After a one week home stand, the Braves are On the Road Again. No doubt they have Georgia on Their Mind, but tonight they found themselves Deep in the Heart of Texas.
And here I am, recapping another Friday night game. The (Friday) Night Life ain’t no good life, but it’s my life. In truth, it ain’t such a bad life at all—the Braves are now 4-0 on Fridays in the young season.
Behind a strong start from Ian Anderson and four home runs from the offense, the Braves defeated the Rangers 6-3. There will be no Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain tonight. Tomorrow may turn out to be a Bloody Mary Morning, but in celebration rather than an effort to forget tonight’s game.
There has been a lot of talk about the dead ball this season, how balls that would have been gone in previous years have dying short of the walls. In the top of the first, Austin Riley said, Hello Walls. Here’s a drive that that’s going far past you. Because Travis Demeritte had led off with a single, that made it 2-0 in the top of the first.
In the bottom of the 2nd, Ian Anderson gave up a solo homer to the brother of Greek God Garcia. 2-1.
In the 3rd, Demeritte didn’t hit it over the walls, but he did homer, of the inside the park variety. 3-1. (Isn’t it fun to watch Travis seize this opportunity?) In the 4th, Contreras also homered, the regular way. 4-1. The bats and the weather are heating up. Speaking of heating up, Dansby hit a ringing double in the 5th and eventually scored on a poor and ill advised throw. 5-1. In the 6th, Contreras hit another bomb, this one even longer and harder than his earlier dinger. 6-1. (“Shotgun Willie”? h/t Michael Kasper)
You may have noticed that the second number in the scores in the last paragraph remained “1” while the Braves were pounding away. Anderson was sharp. He wasn’t efficient—the kid throws a lot of pitches–but he had the Rangers pounding balls into the ground, and kept them off the off the scoreboard again until the 6th. Semien doubled and scored on a couple of groundouts to make it 6-2 after 6. Anderson went six innings, striking out 5, surrendering only 3 hits and the 2 runs. Most impressively, he induced 12 groundball outs.
Pancho and Lefty (Chavez and Matzek) pitched the 7th. Chavez got two outs but also surrendered two hits, so Matzek came in to get the third out. Will Smith had the 8th, giving up a solo shot to Cory Seager, but no other damage. Because that made it 6-3 (and the Braves didn’t score in the 9th), Jansen had the opportunity to get a save. Which he did, in 1-2-3 fashion. Kenley is now 6 for 6 in saves. He owes Will Smith, not only for stepping aside from his 9th inning role, but specifically for making tonight’s save possible.
More three true outcome offense by the Braves tonight: 4 homers, 7 walks, and 13 strikeouts. I’m not complaining; any time you get 6 extra base hits and 7 walks in a game, you’re in great shape. By the way, even more exciting to me than all the homers is that Ozzie walked three times.
By the way, they did this offensive breakout without Ronald. Nothing wrong with him–they are just being cautious as he eases back in. For now, this Angel is Flying Too Close to the Ground. But it won’t be long until he soars.
I’ll leave it to JonathanF and others to critique Chip’s performance tonight. I have to say I missed the insights of Paul Byrd. We received our education in the cities of the nation, Me and Paul.
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As I’ve noted here before, I’ve been a Braves fan since 1966. Gee, Ain’t it Funny How Time Slips Away? Still for better or for worse, the Bravos have been Always on My Mind. There have been some seasons in which I’ve been tempted to let Whisky River take my mind; don’t let those memories torture me—memories of Kirby Puckett, Jim Leyritz, Livan Hernandez (or should I say Eric Gregg); of bloop hits surrendered, of hard shots by Braves right into the shift, of freak injuries. To an outsider, tying yourself and your emotional energy to a team can seem Crazy. I’m Crazy for tryin, crazy for cryin, crazy for caring too much about them. But truth is, I’d Have To Be Crazy, clean out of my mind, to root for any other team.
Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Cowboys. Or Rangers, for that matter.
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Willie Hugh Nelson was born on this date, April 29, in 1933, in Abbott, Texas. Happy 89th Birthday, Willie! He’s still recording, touring, and performing. Willie’s an inspiration to me and lots of others of a certain age; he’s shown what clean and upright living can do. All in all, he’s provided us with A Beautiful Time, (see comment 3 below), and it’s not over yet.
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You probably also heard that today is Ron Washington’s 70th birthday. Happy Birthday, Wash! He is another inspiration to me.
Tomorrow night the Braves go for 3 in a row and a .500 record behind Bryce Elder. Bryce grew up in Decatur, Texas, only about an hour away from this ballpark.