Thursday, August 11, 2005
Quick Braves Thoughts
Went to the game last night and have the following observations:
1. Last night was the third time I've seen Francoeur double sharply to right center. He isn't a dead-pull hitter in the same way that Andruw is.
2. The Braves were very unlucky to not blow the game open in the 5th. LaRoche and Francoeur led off with doubles and then the Braves didn't score the rest of the inning, despite Brian McCann hitting a screamer right at the second baseman with a runner on second and none out and Kelly Johnson hitting a screamer right at the rightfielder with the bases loaded and two outs. It easily could have been a four- or five-run inning.
3. Bobby left Smoltz in too long, as he has in the other two Smoltz starts I've attended this year, the loss to Pedro and the Mets in April and the 130-pitch complete game shutout against the Marlins in June. John was clearly tiring in the 8th inning. After allowing two baserunners in the first seven innings, he gave up three hits in the 8th and got out of the inning with a double play. A sign to start the 9th with Reitsma? Nope, Bobby waited until the tying run was on base, which Reitsma allowed to score. And speaking of Chris, he did nothing to alleviate my fears about him being the weak link on this team. He's taken to walking around the mound and playing with the resin bag after each pitch, which is exactly what Kolb did when he was struggling in April and May. He gives off the vibe that he's struggling mentally and wants to delay throwing the next pitch. His velocity was fine, so I don't think he's hit the wall like he did last year. Maybe he's a little shaken after his blow-up in St. Louis and needs a little time to get over that.
4. How depressing would it be to be a Giants fan and watch a team that's both bad and old? It must be like it was to root for the Hawks during the dreadful Rahim/Ratliff/Terry/Big Dog era.
5. Signs I'm growing old: I used to complain every time Dad would take my brother and I to games when we were growing up and then leave before extra innings. "How can you leave when things are just getting exciting?" So who left last night after Furcal flew out to the wall to end the 9th? This guy!
6. Andruw's two homers made me start to think that he should win the MVP over Albert Pujols, but then I checked their stats this morning and there's no way to make that case. Both players have been the key offensive piece for the two best teams in the National League, but Pujols has a 63 point lead in batting average, a 71-point lead in on base percentage, and a 20-point lead in slugging percentage. Andruw is a better defensive player and plays a position at which it's much harder to find a good hitter, but those factors aren't enough to make up the difference between the two in OBP and SLG. Andruw should finish a solid second and we should all be happy with that. Derrek Lee will get some publicity, but the Cubs' fade will hurt him. The darkhorse candidate is Miguel Cabrera, especially if the Marlins push into the Wild Card. Speaking of which, would we rather have the Astros win the Wild Card and face Clemens-Oswalt-Pettite or would we rather the Marlins get into the playoffs, given their perfect record as a Wild Card?
7. I can't believe that Adam LaRoche tried to steal a base last night. Shockingly enough, he was thrown out by a mile.
8. The first four hits of the game were all doubles. The first three hits of the game all hit the wall on the fly. Odds?