Smoltz Leads Braves Past Rockies
Kelly Meter: Johnson went 1/4 with a triple, a walk, and a run scored on the night to bring his line to .316/.455/.582. You know that when you reach base two out of your five plate appearances and your OBP goes down that you are doing real well.
The Braves send Kyle Davies to the mound to battle Aaron Cook and try and finish off a series sweep at 3:05 ET tomorrow.
The Braves improved to 15-8 on the season today, and kept their grasp on the half game lead over the Mets with tonight's win behind the strong pitching of John Smoltz. Bobby Cox and the Braves turned to their veteran ace, who gave seven strong innings, allowing only 2 runs and one walk while striking out 8. After a couple starts, where Smoltz lacked command of his pitches and saw his slider flatten out late, it was reassuring to see him go seven strong and throw just over 100 pitches without any ill effects. Another nice thing to see was a pen that had absolutely no problems late. Bob Wickman was given the day off after showing serious effects of his frequent use the last two outings (no, he has not been replaced as closer) so Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano came in for the eighth and ninth innings. Gonzalez allowed a leadoff double to Todd Helton, who he gave up a hit to last night, but got Matt Holliday to pop up, struck out Brad Hawpe, and got an easy grounder to third out of Yorvit Torrealba to end the inning. After struggling early, and giving us that scare with the elbow MRI, Mike Gonzalez has now lowered his ERA to under 2.00. Soriano was warming up before Edgar Renteria's homer in the ninth took the save opportunity away, but even so Rafael Soriano was brought in for a very impressive ninth inning. Soriano pitched incredibly well in the ninth, allowing only Willy Taveras to reach on a fielding error by Edgar Renteria. He got Jamey Carroll to ground out softly, sent Steve Finley packing with a nasty slider, and after the error blew Troy Tulowitzki away with a mid-90's fastball to end the game.
The offense wasn't great today, managing only six hits, but that combined with the five walks issued by Rockies pitchers was enough. There really has been no middle ground so far with this offense. Of the 8 starting position players today, five have averages over .290 (Johnson, Renteria, C. Jones, McCann, and Francoeur), while the remaining three (A. Jones, Thorman, and Langerhans) have averages under .240, although Andruw's seems to be climbing. Today that didn't really change. Andruw kept his hot hitting up with an RBI-double and Thorman and Langerhans went hitless, with Langerhans lowering his season average to .049. Chipper picked up two RBI's, Renteria extended his hit streak to eight with a ninth inning solo homer off Brian Fuentes, Kelly Johnson hit his first triple of the season, and Jeff Francoeur hit his fifth homerun of the season on a bomb to left field.