We’re All Going To Have The Best Offseason Ever!

October 9th, 2005: The Atlanta Braves lose 7-6 (in 18 innings) in Game 4 of the NLDS to the Astros. The Braves led 6-1 going into the 8th inning. Kyle Farnsworth allowed a grand slam in the 8th, and finished off his performance by giving up the tying run in the 9th. After another grueling 9 innings, the game ended on a walk-off home run to the Astros’ Chris Burke. The Braves would go on to be eliminated.

October 11th, 2010: The Atlanta Braves lose Game 4 of the NLDS to the Giants, 3-2, and are eliminated. The loss comes after a far tougher loss in Game 3 in which Brooks Conrad commits 3 “crucial”errors and the Braves lose 3-2. The Braves fade down the stretch in this game and in the series, unable to mount a comeback.

September 28th, 2011: The Atlanta Braves lose the final regular game of the season, 4-3 in 13 innings to the rival Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves lead 3-2 in the 9th inning and are two outs away from victory before the game is tied on a sac fly by Chase Utley, against overused (yet still great) young closer Craig Kimbrel. The team is eliminated from the playoffs, as the Cardinals win their game against the Astros. During September, the Braves slowly lose an 8 1/2 game lead over the Cardinals, within the span of only one month. The Cardinals advance to the NLDS. The Braves go home.

I don’t use these examples as a way to complain about the Braves, or various players. I love Brooks Conrad. I blame nothing on him. The “Woe is me!” attitude doesn’t work too well for a team that’s frequently competitive on a year-to-year basis like the Braves. But it still illustrates the struggles the Braves have frequently faced. They’re often unable to stay firm in closing, crucial situations or periods of time. And I don’t know the reason. But it hurts, and that’s all I feel tonight.

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Well, we beat the Mariners 3-1. Yay!

I was excited for tonight’s game. The Braves were playing the Mariners, an equally offensively inept contender, and I couldn’t wait to watch the strikeouts flow (which they did).

Five Things I Enjoyed During Tonight’s Game

1. Brian McCann is the best catcher in baseball. I say that as a statement, and not as an argument. He hits home runs (which he did tonight, his 15th and 10th in 23 games), consistently provides good at-bats, and seems chill. He’s one of the few people in life that live up to the potential of their beard.

2. I’m starting to think Dan Uggla shouldn’t be 4th in All-Star voting for second-basemen. It’s just a thought, but I feel like power hitters who have the worst average in baseball and less than 30 RBIs (27, to be horribly exact) aren’t that deserving. Just one man’s opinion. 

3. I feel bad for Erik Bedard. Why? He pitches for the Mariners. It can’t be fun. I’m surprised that he doesn’t tear up the lineup symbolically every night.

4. Brandon Beachy is striking out hitters left and right (and even up and down! I’ll be here all night, unfortunately). After striking out 11 in his left start, he followed that performance up with 9 more strikeouts (both starts lasted 6 innings). It’s a relatively small sample size thus far, but if this continues it would solidify the Braves rotation going forward (long-term). 

5. The Braves need Martin Prado back. David O’Brien over at the AJC Braves blog has been reporting that he’ll be back sooner rather than later, and I can’t wait. When he comes back, I expect McLouth to shift over to center. This will allow to Jordan Schafer to serve as a fourth outfielder and pinch hitter, which I think is his ideal role on this team. Also, it’ll make it less likely that Julio Lugo and Wilkin Ramirez are needed to start, which would probably be quite helpful. No offense to those guys, but they probably shouldn’t be starting currently on a major league team. And by “probably”, I mean “absolutely definitely “.

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Surprise! (Braves over Jays part II)

The Jays are a good offensive team. Their OPS+ is above average. They have one of the best batsmen in baseball in Jose Bautista. None of this mattered against the Braves, which isn’t shocking if we’re just talking about Tim Hudson (that guy is great). It’s a bit more of a surprise when Mike Minor comes in for Tommy Hanson and sticks it to ’em. 7 innings, 1 run, 8 strikeouts to only 6 baserunners and a lot of flyball outs. Bautista went hitless for the second game in a row against the Braves. You don’t even hope for Mike Minor (a guy who has surrendered an OPS of worse than .800 in his career so far) to hold it down like this. After his 7 innings, O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters strolled in to clean things up (6 perfect innings of work between the two) and boom, the Braves are inexplicably 9 games over .500.

It’s really weird (especially when Fredi Gonzalez is your manager) to have so many things go right in a game. Every single Braves starter came out of this game with a hit, except for Dan Uggla (of course). Brian McCann drilled a homerun to right field, Mike Minor scored a run after drilling a double (our pitchers are ridiculous sometimes, gang), Freddie Freeman reached base two times to make up for his two strikeouts (progress), the crowd was loud, and love was probably in the air. Good things happened.

God willing, the Braves can keep playing (pitching?) with house money – Beachy is scheduled to make his return tomorrow, with the Braves optioning Minor back down to triple-A to make room. Not that Beachy pitching well will be a surprise equitable to the likes of Minor’s performance, which I’m still talking about two paragraphs later. I expect them to continue with the hitting against former Brave Jo Jo Reyes, who is better than you remember but still not very good.

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Let The People Speak: What is the best aspect of the 2011 Braves?

Have you ever wanted to vote in an actual online poll? Do you love being pandered to? WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH QUANTUM PHYSICS?

If you answered any of those questions in any form, you should definitely vote in the poll that I just created.

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Braves defeat Giants 4-1, happiness ensues.

I’m not going to write a full recap of this game, because that can often be monotonous. Instead, I’m going to state five basic reasons why the Braves win tonight made me happy, and why Braves’ fans should have an equally enthused reaction.

Reasons

1) THE BRAVES SCORED MORE THAN 3 RUNS!

2) Jason Heyward broke out of a slump, at least momentarily (2-4, 1 RBI). 

3) Freddie Freeman also had a good day at the plate (2-3, 1 RBI). He leads the Braves in slugging percentage, at .484. Freeman’s recent terrific play is encouraging, and if Freeman’s good friend Jason Heyward can expound on his hitting tonight in the near future, my optimism will increase tenfold. (Actually, maybe fivefold, but what’s a couple of folds between friends, am I right? Anyone? No? Ok.)

4) Speaking of young players to be excited about, Tommy Hanson pitched 7 innings and only allowed three Giants’ hits, along with one run. Coupled with two shutout innings by the dominating relief pitchers known commonly as Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel (In my own mind, they are known as “Thunder and Lightning”), and the Braves compounded for quite the overall pitching performance.

5) Martin Prado walked once in the leadoff spot, which is always an exciting occurrence.

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Jason Heyward Bats Second Today

According to Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Braves blog, Jason Heyward will bat second in the Braves lineup today, for the first time this season. Nate McLouth has the day off and will not play, making Heyward the de facto choice to bat second in McLouth’s stead.

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Let The People Speak

I feel like this poll requires almost no introduction, but I will preface it with this: I voted for the last choice, mostly because I love typing in all caps.

SEE?

 

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