Braves starters look to continue success vs. Phils

Nothing will be won.  Something could be gained and a lot could be lost.   

This seems to be the easiest way to break down the consequences entering this weekend’s key series against the Phillies.    

If the Braves can take two of three from the Phillies this weekend, they’ll trail the defending world champs by four games in the National League East and also prolong the momentum they’ve gained while winning seven of their previous eight games.   

Obviously sweeping the Phillies for the second time in a little more than a month at The Ted would truly increase the intrigue of the National League East race, within which the Braves would be just two games away from the top spot.

But if the Braves were to be swept and suddenly find themselves eight games back, it will be time for us once again to solely focus on the Wild Card race.

While winning seven of the first nine games they’ve played against the Phillies this year, the Braves starters have gone 5-1 with a 2.38 ERA.   That’s more than a  full run better than the ERA they’ve compiled against any of their other NL East opponents   —  Nationals (3.41   Mets  (3.79), Marlins (5.74).  

During these nine games against the Phillies, the Braves starters have allowed two earned runs or less seven times.  The only game during which one of their starters allowed more than three runs against the potent Philadelphia offense occurred on May 8, when Jo-Jo Reyes was charged with four earned runs.  

With Jair Jurrjens opposing Joe Blanton in tonight’s series opener, the advantage seemingly has to go to the Braves.

Blanton is 0-1 with an 8.74 ERA in three starts against the Braves.  .   Blanton surrendered 13 earned runs in his first 12 innings against Atlanta this year and then realized some improvement on June 30, when he was charged three earned runs and eight hits in five innings.  

As for Jurrjens, when he last faced the Phillies on July 30, he allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings and that lone hit he surrendered was Paul Bako’s soft single to right with two outs in the seventh.  

This dominant effort wasn’t exactly anything new for Jurrjens, who has blanked the Phillies during three of his six career starts against them.  During his two outings against them this year, he has worked 12 1/3 scoreless innings.

All you loyal readers who have been reading this blog dating back to Spring Training should understand when I say that this seems to be a perfect spot to indicate there is no reason to believe that the law of averages won’t sneak up and bite Jurrjens tonight during this series opener.  

Looking at the stats, it’s not hard to figure out how the Braves have found so much success against the Phillies this year.  They’ve limited Jimmy Rollins to a .100 batting average (4-for-40) and a .143 on-base percentage.   As for Shane Victorino, he  has hit just .132 with a .195 on-base percentage against Atlanta this year.

And the always-dangerous Ryan Howard has gone homerless in his first 36 at-bats against the Braves this year.  Entering this season, Howard had homered once every 9.75 at-bats against Bobby Cox’s club.

Since being swept out of Atlanta on July 2, the Phillies have gone 25-11, compiled a .263 batting average and hit 50 homers.  They have averaged 5.47 runs per game during this span.  

During this same span, the Braves have gone 22-14, compiled a .279 batting average and hit 41 homers.  They’ve averaged 5.05 runs per game and managed to fall one-half game further behind the Phillies during this 36-game stretch.
 
There won’t be any need for the Braves to do any scoreboard watching this weekend.  For the first time since 2005, it truly feels like a key series will be staged at Turner Field and by the time Sunday night concludes the city of Atlanta will have a much better idea about whether there’s truly a reason for them to believe the NL East title is a realistic possibility this year.

FRIDAY’S LINEUP
McLouth 8
Prado 4
Jones 5
McCann 2
Anderson 7
Escobar 6
LaRoche 3
Church 9
Jurrjens 1

32 Comments

Lets just hope that the bullpen gets spread out and they don;t overuse anyone. We have enough guys to go around. That will be the difference in this series

This is by far the best lineup we’ve put on the field this year…and with Jurrjens on the mound, this game is a must win. I’m anxious to see what we can do tonight.

Aside from the one mistake, Jurrjens is on tonight.
I wonder if something else is wrong with Mac besides fatigue…

McClouth is obviously favoring that hamstring… But he has two hits and scored a run.
I thought for sure that ball McCann hit was gone… Flyin’ Hawaii’n made a great catch.

Yeah, McLouth does seem to be favoring that hamstring. After he scored in the first inning, asst. trainer Jim Lovell approached McLouth and gave him a cup of water. But their conversation seemed to be limited to “you OK?” McLouth is a blue-collar gamer.

Victorino is putting on a show out there in center. I guess once you’ve perfected the “beer in your face” trick, you can make all the difficult catches look easy.

Yeah – I was screaming at the TV “someone throw a beer!” when Victorino was chasing down Anderson’s shot.
I don’t agree at all with Bobby pinch hitting for JJ in the 7th. His pitch count was low and he was dominating! We’ll see what happens, but I wanted at least 1 more inning out of him. He made one mistake!

bravomania, I agree 100% about PHing for Jurrjens. I’m guessing it was more for offensive purposes than preserving his arm.

wow – if this game was in philly we’d have like 8 home runs tonight.

God that pisses me off… Why wasn’t Gonzo left in to face the lefty howard who is batting .195 against lefties? Also, Soriano’s ERA in the second half – 6.00 and Gonzalez’ ERA in second half – 0.00. If we lose, this one’s on you Bobby!

Why was Gonzo not pitching against Howard? Good call Bobby

Welp, there we go…

This one hurts…

First pitch swing by Nate. Exactly what you do in a clutch situation

My wife, who only started watching baseball this year, wondered what Soriano was doing out there in the 9th. While Bobby didn’t lose this game tonight, his bullpen savviness certainly showed.

That was horrible. I was thinking during the commercial that Bobby would either leave Gonzo in to face Howard and Ibanez or bring in O’Flaherty. Soriono has been horrible especially against lefties. I am not second guessing as I thought this was the correct move between innings.

This loss is one that could have been prevented with some different decisions.

Now, I am concerned about the rest of the series. KK is up and down at best.

Soriano had a GREAT run but I think its time to put the end of Soriano closing I don’t know about everyone else but it’s Gonzo’s time to close again. And i think that Gonzo should have faced Howard.

All 3 game winning homers given up by Soriano have been against lefties.

sign Smoltz and lets see if he can do better than Soriano. I feel like he has blown too many games.

Again – This one’s on Bobby… not Soriano. He had no business being out there. A power hitting left hander batting sub .200 against lefties should NEVER be facing a RHP with a tie game. I was screaming at the tv before the homerun… I knew he was going to hit it. My wife was impressed by my prophetic calling… I just told her it was a no brainer and Bobby is making a HUGE mistake. This one stings… we need 2 wins badly now!

Really tough loss. To be fair, there was not a noticeable difference between Soriano and Gonazlez versus lefties this year. Soriano had actually faced more lefties this year than Gonzo, and his BABIP against was lower as was his slugging percentage against. Howard’s career splits indicate that he does worse versus lefties, and would hit 3 homers versus a righty for every 2 that he hit versus a lefty. Ibanez’s power split are more exaggerated for right/lefty. Utley, by contrast, does not demonstrate the same noticeable differential between righties and lefties. In total, I’d agree that seeing Soriano in the 8th and Gonzo in the 9th may have been a really good idead.

At the same time, I can’t blame Bobby for not flipping the roles in this game. Soriano’s clearly been the better pitcher this year regardless of the recent homers. A look at his peripheral numbers really suggested a few more homeruns against might be coming as he’s been getting grounders at a noticeably higher rate this year than in years past. I certainly can’t argue that the loss stings nonetheless. I LOVED the playoff atmosphere. I LOVED the intensity both teams displayed. Can’t say I had the same affection for the result.

For those that are interested…..I finished my “taking adages to task” series on my blog which this time dealt with inner-division match-ups. Seemed like a good time to get it up as we begin what’s considered a huge series versus an inner-division opponent. As always, if you dislike links to other blogs, my apologies, but I try to only link when my article is relevant and a little bit different.
http://tomatalk.mlblogs.com/

You might want to see what I have to say at

http://StatheadsWhoPromoteTheirBlogs.com/attempts/to/appear/knowledgeable_but_haven't_ever_played_a_game

We need to score and beat teams down the stretch. The sands of time are sliding through the hourglass. Let’s win the next 2 from the Phils.

billreef:
I can basically guarantee that I have as much Major League or Minor League experience as yourself. I played soccer for a lot of years at a lot of differert levels, but I don’t claim to be an expert simply because I played the game. I certainly apologize if my links offend you….though I’m not sure how they would. What I have to say is, whether right or wrong, not as important as providing a different way of thinking about things. I certainly value what you have to say as despite its ascerbic tone, it is rarely off base. Additionally, I certainly agree that the next couple of games would be much better if we won them than lost them….though, you perhaps can tell me the time when that’s not true?

I know you have a negative reaction to “stat heads” as you call them, but rarely is the point to prove all others wrong or condescend their opinions. Instead, it’s a manner of getting a different voice across that does NOT rely on such terms as “heart,” “will,” or “psychological.” The proper context is to consider what everyone has to say and form a basis upon that. Happy reading!
http://tomatalk.mlblogs.com/

The pitch to Howard was not that bad a pitch, he’s just a beast and any/all contact he makes is trouble. Soriano struck out the side on 10 pitches after that. Chalk it up to the most powerful hitter in the game doing what he does. The fact remains the Braves pitching has held Philly to almost nothing this year, 4 or more runs 2 of 10 games.
We’re still there guys, sometimes All Star guys make plays. If it was Chipper hitting the homer, you wouldn’t all be on here going “Yah man, they should never have left that guy in to face Chipper.” It would be “player’s make plays.”
Tip the cap, and beat them the next two. We need this one tonight.
Oh, and a little “Thunderstuck” in the evening amongst 40,000 friends in September is never a bad thing!!

Billreef, Thats hilarious, but I never considered myself a “stat head.” I’m about as good as sabermetrics as you are at picking up women, socializing with anything outside of the puppet on your hand, or seeing the light of day. I like you, but that doesn’t give you right to attack anyone of us. The purpose of “MLBlogs” is to find way to communicate with other fans, share opinions, etc. Thats exactly what we’re doing. You know what, I apologize for my recent actions. I don’t want to offend you. I want us all to blog in harmony.

Last night was tough, but it is time to move on. During the Dodgers series, the Braves won a couple of games that many probably thought they should lose. Home teams usually have an advantage in close games. The key is to move on and play well today. I would like to see Infante again at second (with Prado at first). La Roache has been great, but I would prefer Infante against a lefty. I also think I would consider leaving Church in and sitting McClouth. McClouth is obviously not healthy and I prefer Church’s plate discipline in the leadoff spot to a 75% McClouth. Hopefully Diaz can stay away from the DPs.

I was also surprised to see that KK has pitched better than Hamels this year (especially lately).

Braves need to score early and often.

Ya’ll are thso thsentive. The “stat head” comment wasn’t my original. I was just parroting what I had heard on ESPN earlier. I assumed that was common vernacular for the sabre rattlers. You guys just can’t get my sarcasm in the Blog. It just seems sometimes the Blog gets more about promoting other web sites than talking about the game, player or Team.

To people that want to talk about the Braves,we needed to sweep to contend for the Division. Having said that, we still have a very good shot at the WC but we need to continue to win games. Theres no reason that we cant take the next 2 and win this series. If we continue that on a regular basis we will be the Wild Card

Mike Gonzalez said he was ready to pitch last night’s ninth. With Rafael Soriano complaining of some discomfort in his right shoulder, Gonzalez will likely be the closer today. Soriano says he could be ready to pitch tomorrow. Bobby didn’t budge much when asked about Soriano’s recent struggles against left-handers. I’ll provide more detail in an entry I’ll post in about 45 minutes.

Mark, thanks for the update.I hope Bobby will listen to Gonzo because if he was ready to pitch the 9th after pitching in the 8th last night,he should be able to pitch in the 9th today if needed.

Billreef, fair enough.

A month ago, everyone thought Soriano was the next coming of Rivera, now everyone wants him benched. A closer needs to have a sense of what they need to do. A closer should have the attitude of “the 9th inning is mine, and I am coming to dominate it”. You can’t just simply run your hottest pitcher out there every night in the 9th (if that was the case, it would be Moylan last week, and Gonzo this week). Soriano won the job fair and square, and now its his job to lose. Every pitcher in the Major Leagues pitches with shoulder discomfort. Show me one that isn’t and i’ll show you Greg McMichael….. If Bobby doesn’t have the confidence to put Soriano in the game, then how could Soriano have confidence. Give it time and see how things play out. They call is ERA for a reason, its an average. Soriano was lights out for over a month, now he’s struggling a bit, he needs to get the ball down, which he will. He needs to be able to battle and figure it out, not fear for his job every pitch.

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