Ender’s Game–Braves 5 Padres 2

Ok, I apologize. That’s a cheap, unoriginal, and not at all clever play on Inciarte’s unusual name.
But it really was his game. Ender will go down in history with the first hit, first run scored, and first home run at SunTrust Park. He also caught the first and last outs of the game. He was the main reason the Braves won the home opener (and avoided what would have been a pretty embarrassing defeat after all the hype and ceremony).

Julio pitched pretty well. He wasn’t sharp—he walked four and hit two more batters. But there weren’t many hard hit balls and he limited the damage. He could only go six innings because with all the wildness it took him 100 pitches to go that far. Fortunately for the Braves, the bullpen came through. Ramirez, Vizcaino, and Johnson each pitched a scoreless inning. (Did you realize that since that abysmal collapse in Pittsburgh last Sunday–when they blew a two run lead in the 8th and a one run lead in the 10th—the pen has strung together nine scoreless innings?)

I got a little PTSD flashback to the first two months of last season, when our Braves were historically awful. What does it say about the Padres that two of the players they started were Erick Aybar and Jhoulys Chacin? And wouldn’t you know that Chacin drove in Aybar for the Padres’ first run?

Let’s take this opportunity to survey where we are and what we know about the 2017 Braves team. What conclusions can we draw so far based on nine games? ALMOST NONE. We know the bench is one of the weakest you’ll ever see, but we knew that before opening day. Kemp’s injury has only made it more obvious. Adonis Garcia is not a major league caliber third baseman—but again no surprise. The bullpen may be a strength, but we’ll see.

There are three players in the lineup that we’re counting on for the next good Braves team: Freddie, Ender, and Swanson. So far, Freeman is showing that he may have taken it to the next level; he is one of the best offensive players in baseball. Of course we don’t expect Ender to be a power hitter, but you gotta like everything he does bring to the table. Dansby is off to a weak start, but he should come around. Teheran is a very good starting pitcher. His ERA in three games is under 1.00. He’s not that good, but he’s awfully dependable.

Two notes about the past and the future. As a Braves fan from way back, I always get sentimental when they honor the past greats. It was wonderful to see in the pregame ceremony Niekro, Murph, Glavine, Smoltz, Chipper, Cox, and especially Henry Aaron. He will always be the greatest Brave, and I got a little chill seeing him walk out and toss the first pitch. Great player and great man.

As to the future, last season for the first time in my life I paid more attention to the minor league box scores than to the big league games. I find I’m doing it again. I know There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect, but Coppy has staked this team’s future on a version of that. His bet is that although no one pitcher can be counted on, if you have ten to fifteen great prospects, three or four may turn out to be top of the rotation starters. Just look at the starts already this season by Mike Soroka, Kolby Allard, Ian Anderson, and Touki Toussaint (among several others). Hard not to get excited. I also know they are just as likely to lead to disappointment. Ah, such is baseball.

Author: tfloyd

Tfloyd was born on the site of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. Before the stadium was built, that is; it was then the site of Piedmont Hospital. It took the Braves another 11 years to arrive on what is now Hank Aaron Drive, but I‘ve always liked to arrive at the ballpark early.

35 thoughts on “Ender’s Game–Braves 5 Padres 2”

  1. Great recap, also forgive the headline. That’s the first and last time we’ll see it, I’m thinking, but at least it’s appropriate. Glad to see the home opener went the Bravos way!

  2. Watching Tyler Glasnow get off to a very rough start against Cubs–this, after getting shelled his first time out. Got to thinking about something Smoltz said during telecast last night, about going 2-11 during the 1st half of the ’91 turnaround season: teams nowadays won’t give a young pitcher anything close to that long to turn it around / learn “the craft”.

    We are surely going to be in same position Pirates are with Glasnow right now. I mean, even struggling, you can see why he’s a big time prospect. Does Glasnow, or, say, Sean Newcomb, get anything like that type of patient approach?? Or is that just “not done” anymore??

    We’ll soon be there….

  3. One reason they were so patient with Smoltz in ’91 is that they weren’t expected to contend. And even at the break when he was 2-11 the Braves were still something like 9 games out. His turnaround was a big reason for the second half surge. (He also had a track record of big league success, having pitched very well in 1989.)
    It will be tough to be patient with any of the young pitchers if you are in contention when they have their early struggles. Maddox, Glavine, and Avery all had rough stretches to start their careers, but their teams were really lousy. That dynamic may help Newcomb and Sims, but by the time Allard, Soroka, Anderson et al get called up the Braves hope they are a contending team.

  4. Freddie poking it through the shift was a thing of beauty.

    That stolen base attempt was not.

  5. Snitker pulled a Fredi by letting Dickey hit, then pulling him after 2 more hitters.

  6. I never thought I’d miss Chip and Joe. BTW, great DP by BP–barehand catch and great throw.

  7. Even though it meant letting him hit, I’m glad they let Dickey start the 7th. On the whole, I’m disappointed with Snit’s quich hook. By the way, did you notice how Teheran went from 87 pitches to 105 pitches in just one start? Apparently Teheran wasn’t ready to be stretched out from 87 pitches, but then threw 105 the next time out. I’d rather lose a game in the 7th with the starter on the mound than your 3rd or 4th best reliever.

  8. I’ve got no problem with the play-by-play guy (Justin Kutcher), but Preston Wilson is really bad. Like, he’s Harold Reynolds except worse, if that’s possible.

  9. Trivia:

    Who was the last Braves pitcher to strike out three batters on nine pitches?

    No Googling!

  10. I meant it as a joke. Kimbrel was so dominant that anything was possible. Maybe after two strikes the batter surrendered.

  11. Anybody hear the FS1 announcers talking about what “a story” Christian Bethancourt is, and how he is a unique player in that he provides the Padres with “so many options” as a pitcher, a hitter, and an outfielder? Do these guys not know what it looks like when a team tries to salvage a talented failure?

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