All Riled Up: ATL 4, STL 0

To those for whom baseball is their only touchstone, William Bendix is known as the eponymous hero of The Babe Ruth Story, a not very good movie.  Bendix also had a few good dramatic roles, particularly in Hitchcock’s Lifeboat.  But he became famous on the radio, and later on television, for his role as Chester A. Riley in the long-running series The Life of Riley.  Now I’m old, but I’m not old enough to have remembered when radio programs were a thing.  I’m not even old enough to have remembered the original broadcasts of The Life of Riley, which ran (with Bendix after an aborted attempt with Jackie Gleason) from 1953 to 1958, so I was two when it was cancelled.  But The Life of Riley was a staple of afternoon rerun TV in my childhood, which featured a lot of other now-forgotten comedies like My Little Margie along with the more famous Lucy and The Honeymooners.  For those who have literally no idea what I’m talking about, full episodes are available on YouTube, but prepare yourself for a somewhat more gentle comic experience than is typical today.  But the basic idea is that Riley gets into trouble and then out of trouble.  (I did a long search for the origin of the phrase, ‘the life of Riley,” meaning an easy life, and while I got an answer, it’s not all that interesting.  But then, I suffer so that all of you might live The Life of Riley.)

Tonight began The Life of Riley 2019, as Austin Riley made his major league debut. While not having the advance eclat of Acuna, or Albies, or any of the pitching prospects, he’s the only very, very hot minor league hitter that we control (15 AAA homers entering the game.)  His position is third, but that spot is a little crowded at the moment, so, left field it is.  What will his future be?  Gentle comedy? Silly parody as Austin Powers: International (League) Man of Mystery hits another one out of the park? (I wrote that sentence at 4:30.  If Chip used it in the game tonight, I apologize.)  Steve Austin was the Six Million Dollar Man, but for the moment, Mr. Riley has to make do with the MLB minimum: a little over $10,000 a week.

So tonight’s game had Soroka facing half of Fozzie Bear’s laugh.  (I wrote that before I heard the organist play the Muppet Theme song when he came to the plate.)   After a scare in the top of the 3rd when Goldschmidt hit into an inning-ending bases-loaded (2 BB and a HBP) double play, the home team mounted its first serious attempt when a hit by Acuna, a stolen base, and a busted caught stealing play (actually Acuna broke early on a 3-2 two out pitch) plated Ronaldinho. Wacha-wacha.

The start of the 4th was the dawn of Austin Powers. (Chip didn’t use it!) 438 feet, baby. Wacha-wacha.

It wouldn’t be a JonathanF report without some (constructive, always constructive) Chip criticism.  Chip mentioned, by my count 5 times in this game, that Soroka is the only pitcher in MLB history to give up one run or fewer in 8 of his 10 first starts.  What a bizarre stat that is.  One reason that it’s less impressive than it sounds is that his starts average 5.5 innings.  In most of baseball history, pitchers that effective would have pitched far more innings and, as a result, given up more runs. Second, 8 out of 10?  Really? I love Mike Soroka, but the attempt to make his first ten starts historic is just silly.  His Rogers Hornsby riff was stupid, too, but I’ve decided to limit myself to one slam a game.

But a big up to Francoeur, who let us know that it’s a lot easier to get to the major leagues than to stay there.  How in the world would Jeffy know that?

Back to baseball.  Soroka departed after 7 shutout innings, the first pitcher to throw 7 or more shutout innings in his 11th start since the last guy to do that.  Maybe it was Bruce Hornsby.  The good thing about getting 7 innings from the starter is that you only have to find two relievers who can pitch that evening.  Today’s first Ouija Board choice was Winkler:  after 7 straight balls, Winkler made them reshape the mound for the eighth one.  Reconsult Ouija Board in a full-scale crisis.  Hot hand Luke comes through with a DP and K of Ozuna.  Nine pitches, so the Ouija Board is put away for the nonce.

The 8th inning proves, however, that it isn’t Riley: it’s the left fielder, with a two run line drive missile by Culberson (who subbed out Riley in one of the 8th inning pitching changes… but Chip wouldn’t let us know which one) that created a nice 4-run cushion for Jackson, who’s been sufficiently good that he doesn’t need a Reitsma Room analogy, which is good because the third Bourbon won’t let me think of one.  An efficient 9th brought the proceedings to a conclusion.

 Adam Wainwright and Julio tomorrow.  The Kid stays in left.

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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.

93 thoughts on “All Riled Up: ATL 4, STL 0”

  1. Great game and recap. Thank you, JonathanF. Thank you, Mike Soroka and Austin Riley. Thank you, Luke Jackson and Charlie Clutch.

  2. Great job, JonathanF. And your promptness is hard to match.

    Although Soroka’s starts so far are very impressive, I agree that he’s not the greatest 21 year old of all time. In 1981 Fernando Valenzuela started 8-0 with 5 shutouts and an ERA of 0.50.

    OTOH, Mike really is special. A few more starts like this and we may have real Sorokamania. After tonight, his ERA is under 1.00.

  3. If Riley hits well over the next couple of weeks, Ender is a defensive replacement for the rest of the season.

  4. Mark Fidrych, first 10 starts* (he made two very brief relief appearances in his rookie season before his first start) 9-1, 91.1 IP (!!), ERA 1.87, 6 games of 2 or fewer runs

    Fernando Valenzuela: first 10 appearances were all in relief in 1980, but as a starter in 1981:
    8-1, 87 IP, ERA 1.24, 7 games of 1 or fewer runs. The Braves lit him up in his 11th start: 3.2 IP, 7 runs allowed.

    Again, I love Soroka, and his start is great but it’s hard to think another 30 innings pitched in his brief career would have yielded no runs.

  5. I was at the game in 1981 when the Braves beat Valenzuela. The place was rocking–a rare occurrence in Atlanta Stadium.

  6. @4,8. But in this higher run scoring environment doesn’t Soroka’s start actually match up closer to Valenzuela and Fidrych than it might appear at first glance? Granted there’s still a big difference in innings pitched but that’s something he has very little control of. It’s the way baseball is played now

  7. @10: Sure… I have no problem saying that Soroka is off to one of the best starts in history. It’s carefully carving out an ad hoc definition under which he’s the best ever, which is the point Chip kept making, that’s misguided.

  8. I haven’t looked at his first 10 starts in isolation, but of course Dwight Gooden was incredible his first two years, at ages 19 and 20. ROY at age 19, and one of the greatest seasons of all time at 20. He was just mediocre after the age of 25. Too many innings and too much cocaine.

    I too miss starters going 8 or 9 (especially with this bullpen!). But there is a lot to be said for being careful with innings especially with the young guys.

  9. 1.244 OPS for Charlie Culberson. I’m glad he’ll be getting a few more innings with Riley in LF.

    I think it’ll be fun to look back at future 3B Riley’s time in left like seeing Andruw playing RF. Who are some other players who broke into the lineup playing another position? Perhaps Acuña has been playing out of position all this time, but I’m still not completely convinced he won’t be a Christian Yelich/Bryce Harper-type who could definitely play CF but plays a corner spot better.

  10. As if there was an amount of cocaine that would have allowed Gooden to enjoy a long and productive career. Alas, too much cocaine…

    We could ask Wash what that fine line is.

    Get it?

  11. Gooden, first 10 starts: 4-3, 58.1 IP, ERA 3.39, 6 games of one run or less, but he got shelled twice in those 10 games, 6 and 8 runs which messed up his ERA.

  12. @1 @3 I’m with you except I’d move Dalton down below Brosnan. If that makes me de classe, oh well.

    Really great writeup JonathanF. Thanks for the chuckles. We all deserve the Life of Riley. As I’m a bit younger than you, my reruns were more recent but I got a kick out of yours.

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  14. If you decide not to watch any replays of Austin Riley’s first homer, then this will probably wind up being the best thing you’ll see all day:

  15. And in honor of this, I’d like to post Diaz’s great defense:

    And just for good measure, one of the funnier heckling videos I’ve seen with Diaz playing along:

  16. It’s hard for me to see Maple Maddux losing what he so clearly possesses, at least in the short-term, that makes him elite. He has precision control, 5 pitches he can throw at any time, and a slow, easy delivery. When it comes to Fried, Soroka, and Folty, for me it’s about their health. If they stay healthy, we have 3 really good pitchers. I also think Gausman is quite good as well.

    And no, I’m not forgetting that Faulty’s 2019 has been crap so far.

  17. If Craig is towards the top of your list, I feel like you have to be intellectually consistent and have Dalton also towards the top. Connery, of course, should be no lower than the top 3, and I have no squabbles with anyone that has Connery at the top of the list. He was the first in the role, and set the pace. His last outing, though, was a real clunker.

    Brosnan and Moore, in some ways, are cut from the same cloth, though Brosnan was at least able to play it serious when needed. You almost seem to think Brosnan is acknowledging that as he played some serious spy roles after departing the role (November Man, Survivor). Moore, the farther we get from that era, is such a relic of his time that I just can’t bring myself to have much endearment to him. He played the role for longer than any other actor, and while there were some good movies he happened to be in, I can only think of a few scenes throughout his entire tenure that I felt he did the role justice. He was, though, a great ambassador for the franchise, and I’ll always appreciate that. He loved Broccoli, Saltzman, Wilson, etc.

    Lazenby, for me, is supremely underrated. He was fortunate to have a good movie with which to work (boy, I wish they would remake some of the older ones), and he was convincing as a brute force but also played the suave side really well. He was foolish to not continue in the role. We were able to enjoy Lazenby, like Dalton, for too little time.

  18. When asked whether Folty would make his next start, Snit said he didn’t know. He did not ask my opinion.

  19. I’d like to see them leave Riley in LF for the rest of the season, and maybe give him an occassional start at 3B when JD needs a day off. I don’t think they can, or should, just dump Ender- but his best role moving forward might be a defensive replacement for Riley late in games.

    Freeman, Donaldson and Riley is pretty imposing behind Acuna. It’s nice to see the order getting more and more thump to it.

  20. It’s going to be hard to find enough PAs for Riley, Ender, Camargo, and Culberson on the same roster. It’s early, but after seeing how Riley’s K-rate has really gone down, and he hit a 438 foot bomb in his first game, I’m excited.

    You can play Ender in RF some. You can keep trying to get Camargo into middle INF spots. I bet AA is now thinking that after seeing how well the Dodgers did getting so many talented position players into the lineup, now is his opportunity to preside over it.

  21. Anybody worried about Ozzie Albies? That .642 OPS against RHP in now 150 PAs is starting to stick out. .696 OPS vs. RHP in 488 PAs last year. He’s currently on pace for a 2.6 fWAR season.

  22. There’s no reason to try to find PA’s for Ender. He can find plenty somewhere else.

    @35 think he should consider giving up switch-hitting?

  23. @35 I think it was premature last year when I believe Bill James said that Albies would be a HOF.

    I suspect he’s going to settle into a good, positive but not great player.

    He’ll have a productive and long career, make 3-4 All-Star teams but I don’t think he’s a franchise level player. It admittedly looked at times last year that he could be.

  24. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/its-still-not-clear-what-kind-of-year-the-braves-intend-to-have/

    Overall, a very accurate portrayal of the season so far. My only squabble is over them talking about how bad the bullpen is, and then proceeding to list pitchers who are no longer on the roster.

    It does surprise me that non-Braves fans won’t just say, “Put all this pitching prospects in the pen, and fix the dang thing. Look at Newcomb!” Which would be easier for national writers to say vs. a Braves fan that sees a more long-term picture. But that’s objectively true.

    So is signing Craig Kimbrel.

  25. I can’t imagine Chipper got significantly more PAs to figure out LHP, for what that’s worth.

  26. @39 Yes. Ozzie = 22 years old. He is still maturing and developing. Give him a couple of Gold Gloves and his RH OPS won’t matter as much anyway. If he gets up over 3 WAR again this year then he’ll be a 3-4 WAR player not 2-3. His comps on similar batters through age 21 are filled with HOF’ers.

  27. @39 Chipper was an interesting exception. He came into the league (1993, 1995) hitting LHP for a better average while slugging RHP better.

  28. Connery
    Craig
    Brosnan
    Dalton
    Lazenby
    young Moore
    old Moore

    In some ways what each brought to the role was individual and unique. How we rank them depends upon how we liked their style.

    The biggest contrast for me was pointed out by Vesper when she’s sizing Bond (Craig) up and she says he wears the tuxedo “with disdain” like it’s a necessary evil. M calls him a “blunt weapon”. Connery wears it as if he was born to it and could never be caught without it on; his charm is his greatest weapon. Brosnan wears it more like Bruce Wayne – comfortable when it’s on but ready to tear it off and reveal his supersuit.

  29. From earlier:

    Not a rookie but just damn… And I know it was the Year of the Pitcher…

    Bob Gibson’s June/July 1968 stats:

    12 starts
    12 complete games
    12 wins
    8 shutouts
    6 runs allowed

  30. @43: Once you take away the “start of career” thing, all sorts of pitchers have great stretches:
    Buzz Capra, May 15-June 28, 1974

    9-0, 6 complete games, 84.2 IP, 5 Shutouts, 9 runs allowed.

    And that *really* captivated Atlanta. Soroka has put these 11 games together over two seasons with a big break between the 5th and 6th starts which serves to muddle the narrative a tiny bit.

  31. @34 Would you play Albies at 2nd against lefties, and Camargo against righties? Not a true platoon, but something that resembles how they’re doing the catchers?

    I don’t think they have to find Ender ABs, I just can’t fathom not trying to do something with him, or get something for him.

  32. @45 I didn’t know that about Buzz… That’s pretty incredible for a guy like that.

  33. Even more amazing was that Buzz wasn’t even a starting pitcher when this streak started. On May 15th, Ron Reed broke his hand on a comebacker from the first batter of the game. Capra was the designated long guy who then replaced him as a starter and just kept kept going….

  34. Riley missed consecutive games with a home run to start his career by about 1 inch. He hit the very, very top of the right-center field wall.

  35. Nah, I don’t think Riley is all that good. We ought to trade him and see what we can get. TINSTAAHP

  36. Ride the hot streak. Rockets will find leather later on. (But boy, Austin’s sizzling right now.)

  37. Julio is pitching great. If he could just be a bit more economical then he might make 6-7 innings.

  38. Whoever said Riley might not be a difference maker or be able to jump start this team was really so wrong. Riley was square in the middle of both rallies. At least four of the five runs can be directly linked to him.

    Another side note: Albies has two walks in a single game.

  39. It was just really hard for me to believe, regardless of what was evident about Riley’s huge power and his improvement as a hitter, that the Braves were producing yet another strong position player.

    Yet here we are.

    Our position player group, top to bottom including the bench, is top 3 in the NL.

  40. Dansby may still be swinging well but he’s not hitting well. How long is it going to take before Riley is batting 2nd and Dansby 6th?

  41. I think you might be right. But several others are bunched very close together right behind us. And SD could soon be in the top two. But you sure have to like all our young talent that should get better. And in another year Pache and Waters and even Jackson could be ready

  42. Camargo was on pace for 365 PAs coming into today, and less based on how this game is going. That’s simply unacceptable while Markakis was hitting .220 the last two weeks and .154 in the last week. Give the old man a day off for goodness’ sake.

  43. I’m a little surprised that in Braves Country-wide, no one is giving Coppy any credit for what is going on.

  44. Roger, loved the Bond takes. I agree about Craig and Connery, and those are pretty common summaries, but I especially like the Brosnan take. Interesting comparison to Bruce Wayne. Never heard that before.

    But for the sake of the Journal, I won’t bore everyone with Bond talk, even though I could talk Bond for hours. I was just wanting to see if I could get people’s Bond rankings.

  45. Wow. Riley. I mean……. Had to wonder how he was going to do when he first saw a lefty. Line drive single up the middle.

  46. After hitting 8 HRs in 333 ABs last year, Alex Jackson has 7 HRs in 62 ABs so far this year. .647 OPS last year; .995 so far this year.

    Mark Teixeira has perfect teeth. What a douche.

  47. @65 Pure sarcasm, Chief. We had a lot of Riley doubters around here over the winter.

    I still wonder how it would have been if the Braves had done what I wanted them to and install Riley at 3rd and sign Harper.

  48. Anyone notice that Julio is down to 3.88 ERA now? How fine is the line between having trade value and being a keeper?

  49. I remember well the Buzz Capra stretch in 1974. He was as good for a couple of months as any of the Braves Hall of Famers we all know and love. Shame it couldn’t last.

    All of us should remember Kris Medlen in 2012. He spent the first half of the year in relief. But when he began to start, he had a stretch of ten games with five shutouts, four in which he gave up one run, and one in which he gave up two. His ERA over that stretch was 0.78. See this article about that phenomenal stretch: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-company-that-kris-medlen-keeps/
    We all remember what happened to Kris.

    Pitchers can be fragile.

  50. Dansby is 2 for his last 22. Only struck out four times, though. Haven’t been able to watch but is he just being unlucky or is it a bona fide slump?

    Also, how does Riley look in LF?

  51. Ironic that we lost game 1 14 to 3 and outscored them 14 to 2 over the rest of the series. I’ll take 2 out of 3 gladly.

  52. @86: plus a few (couple?) ground singles he charged like an infielder. Nothing difficult, but all were well played.

  53. I think the scouting department should get most of the credit. Coppy made a lot of moves, and they mostly turned out well. But most of the talent is coming from our draftees and international signees.

    If we were to add an ace and a Kimbrell, this looks like a really dangerous playoff team. Dbacks still look like a good trade partner.

  54. I just read an article on the Athletic about how bad the NL east is.

    It just proves if we would have added a decent starter and 2-3 relievers, we would be running away with the East.

    It’s not Liberty’s fault. Relief pitchers aren’t THAT expensive and we could have traded a few prospects for 3-4 pitchers.

    Just a shame.

  55. I’m just not worked out about running away with the division. With such a young roster, let them compete and learn what it means to be in must-win situations. There’s been the theory that the juggernaut teams we had lost their edge as the season went along because there was sometimes nothing to play for for a month.

  56. Going tonight, looks like it’s gonna be a hot one. First time seeing Fried pitch in person.

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