Hammers 4, “Bombers” 1

That was a satisfying win. Behind an excellent start from Ian Anderson, the Braves defeated the Yankees 4-1.  Aqualung went 6 2/3 scoreless innings, surrendering only four hits.  He looked like the Ian Anderson of 2020; all three of his pitches were working—he had good command of the mid-nineties fastball, which made the change and the curve that much more effective. 

The Braves managed four runs on only four hits.  For the first four innings, Corey Kluber looked like the Corey Kluber of 2014-2018, surrendering only a single to Albies in the second.  But in the fifth, the Braves scored two runs on a single and four walks.  The runs scored on a sac fly by Adrianza and a bases loaded walk by Ozuna.  The single was by the Panda–a rocket off the wall in right that would have been a double for anyone else—but I’m not going to complain about the waistline of a guy whose .OPS is 1.325. 

The Braves added another run in the 7th, without a single hard hit ball. Riley led off with a pop up behind first base that thanks to the swirling wind fell to the ground. Heredia reached on an error by LeMahieu, Adrianza sac bunted the runners, and Freeman was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Marcell hit a broken bat grounder to second that I was sure would be an inning ending dp, but he hustled to first and beat the relay, allowing the run the score.  The Mime, the defending NL RBI champ, “drove in” two runs on the night, even though he went 0 for 4.

Anderson loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the 7th, and Snit turned to AJ Minter to bail him out against the right handed hitting LeMahieu.  I was thinking surely there is someone more reliable to preserve this lead—Melancon, O’Day, Greene, perhaps–but then I remembered who is actually in the pen this year.  Given the choices, AJ was the man.  Fortunately, he induced a grounder to third.  Minter went on the pitch a scoreless 8th.

In the top of the ninth, Riley capped off his excellent night at the plate (2 for 2 with 2 walks and 3 runs scored) with his first home run of the season, a fly ball over the short fence in right.  Believe it or not, that was actually his first extra base hit of the season.  Even so, his OPS of .683 is now 100 points higher than each of Ozuna, d’Arnaud, Albies, and Swanson.  Dansby is looking very much like the 2017 version of Swanson.  He seems lost at the plate; he struck out 3 times, each one on a swinging third strike on a slider.

Riley on the other hand, has been looking like vintage Brett Butler, reaching base lately at an impressive clip thanks to many walks and a few singles.  Austin’s OBP is .375 while his slugging percentage (even after the homer) is .308.  Butler was a valuable offensive player even though his OBP was usually higher than his slugging.  That’s not the type hitter Riley is, of course.  They need him to start hitting the ball with more authority.  Still, I do think the bases on balls are a good sign, in that he’s obviously not chasing too many out of the zone.

The victory made this road trip through the frozen north (to the friendly confines and to the house that Ruth built) a winning one.  The Braves return home only a game and a half out of first place. It helps that the rest of the NL East has been decidedly mediocre; everyone is within a game and a half of each other.

 *   *   *

It’s a good thing we haven’t been up against the 1982 Braves. On this date in 1982, they won their 13th game in a row.  If a team in our division had gotten off to that kind of start, we’d be seven and a half games out of first.  But you know, even that wouldn’t be cause for undue concern.  I loved that 1982 team, but the truth is they weren’t a dominant team.  They were maddeningly streaky.  Immediately after those 13 wins, they lost 5 straight.  In late July and August, they lost 19 out of 21, but then turned it around and had a strong September.  Why do I bring this up now?  Consider this my weekly public service announcement: It’s a long season, we’re barely into it, and there are many twists and turns ahead. 

I’m still optimistic.  Although Sandoval, Adrianza, and Heredia won’t continue to OPS over 1.000, I’m pretty sure Ozuna, Albies, d’Arnaud, and Swanson won’t stay under .600.  Anderson and Morton are looking good, Smyly is coming off the IL, and Fried will return to form.  If Soroka’s shoulder is ok, this could still be an excellent rotation.

Back home against the Snakes on Friday.

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.

18 thoughts on “Hammers 4, “Bombers” 1”

  1. Floyd Field indeed, had we all known back then. Would have been a powerful alliterative marketing tool in the battle for naming rights. Ted only had Jane. And you can write better than either of them. Thanks.

  2. Thank you, tfloyd. Appreciate the positivity.
    Not great news regarding Fried and Soroka unfortunately. Snitker said that Soroka is so far away, he can’t even think about using him and Fried apparently has not started any baseball activities.
    Even more encouraging to see Anderson like last night.
    We better start hitting soon.

  3. @3 We are going to need Wright and Wilson to become useful really quickly since it appears Fried and Soroka aren’t returning in the foreseeable future.

    Relieved that the division seems to be as mediocre as we are right now, but yes, we better start hitting soon.

  4. Another day off for me. Thursday is like semi-retirement. Wake me when the season starts.

    Well summarized, tfloyd. I may have been a hair harsh on Pablo’s foot speed last night. In my defense, it was 0-0 at the time. A friend of mine plays in a softball league in which those who can’t run for health reasons are allowed to have someone run for them as soon as they make contact. Maybe we can sign The Freeze to run after Pablo hits the ball. Or he can just hit nothing but homers.

  5. Dear Austin

    A Baseball’s probiscan assault
    like your overpriced dry single malt
    is happily rare.
    The homer pursuant
    in all things congruent
    the slugger released from his lair.

  6. @4

    So, what I’m hearing you say is that Soroka and Fried aren’t walking through that door?

  7. I know I might be unduly optimistic, but I don’t read the Fried and Soroka situations as bleak. Fried hasn’t thrown yet, but that’s because it’s important not to rush a hamstring. Once he is cleared to throw, it may not take very long (a couple of weeks perhaps) to get him back in the rotation. The good news is that it’s not an arm problem.

    Snit’s comment about Soroka (“He’s so far away it’s not relevant right now”) doesn’t necessarily mean there has been a setback. He’s been tossing the ball, I think. He’ll get back on the mound soon, I hope. Even so, I’d guess you’re looking at a minimum 4-6 weeks until he’s back in the rotation.

    But if both guys are back in the rotation by early June, there will still be 2/3 of the season remaining.

    Of course, what I just described is best case scenario. Either or both could be out for far longer.

  8. Got a new thread coming, but I’m going to let this one marinate for 2-3 more hours.

  9. @10 Great points. I think my impatient side was hoping for a quick return for Fried at the very least…like maybe miss one start. As far as Soroka goes, we just need Wilson and Wright to be decent for a while and if we get the hitting rolling we will be just fine.

  10. Great recap, thank you! One question I have- in the recap Riley’s recent spate of walks are seen as a positive. But someone else recently noted that a spike in the walk rate may be indicative of negative things, I am probably paraphrasing wrong but it was something along the lines of maybe Riley has just realized what he pitches he can’t hit and is laying off them, which opposing pitchers will quickly adjust to. My question is, which of the new advanced stats give insight into which of these two possibilities is more likely, and how do you make that determination? To my eye, better plate discipline in a young hitter is purely a good thing, but thanks in large part to all y’all who post here I’ve learned not to trust my intuition…

  11. In an older player a walk rate spike is often a recognition of lessened bat speed. Of course, you’re never too young to realize you have a slow bat, so that might be a part of what’s going on.

    I wouldn’t read too much into the walks — there have only been seven. The 4 HBPs are what bring his OBP into the realm of noticeability — without them it would be .333.

  12. One thing that I’d push back on slightly is, “For the first four innings, Corey Kluber looked like the Corey Kluber of 2014-2018” — the guy was throwing in the mid- to upper ’80s with no command and was getting behind almost every batter, and walked quite a few of them. Our guys just weren’t taking advantage. You could say that he was “effectively wild,” but I think it’s just that our guys are in such a deep funk and are pressing so much that they couldn’t tee off on a guy who was only hitting his spots on one pitch out of seven.

  13. It’s early yet, but the offense needs to start clicking. They beat the Yanks on a good performance by Anderson, but the top four spots in the batting order went 0 for 14.

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