Chelsea Piers Taketh Away, Chelsea Piers Giveth: Braves 2, Giants 1

So last week I shelved my 1966 reminiscence to dwell on what I hope we will agree, in retrospect years hence, to have been the low point of the 2018 season. Since then, it has all been just ducky. My shelved retrospective was of Wednesday September 14th, when the Braves won a tight game 3-1 game in 10 innings in Wrigley Field before 961 (!!) fans. I closed my remarks with “This is the kind of game good teams win. They beat bad teams in close games.” That game capped a stretch of 8 straight wins. From September 5th-September 22nd the Braves were 14-1. A team that was languishing below .500 was suddenly 82-71. Since this was before divisional play, they were still out of contention for the World Series, but they were suddenly a team you could be optimistic about.

On the 14th, Dick Kelley walked in a run in the 4th and Hank Aaron knocked in Felipe Alou on a fielder’s choice in the 6th, his 113th RBI of the season. A couple of unearned runs in the 10th gave the Braves the win.

That was not so different from September 12th 2018. The Giants scored first on a day that Anibal Sanchez didn’t have his best control, but excellent defensive play got him out of jam after jam. (Defense also rescued Biddle in the 8th after he committed a stupid error.) The Braves tied it up in the 6th when Freddie Freeman singled in Ozzie Albies through the shift. Both teams had numerous wasted opportunities, including the top of the 7th when the Braves loaded the bases with no outs to no avail. To be fair, it is slightly inaccurate to say the Braves had loaded the bases with no outs, since their next batter was Adam Duvall. It is perhaps fairer to say they failed to score with the bases loaded and one out.

In the 9th, Culberson, subbing for the groin-tweaked Camargo, found himself at 3rd with two outs and Tyler Flowers pinch hitting. Flowers was thrown out by Evan Longoria but the 1st base ump ruled that Brandon Belt had come off the bag early. He hadn’t, but replay couldn’t prove it, so the winning run came via Chelsea Piers in NYC. I am still not entirely certain what MLB thinks it’s up to with replay, but it now just seems like a random element thrown into games. Those who thought that MLB has it in for the Braves need to consult this game to show that it really is just random. This is the kind of game good teams win. They beat bad teams in close games.

The Giants have now lost 11 in a row and do not look like a major league team. I find it hard to hate the Giants. They beat the truly hated Dodgers to send the Braves to the playoffs one year and will forever be the only team to win 100 games and not make the playoffs, again at the hands of the Braves. I was a little miffed when they swept the Braves in Atlanta this year, and Posey was out and all, but they’ve made up for a lot of that in the last three days.

The Natinals are on the verge of catching the Phillies. Some of you are worried about them. I’m not — yet. And even if they pass them, I’d rather have only three games with the team chasing you than seven.

Finally, this game was my third of the year on Facebook. Maybe the fact that I watch the vast majority of my games on MLB.TV (which runs only four different ads a game such that my teeth begin to grind in frustration) colors my opinion, but the complete lack of commercials in these games makes up even for Jason Marquis‘ Staten Island-inflected monotone. Others complain of freezing or other technical glitches. I had none, and I find the games refreshingly laid back in announcer’s tone. And they don’t let Chip do the games, which is a major plus.

 

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

84 thoughts on “Chelsea Piers Taketh Away, Chelsea Piers Giveth: Braves 2, Giants 1”

  1. Living through the 14 straight division titles they did become a bit mundane. But this one, this one I want real bad. I want to see this team finish it off in style. I’m savoring every win and appreciating that we are actually scoreboard watching in mid-September.

  2. from the previous post, Carl, sorry to hear about what you are going through. Waiting truly is terrible. The thing that helped our family through that road was the purpose given to us by a therapist, that the reason you are going through these tough times are so that you will be able to help someone in your situation in the future. You’ll get through this.

  3. Drama at Wrigley as we speak. 8th, Brewers up by 1, Cubs have Bryant, Rizzo, Zobrist, Baez up. Brewers counter with Hader.

    Zobrist singles meaninglessly because…Bryant/Rizzo/Baez blown away by Hader. Annihilated. Lovely.

    Granderson just homered for Brewers.

  4. Argh, math. The boys are taking care of business. With 10 as the magic number, playing .500 ball the rest of the way forces either team chasing to truly pull a rabbit out of a hat merely to tie. The good guys control their own destiny, but the math does truly work against the chasers. Hopefully, two out of three against the Nats and the Marlins taking two out of three against the Phils makes this whole thing a lot clearer.

  5. @2 for carl…

    Hey, it might not be as bad as you think and you, like me, can maybe still be there when we win it all again! That’s a real goal for some of us – if it doesn’t happen what do you bet there’ll be a baseball not a medical reason!

    It may well never happen. Some of us got it, were cleared after a couple of years treatment only for it to reappear. It may never happen for you but if it does be ready, be aggressive, never allow yourself to feel sorry for yourself – so important. And yes, make new friends like yourself. It is sadly very easy to meet and befriend people worse off than your self and it pumps you up to see they benefit from knowing you. And you them.

    Rob has my email address, I would be delighted to talk with you if that would help, now or down the road. Cheers.

  6. @5

    Brewers do a Braves and pile on in the ninth, 5-1 win.

    So are we now only a game and a half off the NL best record? Interesting.

  7. Hard for me to understand. You said just now we were 2 1/2 behind the Cubs for best record. The Cubs then lost tonight. How can that not alter the status quo? It’s late, I know!

  8. Thanks again for the messages fellas, I also hope it will be a false alarm. I’ll let you guys know as soon as I hear something definitive.

  9. I was assuming the Cubs loss when they were down 5-1 in the 9th. Cheeky, I know. Plus, a lost game by the Cubs is only one-half game difference in any case.

  10. A little perspective. Our magic number is the least in the NL for any division. We will likely be the first to clinch. I don’t think any sort of kvetching is worthwhile at this point.

  11. Went looking for Braves postseason tickets today. Excited for this, even if it’s just a division series game. Really appreciate it now more than ever.

  12. Best wishes carl on your test results coming back with good news. I know there are some survivors among the commentariat here (myself included), so we have some who can offer support if needed/wanted (myself included).

    Let us know if we can do anything to help.

  13. Watching Josh Hader pitch against the Cubs last night was like attending a corrida where the sword was wielded by the bull.

    Chapman pales in comparison, trying so hard to contain his emotions.

  14. I don’t think we like to dodge Strasburg. These guys seem to like ruining his day.

    Scherzer, otoh, is the very definition of an ace. Never gets rattled. Might lose the game, but he’ll be there till late in the game keeping his team in it.

  15. Today could be that weird turning point where it’s no longer the Phillies directly behind the Braves but the Nationals.

    And, yeah, even though I don’t want the Braves to lose, I’d still laugh my ass off at the Nationals if they somehow managed to make it close near the end but came up short (and maybe could have pulled it out were it not for unloading some players lol).

  16. Is it that the gNats have pulled closer to the Phils or the Phils have dropped closer to the gNats? My feeling is the Phils have dropped so essentially, at least for me, it means worrying less about the Phils and not more about the gNats.

  17. They’re both .500 teams. It’s really the Phils have come down to the Nats. I get it, collapses can happen, but we would have to be some kind of cursed to lose the division to the Nats. Highly doubt it. We’ve got a 90+% chance of making the playoffs.

  18. After winning 5 in a row, the Nats are 6 and 4 in their last 10. That is exactly what the Braves have done. It is not unprecedented for a team to make up 7 games in 16 games, but it is usually when the 2 teams are going in the polar opposite direction. That is not the case with the Braves. There is no way the Nats or Phillies catch us.

  19. We get to play the Phillies seven more times and three with the Mets.

    That’s 10 of 16 against really bad teams. Plus, the Nats only look good because they played the Phillies.

  20. I like you, Smitty. That’s the right way of looking at things.

    And as a lesson to all of us, I’d like to point out that Fangraph’s projected standings are still predicting the Braves will finish out the season with a .497 win %. It says 8-8, but somehow, for the Braves, that means .497…

    Point is, anyway, that their projections are heavily biased towards preseason projections. Right down to the last weeks of the season.

  21. @30

    And that is a fantastic example of why it’s dumb to treat Fangraphs projections as gospel anytime, and to think they hold any weight at all after Memorial Day or so. The people who wanted us to sell at the deadline because Fangraphs projections said we were a .450 team…yeah.

    On a different note, the Nats have been almost exactly the same distance behind us (seven or eight games) for about three weeks now. It’s actually been kind of weird…I don’t recall it ever even going to six or nine for a day. They’ve been where they’ve been since they let everybody go on waivers. It’s the Phillies that have fallen back to them.

  22. Again, the Nationals pretty much have to sweep us or they are completely and utterly doomed. Let’s assume they beat the Cubs tonight to get to even with the Phillies at 7.5 out. If they take 2-of-3 from us, they’re 6.5 out with two weeks to go…big whoop.

    Even if they sweep us, though, they’re still 4.5 out with two weeks to go, which is still probably too far out for them to catch us.

  23. Are any other Braves Journalistas going to Brave for a Day at STP on September 27? I’ll be there. The alumni are reported to be Dwight Smith, Greg McMichael, and Marquis Grissom. Anything I should ask any of them?

  24. We want home-field advantage (road games in the playoffs are different from road games in the regular season), but the wild card will probably be better than the NL West champion, so we don’t want to spend a whole lot of time worrying about chasing down the Cubs.

  25. Braves have come up small in several playoff atmosphere type games in Atlanta. Record vs. potential playoff teams in ATL

    BOS 0-3
    COL 0-4
    MIL 2-1
    CHC 1-2
    LAD 1-3
    ARZ 1-2

    Same teams on the Road:

    BOS 1-2
    COL 2-1
    MIL 1-3
    CHC 2-1
    LAD 1-2
    ARZ 3-1

    Milwaukee is the only team we did better than at home.

  26. You’re gonna have a tough time convincing me that there’s any advantage to being on the road in a playoff atmosphere with the other team having the final at-bat.

    The only team you might have an argument on is the Cubs (and the Red Sox, I guess, but let’s hope we have to deal with that issue), because of the horde of frat boys that I mentioned yesterday. But even then, we get the final at-bat and the atmosphere would be friendlier than Wrigley.

  27. Harper has had a solid 2nd half, but he is still an enigma. Every other year he goes from being other worldly to merely good. In 2015 he hit 330/1.109, in 2016 243/814, in 2017 319/1.008, and this year he is 249/896. I would take him in a heartbeat if you could guarantee good Harper for 10 more years. If he turns into other worldly Harper for 8 of those 10 years, he could be one of the best of his generation not far behind Mike Trout.

  28. @42 I want someone around here to acknowledge that Minter and Winkler are both dynamite relievers. They are among the 30 best in all of baseball. If you look at projections from pre-season and include Viz’s injury issues, one might conclude that Minter and Winkler are two of the most prominent players that got us where we are right now having significantly over-performed their expectations both in terms of performance and in terms of how many innings they were expected to contribute. They are most certainly our #1 and #2 relievers. Our total bullpen WAR is about 3.4 and Minter/Winkler have contributed 2.8 on their own.

    Good article at TC discussing this. In addition to the two relievers, our heroes are Acuna, Markakis, Culby, Camargo, and Folty.

  29. Mark Bowman tweets:

    “Braves sweep the Giants in San Francisco for the first time since 2011. Jonny Venters earned the save in the final game of both sweeps…..7 years apart.”

  30. If you can get Bryce Harper for nothing but money, you do it. Period. End of story. Nick Markakis’ resurgent, renaissance, comeback-player-of-the-year-ish, finally-made-an-AllStarGame season this year is his FLOOR.

  31. @42 I think Sam in this case was being sarcastic, but yes, people seem to have a high standard for who is a reliever worthy of praise. I don’t get it. Maybe it’s because every little run is magnified in the late innings, but the lack of love for those two is confusing.

  32. People who pitch in high leverage situations are like high leverage investments… The source of riches when things are going well and the cause of bankruptcy when things are going poorly. The key to winning is to be in many more high leverage offensive situations than defensive ones.

  33. I recognize the value Minter and Winkler have brought to this team. I also recognize that getting that sort of value out of cheap as dirt rookies instead of paying Craig Kimbrel for more or less the same work is what successful mid-market teams do.

    I also recognize that Minter, in particular, while effective, never seems to manage to be effective in a manner that does not induce angina. Dude treats a clean 1-2-3 ninth like vampires treat sunlight. And that’s worth poking fun at occasionally, IMHO*.

    *I am of the “H means honest” tribe; the “H means humble” tribe are losers who will perish at my mighty sword hand.

  34. Sam is right @47. We’d be moving towards locking in a team that at least could maintain the 2018 status quo.

    Minter is both good and has also fallen short of my expectations.

    The phrase “dynamite relievers” really can go both ways, huh?

    When I say “IMHO,” the “H” stands for “handsome.”

  35. This is a fun tool I like to check from time to time. It uses bWAR which I prefer to fWAR especially for pitchers as fWAR is too reliant on FIP.

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/team_compare.cgi

    The Braves ranks in MLB at each Position:

    SP 13th
    RP 18th
    All P 15th
    Non P 2nd
    C 14th
    1B 2nd
    2B 7th
    3B 13th
    SS 13th
    LF 2nd
    CF 5th
    RF 6th

    The position players are extremely well rounded, the Braves are the only team without a position in the bottom half of the league. If there is a weakness, it’s the pitching and mostly the bullpen.

  36. @50 I understand. I don’t think that’s Minter’s long term profile, though. I think this is the first time he’s been challenged to need to get better (first time hitters have regularly laid off marginal pitches).

    There was a term Weaver used to use for Don Stanhouse: Full Pack. Stanhouse was a great reliever but you had to smoke a full pack while he was on the mound.

  37. If you went to war with Acuna in LF and Harper in RF, you’d be looking at an offense where Freddie Freeman very well could be your third best weapon.

  38. I like the idea of Bryce and Herrera in the offseason and roll with what we’ve got. I guess you need another catcher and I wouldn’t mind Suzuki again. We should have $50 million to spend so maybe you use some minor league depth to add a #2 SP and let someone develop into our ace.

  39. Barring injury, at least three fifths of the 2019 rotation is set in stone, right? Folty, Newk and Gausman are in there. To improve the top of that rotation, you’re going to need one of those vaunted “true top of the rotation” “aces” we always talk about.

    Clayton Kershaw is available for money, but would eat into your Bryce Harper funds. Maybe Jake deGrom or Blake Snell are available in the offseason for trade, but it would be a major haul going out the door. I have a hard time seeing the Nats breaking it down completely and selling three years of Scherzer off.

    Meanwhile, you have all of those sterling prospects in the pipeline, including a hopefully healthy Mike Soroka, knocking on the door, and a reasonably healthy Julio.

  40. @56 Exactly, Dusty, except I’d add a catcher by trade – Realmuto. We need to make a big trade over the winter to relieve pressure on the upper minors – convert some of those assets into on field production.

    BTW, Folty is currently the 17th best pitcher in the majors. He’s our ace right now. I think we need to develop a couple of more #2s.

    For the reliever, I’d take Herrera or Familia whichever was cheaper. I’d also re-sign Brach and Venters as setup.

  41. @58 If Julio has recovered some of his trade value then now is the time to trade him. Include him in the package for Realmuto. I’d like to see a rotation of Folty, Gaus, Newk, and two of Soroka/Touki/Wilson/Gohara/Fried and I wouldn’t mind having a six man rotation.

    Also, trading Julio recovers some payroll space for FAs.

  42. I have been curious as to why the Braves have performed worse at home than on the road. Seems like someone should be tracking this and making adjustments. I found almost nothing in the hitting and pitching statistics that would account for the difference. Runs scored per game and OBP is almost identical and ERA and OBP against is almost identical. Slugging is higher on the road but that didn’t translate into more runs.

    What jumped out at me was more than twice as many saves on the road and 50% more unearned runs at home than on the road (along with more HBP and balks). Maybe fielding is worse at home.

    The other stat I ran down was that we are 1-6 in extra inning games at home and 5-2 on the road. That makes up a huge part of the difference. Fielding difference must be the rest but I can’t find HM/RD splits for fielding. I also wonder what our differential one-run winning percentage is. We seem to do much better in close games on the road.

    That whole “last AB” thing may not be so good for us.

  43. When I say “IMHO”, I mean “in my hallowed opinion”.

    When I’m on Twitter, I mean “in my hateful opinion”, apparently.

  44. The Marlins are not taking Julio in a salary dump trade unless we eat essentially all of the money. A reasonable trade for Realmuto starts with Pache (and ends there, at least for myself). Sign Grandal or try to find the next Suzuki (Alex Avila is my choice).

  45. I’m all in on signing one of Machado or Harper. From there? In Alex I trust. I do not want to spend the final stretch of this unexpectedly wonderful season rosterbating next year.

  46. We signed Nick Markakis to a 4-year deal entering a rebuild because you need someone. We took Aybar back in the Andrelton deal because you need someone. I can’t see the Marlins not willing to take Teheran back who actually has surplus value simply because he actually makes money. But if you’re right, then send back money and send less prospects. And then you’re getting to a balance between prospects-for-Realmuto and money-for-Grandal. It ends up working similarly based on what other corresponding deals you make, so it really boils down to which players you want more.

  47. I’m actually a little torn on the poll. I agree with Sam that it’s mostly random why our home record is not great, and I can’t easily reconcile not wanting to have home field advantage when the longer sample says that it’s preferable. But I also think that a well-rested squad who, in short sample, has been playing well on the road is also a good outcome.

  48. @64 I guess that depends if you think we’re really a better road team or not. If we’re really a better road team then it’s not random fluctuation and has some cause and effect behind it. Could be that the strategies are different in extra inning games and the our strategy is worse at home. It points to an area that needs to be addressed going forward. Any data gives you a chance to analyze and fix. Maybe we’re using lesser relievers at home when the game is tied and need to choose different relievers to use at home. At any rate, it leaves me with the feeling I’d rather play close games on the road with a rested pitching staff.

  49. I’ll tell you what. The gNats are playing like a playoff team right now. If they had played like this all year, everything would be different. They are dangerous. Maybe if they had had Soto in the lineup from the get go (and fewer injuries) then they might be fighting for a playoff spot.

  50. The Nationals are a team of talented underperformers. If they win today, they’ll be 8-6 over their past 14 games.

    Before that, they went 5-5 in their previous 10 games. Before that, they went 7-7 in their previous 14. Before that, they went 8-8 in their previous 8 games.

    Of course, if they lose today, they’ll be 7-7 over their past 14 games. They’re tied with the Cubs 3-3 in the 8th right now. I know which outcome I’d bet on.

  51. Nats are just another data point for “baseball is weird”. Nearly 100 runs ahead of the Phillies in run-differential, and still behind them in the standings.

  52. @74

    …and they lost. So they went 8-8. Then they went 7-7. Then they went 5-5. And their last streak is another 7-7. They are 37-37 at home. 37-36 on the road. Their overall record is 74-73.

    Talent pool underperforming or whatnot, I’m pretty darned comfortable declaring that the 2018 Washington Nationals are the categorical definition of a mediocre, .500 club.

  53. Martinez makes Dusty Baker look better as a manager every day. Callaway has also managed to get remarkably little from his players. The other not manager of the year has to be Bochy I’m SF. I know he’s low on talent, but SF has packed it in.

  54. And now even sweeping us doesn’t do them much good. I mean, it’s preferable to not doing so for them, but 5.5 out with two weeks to go doesn’t really qualify as being back in it.

  55. @72 are they really? going back to our last series with them in August:
    Braves 2-2
    cubs: 1-2
    cards: 1-3
    MARLINS: 1-2
    Phils: 2-1
    Mets: 1-2
    Phils again: 2-1
    milwaukee: 1-2
    cards:1-2
    cubs: 2-1
    phils: 3-0

    so, really, they only look like they are playing playoff baseball vs the Phillies. And really, the Phils look like hot garbage.

  56. I’ve just come here to say this: The Braves are a good baseball team. No matter what may happen in the playoffs, the 2018 Braves are a good team. It’s a good time to be a fan of this team.

    This time last year, we wondered if we would ever leave the desert.

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