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719-finally-more-baseball | July | 2008 Articles

2008 Archives

7/18: Finally, More Baseball

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Well, we're back to playing the national pastime again. Thanks to the game-blowing efforts of Billy Wagner and Brad Lidge, whoever represents the National League in the World Series is going to be playing Games 1 and 2 on the road, as usual, but other than that the only thing that happened for the Braves in the last few days is that McCann missed a tag on a weak Corey Hart throw and Chipper went 1-3 in a game whose stats don't count. So thank heaven we're back to the games that matter, where we can hope against hope. The Phillies weren't idle -- they traded 3 of their best prospects for Joe Blanton, an innings-eater type who has sucked this season in a pitcher's park and will move to a hitter's park. But he's cheap, and relatively young, and they'll get to keep him for another two years, and he can't be worse than Adam Eaton. (I mean, can he?) This hurts them for the future, but it helps them now, especially with Brett Myers on the blink again, and indicates that they're in win now mode, especially impressive considering their GM's nickname is "Stand Pat" Gillick. Hopefully, Billy Wagner and Brad Lidge will be feeling so contrite from giving up crucial runs that they'll start blowing a few more saves in the second half. The Braves have been incredibly frustrating this year because our competition ain't that great and our talent clearly ain't that bad, but we simply can't push the runs across when it counts. Which is damning in itself, and at this point is pretty much a defining characteristic of the team, rather than just a phase we're going through, but it makes for a lot of tantalization and heartbreak, rather than the numbing stupor that Nationals fans get to have. I'm not sure which is worse. Speaking of the Nationals, they're coming to town tonight for a three-game set. I won't say anything about my expectations, because they've been so far off the mark this year as to be both laughable and embarrassing. Instead, I'll just cut to the chase. Tonight is Tim Redding against Tim Hudson. This year is already the second-most innings that Redding has ever pitched, second only to his 2003 breakout. He's a good pitcher, and shouldn't be underestimated, though he's only been middling in his career against us, 2-1 in 4 starts with 9 walks, 9 strikeouts, and 10 ER in 20 innings, for a 4.50 ERA. Hudson's having another great year, with the second-best Component ERA in the division, behind only Cole Hamels. In his last 5 starts against the Nats, he's been well-nigh untouchable, 4-0 in 37 2/3 IP with 26 K, 5 BB, and a sparkling 0.96 ERA. So that bodes well. However, the Nationals have actually been a thorn in our side all year, as we're 3-5 against them despite having outscored them 31-28. Despite their patchwork and frankly mediocre pitching staff (4.40 staff ERA, 11th in the NL), we haven't really hit them well, with a batting line of only .250/.321/.384. We've pitched them extremely well, however, a 2.89 ERA in 71 2/3 innings, 52 strikouts against 26 walks, only 59 hits allowed, and only 3 homers. That's too many walks, but they're clearly not making much contact -- they're batting .228/.306/.328, which is actually worse than Jeff Francoeur. So as long as we can push a few runs across, we'll be in good shape. (Our losses to them this year: 3-2, 5-4, 6-0, 6-3, 3-2. Our wins: 3-0, 10-2, 7-3. Well, that's why our run differential is screwy.) Injury update: Yunel is still having trouble with his shoulder and may not be able to go tonight. Considering he's been dealing this for a couple weeks now, it's not quite clear when he will be able. Tom Glavine and Matt Diaz are feeling better, but Glav's still a couple weeks away and Diaz is awaiting the say-so of his doctors. Mike Hampton, meanwhile, is Mike Hampton. So we're still far from healthy, despite the days off. Hopefully Chipper and McCann can stay on the field, because we've learned pretty conclusively that, even though we're mediocre with them, without them we simply aren't a major league-caliber team. Let's see if we can crawl an inch closer to .500.

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