I know it sounds pretty basic, but it seems to be the basics that we're lacking. You simply cannot win games if you don't score runs, and scoring one run in the bottom of the ninth isn't exactly what I had in mind. But David Ross' solo homerun in the bottom of the ninth was the only time a Braves player would cross the plate last night. Although they out-hit Boston, they couldn't seem to produce RBIs.
Boston's Josh Beckett and Jair Jurrjens were evenly matched if you look at the boxscore and ignore the runs and earned runs columns. Beckett pitched 7 innings and gave up 6 hits while striking out 6. JJ pitched 8 innings and gave up 7 hits while striking out 6. However, JJ also walked three and gave up 4 runs, 3 of those earned runs. Mike Gonzalez pitched a perfect ninth innings, striking out all three batters he faced. Despite the similarities in pitching performances, the story last night was Boston's ability to post some RBIs and the Braves lack thereof.
As if the third straight loss at home wasn't depressing enough, now I have to tell you about the declining health of our team. Brian McCann sat out last night's game with a "light-headed sensation," but team officials say they're not worried because of the arduous duty he pulled the previous four nights in the Atlanta heat. McCann did come in as a pinch hitter in the ninth doubled off Papelbon, so I expect we'll see him back in the lineup tonight.
Yunel Escobar sat out last night with the sore right hip flexor he's had for about a month now after Cox noticed him having some issues with it in Thursday night's game. I think we were all ready for Escobar to have an night off after his attitude in Thursday night's game. For those who missed it, Escobar made a diving stop on an A-Rod grounder in the fourth but was charged with an error on his throw to first. The television cameras all caught him pointing to the press box and spitting out an expletive. He then stood with his hands on his thighs during the next two pitches, unready for what might come at him next. During a pitching change later in the inning, he continued to sulk with his arms crossed over his chest. We've seen a lot of this attitude lately, and the press has widely covered his refusal to discuss his missteps with the press after the games. Cox indicated, however, that his replacement by Diory Hernandez last night was due to the sore hip and not the sour attitude. No word on whether he'll play today.
And if all that wasn't enough, Nate McClouth strained his left hamstring legging out a bunt in the eighth inning. Okajima had trouble grabbing the ball and McClouth was safe at the bag. Unfortunately, he had to be removed and Gregor Blanco entered in his place. McClouth is listed as day-to-day and could still play today.
Today, the Braves will have to overcome the injuries and sore spots and beat knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield (9-3, 4.47 ERA). Javier Vazquez (5-6, 3.18 ERA) will take the mound for the Braves, looking for a win to tie up his record. Vazquez has pitched better than his record shows, but like the other Braves starters he hasn't gotten the run support he needed. An offensive performance like last night won't get it done, so lets hope the bats are hot today.
In totally unrelated but notable news, Georgia native Melanie Oudin, who was unseeded at Wimbledon, has beaten the #20 and #6 seeds to advance to Week 2. A huge feat for the Marietta native, and one I couldn't resist mentioning!