Braves once again attempt to break free from Marlins

Covering a Sunday night baseball game in Philadelphia and then experiencing the majority of your sleep on the flight to Ft. Lauderdale isn’t exactly pleasurable.  But arriving in your hotel room and gaining the joy created from the sight of Rich Rodriguez fighting back tears made this a great day to be a West Virginian.

Losing two of three to the Phillies obviously wasn’t the way the Braves wanted to end a week that was also damaged with the two losses they’d suffered against the Padres.  But at the conclusion of this past weekend’s series, I’d have to say I felt as optimistic about their postseason hopes as I had earlier this month, when they took three of four from the Dodgers.   
Mother Nature affected both clubs on Friday night.  But it seems obvious that the Braves were affected more by the fact that they had to remove Tommy Hanson after just two innings.  

During Saturday’s game, the Braves baffled Cliff Lee and captured an unexpected win.  Then while claiming Sunday night’s series finale, the Phillies took advantage of the events that followed Adam LaRoche’s decision to charge on Pedro Feliz’s surprise seventh-inning bunt that went to the third base side of the mound.  

Still Martin Prado got to first base in time and should have sacrificed his body while attempting to secure Chipper Jones’ catchable throw.   His decision not to do so created the error that put the Phillies in position to claim a victory that ended with Greg Norton concluding Brad Lidge’s perfect ninth with a strikeout.  

Norton has managed to produce a .419 on-base percentage since the All-Star break.  But he also has just one hit in his last 19 plate appearances and it’s not like he has the speed to potentially turn a walk into a double.  

Still with the benefit of having two middle infielders (Omar Infante and Kelly Johnson) on his bench, Braves manager Bobby Cox stuck went with Norton.    In Cox’s defense, Johnson is hitless with three strikeouts in five career at-bats against Lidge and Infante is 1-for-6.

As for Norton, he is 2-for-7 in his career against Lidge and he had drawn walks in each of his three previous plate appearances against the veteran closer this year.

While it was a questionable decision, it wasn’t as if Cox made the worst coaching mistake in sports history.   I mean, it’s not like he squandered  a chance to go to the national championship game by losing a home game to Pitt or anything.   Oh wait, did I mention that Rodriguez was seen fighting back tears this morning?  

For those of you who aren’t college football fans, West Virginia’s loss that night to Pitt  would be the equivalent of the Braves losing four straight to the Nationals to end the season and erase the three-game WC lead they’d possessed entering the series.   

Now back to the Braves postseason outlook.  For you Michigan fans not familiar with baseball, this would be like advancing to one of those bowl games that you used to visit during the pre-Rodriguez days.

Unfortunately time isn’t providing the Braves  the same margin of error that they possessed on Aug. 9, when they exited Los Angeles having used the series win over the Dodgers to move to within 3 games of the National League Wild Card lead.  

At that time, their challenge was to erase that deficit and leap frog four teams in a span of 50 games.  

Heading into tonight’s series opener against the Marlins, the Braves have just 32 games to erase this same 3 -game deficit that they  face in the Wild Card standings.  But  they now have just two teams in front of them and the opportunity this week to put the Marlins in their rear-view mirror.  

This is the third time since July 28 that the Braves and Marlins have started a series against each other with identical records and to further prove how evenly-matched these two clubs appear to be, they’ve split the previous six games played during this span.  

Once this series with the Marlins concludes, the Braves will play 19 of their final 28 games against teams that currently possess a losing record.   The Rockies will play 19 of their final 31 games at Coors Field, where they’ve gone 36-26 this year.
 
The Giants play 16 of their final 31 games at home might be more intriguing.  They’ve gone 44-21 in San Francisco and 28-38 on the road this year.  

CF update:   After examining the results of Nate McLouth’s MRI exam today, doctors once again determined that his left hamstring is simply strained and not torn.   The Braves will further discuss his status as the week progresses and determine whether he’ll continue to rehab with the big league club or in Minor League games.  

With his back feeling better on Tuesday, Ryan Church gained hope that he could return to the lineup on Tuesday.
 
Jordan Schafer underwent a surgical procedure to remove a bone spur from his left wrist on Monday.  The 22-year-old center fielder won’t be able to participate in Winter Ball.  But the Braves are confident that he’ll be ready for the start of Spring Training.  

7 Comments

Wow, the one night we face a righty are lineup is full of righties.

Prado should have also gone to third when Diaz scored. He turned and watched Howard on Chipper’s hit. Then he watched Utley on the next play. If either ball were caught, he would have been doubled off anyway.

Geez, why is Bobby pitching soriano? can he burn out another reliever?

I hope that if Hudson struggles we are going to put Kawakami back in the rotation because that was a great performance. I also wouldn’t mind Kawakami possibly closing a few games if Soriano had pitched a few games in a row.

Ok Bowman I usually read your rather mundane comments and just move on but finding out you are a WVU fan and a hater of Rich Rodriguez has forced my hand. Lets set the record straight. I am an EER fan of long standing and in the game against Pitt for the berth in the BCS championship game . Pitt kicked the EERs *** from minute one to the end of the game. The better team won on that night.Rich did not run one play he was coaching. I suppose you are drinking the Bill Stewart kool-aid. It was an emotional hire and a mistake as you will find out this season. He won;t be coaching Rich’s players lets see how it goes. How about this. Say you are making $1.5 million and someone offers you $2.7 million to do a blog for the Mets.
You damn right you would be gone in a heartbeat. Rich is a great football coach and you haters need to get over your selves and have a little class. He got a better job and he took it. While in Morgantown he took the EERs to new heights. Show some appreication instead of being a backward hillbilly. You can take the hillbilly out of the mountains but you can’t make him have class. Much like your blog on the Braves you are full of crap . Now I feel better. You know little about the Braves and even less about the EERs. How about telling the truth for a change that would be refreshing. I am assuming Manchin also purchased your degree like he did for his daughter.
The Braves have more holes than swiss cheese and you never state the facts. Slow of foot and can;t hit a lick.
Thats the Braves. They are in the hole for $45 million to Derek Lowe with an ERA approaching 5.00 and Chipper’s old and hurt is due $26 million for the next two years. What’s the matter Frank Wren got you muzzled. Wren has no clue. How about a Blog that is factual.

Troy Martin
Vienna,WV

Gees Troy, are you bitter at all about WVU letting Rodriguez go still? Face it, Rich Rod is a d*ckhead and always will be. I’m glad he’s gone and I’ve forgotten him, but that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh at the whole UM situation now. Rodriguez’s crying looked more like a politician begging for forgiveness for cheating on his wife than a football coach who was denying allegations against his program. What credibility does this guy have left? He’s a born liar and he knows he f’ed up, so of course he’s crying now.

And I have no clue where your hatred for Stewart comes from — he’s been a good coach who has done a good job recruiting some star-studded players like Geno Smith and Tavon Austin.

As for the Braves, you’re clearly not watching the same team as the rest of us. If we didn’t start so terribly at the beginning of the year, we’d be sitting pretty right now. We’ve scored the 2nd most runs since the all-star break and have beat the ace of both the Phillies and Marlins for our last two wins. Our 5 starting pitchers (now 6 with Hudson back) make up probably the best starters in the league. Why so much hatred? Are you Rich Rod’s son or something?

Sorry it took me some time to respond Troy. But you know how us hillbillies are. I had to have one person read your response and two more to explain it to me.

Like you have the right to dislike me, I have the right to dislike Rich Rod. I’ve said the same things that you mention about Stewart. And you’re correct, Rich had every right to explore opportunities outside the state.

But at the end of the day, I guess I can’t get away from gaining satisfaction from the fact he’s the latest to learn that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Truthfully, my take on the Rich Rod/WVU issue is that it was a horrible divorce that became unpreventable courtesy of the events that transpired following his decision not to go to Bama.

Both parties made mistakes that could prove consequential for many years to come. Rich needed WVU as much as WVU needed him.

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