at a Hillcats game tonight, and it was supposed to be a doubleheader. They played the first game and then announced the second would start in approximately 25 minutes. Nearly 45 minutes later they pulled out the tarp and after about 10 minutes they fully unrolled it. I didn’t see any lightning for about 1 1/2 hours after the first game ended, and it didn’t start raining for another 10+ minutes. I’m not sure why they didn’t try to get a few innings in (especially since the weather in Lynchburg looks bad for the rest of the week and their season ends this weekend), but I was equally baffled that they never announced anything over the PA system. I would have guessed that around the time the game was supposed to start, they would have announced it would be delayed. Instead, they didn’t say a word and pretty much everyone stuck around for another 20 minutes, until they pulled the tarp out. When I worked for a minor league club, I feel like they did a better job communicating with the fans who were at the ballpark (but, I was in the press box most of the time, so I may just be remembering what I heard, not what the crowd heard). Is it typical to be left in the dark, or did the Hillcats drop the ball on that one?

    During the first game, I had to chuckle because in multiple innings the Hillcats squandered leadoff doubles and failed to get down bunts. The major league club has clearly rubbed off on them…

  51. @89 – I’m a couple hours south of Tampa, in Fort Myers, but yeah. I don’t want to create an MLB.com account because of all the spam they send out. It’s also just my habit at this point, I just go to strikeout dot co and watch the game, I never even see if it’s the free game.

  52. @21

    A few questions/rebuttals…really, these are all questions in the form of statements.

    -Don’t have any idea how to decide whether Fangraphs or Baseball-Reference or Total Runs works best for hitters, but it’s worth noting that Fangraphs is the only one of those where Gordon is the best position player in the league. The only one that rates him higher than Heyward, actually. The only thing that changes is where Heyward falls after the adjustments are made, of course.

    -Alex Gordon and Jason Heyward aren’t the only guys who play defense, of course. The way he writes that article, it makes the rest of everyone else static where only the best defender’s numbers get adjusted. I’d love to see how a top-25 to top-50 players list would shake out if he adjusted them all like that.

    -I’m way on board with sample size making the defensive numbers more questionable. But WAR isn’t a reflection of true talent, it’s a reflection of what a player has done on the field between two points in time. Heyward and Gordon and Pedroia and Cozart and Simmons really have played better defense this year than their counterparts. Will they continue to play defense that much better than the others as the year goes on or next year? Dunno. But that’s not what WAR does. Chris Davis isn’t a “true talent” 51 home run hitter, but no one’s taking last year away from him.

    -Ultimately, reliable or no, a season’s worth of plays in the field is as reliable as we’re going to get if we want to say who the best defender has been for any given year.

    -Little nitpick on your replace-Gordon-with-Heyward premise as it relates to the article. They point out that Gordon hasn’t been this good in the field before. Heyward hasn’t been this good either, but he’s been the best or 2nd best right fielder since he came up. His defense this year has shifted from great to unbelievable. Gordon’s has shifted from darn good to great.

    And the caveat: naturally, I’m approaching every point here to favor Heyward. It’s a commendable bias.

  53. The 9th inning of this game would be a great time for the White Flag (Avilan). Unfortunately Avilan has pitched so much in critical situations lately that he probably won’t pitch tonight. Kind of hard to understand but at least he has his confidence.

  54. Eesh. I was kinda wondering why Evan didn’t get himself a couple innings off in this blowout. But I guess that’s why.

  55. You guys think that maybe the Pirates equipment guys, instead of rubbing the baseballs with mud, rub them with butter? They’ve got a lot of guys who can’t seem to pick up the baseball.

  56. I said in the 6th inning that I’d give Harang a shot at finishing it. But I don’t think I would have let him hit for himself in the 9th inning with 102 pitches thrown. He’s not likely to complete the 9th, and you could have gotten an AB for a bench player there.

  57. I guess you give him a shot if he wants it, since he’s a veteran. But that was utterly predictable.

  58. I love Fort Myers. Jet Blue Park is great for a ballgame. Went to the Braves/Sox ST game there.

  59. I haven’t been to Jet Blue. I haven’t been to a local ST game since the Sox moved out of City of Palms, downtown.

    I used to live at the old park. Used to skip school when I was a kid, and go down there with my older brother during Developmental League games. We once gave Nomar Garciaparra and Frank Roderiguez (not K-Rod, a former Red Sox prospect who flamed out) a ride to Schlotzky’s deli. I have about 15 Trot Nixon, Nomar Garciaparra, Scott Hatteberg autographed cards.

    Used to be you could get in to ST practices free, too. I once jumped out in front of Mo Vaughn’s truck to make him stop and sign autographs on his way out of the park. Good times.

  60. That’s awesome. Being in St. Pete, the closest Spring Training baseball is in Clearwater with the Phillies or Dunedin with the Jays. Fortunately the Braves get to both stadiums yearly.

    Jet Blue’s cool because it’s the same as Fenway dimensionally. There’s a Green Monster and all that.

  61. Yeah I’ve seen it on the local news, it does look pretty good out there. I’ll have to get down there for a Braves game next ST.

  62. Kinda feels like the 90s again. Take the first two in the series, look at tomorrow’s probables and say “Ooh, we got a stud going out for the sweep.”

  63. Gatis’s homerun took out an Isis strong hold in Iraq and is being considered an air strike.

  64. There were a lot of people going nuts on twitter over Evan’s HR. Should I assume that 423 figure is probably wrong?

  65. @118 – not necessarily. It was a big moonshot. It had a lot of arc and hit high off of the pedestrian walkway out in LF. But that’s the type of shot that looks more impressive than the raw distance data would indicate. You yank one high and deep down the lines it goes way out of the field of play and hits far back up in the stands, but it doesn’t travel much further than a shot to straight away center that one-hops the batter’s eye.

  66. 423’s a big shot no matter which way it goes. But it ain’t a keeper unless you hit a Phillies fan in line for a cheese steak.

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