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indians-down-braves-on-dreses-struggles | March | 2008 Articles

2008 Archives

Indians Down Braves on Drese's Struggles

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I'm back in my hotel room now with a of signed balls, about 400 pictures, and nice sunburn to show from my full day at Disney Wide World of Sports. John Smoltz was scheduled to start today's game against the Cleveland Indians but was scratched due to some shoulder discomfort. He insists that it is nothing serious, just a precautionary measure. The Braves will probably have to deal with this throughout the season as they did last year but it doesn't strike me as anything to get worried about. In lieu of the the Cooperstown-bound right-hander, Bobby Cox turned to Jeff Bennett to face of with last year's AL Cy Young winner, C.C. Sabathia. Eddie Perez actually jokingly told me that he would be making the start when I asked (That would have been fun to watch). With Perez watching over the bullpen -- his new territory as bullpen coach -- Bennett put forth a great performance on the mound. He was hitting his spots and because of that, pretty much had to only use his sinker. I think he only threw a handful of breaking pitches, but he didn't need to. Of the nine outs he got, two were strikeouts and the other seven came on groundballs (one double-play). Bennett walked none and only allowed two hits in his three scoreless innings. The offense looked pretty much as good as I expected without the starting firstbaseman, thirdbaseman, catcher, and centerfielder playing. The Braves were up 3-0 early on pretty consistent hitting throughout the lineup but Ryan Drese changed all that. To say that he struggled would be a drastic understatement. Not only was his stuff not that good, but he couldn't find the strikezone if his life had depended on it. Drese allowed six earned runs in his 1+ inning of work on one hit and no strikeouts. Oh, did I mention he walked six and threw a wild pitch that bounced halfway between the mound and the plate, while having a number of close calls being saved by terrific defense from Corky Miller? He just couldn't find the strikezone and it wasn't even close. Miller was having to jump up and lunge every which way, go down on his knees to block a pitch in the dirt, and watch a lot of the batters' backs as they walked to first base. Drese finally got out of the fourth inning after allowing four runs on five consecutive walks and sacrifice fly. For some reason he was left in for the fifth but walked one and allowed a hit before being finally pulled and replaced by Korean side-armer, Sung Ki Jung. Here are some players that made a positive impression on me:
  • Jeff Bennett- as I said before, his sinker was really working and he was keeping everything right at the knees. I still don't think he'll make it as a starter but I think he has a good future as a reliever.
  • Will Ohman- I watched his bullpen session and then watched him in the game. He was sitting at around 91 mph on the stadium gun (so probably 89-90 mph realistically) but had great command and control. He got two groundouts and a strikeout, and the only hit he allowed was to a switch-hitter batting from the right side.
  • Blaine Boyer- Just like Ohman and Bennett, Boyer impressed me with his command and control. He was sitting at around 94 mph with his fastball and his curve looked good, though he didn't throw it much.
  • Yunel Escobar- I agree with everyone that he is bigger this season. During the game, he looked good at the plate and in the field, making a great play on a tough grounder at one point.
  • Brent Lillibridge- His approach was odd (switching constantly between short and long swings), but his plate discipline as well as his defense at second and short was very good.
  • Corky Miller- He's not going to hit much but his defense was excellent today, despite being constantly tested by Ryan Drese. He stopped everything that was within the realm of possibility and made a perfect throw to nail Franklin Gutierrez at second. Clint Sammons -- his replacement- also impressed me with his glove.
....and the guys who didn't make that good an impression:
  • Ryan Drese- As I mentioned before, he was downright terrible. There's really not much more to say there.
  • Gregor Blanco- He was taking some pretty wild cuts in the cage and carried that into the game. He went 1/3 with a walk and a strikeout, but pretty much every time he made contact, it was a soft roller.
  • Kelly Johnson- He looked pretty good in the field but had a tough time against Sabathia, a very tough southpaw.
  • Javy Lopez- He was the DH so I didn't see him play defense but his bat was slow and he didn't hit anything that hard. He was one of the friendliest to the fans though and the ladies loved him.
  • Scott Thorman- He was destroying balls in the cages but the Cleveland hitters fed him a steady diet of breaking pitches and fastballs out of the strikezone, which he responded to by taking a number of ugly cuts.
  • Joe Borchard- See Scott Thorman
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