A Literary Affair: Rays 1, Braves 2

While many sports fans in the Atlanta area kept at least one eye on the game going on in Philips Arena, there was another game going on in the city at the ballpark that turned out to be a good one. That is, naturally, what we expected with the hometown heroes throwing rookies making their first big league start (in the only one-game doubleheader in history) and entering the game with a combined 15.00+ ERA out of the bullpen.

Williams Perez, both of them, may have a flair of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in them and turn out to be aptly named. In their first appearance out of the bullpen this season, Hyde reached the mound first, but Jekyll won out for their second, two scoreless innings, appearance. Tonight, Hyde once again made a quick exit out of the gate and made an appearance in the first inning, but they managed to limit the damage to a single Rays run on a sacrifice fly.

After that the Williamses settled down for a couple of innings, and wiggled out of trouble in both the 4th and 5th to keep the Rays off the board. In the 4th they got a beautiful 3-6-1 double play to get out of a two-on, one-out situation, and in the 5th they struck out the side to strand two on base. Apparently, league rules allow both Jekyll and Hyde to be on the mound at the same time, and sometimes they even swap roles between pitches. The current arrangement keeps opposing hitters constantly guessing, which may work to the Braves advantage. When Jekyll is out there his stuff looks pretty darn good, and his effort tonight is certainly to be applauded.

The Braves offense managed to score just enough runs to squeeze a victory out of tonight and split the series. In the third, Andrelton Simmons doubled to lead off the inning and tied the game on an Alberto Callaspo single with two outs in the inning. Freddie Freeman then struck out with runners on the corners to end that threat and keep the Braves starting pitchers from earning the win. Freeman redeemed himself in the 6th when he doubled and moved to third on a Nick Markakis single. Todd Cunningham, who shockingly went hitless on the night, nevertheless managed to contribute to the win with a chopper to short to score Freeman.

That was all the Braves would get, but that was all that they needed. After Perez exited the game, Luis Avilan, Brandon Cunniff, Jim Johnson, and Jason Grilli combined to mystify the Rays hitters and preserve the win. The extreme Jekyll/Hyde tendencies the Braves bullpen has shown this year probably made Perez feel very at home down there.

Early in the game, during a discussion on the Astros being 1st in the American League in homers and 1st in strikeouts, while holding a 6 game lead in the west, Tom Glavine commented, “€œwell, strikeouts don’€™t matter.” An awkward silence followed, during which I imagine Chip and Joe were scrambling madly to hand Glavine an autographed, hardback copy of The Official 2015 Braves Season Talking Points (written by The Three Johns with a special foreword by Bobby Cox) that they keep within arm’s reach for every broadcast. For the rest of the broadcast, you could almost hear Glavine muttering in Orwellian style, “home runs bad, small ball good…”

In addition to Glavine, the broadcast hosted other former Braves tonight, too. Javy Lopez joined them for an inning on his bobblehead night, and looked as though he could have switched places with A. J. Pierzynski without any problem. Chris Hammond, whom I had forgotten even existed, also appeared for a half inning. His presence sent me on a trip down memory lane, to that incredible 2002 Braves bullpen and Hammond’s own remarkable story of being out of pro ball for four years before coming back and posting a 0.95 ERA over 76 innings in his age 36 season. Braves fans were so spoiled that year. What a bullpen that was.

Tomorrow’s Thursday and the Braves are, amazingly, actually NOT off. They welcome the Brewers to town, and Julio Teheran will face off against Matt Garza to kick off a four-game set between the clubs.

92 thoughts on “A Literary Affair: Rays 1, Braves 2”

  1. Williams Perez, gunning for the 4/5 spots.

    Looking at his milb.com stats, he’s not not a prospect. Nothing exciting, but he’s somebody.

  2. I predict that if JR Smith hits 8 contested 3 ptrs per game for the whole series the Hawks lose. He’s a slot machine and he hit big today

  3. When Glavine delivers a lighthearted remark, he does so in such a deadpan manner that I initially thought he made that statement to fire a shot at the previous general manager’s approach to roster construction, but then, as you mentioned, there was the “awkward silence.”

    @4
    At least we don’t know what either Williams and Perez can be — unlike Stults and Cahill, who remain what they were and will be what they are, today, tomorrow and evermore.

  4. At least we don’t know what either Williams and Perez can be

    Wait, there are three of them???

  5. Why is this crowd so fixated on “Williams?”

    Upper class Southern boys have had last name first names forever.

    So, with his Braves credentials, Williams just joins the gentleman’s club.

  6. So, with his Braves credentials, Williams just joins the gentleman’s club.

    Both of them, count it!

    /retires champion

  7. The great thing about the 2015 Braves is that they never give LeBron 40 ft to do whatever he wants with when it counts the most.

  8. Top 10 Rasta Expressions or Baseball Chatter

    10. Hey batter, hey batter
    9. Him, a natty dread mon
    8. Lively up yourself
    7. No batter, no batter
    6. Easy out
    5. Ride, natty, ride
    4. Stick it in his ear
    3. Hungry mon is an angry mon
    2. Make him pitch to ya
    1. Easy shanking/Hum babe (tie)

  9. I was surprised when Williams huffed a 93 mph fastball up there. With that good sinker, they have real potential to be a perfectly mediocre pitching tandem. And mediocre starting pitching is a substantial upgrade to what we’ve been receiving from the 4/5 slots all season.

  10. @4

    I want to push back against this idea that Williams Perez are “not a prospect” based on their milb stats.

    There’s actually a lot to like. No, we’re not looking at a top-of-the-rotation starter here, but the tool kit is there to be a useful MLB starting pitcher, which is no small thing.

    The stats are those of a sinker-baller. High GO/AO ratio, low HR rates (4 HR surrendered in 133 innings in 2014). The 6.4 K/9 is good for a pitch-to-contact guy, and the 2.6 BB/9 isn’t bad, though it needs to improve a bit (2014 stats). He’s also been young for his league each year and has succeeded at each level (not counting GCL).

    Another thing about sinker ballers is that minor league stats can underestimate their ML value. Infields and infielders are both of lesser quality, so fewer ground balls turn into outs.

  11. @21, ah yes, the double negative for double Williams

    But anyway, @20 is why I think they are gonna be useful for us for a while

  12. For a very long time, Williams Perez really weren’t a prospect. They were signed as an amateur free agent in Venezuela in 2009 in 18 — if they were a top talent, they would have signed at 16, like Julio Teheran. They spent the next three years in rookie ball. They were decent in A-ball in 2013, but their stuff and their numbers still weren’t eye-popping enough for them to land on a prospect list.

    After holding their own in Double-A, though, John Sickels finally gave them a grade of C+ this offseason, writing:

    21) Williams Perez, RHP, Grade C+: Age 23, doesn’t get as much attention as other Braves prospects but out-pitches most of them with sinker/change-up combination, posted 2.91 ERA with 94/39 K/BB in 133 innings in Double-A. 6-1, 230 body weighs against him with observers but the stuff is decent and he uses it well.

    http://www.minorleagueball.com/2014/11/11/7183475/atlanta-braves-top-20-prospects-for-2015

    Every organization has a lot of guys like this — the Buddy Carlyles of the world, really — who don’t really dominate and don’t light up the radar guns, but who are able to get minor leaguers out and then manage to come up and get major leaguers out. The fact that Perez are having so much success is really a compliment to the Braves’ scouting and player development staff and a testament to them: two unheralded teenagers who spent three years in rookie ball managed to make it the major leagues. Saying that they weren’t a prospect isn’t an insult, it’s a mark of how hard they’ve worked to make it.

  13. I’m worried about the salary implications if they do make it thru – will we be on the hook for a Double Arb raise?

  14. All this talk about sinkers reminded me of Tim Hudson, who is an interesting guy.

    In 1998, a 22 yo Hudson went 10-9 with a 4.54 ERA for AA Huntsville, walking 71 guys in 134.2 innings. Not exactly setting the world on fire, no? The next season, he was dominating in the big leagues, and by 2000, he was a 20-game winner.

  15. The Tim Hudson trade and extension were among the best deals of John Schuerholz’s career, and that’s saying something. I never cared much for his arm tattoo and Mac could never stand an Auburn Tiger, but Tim Hudson was one of the best pitchers of his generation, which isn’t bad for an undersized right-hander picked in the sixth round.

  16. And even the arm tattoo was mitigated a little bit by the killer three-quarter length softball sleeve look he wore so often.

  17. Bills Perez’s changeup looked pretty filthy. My understanding is that due to the changeup being such a “feel pitch” it’s often the final pitch to develop. I don’t want to get too excited, but it’s not unthinkable that Bills Perez and his changeup are taking a big step forward.

  18. I know Gomes needs some ABs, but I would like to see Cunningham get a lot of ABs while he can. It would be nice to see if he can handle the big league pitching consistently. The fact that he switch hits and can play all OF spots might make him quite useful as a 4th outfielder in the future.

  19. @32

    When Beyoncé was singing about Bills, they were barely 8 years old. Does that mean it was a song about child support? Are they Destiny’s children?

    At any rate, someone was clearly putting food on the table

  20. @34 the failure of management to get ABs for Cunningham and Eury Perez in favor of players who 1) aren’t good and 2) have no future with us is egregious

  21. I don’t think a whole lot of Carlos Gomez, but he’s the only guy I’ve seen actually set out to hit a homerun and do it.

  22. @38. Deion sanders in 1991 told Otis Nixon he was going to hit a HR. Otis said “naw man just try to get on base”. Deion went out there and homered.

  23. Wow I was watching the Braves at that time, and don’t recall that aspect of it. I have no doubt Deoon would’ve said something like that. The thing that got me about the Gomez Homer was that he had made it very clear on the pitch before that that’s what he was trying to do, and Mahopm would’ve given anything not to let him do it.

  24. Bad play, Jace. Pitiful.

    Regardless of the challenge outcome, I just joined the Maybin fanclub.

  25. Catcher James McCann hits a walk off homer for the Tigers today. Brian McCann, once arguably the best catcher in baseball is now the second best catcher in baseball…named McCann.

  26. I wonder why the pitcher’s so upset. Did Fredi just violated an unwritten rule of baseball?

  27. Its amazing how many times already this year I have thought to myself “look what happens when you make contact”.

  28. @56

    I’m sure the Brewers will think that he did, but when the pine tar is glistening off your arm in the lights, that’s on you. The unwritten rule regards using prior knowledge to rat somebody out who isn’t being totally obvious about it, but if everybody and their mother can see it, that’s on you. Low-hanging fruit will and should be picked.

    By the way, I hope everybody remembers that awesomeness the next time Fredi does something complaint-worthy. He earns a couple of points on that one, as far as I’m concerned.

  29. That may, in fact, be the crappiest throw I’ve ever seen in a Major League game. He was lobbing it from 20 feet away and it went 10 feet over the first baseman’s head. I don’t even know how that’s possible.

  30. So, what do you guys think “repeated failures to comply with his contract” means?

  31. @69 — I expect they assigned him somewhere he didn’t want to go, so he didn’t show up. The fact that the union isn’t contesting it is fairly strong evidence that the Dodgers have just cause.

    I’d be more excited about this kind of win if it didn’t feel more like the Brewers imploding, with the Braves just happening to be on the scene when it occurred. Still, it’ll be nice to be above .500 for a few days. I also really hope Bethancourt can string a few strong games together and win his job back; Pierzynski’s bat has disappeared and the Braves still need to figure out if Bethancourt is a long-term solution at that position.

  32. Bethancourt just looks like he can hit. I’ve watched him hit ropes off breaking balls and fastballs. That is something. Whether he can do it with frequency is in question…

    This is one of my favorite Braves games from the last few years. It was awesome. Maybin was key. Teheran had his best start of the year. We are .500 at the 1/4 point. I’ve never been so happy to be .500

  33. Hey, nice to have a laugher & even better to see Julio in the groove like that.

    #38
    In 2003, I went to a game in Oakland – A’s & Rangers. Carl Everett was playing RF for Texas. We were sitting down the 1B line, but we could see & hear the A’s fans by the RF foul pole giving it to Everett something fierce for the first few innings.

    Everett, if you recall, was a pretty good hitter, but a notorious hothead who played on a different club every other year & he had a bit of an Adrian Peterson-like (child-abuse) issue when he was with the Mets. He also espoused some curious views on modern life (not to mention ancient life, science & a few other things).

    To his credit, he seemed to mostly ignore these dipshits, until someone threw a cell phone at him—yes—and hit him in the back of his head. Then, he went nuts. He headed toward the stands, but a security guard prevented him from going further, and he pointed menacingly at the offender. The game, obviously, stopped while umpires, teammates and manager Buck Showalter came sprinting over to calm him down.

    He was so angry it was scary. He was like the crazy guy in the bar that makes you leave the bar before you end up on the local news. There was no talking to him, but lucky for the fans, he chewed out everyone near him, instead of going all-NHL on the moron who skulled him with the StarTAC. Eventually, the offending fan was fingered & quickly ejected.

    The inning ended relatively quickly, and guess who’s lead off the next inning? Yup. A still-steaming Everett came stalking out of the on-deck circle like an extra from “Game of Thrones” carrying a broadsword. Like everyone else in the joint, my co-worker (a Deadhead who was not really a baseball fan) could feel the nuke-hot anger resonating from Everett, so he says to me, “He’s either going mutilate everyone on the field right now, or he’s going to hit one halfway to Sausalito.”

    Sure enough, Everett destroys Mulder’s first pitch with seismic ferocity—boom!— easily 450 feet to left center, way up into the mid-level football stands, but not quite making it to “Mount Davis,” the football uppers. Of course, Academy Award speeches have been completed in less time than it took him to round the bases—but we all understood why. Every single person in that stadium expected Everett to try to hit the ball to the nearest BART station and he damn-near did it.

    It wasn’t exactly Ruth’s called shot or Gibson’s limp-off homer, but it was the most weirdly impressive thing I’ve ever seen on a baseball field.

  34. So he was ejected for a foreign substance on his arm? It could have been accidental. I often get kimchi or tzatziki sauce on my shirt.

  35. Our schedule is about to get not-so-fun. Gotta get while the getting’s good here.

  36. He said it was a mixture of sunscreen (night game) and rosin because it was cold and windy. Not sure how two white items mixed together makes a brown sticky substance but ok.

  37. And why the sunscreen/rosin mixture was ONLY applied to that one spot on the forearm? Hmmmmm.

  38. A couple of days ago I posted that Shelby Miller had made the biggest leap of the season so far in the World Starting Pitcher Rankings, moving up 38 places from #58 to #20 since the start of the season.

    But our Shelby’s been overtaken by a familiar (and very Handsome) face: Aaron Harang, who started the season as the 76th ranked pitcher in baseball, is now the 37th ranked pitcher, just a couple spots behind Persian Julius.

  39. @85: Kimbrel not performing to his usual standard helps prove the point that relievers are fungible. He was bound to either turn into a pumpkin or blow out his arm, and I guess I can say that it benefits the Braves that he’s in other laundry when that happens.

  40. I am hard on Fredi, but him going out and getting Smith tossed with the bases loaded and a chance to put the game away, brilliant!

    It’s the smartest thing I have ever seen him do as a manager. I get on here a lot and talk about how Fredi lost us a game. I give him credit and will say he put us over the top in this one.

  41. Speaking of Kimbrel, if he were still a Brave and I’m Craig Counsell, I’d go straight to the umpire to complain about his doctored cap during a critical ninth inning situation.

  42. The Brewers’ pitcher (Smith) was not intentionally doing anything wrong. He just had the substance on his arm for a between batter snack. This is exactly the same thing Melky Cabrera did several years ago, except he put it on his bat. That video clip still gets me every time.

  43. @88 Only, that hat was checked tons of times by umps and was never found to be doctored in any way, so nice try.

    I had to laugh when Joe was wondering why it took the pitcher who replaced Smith so long to come out of the bullpen, when he could have as many warm up pitches as he needed on the mound, and Chip said, “maybe he needed to wash his arm.”

    It’s also funny/ironic that Smith said it was for a better grip, when he hit the only batter he faced. Seriously, though, that was blatantly obvious. And Fredi said he waited until Smith actually touched it before he said anything to the ump, which was a wise move, in my opinion.

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