Good Guys 6, Desert Snakes 4

Great game and a big win for the Braves.  The offense was much better than it had been in the last six games; 13 hits overall, every starter had at least one hit, and the six runs were driven in by six different Braves. 

Gausman had an excellent start.  To my eye at least, Gausman was very sharp.  His splitter was diving, and he struck out several D-backs with high heat at 96 or 97 mph. He went six, giving up just five hits and one run.

Although the Braves’ offense had been in slump, I think for most of them it’s been more bad luck than poor approach or bad mechanics.  A lot of the guys have been making good contact but without the balls falling in.  That happens over the course of the season.  The good news is, you keep hitting the ball hard, you’re going to score runs.

The Braves scored two runs through six, and it seemed like more of the same bad luck.  They could have and should have scored more.  In the bottom of the sixth, the Snakes finally broke through against Gausman, with a double by Peralta, a single by Flores, and a sac fly by Ahmed.  Gausman showed he wasn’t completely out of gas when he ended the inning by striking out Avila swinging on a 97 mph heater with the go ahead runs on base.

At 2-1 after six, and knowing the pen would have to go three innings, I didn’t feel good.  The most effective relievers lately have been Winkler and Jackson, and neither were available, both having pitched in the first two games of the series.

Fortunately, BMac led off the seventh with a long homer, restoring the two run lead.  With our bullpen, you knew we’d need all the cushion we could get.

Sure enough, Adam Jones, pinch hitting, leads off the bottom of seventh with a line drive homer to left off Tomlin.  Tomlin had fallen behind 3-0; at least he didn’t walk him.  I couldn’t have taken another lead off walk given up by a Braves reliever. Tomlin was able to finish the seventh without further damage.

The Braves hitters never went into hibernation. In the top of the 8th, FF tripled off the center field wall.  Markakis, with a professional at bat (I’m not sure whether Chip and Joe said that this time, but it is a rare AB by Nick that they don’t call a professional at bat), had a hit to the opposite field to drive in Freeman.  Ozzie drove in another run with a hit to right.  So the lead is up to three.

Did we ever come up with the Tomlin counterpart to Reitsma Room? In the 8th Tomlin in for another inning.  Swanson made a phenomenal play very deep in the hole to get Walker.  That was even more important when Tomlin gave up a single and a homer to make it a one run game again.

In the top of the ninth, Camargo pinch hitting in the 9 spot, jumped on the first pitch he saw and hit a no doubter home run to right.  His first at bat of the series, and on the first pitch he crushed it. I know Camargo hasn’t been hitting well, but they need to get him more AB’s for many different reasons.

So as they head to the bottom of the ninth, I’m wondering who will attempt to close it out.  Johan’s shot provided a little more breathing room.  But was it Webb Woom (as Elmer Fudd might say)?  Yep, Jacob Webb came on to try for his second career save. He got a huge strikeout of Dyson to open the bottom of the ninth. Then he got Marte on a routine fly ball to center.  But of course he walked Escobar, bring David Peralta to the plate as the tying run.  Exactly the situation on Thursday, when Peralta crushed our hopes with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.  So Snit, to his credit, brings in a lefty to face Peralta.  Problem is, the only lefty he had available was Venters, who had not pitched in a big league game in a month.  And you may recall Jonny was none too effective the last time he appeared in an Atlanta uniform.  But on a 3-1 count (and that strike was a long foul that just missed tying the game), Jonny V induced a weak grounder to FF that ended the game. 

It was nerve wracking, but a great game to watch.  And as Chip kept reminding us, the  Braves have now guaranteed at least a .500 road trip.  Having watched the games earlier this week in Chavez Ravine, that is hard to believe.

Speaking of Chip:

I said a week or two ago that I have not been bothered by Chip as much this year.  Now I remember why. Joe “Get off my lawn!” Simpson made the trip and has been in the booth with Chip. With Frenchy, Chip plays off the goofiness pretty well.  With Joe, Chip just reinforces Joe’s know-nothingism. Early on, Joe went on a rant about how Wins are still the most important thing for a pitcher. Chip also seems obsessed with the Win stat for starting pitchers.  Joe really doesn’t like starting pitchers going only 5 or 6. That’s fine, and a legitimate opinion.  But that led to an odd discussion of CC Sabathia.  Joe says he belongs in HOF. But Chip points out that CC is far below Johnson, Glavine, and Carlton in WAR.  And Chip even suggested that WAR is supposed to allow comparisons from era to era (good for you, Chip!).

I think Joe was suggesting that CC doesn’t get the same chance to accumulate the important stats that pitchers in earlier eras did. At the same time, Joe insisted that the traditional standards—counting stats–ought to be what gets someone into the hall.  I’m still not sure what the point of all that was.  But the clear impression you get from the discussion was that they neither understand nor appreciate WAR or any other 21st Century stat.  I know Joe is pretty old, but he’s not much older than I am.  I read the Bill James Abstracts in the 1980’s, and it forever changed the way I look at baseball. I know many of y’all did too. Is it too much to ask that someone who makes his living talking about baseball make some effort to understand the game?

But now I’m sounding like a grumpy old man, and I don’t mean to.  It was a great win, and the Braves, improbably enough, can come home with a winning road trip.  Max Fried goes for the Braves on Sunday afternoon.  I like our chances.

108 thoughts on “Good Guys 6, Desert Snakes 4”

  1. Well done, and I can confidently state that Cooperstown will never come calling for Chip no matter how many games he does. It’s not just the counting stats, Chip.

  2. I don’t mind listening to Chip. I’m a little indifferent when it comes to the commentating, though. Hard to say if that’s typical, or just me.

    Kelsey is the best (and my favorite) part of the broadcast anyway. Those other guys are just there so I know what’s happening if I need to go to the fridge.

  3. Chip and Joe together are unbearable to listen to for me. Just horrible. Even I can tell and I know far less about advanced stats than any of you guys do. As you said, JonathanF, at least they should make the effort to understand. Good thing when they’re on, there’s no Joe on the radio feed,

  4. No, it’s not too much to ask. I tend to avoid critiquing announcers, but Joe is terrible, and more importantly, it seems he refuses to educate himself. It’s on the Braves that he still gets on TV.

  5. I can’t listen to Chip. With the exception of games against the Nationals, I always listen to the opposing team’s broadcast.

  6. Thank you, tfloyd. If Ronald is adequate in center, then Johan should play more than Ender. I yield the soap box.

  7. Don’t forget, I’ll be at today’s game. In my shiny new 70s/80s era lower case a shirt and Auburn hat.

    Let’s do this Braves.

  8. Was at the game and will be today. Chase Field is an awesome place to take in a ball game. The play by Swanson from deep in the hole after JD had waved at the ball was a beautiful thing to watch. BMac and Camargo’s balls were crushed. So was Ozzie’s just pulled foul and his ball caught just in front of the wall in the deepest part of the park. The angle to left and right center is pretty steep and if he pulls that ball just a little it’s a home run. It was fun to watch Freddie leg out the triple off the center field wall. Gausman was mostly just throwing his four seamer and splitter and had pretty good control of both. Was really keeping the hitters off balance with the splitter

  9. It’s almost not even news anymore, Riley hit another one yesterday, that’s 7 in the last ten games. Insane!

    And A-Jax is heating up as well. Three HR in four games and four in seven games.

  10. If we’re ok with sacrificing a bit of defense (and of course I’m all for that), then how about Riley in LF…right now. He’s killing it in AAA.

  11. I will say that Joe has been better on the radio with Jim Powell and Ben Ingram. Chip seems to feed Joe’s worst instincts.

  12. I’ve actually not been able to hear much of Joe on the radio. I just haven’t found myself in the car much during game time this year, for whatever reason. I think Joe is the first announcer I’ve completely turned on. Just an unacceptable approach to covering a young, exciting baseball team with a forward-thinking FO. He’s a fish out of water.

  13. Opening Day Pitching Staff (with SPs in rotation order):

    SP – Teheran, Wilson, Wright, Newcomb, Fried
    RP – Vizzy, Venters, Biddle, Sobotka, Carle, Parsons, Tomlin, Jackson

    Today’s Staff:

    SP (Not sure what the order is now) – Folty, Fried, Gausman, Soroka, Teheran
    RP – Jackson, Newcomb, Webb, Winkler, Venters, Blevins, Tomlin, Wright

    It’s not hard to see that I like today’s staff much more than the OD staff, but that’s not a high bar to hurdle. But at some point in the not-so-distant future, I think we could see 75-80% of the innings pitched by Folty, Fried, Gausman, Soroka, Teheran, Jackson (still so weird to say it, but hey, he’s pitching well), Newcomb, Webb, Winkler, and the best LOOGY. That allocation of innings is going to get a lot of outs.

    Still want Kimbrel. I refuse to do any composite mention of the staff without saying it.

  14. March/April: 27th in pitching fWAR
    Last 30 days: 19th in fWAR

    I’m having to squint, especially since there’s a lot of overlap in those time periods in the young season, but there is improvement. I wanted to do last two weeks or last week, but the Dodgers series really set us back.

    I don’t care how we start. We’ve won 100 games plenty of time with nothing to show for it. I want to win a World Series, so I care about what our team looks like when the games really count. It’s like following southeastern United States college football (not necessarily the SEC). You’ve got UF, FSU, Miami, UGA, etc. fans all talking trash about which team is better than the other while Clemson and Bama are running around everybody. I don’t care about winning 100 games. I don’t care about winning the division other than that it makes the trip through the playoffs easier. If we add Kimbrel, and we add at the deadline, and we win the division winning 91 games or something, who cares. Build the team that can win in the playoffs. And we’re putting quite a few power arms on the staff to do it.

  15. @14 I think if it were Nick that was struggling, the front office would’ve already done it.

    My opinion is it’d be a good move, and I’d do it. I’d put Riley in RF though, and play Nick in LF. I’m not sure who’d be the better OF of the two at this juncture, but I’d rather Riley’s arm in RF and Nick’s experience in LF.

    However, that said, I don’t believe the Braves brass will do it. They seem to value defense highly.

  16. If Ender gets to two less balls a week, then he loses a lot of value. And according to Fangraphs, that’s exactly what has happened in what has now become longer than a sample size. His UZR and his range stats are both down. His sprint speed according to Statcast is down. He’s 250th in sprint speed in baseball, 4th on the team. I count about 20 CFs ahead of him.

    And more importantly, he’s a guy that doesn’t hit the ball hard (355 amongst 361 players in exit velocity), but gets shifted because almost a third of his hits are to second base and over half are to the right of the second base bag (see below).

    So we have a centerfielder who is losing his range, can’t hit enough to carry a starting role, and refuses to adjust his hitting approach. I don’t see a solution to that.

  17. All signs point to a move in the near future. Probably shouldn’t be getting my hopes up though.

  18. @24 My ~18 year old is trying to get Max Fried’s *attention* down by the field LOL.

  19. @21 Wow! I pay a lot of attention to offensive statistics, so I knew Ender was struggling there. As someone who doesn’t understand many of the defensive metrics though- outside of errors, putouts and assists- I had no idea how much Ender had slipped this season. When a guy starts losing his speed, that’s not the type of thing that comes back, either. Yikes!

    That’s a bit of a bummer because Ender is such a great team guy. Hard to justify playing him over some of the other options right now however when he’s not doing at least one thing exceptionally well.

  20. Have fun, Chief! If the Braves win in a blowout, you’re going to have to start traveling with the team for luck!

  21. @21 Ya’know…. It would be really unusual but Ender does still have an option remaining. In fact, he has TWO options. We could use Ender as a yo-yo or even rotate the OF position. Not only is Riley hitting a ton but so are Duvall and Ortega. Even LaMarre and Demeritte are smacking baseballs around. Duvall, in particular, is a near GG LF. An OF of Duvall, Acuna, Markakis may be defensively better than what we have now. Ortega and LaMarre have no options, but Duvall has his and Demeritte has all of his and both are excellent defenders. Why not rotate Duvall, Demeritte, and Ender whoever has the hot hand?

    Besides, any of our hot-hitting AAA OFs will look a lot better as trade bait if they’re in the Majors and hitting well.

  22. I assume (ok, I hope) that Riley has started in left field the last couple of games precisely because they will soon call him up and play him in left field every day, with RAJ in center and Kakes in right.

    Ender really is a bad offensive player. He rarely makes hard contact, yet he continues to pull the ball and rollover to second. Even if the team loses something defensively in his absence, Riley’s bat should more than make up for that.

  23. Let’s just say that it’s exactly two balls a week that Riley in LF/Acuna in CF causes to drop that the current configuration would get to. Could be more, could be less, so it’s a big assumption. One is a double, one is a single (3 total bases). Adding 200 OPS points to that position would mean that we are adding two total bases to every 10 PAs. Playing every day and 6 games in a week, that’s 24 PAs. If it were that simple, you would add 5 total bases at the plate and lose 3 in the field. It’d be a win.

    But, you’d have to consider whether we’d see any difference in performance between Acuna in LF vs. Acuna in CF. Also, who has a better arm: Riley or Inciarte?

    Does Riley have a platoon deficiency? Will the opposing manager behave differently with Riley at the plate vs. Ender? Ender is obviously useless vs. LHP, so a well-placed LOOGY creates a strategic disadvantage there. Not sure a well-placed ROOGY would do the same to Riley.

    Ender is faster on the basepaths than Riley. However, Ender’s stolen base efficiency last year and this year is so poor that you would almost want him to stop running. His baserunning score per Fangraphs is barely above league average. So would you just prefer Riley to avoid outs on the basepaths vs. Ender being a slight upgrade in reaching an extra base?

    Do you continue to play Ender simply to see if you can trade him for surplus value, or do you just look to cut your losses and see if you can get his salary eaten? Trying to rejuvenate Teheran’s value didn’t work; will it work for Ender or just get worse as it has for Teheran? Is the opportunity cost higher in letting Ender recoup trade value vs. giving Riley, someone with a more upward trajectory, the opportunity to continue to improve? Does he get better reads in LF, some reps in 3B, and adding to the OPS gap vs. seeing if we can get a minor league reliever for Ender instead of just getting his salary taken?

  24. Max almost got that one out. What a shot! So close. Considering how atrocious our pitcher hitting is (last in the league by a large margin), I hope that Max might turn into a decent hitter. Seems to be our best right now unless Julio starts hitting again. Now, getting MadBum would change all of that right away.

  25. @35 You can do all of that without having to trade Ender by optioning him to Gwinnett. Might light a fire under him, too.

  26. I think Fried is the only Braves pitcher with a Greinke curveball – the closer it gets to 70, the better it is. Fried has been throwing the FB at 94 so he has a 20mph speed difference between his pitches. That’s going to be very effective.

  27. I have no problems with optioning guys who have spent a lot of time on the roster, especially during the rebuild. Ender’s OPS+ 2015-2017: 100, 98, 98. 2018: 90. 2019: 67. All well and good when we’re rebuilding, or in the case of 2018, when we don’t have someone better. But I don’t think it’s weird for a contending team to send down Newcomb, Minter, Ender, etc. just because they played for us in previous seasons. At some point, we’re going to wish Teheran had an option.

    Does he have an option, actually?

  28. Also, Ender did have a really AB there where, as the pontificating announcers aggressively noted, he went the other way quite nicely.

  29. @43 Yesterday. Today it was Duvall again ….. and AJax. AJax has his OPS near 1.000….

  30. I don’t know how much of a pitcher’s park CoolRay Field is, but getting out of the cavern in Mississippi has seemed to help AJax and Demerritte.

  31. @52 I think you’re not even seeing him at his best. Before LA, he was throwing more strikes. Pitch count getting kinda high and he keeps having to work out of trouble.

  32. Even though the big league team doesn’t have a need for another utilityman right now, I think the Braves need to play Demeritte on the infield some at Gwinnett so that he has more positional versatility. He has been playing strictly corner outfield.

  33. Chief, I’m in Club Box section 211. Will be glad to meet you if you want to say hey. I’ll come to you if you want.

  34. Fried is really good, but his command has been off today. That pitch to Jones wasn’t where he wanted it.

  35. There goes Chip again. Right after the Dbacks pull within a run, he tells us Fried must go another inning and a third to qualify for the win. Nothing could be less relevant.

  36. @58 Jones hit him hard earlier, too. They need a better book on Adam. Nothing in the middle of the zone. He does not walk, but he’s a good bad ball hitter and will swing at near anything. Giving him anything near the middle is like candy for a baby.

  37. This may be a mistake bringing in Newk, a lefty, against Adam Jones. Not only that but three straight righties.

  38. Remember when we said that the Braves were gonna be top of the league defensively again this year…yikes.

  39. Arizona stacked their lineup with RHB except Peralta. I didn’t like bringing Newk in here either.

  40. Even if it was a mistake to bring in Newk, they should let him pitch out of it. He’d have already gotten out of it with a little luck (better throws by either Nick or Dansby). I don’t get it.

  41. Now Snitker plays platoon advantage? Like having Winkler come in the start the inning against 3 righties wasn’t even written down in Snitker’s coloring book, I guess.

  42. @75 I agree 100%. It was just weird. Maybe if Winkler could have gotten the top of the lineup, bring in Newk for the bottom of the lineup.

    I think Snit has a thing for alternating handedness. He wants to bring in a righty after a lefty and a lefty after a righty. I’m not sure he cares about the handedness of the batter.

  43. Newcomb, Winkler and (barring a big inning) Jackson are going to be asked to work 3 out of 4 days in this series.

  44. And the result now is that Winkler only pitches to one hitter instead of a whole inning. What a waste.

  45. So either Luke is going to try pitching 2 innings, or Venters is going to face some RHB.

  46. Johan’s smooth, and Adam Jones is smoking everything.

    Watch the throw, Johan. I’m bragging on you here.

  47. We’re playing match-ups with Newcomb. As he’s in relief.

    It’s a crazy world, folks.

  48. Man, good for Charlie Culberson. He has just been incredible. I, like most, was disappointed when we got him because it seemed obvious that he would be the utility man, and that wasn’t very exciting, but he has excited. And he seems like a good dude. I wish, throughout the rebuild and into contention, we could have kept all Good Dudes, like Mallex and Sam Freeman and Jace and Rio.

    I also want to win.

  49. Yes, Culberson has arguably been the best player in that trade. Just as everyone predicted.

  50. Yes, but not in the section with all the other Braves fans. I’m in the Club level right above Dbacks dugout

  51. Luke is magic! I can’t believe how much this team is leaning on Luke Jackson. For a team that should be better, that is really strange. But it’s working for now.

    We were really one out away from completely sweeping the D’Backs.

  52. Good to see some optimism by Chief. It is also good to see when Fried or Soroka don’t have their best command, but they pitch a solid game.

  53. I don’t remember Jackson’s slider being this good before. He’s relying on it like Sparky Lyle or Larry Anderson (old timers will remember them). But he also throws that fastball at 96 at the top of the zone. That combination will work all year. If he throws the fastball just a little lower they will crush it, but his command has been excellent

  54. I’m too young but I’m familar with their histories. Larry Andersen was the guy traded for Jeff Bagwell.

  55. I mention Lyle and Anderson because they had long effective careers as relievers throwing pretty much nothing but sliders.

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