Braves 16 (1-0), Cubs 5 (0-1).
WP: Lowe (1-0, 7.50)
LP: Zambrano (0-1, 54.00)
This was an absolute hammering. My stomach got queasy after the top of the first inning, with Derek Lowe looking shaky allowing a single, walk and then a big 3 run homer to Marlon Byrd. Lowe's day was...interesting, I guess you can say. He was perfect in the second, and then allowed a double and a 2 run jack in the third. After a perfect fourth, he walked a pair in the 5th, getting out of the inning on a nice double play turn by Yunel Escobar on a line drive. Lowe got lucky as hell in the sixth inning, allowing a leadoff single before getting a double play on a diving catch by Nate McLouth (which was a horrible call, as McLouth clearly dropped the ball and had it roll around on the grass) who then threw in to first to double off Aramis Ramirez...again, terrible call that killed an inning for the Cubs that could have been huge. He struck out the final batter of the inning and that was that. Lowe's final line was 6 innings pitched, 5 hits, 5 earned, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts, and 2 homers. Not very impressive at all...you can't exclaim that he was great aside from 2 bad innings. The thing is, he was BAD in those 2 innings. 2 strikeouts over 6 innings isn't going to cut it in the long run
The game was still reachable for the Cubs in the seventh inning, with the Braves only up by 3. Then the Braves scored 8 over the final 2 innings, and that took care of that. Offensively, the day was a dream come true for the Braves. The team plated 8 in the first inning, highlighted by a huge 3 run homer by Jason Heyward in the first plate appearance of his career. Heyward had a great day in his major league debut, going 2 for 5 with a pair of runs and 4 RBI, along with that big homer in the first. Yunel Escobar was also a stud for the Braves, scoring 2 with a 2 for 5 line and 5 RBI. The other big offensive star for the Braves was catcher Brian McCann, who carried over his hot streak from the spring, going 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored, 2 walks, an RBI and a long homer in the second inning.
One more thing worth noting is the performance of the bullpen. Peter Moylan, Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner pitched the final 3 innings and didn't allow a baserunner, striking out 5 of the 9 men they faced. I have to question the wisdom of using those 3 men in a blowout like this, but Bobby Cox's bullpen management has been suspect over the years. With a day off tomorrow, Cox must have figured he wouldn't have to use any of them on back to back days, so it wouldn't be too much of a detriment towards the club.
STAR OF THE DAY: Jason Heyward. 2/5, 2 R, 4 RBI, 1 HR
GOAT OF THE DAY: Derek Lowe. 6 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
Braves are off tomorrow as I just mentioned, and return on Wednesday evening against the Cubs. The pitching matchup is Ryan Dempster for Chicago, and Jair Jurrjens for the Braves. Gametime is 7:10 PM.