managed more than a single run, but they lost anyway and split yet another series and evened their record at 8-8 after 16 games. Pitching is on, hitting is off, and defense is as good as should be expected (minus one tenth inning meltdown two nights ago in Philly).
I'm not a big fan of cramming two-game series into MLB schedules; it doesn't leave much for recaps! Luckily the Braves have provided other material to work with.
Tim Hudson was brilliant Monday night; that's already been discussed
. John Thomson was effective tonight, but it wasn't enough; the Astros broke through in the fifth with three straight RBI hits, the last of which turned out to be the game-winner.
Although the Braves only managed nine hits, there is some good news: (1) that's more hits than they've managed in any of the last three ballgames, including the extra-inning ones; (2) four Braves got two hits apiece (Giles, Chipper, Mondesi, and Jordan), including Chipper's fourth home run (he's now batting .396/.484/.755 with a 1.239 OPS).
If I had told you last Friday that only two Braves would get hits in each of the five games against the Phillies and Astros, you would have thought I was crazy if I had said they would be Brian Jordan and Raul Mondesi. But both are riding five-game hitting streaks, hitting a combined .368 (14-for-38) with a .964 OPS.
Granted, Jordan's streak isn't much of a streak, with four straight 1-for-4 nights before getting two hits tonight (a mighty .650 OPS during his streak), but Mondesi is 8-for-18 with a triple and two homers (1.310 OPS) over the same stretch. A five-game hot streak is nothing to get too excited about, but if Mondesi keeps it up he'll have a great year.
Andruw Jones, on the other hand, is not enjoying his current streak: 23 straight hitless at-bats dating back to his ninth-inning at-bat last Wednesday against the Nationals. But the Atlanta Braves are playing ball in Washington for the first time ever tomorrow, and hopefully Andruw can shake the jinx from the pitching staff that left him with it.
And then there's Ryan Langerhans, who is (not) enjoying a different kind of streak: not playing
. He has only 11 at-bats on the season despite his pinch-hit, game-winning home run in the 12th inning last night and good swings every time he's in there. My suggestion: after five straight hitless nights, give Andruw a break and start Langerhans in centerfield. Jones obviously needs a night to sit back and contemplate what's wrong with his approach at the plate.
Was anyone else hoping Houston's "J Franco" would pitch to Atlanta's "J Franco"? Not only would it be cool for the oldest active hitter to face the oldest active pitcher (or am I missing someone else?), but it would have made two straight nights that Julio had faced off against a pitcher in his 40s (Clemens)! Oh well, maybe later in the season...
Did I mention the Braves are in a three-way last-place tie at 7-7, only one game back of the Marlins/Nationals two-way tie for first at 8-6? The NL East rules! Now let's take two from the Nationals and try to reclaim first place...