Juve, for those of you who don't know, are the most famous soccer team in Italy and have a tendency for playing very defensive games. The Braves ought to join Serie A (the Italian soccer league) at this point. Their starting pitching is better than any of us dreamed. Here are their starters' pitching stats for the past three games:
24 IP, 12 hits, 2 ER, 6 BB, 14 K
The team's defense has been fairly good, so the fact that the Braves are 1-2 during those three games is the result of the other two pieces of the team: relief pitching and hitting. None of the relievers inspire much confidence right now. Chris Reitsma had been the belle of the ball, but he looked really bad last night, loading the bases with no outs before pitching his way out of the jam, with the lucky element of a liner right at Marcus Giles thrown in. Dan Kolb converted a save, but still looks uncomfortable on the mound.
Of far greater concern is the offense, which consists of Chipper Jones and the odd contribution from the rest of the team. Remember the depressing walk stats that I showed yesterday? Last night was more of the same. The team drew 2 walks in 12 innings. I know they were going against the reigning NL Cy Young winner, but they made his job easier by consistently swinging at the splitter out of the zone. On the bright side, I got to impress the wife by predicting when the splitter/strikeout was coming from Clemens or Lidge with some accuracy.
So the million dollar question is this: will Giles, Furcal, and Andruw heat up before the starting pitching comes back to earth? Until then, we are going to have to be entertained by terrific pitching battles on a nightly basis. (Admittedly, this isn't a bad prospect.)