In the past three games, the Braves have been outscored 20-0 and for the first time in 19 years, have been shutout in three straight games. This one came again as a complete and utter lack of offense as the Atlanta lineup collected only two hits all game against Kenny Rogers and the Tigers pen. John Smoltz got the start and was lights out... until the sixth inning when everything came unraveled. Smoltz allowed five runs on six hits, an intentional walk, and two very questionable calls in the inning. That was easily enough to earn the Tigers a win in the series opener. The only positive to this game, in what seems to be a pattern of late was the bullpen. Braves relievers came on to work three perfect innings. Peter Moylan looked great again, Chad Paronto has come charging back and has found his stuff after his injury caused major struggles, and Wil Ledezma made Dave Dombrowski regret trading the southpaw to Atlanta. Ledezma, in his first appearance for the Braves, dominated his former team. The lefty, who had displayed awful control this season threw ten of his eleven pitches for strikes and struck out all three batters he faced. It sounds like they aren't going to commit to him as a starter right now but he brought a mid-90's fastball, good changeup, and an excellent curveball that should make it hard for Bobby Cox to leave him out of a struggling rotation.
For the third straight day, I find myself incapable of writing much about the offense, simply because there has to be some offense for me to write. A hit batsman, a walk to Jeff Francoeur, and singles by Edgar Renteria and Scott Thorman were the only baserunners the Braves could muster the entire game. Andruw Jones had some big news as his 0/3 day now puts him below the Mendoza line at a season average of .199. Just imagine where this team would be if a couple of our players were playing up to their potential. Andruw Jones (.199), Brian McCann (.255), and Scott Thorman (.237) have sunk this team's offensive output so far this year.
Tomorrow looks quite a bit more promising (Note the huge amount of sarcasm) as Kyle Davies heads to the mound to face Justin Verlander, fresh of a no-hitter two starts ago. Hey, the two pitchers tonight were mismatch theoretically so anything can happen.