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77-game-thread-nadal-beats-fed-wait-did-the-braves-just-win-in-extras-v15-2404 | July | 2008 Articles

2008 Archives

7/7 Game Thread: Nadal Beats Fed-- Wait, Did the Braves Just Win in Extras?

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There were two fairly remarkable sporting events yesterday. Thanks to rain and extended play, both went more than 6 hours from their original supposed start time. And both had a rather unexpected conclusion: Rafael Nadal shocked Roger Federer in 5 sets (including a 9-7 final set in the only tournament that refuses to allow a fifth set to be decided by a tiebreak), and the Braves pulled out a sort of win I thought I'd never see again: a, ugly, messy, injury-laden 17-inning slog that I still can't believe we didn't lose. We beat the Astros! In extra innings! The Braves been pretty bad in extra-inning games this year, recalling the catastrophic end of our 2005 season at the Astros' hands. Despite going 8-3 in extra frames in 2006, we were 6-9 last year and are 2-7 this year, for a three-year total of 16-19. Usually it's not as lopsided as it's been this year or as it was in 2006. From 2000 to 2005, we were 38-46 in extras, but each year we were either at .500, 1 game below .500, or 2 games below .500. In fact, while we were above .500 every year from 1991 to 1994, +11 overall, there were only two seasons from 1995 to 2007 in which we had more wins in extras than losses. One of those seasons was the insanely fluky 1999, in which we were 17-5; the other was 2006. In every other year we either broke even or lost more than we won. Since 1995, we're 89-92, but if you exclude the outlier in 1999, we're 72-87 in the past 13 seasons. Last night's miracle may not be enough to change that. In other news, Jeff Francoeur is back. This is, it hardly needs to be said, a terrible decision. He was sent down because his offense this year pointed to the fact that his mechanics are terrible; after he was sent down, he whined about it. Three days later, after going 7-13 in AA, hardly a large enough sample size or a competitive enough league to prove he's suddenly going to be able to be a productive major leaguer, he's been recalled, and his petulant whining looks like it paid off. Whether or not you agreed with his being sent down, the Braves handled this poorly. If they truly believed that he was far enough out of whack that his problems could not be fixed at the major league level -- and I absolutely agree -- then they need to be able to stick with it long enough to be able to correct the physical problems that were leading to his incredibly poor performance this year, both fielding and hitting. Three days, obviously, is not long enough to correct anything. If this was merely a chastisement, though, Francoeur was right to be annoyed. In his announcement, Wren seemed to imply that he believed Francoeur's problems were purely mental: "All the reports we got from [Mississippi's staff] said that he was smiling, having fun and being relaxed at the plate... That's really all we wanted him to do." This is very unlikely to be the case, both because his career numbers are below replacement-level for a corner outfielder, and because his mechanics may be irreparably bad. Smiling and relaxing won't fix subpar bat speed and poor swing mechanics. I think what happened is that the Braves made the right baseball move, but were too tentative to stick to their guns. Reports circulated that they were afraid to send him down because he was a fan favorite, and even when they did manage to send him down, they still weren't convinced enough that it was the right move to stick with it. If they really felt that going 7-13 in AA showed that he had nothing more to learn at that level, they should have sent him to Richmond for the first time in his career. Let him finally earn his way to the major leagues, instead of being called up as an injury replacement, just like he was as a rookie. Simply a botch job. To make room for Francoeur, the Braves DL'ed the re-injured Infante (our best bench player), Manny Acosta (a poor pitcher, but a warm body on a bullpen that's had trouble holding onto its warm bodies), and Jeff Bennett (who really hasn't been good since May). Along with Francoeur, the Braves called up Vladimir Nunez, who is terrible, and Brent Lillibridge, who has not shown for a single second that he is capable of playing in the major leagues. (Neither has Corky Miller, for that matter. We really, really need someone who's capable of backing up Brian McCann, who has now started 77 of the Braves' 89 games, and made appearances in 6 others. He is not being backed up, he is not being rested, and Corky Miller makes Jeff Francoeur look like Albert Pujols.) I'm not thrilled by our callups, but we don't have any other backup SS, and Phil Stockman and Zach Schreiber got themselves injured again, so there were no obvious pitchers to call up. Dodgers tonight. Hiroki Kuroda vs. the Garbageman, Jorge Campillo. Kuroda pitched us pretty well the last time out, giving up 2 runs on 7 hits in 6 innings' work on April 20, but lost the game 2-1. Campillo has never faced the Dodgers, which could help; he's tended to do very well against people who have never seen him before. Let's carry some momentum from last night.

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