Braves 6 (64-47), Giants 3 (63-49)
WP: Lowe (11-9)
LP: Sanchez (8-7)
SV: Saito (1)
Ahhhhh...offense. How I've missed you. The Braves offense showed up today, plating 6 runs in 8 innings, and the team even went 5/16 with runners in scoring position which should hopefully fan some of the flames that people are spouting off about "clutchiness" and the such. But as usual...could have been better. The Braves stranded 9 more runners, but you know what...on a day where the team got 6 runs and 12 hits, I'm not going to find little things like that to complain about. The scoring started in a 3 run second, with a big 2 run homer by David Ross. The team would get another run that inning on an Alex Gonzalez sac fly to the warning track in deep left center (he pulls that, its gone and we have a whole new ballgame). The Braves would come right back to plate runs in the 4th and 5th innings, off a solo homer from Omar Infante and a RBI single from Brooks Conrad. Thats something else I should mention...this really was the B-team lineup today. Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and Jason Heyward all had the day off. No problem! The Braves final run of the day came in the 8th inning for a little extra insurance, as Melky Cabrera singled in Ross. Cabrera probably had the best day of any Brave today, going 3/5 with that RBI and a stolen base for good measure. He's got a .976 OPS in limited playing time this month...and I'm really beginning to think he should be getting multiple starts a week. Dude is on FIRE, and Rick Ankiel is struggling terribly in center since becoming a Brave. He put up another 0-fer today, seeing only 10 pitches in his 4 at bats. Embarrassing...in a not so embarrassing note though, Matt Diaz reached 3 times today. In fact, every Braves starter aside from Ankiel reached base, and every starter aside from Ankiel and Troy Glaus reached multiple times. Good times...
Derek Lowe started and...was alright. He left after only 5 1/3 and 68 pitches, allowing 2 runs, walking 1, and striking out 2. 10 ground balls though...he took notes on Tim Hudson's performance last night, I guess. Lowe and Hudson are the top 2 ground ball pitchers in the National League, and with the way that the defense up the middle is eating up grounders and turning them into double plays...yeah, that is most definitely a good thing. Peter Moylan and Jonny Venters each threw an inning, and they were actually pretty spotty. Moylan allowed a solo homer, but only needed 12 pitches to get 3 outs...problem was, he only threw a first pitch strike to 1 of the 5 batters he faced. Venters was a little more spotty, needing 21 pitches to get his 3 outs, and only throwing a first pitch strike to one of his 4. Kyle Farnsworth got out of the 8th with a 5 pitch strikeout, and Takashi Saito picked up the save by effortlessly striking out the side in the ninth. Why Saito and not Billy Wagner? Just a day off, as Wagner had pitched in each of the first 3 games of the series. Man, how big does that loss on Friday look...a 4 game sweep would have been nice.
No rest for the weary, as the Braves are hopping on a plane tonight to go to Houston and take on the hilariously bad Astros. This will be a nice time to pick up some wins and inspire the team a little more. Tomorrow's matchup will feature the major league debut of Mike Minor, against the Astros Bud Norris. He's not as bad as he looks: his FIP is near 4.00, despite an ERA over 5 and a half. Could be one of those games that the Braves shouldn't lose, but come out flat and falter. Here's hoping they don't.