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braves-drop-a-tough-one | July | 2007 Articles

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Braves Drop a Tough One

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The Braves† fell to 2.5 games out in the Wild Card with a heart breaking 11-inning loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The game looked to be over by the second after starter Jo-Jo Reyes allowed the D'Backs to plate six in the frame. Reyes once again affirmed my opinion that he is nowhere near ready to be starting in the big leagues. He left just about everything up in the zone where it flattened out and got crushed by the opposing batters. Reyes has good velocity and deception for a left-hander so he could get away with that in the minors, but he has got to learn that major league hitters will hit that before he can have any kind of success. Reyes gave up another run in the fourth before exiting after the inning. He allowed seven runs on seven hits, including three homeruns as well as two walks in his four innings of work. Bye-bye Jo-Jo? Chad Paronto and Tyler Yates pretty easily held Arizona at bay over the next two innings but in Yates' second inning of relief, things got interesting. The bad was getting worse as Yates allowed two singles followed by a wild pitch that forced Bobby Cox to have to issue an intentional walk to load the bases with no outs. Peter Moylan, the Braves savior in the pen this year, was called upon in the jam and had Braves fans calling for a Cy Young by the end of the inning. Moylan got a force out at the plate on a ground ball to second, a strikeout of Chris Snyder, and then a ground out to first to end the inning. Moylan, who has a team and rookie-best 2.08 ERA, now has allowed only allowed two earned runs in his 16.1 innings of work in July for a 1.10 ERA during the month. Rafael Soriano pitched an impressive two innings; a nice thing to see since his recent struggles, but Wil Ledezma allowed a Tony Clark walk off homerun in the bottom of the eleventh. He is going to take the rap for that but going back and watching, Ledezma threw a nice fastball right on the outside corner and at the knees that Clark just put enough contact on. It was a good pitch but Clark is a very strong batter. The offense was great tonight at at least giving the Braves a chance despite Jo-Jo Reyes' lackluster performance. After being held hitless for the first four innings, a Jeff Francoeur single followed by an RBI triple and single by Kelly Johnson and Julio Franco brought the Braves to within five. Johnson just continues with the hot bat and the Braves may have to start thinking about giving him his full-time job back and using Yunel Escobar in more of a super-utility role. The big hits came an inning later though. An Edgar Renteria single started it followed by back-to-back ground-rule doubles by Andruw Jones and Brian McCann. Kelly Johnson was hit by a pitch and then a Julio Franco double down the right field line capped the inning off and brought the Braves to within one after being down seven only two innings earlier. Fast-forward to two down in the ninth with no one on and Yunel Escobar had a very good at bat to draw a much needed walk. Then came one of the most exciting plays of the year. The broadcasters debated whether Glen Hubbard had told Escobar to go or Escobar did it on his own but with the D'Backs middle infielders, Stephen Drew and Orlando Hudson, with their backs turned, Tony Clark away from the back, and Arizona closer Jose Valverde messing around with his socks without calling time, Escobar took off for second and made it in easily with a stolen base. A bloop hit just out of the reach of Stephen Drew by Willie Harris tied the scoring run and the stolen base was made that much more important. I would have liked to have seen what Renteria could have done with Willie on base but Harris wanted to follow what Escobar did and catch them napping. Unfortunately, it didn't work for Harris and he was caught at second to end the threat. John Smoltz will try and end the Braves three-game slide against Doug Davis and the Diamondbacks this afternoon at 3:55 ET. One more note, sources are reporting that the Angels are out on Mark Teixeira because of the asking price of Rangers GM Jon Daniels. This leaves the Dodgers, Braves, and to a much lesser extent the Red Sox as the only possible suitors if this is true. That means the price could be going down. Daniels is obviously trying to start a bidding war so he'll wait until the deadline most likely but this could serious fire if another team backs out because the price would drop significantly.
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