Redlegs 4, Braves 2

For the second week in a row, I was unable to watch on a Thursday when I have recap duty.  I had a work event in the evening, and didn’t get home until the middle of the seventh inning; in fact, I turned the game on just as the umps sent the players to the dugout for the rain delay.  The good news is that I didn’t suffer through the excruciating top of the seventh, in which the Braves, trailing 3-0, loaded the bases with no outs on consecutive singles by RAJ, BMac, and Camargo. The Reds brought in veteran righty David Hernandez who promptly stuck out Dansby, Ender, and Ozzie.  (By the way, the Braves had Hernandez for a month in the beginning of 2017, but traded him to the Angels for a player to be named later.  Does anyone here know what the Braves ultimately got for him? Is there any way to make that player Hernandez himself? We need him or someone like him.)

As I said, I don’t mind missing that inning, or the first seven innings for that matter. The Braves managed 8 hits in the first 7 innings without denting the scoreboard.  That’s got to be frustrating.  Julio was better than he’d been in his last start in Cleveland, surrendering 3 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks in 6 innings.  I guess that’s a “quality start,” but when your team can’t scratch a run, that’s small consolation.

So in the middle of the seventh the rains came. After a couple of hours it became apparent that they would call this game, so I wrote up a recap on the assumption that the game was over and fell asleep.

Around 11:45 I woke with a start and realized they had restarted the game after a delay of well over two hours. Parsons walked a man in the bottom of the seventh, but no harm done as he induced Votto to ground into a dp.  In the top of the eighth, the first positive thing of the night happened: Donaldson singled and Freddie crushed a homer to center (Freeman’s third hit of the game).  All of a sudden they are down by only a run and, despite the lateness of the hour, I was getting excited.

Leave it to the Braves pen to crush any hope.  Parsons walked the first two batters in the bottom of the eighth.  Of course that led to a run (could have been worse). Still, these Braves always make a run at it.  Dansby led off the ninth with a hit.  But Ender, Joyce, and Neck left him stranded—although Markakis did hit a rope, but right at Puig to end the game.

Although I apparently didn’t miss much in the parts of the game I missed, I feel guilty not watching the entirety of games that I’m recapping.  If I keep slacking like this, I’m afraid Rob may decide to cut my pay.  So, to earn my keep around here, I’ve decided to add a few remarks about a notable Atlanta Brave who made his major league debut on this date.  The legendary Biff Pocoroba entered his first major league game as a 21 year old on April 25, 1975. Although Biff (his actual name on his birth certificate) was never a star, he was a career Atlanta Brave who spent nine years with the team, mostly as a backup catcher.  Pocoroba was the first string catcher as a 23 year old in 1977, when he had the second highest OPS on the team.  Of course, that was a terrible team that lost 101 games.  He made the all star team in 1978, even though he wasn’t nearly as good as he’d been the previous year.  After that, he never had more than 140 plate appearances in a year, but he stayed with the team until 1984.  In my memory, he was always something of a fan favorite.

Oh yes, another kid made his major league debut with the Braves on this date.  On April 25, 2018, Ronald Acuña, Jr., played his first game in the Great American Ballpark.  I hear he’s off to a pretty good start in the year since.  It will be interesting to follow his career to see if he can live up to the standards set by Biff Pocoroba.  It’s nice to know that Ronald will be a Brave for at least as long as Biff was.

Braves return home for a seven game homestand, beginning this weekend against the Rockies.  Max Fried tries to continue his excellent run on Friday night.

59 thoughts on “Redlegs 4, Braves 2”

  1. We need to change the top half of our batting order to conform with who is hitting and who is not.

    Albies LHP (Swanson RH )
    Markakis
    Swanson/Albies
    FF(he must have heard last night, finally!)
    Acuna

    Once you come to realize you’re not cock of the hoop for now you’ll grow up in a hurry and then move up in a hurry. Freddie too must take a hard look, power??. Let’s get real and rediscover those rbis.

    (Great job getting the recap out in such a timely manner under ridiculous rain games.)

    It would be my expectation that the new order above has been accepted by all and sundry and will be introduced at the next home stand, ribbon cutting, champagne etc.

    Change. The weak flee from it, the Brave embraces it.

  2. The eagle of eye will have noticed the omission of one JD .

    His price and his speed bother me t/with his K’s. He will hit sixth.

    One last point. The top 5 order will be further improved when Ozzie can switch hit effectively leading off and we can play him there every day. That cements Dansby at third, also on an every day basis. Wow.

  3. What you really missed was a masterful game pitched by Teheran who gave up a single run in his six innings. Wait you whispered it was three runs. Well three runs but two were given up by Acuna who made a pitiful attempt at a fly ball by Suarez. Any other outfielder on the team would have caught it. Acuna loafed to the wall then lost it probably in those ugly fence lights. It was pitiful. Too bad for Teheran and the Braves, it cost them the game.

    The three strikeouts with the bases loaded was disgusting as well. It was magnified by putting Albies in to pinch hit instead of Joyce or Culberson. It just did not make sense. The schill team said it was because the Reds would have changed pitchers if Joyce had been inserted. WELL! what would have been wrong with that, Hernandez has owned Braves hitters. Bad decision. Should have put Joyce in to hit for Inciarte, then gone to Culberson for the pitcher if a lefty was put in to pitch to Joyce. That would have gotten the Braves 1-2 runs and moved Acuna out of left field where he struggles. Acuna to CF should be a permanent move.

  4. If the Braves want to ignite the offense for the Homestand, then Acuna-CF, Albies-2B, Freeman-1B, Donaldson-3B, Markakis-RF, Swanson-SS, Camargo-LF, McFlowers-CA. May want to start Joyce/Culberson at least once. Consider Inciarte as a late inning replacement for Acuna in CF, until Cunior picks up his defense. May want to try Dayton before returning Venters who is over. Also should send Sobotka down for Newcomb to come out of the Pen or rescue a bust game.

  5. On another note, what in the world is Wilson doing on the active roster when he isn’t pitching. He should be starting tonight at Gwinnett in favor of a lefty reliever for the 25-man. If he did not come in for Parsons in the eighth last night, why is he needed?

  6. I don’t know how the Braves can justify giving Camargo a little more than half the PAs of Ender. The defensive gap can’t be that great. And of course, they probably think Ender will get going soon, and he’s been a better hitter the last 2 weeks. But fWAR is not even giving him enough love for his defense and he’s at -0.1 fWAR.

  7. JC’d

    Before the start of the second Reds game there was a gathering of a local group on the field devoted to those with Parkinsons. Shuffling around was a tall, greying black man who still towered above the others, Dave Parker, the cobra.

    Memories of mid seventy games at Fulton County Stadium with Willy Stargel and others from his team. My first live ML game in there somewhere, with the Pirates. Parker was feared in those days above all others.

    Wash came out of the dugout, the two embraced and talked with gusto for several minutes. Nice.

  8. Disagree with some of this. Albies is a much, much, much better hitter than Joyce or Culberson. I don’t want him on the bench with the game on the line and watch Matt Joyce, a guy we got for a song because no one else in baseball wanted him.

    Ender’s at-bat was simply disgraceful, swinging at two straight fastballs up at his hat. Dansby should’ve done more. And Albies needs to improve his plate approach. But pinch-hitting him there was the right call.

    It looked to me like Acuna could have caught that ball with his athleticism, and his instincts do not yet match his tools, but it didn’t look to me like he was loafing.

  9. 5 — I agree, don’t really understand why Snitker has Bryse sitting on his hands in the bullpen.

  10. @ 9,

    Yeah, the basic pythag has us at 88 wins. But it also has us in first place.

    I think 3rd order pythag has us with lots more runs. Not sure on the pitching side. Does anybody have access to this?

  11. @10 @3 I have to agree with Alex here. Something did look odd about that ball that Suarez hit and it sure seemed like it should have been catchable, but he must have lost it or got distracted by the wall. I won’t stand for hearing about Ronald’s poor LF defense, though. That is SO last year. The Braves currently have the 3rd best LF defense in the league (1st in the NL) and Acuna is rated as the 7th best LF defender in all of baseball (100 innings or more). So let’s put that meme to rest right now. I do think he comes in for the ball better than going back, but overall, he’s been an excellent defender this year.

  12. Thanks for taking up the history I’ve let go slack. Biff Pocoroba was certainly a favorite of mine. When I first found Braves Journal, my handle was Biff Pocoroba, but I gave it up when I realized there was no way my comments could live up to the name.

  13. JonathanF, I never knew that YOU were Biff Pocoroba!

    Also, completely agree with Rob. This team needs LOTS more Camargo. They need to put Acuna in center and Camargo in left at least two days a week, in addition to making sure he keeps regularly backing up Donaldson, Albies, and Swanson. It’s a long, hot season in Cobb County.

  14. @3 I do think Teheran was “masterful” for about 4 innings and was less so in the 5th/6th. And that’s been the thing with him this year. He has done a better job of coming out of the gate, but has had horrible 5th innings every time out. He has given up 10 of his 18 runs in the 5th for a 17.47 ERA. He’s currently a 4-inning pitcher.

  15. Ender is simply not a good offensive player. His defense makes him valuable, but I would never start him against a lefty. (I know Hernandez is a righty, but Ender shouldn’t have been in the lineup to begin with.)
    Camargo ought to be getting more ABs than Inciarte. I’d be inclined to start Johan against all leftys and also spell other starters a couple of times a week.

    And if you’re going to rest Ozzie, don’t do so against a lefty starter.

  16. @17 I think it was more of resting him on the last day of a road trip before a late plane home. Elsewise, I agree with you.

  17. Biff tore his rotator cuff and that pretty much finished him as a catcher. Towards the end, he was a pinch hitter.

    In ’81, I went down to spring training and went to most of the games for a two week period. I saw a lot of the team. Boy, was Biff a sour character.

  18. @4 Further, the idea of putting Acuna back at first has become ludicrous. He has far outgrown that now. I do agree that we could switch Acuna and Donaldson between 2nd and 4th, but, at this point, I’m not sure even that is a good idea. Ozzie has done a great job at leadoff and Markakis is also a logical option (I have proposed alternating Ozzie and Nick at leadoff – Ozzie against LH and Nick against RH).

    Unless he regresses a lot, Acuna will never bat leadoff again – either 2nd or 4th. That said, Camargo is actually a better #5 hitter than Nick – similar OBP and more power.

    If Ender is in the game in the 1st half of a season, he should be batting 9th after the pitcher. Once the lineup turns over the first time, he serves as a second leadoff hitter without giving him extra ABs. Using this strategy last night would have allowed Ozzie or Joyce or Culby to bat with one out instead of two. Any of those three would have a better chance of a sac fly. Ender’s best chance would have been to bunt which he didn’t try until the 9th. With the rain coming down, he could have bunted hard on that field and the ball still wouldn’t have gone very far. No doubt that Ender was the hitting goat last night with the two late Ks.

    Also, in the 7th, it wasn’t exactly all on the hitters or Hernandez. It was raining really hard and not the best of hitting conditions.

    What really hurts is that this team is really better than its record. We have had so many close calls and insane bullpen performance that we just can’t get over the hump. Even after last night, the Braves still have the best xW/L in the division.

    And note that, with the Cubs and D’Backs doing well now, the Braves record against >.500 squads is up to 7-9 – better than the 0-3 start.

  19. @16, not sure where I read or heard it, but someone said that Teheran ist great through 3 (top 10 of the NL), then an era or 7plus in the 4th and 5th which is bottom 25 or so and era of 17 something after that which is dead last.
    So, three innings of Teheran and some Touki or Wilson taking over after 3.

  20. tfloyd, best I can guess is that the Braves took the cash rather than the PTBNL from the Angels for Hernandez. In hindsight, this seems to be one of the worst decisions the Braves made after turning the corner. We let a guy like Hernandez go for nothing because we had guys like Sam Freeman, Jose Ramirez, Jim Johnson, Ian Krol, Rex Brothers, Jason Motte, and EOF and the bullpen was too full for a guy pitching to a 1.12 ERA at Gwinnett. I thought it was idiotic at the time. He went on to produce 1.5W/9 in 2017 and 2.4W/9 last year. Not as good this year but his FIP is still 2.64, better than any of the Braves right now. And his track record was nearly as good as any of the pitchers mentioned above. And, of course, he’s beating us with the Reds.

  21. Ender’s AB with one out and the bases loaded last night was one of the most pathetic ABs I’ve ever seen. It was almost as if he knew the third pitch was going to be unreachably out of the strike zone but he decided to swing anyway.

    If no one else is getting a day off, our everyday outfield should be Camargo in LF, Acuna in CF, Markakis (who’s admittedly been better than I thought he would be so far) in RF. Essentially, they should take Ender and do with him what they’ve been doing with Camargo, minus any chance of him playing an infield position. Any game where Camargo is sitting and Ender is playing is an absolute waste at this point.

  22. @23 I was looking at Baseball Reference. It’s true, he’s not great in the 4th, but not totally terrible. It’s specifically the 5th inning and that 17.47 ERA that gets him. He has a 0.00 ERA in the 6th for the record. That’s why I characterize him as a 4-inning pitcher right. He’s looking really good for middle relief with that profile.

  23. I think you have to give Outciarte some ABs to try and breakout of it.

    I would also switch Dansby and Donaldson around in the lineup. I think we are best with:

    Ozzie
    Swanson
    Freeman
    Acuna
    Markakis
    Donaldson
    FloCann
    Outciarte/Camargo

  24. @1 & 2 There’s no way Donaldson should be batting 6th in this order, because that implies there are 5 better hitters on the team. Right now, Acuna, Freeman and (probably) Ozzie are the only guys I’d rather see at the plate than Donaldson.

  25. @26 Thanks for checking, Roger. I think he only pitched twice into the 6th though? But yes, middle relief or 3-inning opener.

  26. Why the opinion that the order is better with Donaldson behind Swanson and Kakes, when their stats are similar? Sure, Kakes average is higher, but that’s a relatively empty stat. Donaldson brings more power than both, on a team without a lot.

  27. So for those hoping that Liberty would wind up winning the bid for the Fox Sports regional networks with the thought that it might speed up the process of them selling the Braves, reports are that Sinclair Broadcast Group won and Liberty did not.

  28. @10

    Alex, could not agree more about Ender’s last two swings. All very mysterious because, taking note of his play in the first two games, I had remarked he had been productive in both.

    First game. Two hits and a SF rbi. Second, 2 hits 2 walks. He looked confident, assured in both. Third game, nothing, awful. Not just nothing though, he looked an out before the pitches came.

  29. @33

    Sinclair
    we lust after controlling the air
    sport or whatever
    do it now, do it later, ain’t we clever.

  30. @33 No news on that front, actually, since I last reported on it. Sinclair has the leading bid, and Disney had reached out to Liberty Media to see if they want to increase their bid. It seems like that is not the case, however, and Sinclair is poised to buy. It’s been 3 days since the news first broke, so…

    I’ve seen some indications that Liberty Media’s bid may have, in fact, been a low ball offer!

  31. @27 Roger…

    Luke,
    there had been an earlier compulsion to puke
    mirabile dictu
    events then showed he was neither a fool nor a pricktoo.

  32. @38 The Braves really don’t need to move Ender, though. He’s a Gold Glove CF, who also typically just starts slow at the plate. You’re not going to get that same type of defensive play with Acuna in CF, which is not to say it’d be a train-wreck. However, the OF as a whole is also going to take a hit defensively because I’m not sure he covers for Nick as much in RF. Heck, do we even really know what type of defensive OF Camargo would be in a larger sample size?

    Why can’t we just move Ender down in the order a bit until he comes around, like he eventually did last season?

    @39 Now if they’d like Duvall for any RP with a functioning arm, sure…

  33. Looks like Dyson and Vincent might be decent targets. Both pitching well, 30+, low walks, decent K-rate. Might take more than Duvall. And the Giants need hitters. The OFs they have can hit as well as Ender. One might include someone like Rafael Ortega along with Duvall and ask for Dyson and Michael Reed in return.

  34. If you want Bumgarner and/or Smith, you’re going to be waiting until late July. Or have to include players better than Inciarte or Duvall.

  35. There is a non-negligible chance that Adam Duvall can once again be a productive major league hitter.

  36. Great performance by Tomlin. He does deserve more high leverage opportunities.

    Fried was OK, but not good enough to overcome a lack of run support.

  37. Hahaha Chip spends a whole story talking about Josh Tomlin as the new anchor of the Braves bullpen. Tonkin promptly gets hammered and gives up a run.

  38. Sit Acuna for a week or send him to Gwinnett to recover his bat speed through the zone which is not competitive – with the ball. The worse thing to me is i’m not sure he cares as he should.
    And have him shagging balls an hour every half day with focus on retaining the ball when it’s in his glove.
    Discipline, reality – you are hurting the team. Do you care? Show me.

  39. Tyler Flowers is a better hitter than Freddie Freeman. This season, to this point. HARD contact when it matters like what was needed in the 9th tonight. Sit him. Nick is a hero midst the swamp, with Tyler. JD a genuine threat, with passion. Hit Dansby third tomorrow, Camargo in left, Acuna on the bench.

    Good lesson for Fried tonight. Getting it early in his ML career helps. 5 doubles and a homer in 6 – wow.

  40. 56 — Yes, let’s send one of the best players in the league to Triple A.

    This cannot be a serious statement.

  41. @58 Well, not sending Acuna down, but he is in a pretty bad slump right now. All this going to one knee on his swing suggests that he’s lost his balance and is not staying back on the ball. He hit one big HR with that golf swing and going to his knee and it may have messed him up.

    And blazon has a point about Freddie, too. He’s hitting fine but not with much authority.

    Donaldson my be picking it up – 2 hits, no Ks last night.

    Acuna also does still have more to learn in the field, too. It’s be nice if Ender would show him the best way to catch a ball over the fence. Considering they speak the same language, I’d have thought Ender and Ronald might be closer and have more in common. Ender could really increase his value by mentoring Acuna. Maybe bring Andruw in too.

    Take another look at that play on the HR, though. Did anyone see how high Acuna got over that fence??? Not many people in baseball could have ever gotten that high. Zero fault on that play.

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