Series Recap: Pirates & Braves
Starting pitching. Each of the 4 starters in the series got a quality start. Ironically, the 2 pitchers that started the games of the series the Braves lost (Jurrjens, Vazquez) pitched better than the pitchers who started the games of the series the Braves won (Lowe, Kawakami). The quartet also combined for 5 walks in 27 innings, which is always pleasant. Vazquez was magnificent today, only to be hosed over by his offense (which I'll get to later).
Bullpen. The reason I say meh is this...inconsistency. After 4 straight scoreless appearances, Peter Moylan was absolutely shelled on Monday. Bobby dragged him back out on Wednesday, and he pitched fine, walking 1 in 1 1/3. Manny Acosta toed the line in his 2 innings, allowing 4 baserunners but not allowing a run. Kris Medlen got his first work in a week and shut the Pirates down for 3 innings on Monday. EOF allowed what ended up being the game winning run on Tuesday after throwing one pitch successfully Monday. Jeff Bennett was an absolute horror show last night, but escaped unscathed. Mike Gonzalez only pitched in the 2 wins, and was fine.
But then there was Rafael Soriano. Someone apparently informed Bobby that Raffy had an ERA nearing 1 going into the series, and that he should probably be used in real tight situations. Soriano threw 2 for some reason on Monday, got the save in a scoreless ninth on Tuesday, stayed on the sidelines Wednesday, Soriano probably needed another day off, because he got shelled today and took the loss. I understand Bobby's logic for using him (since he is the best reliever and all). But Bobby was kind of taking it easy on him coming into this series, only getting used once in each of the last 2 series. I personally think Medlen should have gotten the call today, but hindsight is 20/20.
Offense. I mean, seriously? Banged out 7 runs Monday, however, I was concerned because 5 of them came off homers (and the offense did go 8 innings without scoring a run during the game). The Braves stranded 13 men during the game, and 8 came in the first 6 innings...more than 6 runs should have been scored in that time. However, they won, so complaints were nil. Tuesday was a different story, as the offense fought and clawed for 4 runs despite an absolutely miserable game from Greg Norton at first (4 ABs: 10 pitches seen. YIKES). Norton played the role in the lineup that the normal right fielder does, but he was on the bench. The corner outfielders (Anderson & Diaz) performed fine.
Last evening was a mess, as the Braves managed only 6 hits and not one walk. 3 Braves players (the corner outfielders and Johnson) each only saw 9 pitches over the course of their evening, and Chipper only saw 10. The Braves were stymied by Jeff Karstens (he of the even K:BB ratio, 1.44 WHIP and .827 OPS against) and the Pirates bullpen. The game was an embarrassment for the offense. Greg Norton again pulled an o-fer. Today was weird on another level though...the right fielder actually had himself a heck of a day, maybe the best of his season so far, going 2/3, driving in the Braves sole run, and even stealing a base. And he walked! Greg Norton was apparently taken out to pasture, being put on the DL with a "sore ankle" or something along those lines, and he was replaced on the roster (and in the lineup) by Gwinnett stud 1B Barbaro Canizares (who I will refer to as THE HORSE), who hit cleanup. However...the top of the lineup ran into a wall, as the top 4 Braves hitters went a startling 1/15 with a single and a walk, and 5 strikeouts. Paul Maholm inexplicably struck out 8 Braves hitters in 7 innings. It was just a bad day, especially when you consider how insanely beautiful Javier Vazquez pitched.
Pirates @ Braves: June 8-11
Series result: 2-2 split
June 8: Braves 7, Pirates 6 (15)
June 9: Braves 4, Pirates 3
June 10: Pirates 3, Braves 2
June 11: Pirates 3, Braves 1