Two-game sweep followed by a two-hour delay

Coming off a relaxing two-day stretch away from the team, I certainly wasn’t happy to be introduced to the two-hour delay that Delta presented this morning.  
But refreshed from the two-day break, I’m going to keep a positive outlook and be thankful that the long concourses at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport provide wide-ranging ways to pass the time.  Thus instead of feeling my blood pressure rise while the AJC’s Dave O’Brien continued to complain about the delay, I opted to participate in the more tranquil activity of dancing barefoot on a bed of nails.  
OK, enough stretching the truth to simply deliver a point.   What I’m trying to say is that there’s a light at the end of every tunnel and the Braves have seemingly started to dig themselves out of a mess by beginning this eight-game road trip with a two-game sweep of the Marlins.
When you’ve got your ace (Derek Lowe) going up against a Minor League replacement (Graham Taylor), you’re obviously supposed to win.   Then when you finally give Jair Jurrjens the little bit of run support that he’s been seeking over the past couple of weeks, you certainly need to take advantage of this opportunity to sweep your way out of South Florida.   
But the Braves have simply passed level one during this game that we’ll call May’s influential road trip.   Fortunately like in the world of video games, passing this first challenge has gained them the opportunity to enter their upcoming battles against the Mets and Phillies with a new weapon in the form of Brian McCann.  
With his new prescription Oakley sports glasses, McCann is expected to return to the lineup for tonight’s series opener against Cole Hamels and the Phillies.   It’s going to take him some time to get comfortable with his new goalie-style mask.  In addition, he’s going to have to find a way to limit the amount of fog that gathers on his lenses as a result of heat and perspiration.  
But as long as he can continue his productive offensive ways, the Braves are going to start consistently providing the support that their pitching staff has been consistently denied over the past three weeks.    We’re 28 games into the season and it’s been 24 games since McCann made his presence felt in the lineup.
This is the primary reason that it’s truly remarkable that the Braves are just two games behind the front-running Phillies in the National League East race.  If we truly are trying to look at things in a positive light, would it be ridiculous to at least allow yourself to think about the possibility of them sweeping their way to the top of the division by the end of the weekend?  
In order to defense against being held responsible for jinxing the possibility, I will say that the numbers prove that there’s no way in Philadelphia that Jo-Jo Reyes will beat Hamels tonight.  
During his 11 career starts against the Braves, Hamels has allowed two runs or fewer six times.  In his past three appearances at Citizens Bank Park, Reyes has worked 12 2/3 innings, allowed 20 hits and posted a 9.24 ERA.  
But this is the new-and-improved Reyes and Hamels has to go all the way back to Sept. 18 to remember his last win against the Braves.  Five days later, while allowing two earned runs in seven innings, he suffered his first loss against them in a span of nine starts.
The decisive blow that provided Mike Hampton a win that Sept. 23 evening came courtesy of Casey Kotchman’s sixth-inning solo homer.  
If you are only as good as your last game, then Kotchman is coming into Philadelphia on a power barrage.   The Braves first baseman homered for the first time this season during his three-hit performance against the Marlins on Thursday afternoon.  
While compiling a team-high 12 extra-base hits this year, Kotchman has lived up to the billing of being a solid gap hitter with limited power.  But in Hamels’ eyes, the left-handed slugger has plenty of pop in his bat.  
In nine career at-bats against Hamels, Kotchman has collected four hits and three of those have landed over the outfield wall.   Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Delgado and Jorge Cantu are the only other Major Leaguers who have hit three homers against the Phillies ace and each of them have compiled this total with at least 14 at-bats.  
Kevin Millwood is the only other Major League pitcher that Kotchman has  homered against three times.  He has reached this total in a span of 15 at-bats against the former Atlanta right-hander.  
Kotchman is a reserved man who generally hides his emotions.  But this will certainly be a special Mother’s Day weekend for him and his family.  As many of you know, his mother, Sarah, nearly lost her life when her brain began to hemorrhage  last August.  
It was great to see Mrs. Kotchman and her husband, Tom, at Turner Field on Monday.   They are justifiably proud of their son and it was truly a delight to talk to them about the miraculous medical ordeal that they encountered last year.  
I want to thank them for taking time to talk about the event and end this blog by saying Happy Mother’s Day to my mother, Sara Bowman.  
Many of us will say thank you to our mothers this weekend. But can words truly convey the appreciation we have for the women who gave us life and then sacrificed so much with the hope that ours would at least be as great as the ones they’ve enjoyed?   

 

 

3 Comments

Good to see you back “on the beat” Bowman.

I am hopeful to see the Braves play a stretch with the 25 Man roster they envisioned.

McCann and Anderson back and playing will help immensley.

I still believe the Braves if relatively healthy can contend all season. A little more pop would be nice but we all know that any serious acquistion won’t be made before mid to late July.

For right now the most obvious need that can be addressed fairly quickly would be the 4th OF spot (IMO).

We all like Diaz, and in the right situation he’s(Diaz) a helpful player.

As this team is currently constructed, he holds minimal value to the Braves.

Our 4th Outfielder needs to be a righty bat that is capable of playing all 3 OF spots, so that Schafer can be spelled from time to time and G.Anderson can be replaced daily for defensive purposes when leading. This player also needs to be able to pinch run late in games.

Barton(AAA) may be the guy, not sure though about his glovework if playing CF. If he’s not able though these type players should be one of the assets that can be acquired cheaply and in short order.

McCann is in the lineup tonight and Sammons was sent back to Gwinnett…Glavine impressed many of the Braves during a bullpen session that consisted of approximately 90 pitches today. While he wasn’t using max effort throughout, he proved to be both efficient and pain-free. A lot depends on how he feels tomorrow. But there’s a chance he could be pitching in a big league game again in about two weeks.

Just turned off Braves vs Phillies, 6-0 starting bottom of 3rd.
When will Cox and Wren learn that Reyes is not a major league pitcher, maybe okay in mid minors or a batting practice pitcher. He has had more than a fair shot to prove himself. He has pitched very few quality innings in his career with the Braves.
As I have said before ::: You can’t compete in the Major leagues with “Has beens, Cripples, 3rd rate bench, and Not ready for prime time minor leaguers”
Sometimes I feel the organization just doesn’t care for the fans, as long as they keep paying the $$$ and coming thru the gates. Where are the Super Stars? Sheffields, Teixeira, Drew, etc. we let get away. You will never replace those caliber players with the Kotchman, Norton or Anderson type.
It’s early in the season yet, but it is really hard to watch a team you love dearly continue to struggle. Whatever happen to the good old “Atlanta Crackers”???

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