Braves get a great effort from their starting pitcher, then Dan Doodie blows the game in the 9th, take four. What's most annoying is this rationalization from Dan the Man:
"Leadoff walks don't bother me," Kolb said. "I'm a ground-ball pitcher; I can get double plays. But when they're hitting them where people aren't, it's tough."
IDIOT!!! First of all, you didn't walk many batters the last two years when you didn't suck, so don't act like this isn't something new. Second, you're a groundball pitcher, which means that you are going to give up your share of hits and you can't give the opposition extra runners like a strikeout pitcher can. Third, it can't be a coincidence that roughly 40% of the balls put in play against you have gone for hits. It has to be a function of the fact that they're hit hard. Also, your leadoff walk last night lead directly to Brian Giles' follow-up single because the runner on first widened the hole on the right side.
Now, I'm worried about the bullpen. The Braves would be 6-2 instead of 3-5 on this roadtrip if they simply could have held leads in the 8th inning or later. In fairness, though, that also includes two instances when the Braves rallied late and then the bullpen gave the game away. Kolb clearly needs to be demoted from the closer role so he can get his groove back in lower-stress situations. Chris Reitsma has started his collapse a little early this year, so he isn't a candidate either. Whom does that leave? Jorge Sosa? John Foster? It would be an awfully radical move to make one of them the closer.
The good news from last night:
1. Andruw Jones continues to be absolutely torrid and I haven't said enough good things about him.
2. Wilson Betemit went 2-4 and made an absolute stunner of a defensive play that you'll never see on Web Gems because he didn't leave his feet. With one on and one out in the bottom of the 7th, he charged in on a slow roller down the third base line, fielded the ball, and in one motion unloaded a cannon shot of a throw right on the money. It was a remarkable play at an important moment in the game and precious few third basemen could have made that play. It was a reminder of what scouts saw in him that led Wilson to be viewed as one of the best prospects in baseball. Gosh, if the guy could only hit consistently.
3. Smoltz turned in another great start last night. We expect him to be dominant, so we don't give him enough credit, but the guy has been as good as ever since his rocky first start.