Braves look to end horrors at Nationals Park

So you’re saying they’ve got a chance? Yeah, I know Mathew McConaughey also sounded a lot  better when he said something similar in Dazed and Confused.

The Braves have gained four games on the Rockies over the course of the past 10 games played by both teams and if they can gain this same margin over the course of their final 10 games, they’ll enter the postseason with a survivalist’s momentum for the first time since 1993.

While winning their 14 consecutive division titles from 1991-2005, the Braves often cruised into the the first round of the playoffs.  During the 2000 and ’01 seasons, they didn’t clinch until the season’s final weekend. 

But this year, like in 1991 and ’93,  it looks like there will be a chance for them to actually enter the 162nd game of the season in must-win mode. Currently scheduled to start the season finale against the Nationals at Turner Field, Tim Hudson may have a chance to truly make his mark after spending the majority of this year rehabbing from elbow reconstruction surgery.

Obviously, the Braves are  going to need a little assistance from the Rockies to gain this opportunity.  But when you look at the remaining schedules that both teams will have to navigate, you have to think we’ll at least go into next weekend still feeling like the Braves have a chance.

Of course if the Braves were to continue their struggles at Nationals Park this weekend, they may just want to walk down the street to the Smithsonian and place their season among their other items that are now tagged as “history”. 

The struggles the Braves have experienced in D.C. the past two years are absolutely mind-boggling.  They’ve gone 4-11 at Nationals Park and won just two of their past 12 games there.

Since moving out of RFK, which stood for “The Only NL East Stadium worse than Shea”,  the Nationals have gone 64-91 at home. Take away those 15 games against the Braves and they’ve compiled a .379 winning percentage at their new park.

The Nationals opened Nationals Park on March 30, 2008 with Ryan Zimmerman’s walk-off homer off Peter Moylan.  Over the course of the next two weeks, this would also be the site where Moylan would blow out his elbow and Tom Glavine would incur the hamstring injury that forced him to the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Well this should be enough info to provide you the reminder that Nationals Park has essentially been a house of horrors for the Braves. 

If you’re looking for some encouragement, the three worst batting averages produced by Braves players who have had at least 40 plate appearances in D.C. over the past two years are owned by Kelly Johnson (.217), Jeff Francoeur (.184) and Gregor Blanco (.167). 

Martin Prado, who scored the ninth-inning, game-tying run as a pinch runner during that March 30, 2008 game, has hit .484 (15-for-31) at Nationals Park.  Prado is back in the lineup tonight after missing Wednesday’s game in New York because of a bruised left leg that he suffered courtesy of a batting practice liner off Johnson’s bat. 

While the Braves are spending this weekend in D.C., the Rockies will be hosting the Cardinals for a three-game series.  In other words, by the time Sunday evening concludes, you have to think there’s a good chance the Braves could be even closer than the 3 1/2 games that seperate them and the front-running Rockies in the National League Wild Card chase.

After attempting to separate themselves from the Marlins during the early portion of next week, the Braves will stay at Turner Field to end their season with a four-game series against the Nationals.

The Rockies will stay at home after this weekend’s series to host the Brewers for a three-game set.  They will then travel to Los Angeles for a season-ending, three-game series against a Dodgers club that the Braves can only hope will still be motivated by the opportunity to secure home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

There are still a number of things that have to go right for the Braves.  But it’s still nice to know that we may all be able to enjoy the tension and excitement that tight postseason races bring during the season’s final week.

Right move:  It will be interesting to see the emotions that Bobby Cox is feeling as we end the 2010 season and he finds himself staring at his approaching retirement.  But when the Braves announced Wednesday that next year will be the last of his storied career, Cox seemed to respond with a sense of relief.

Part of his relief stemmed from the fact that he would no longer have to answer our questions about his future.  But at the same time, through his words he admitted that he wasn’t going to ever let himself seriously think about retirement until somebody basically talked him into it.

Cox is going to miss the daily stresses that he’s felt as a manager and we’re all going to dearly miss the opportunity to interact on a daily basis with one of the game’s true legends. 

But this arrangement will certainly benefit his health and likely provide us all many more years to be enriched by the knowlege of a man who has been the most influential figure in the long history of the Braves organization.

Prospect Watch: This week Baseball America has started revealing the top prospects from each of the leagues in the Minors.  Two of their first three selections have been Braves.

Christian Bethancourt, a 17-year-old catcher from Panama, was named the Gulf Coast League’s top prospect.  Bethancourt, who you may remamber from the 2004 Little League World Series, was signed for the Braves for $600,000 last year.  He’s still developing offensive power, but scouts have been impressed with his arm, which has regularly gotten the ball to second base at a rate of 1.8 seconds.

Highly-regarded right-hander Julio Teheran was named the Appalachian League’s top prospect.  Teheran, who signed for $850,000 in 2007, proved he was no longer bothered by the shoulder tendinitis that limited him to 15 innings last year.

During his 14 combined starts with Rookie Level Danville and Class A Rome this year, Teheran worked 96 1/3 innings, registered 84 strikeouts and issued just five walks.  The 18-year-old right-hander possess a fastball that rests between 92-96 mph and a plus changeup.

BA will continue to unveil its top prospects from each league over the
next couple of weeks and obviously we’ll soon see Jason Heyward’s name
atop yet another of their lists.

I’m not with the club this weekend.  But I’ll check in periodically over the next couple of days.

TONIGHT’S LINEUP

McLouth 8
Prado 4
Chipper 5
McCann 2
Escobar 6
Anderson 7
Diaz 9
LaRoche 3
Vazquez 1

  
   

15 Comments

I say we sign Mike Cameron to a 2 or 3 year deal and put either him or McLouth in center and the other in left

I don’t think they will have the money to sign Cameron. Plus, I am very excited about an OF of Diaz, McClouth and Heyward. They can keep Church as a back-up (if they have the money). They still need to figure out a way to keep LaRoache. Chipper?? Can you defer some of your salary to keep your friend and line-up protection?

Finally, I have heard this blog rip Bobby, TP, and Wren in the past. The Wren bashing has really stopped because I think everyone realizes what an exceptional job he has done. One person that has also done a great job is Roger McDowell. He has a staff with three sub 3 ERAs, plus Lowe (15 wins) and Hudson (proven commodity). Good job Roger.
I know that it is going to be tough to catch the Rockies, but if the Braves win every game the rest of year, I am confident the Rockies will lose 3 or 4.

Thanks guys for keeping it interesting.

Can someobody please help me understand something. Why is Anderson hitting 5th ahead of Escky, Laroache, and Diaz? He has the lowest average, lowest OBP, and least amount of power?? I am sure there is a reason, but I can’t determine what it is. 4 run first inning – good start guys.

Not that this would be the answer, but we could move Lowe to closer as he was utilized by the Red Sox (i think) a few years ago. We would save some money without having to sign Gonzo or Soriano, and open up room for Kawakami and Medlen to fight for 5th Starter next year….Not really a serious suggestion, but just something to think about.

New Elias Rankings are out.

* Adam LaRoche remains a Type B and puts even more distance between him and the ?no-status? status. He?s almost a lock for Type B status at this point.

* Garret Anderson, inexplicably, yet predictably, remains a Type B and in no jeopardy of falling out of Type B status.

* Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez remain locks for Type A status.

* The biggest move in the rankings is Tim Hudson, who is now on the border for Type B status, though he still doesn’t qualify. Tim Hudson hasn’t been qualified for Type B status all season but he’s as close as he’s ever been. There is now only one player between the lowest rated Type B (Barry Zito, 59.318) and Tim Hudson (57.576). That?s John Lannan at 57.879. There?s actually a fairly good chance Tim Hudson will attain Type B status. Hudson has two scheduled starts remaining, 1 vs. FLA and 1 vs. Washington. With two wins, he?ll probably qualify for Type B status.

Cards win!!! 2.5 back!!! We paid Derek Lowe the big money to pitch in the big games, so hopefully he’ll finish off the Nationals tomorrow. We couldn’t have asked for a better situation with playing our last 7 games at home, with the last 4 being against Washington. Especially with the Rockies playing the Dodgers on the road for their last 3. I love watching this team and especially when we’re in one of the last 2 playoff races. GO BRAVES!!!

And, if it makes us feel any better, the Braves won’t have to face Johnson during their upcoming series with Florida. Another thing, unrelated, that I noticed is that LaRoche leads all N.L. first basemen in fielding percentage, yet is mostly thought of as a mediocre first baseman. What gives? Footwork?

I always thought LaRoche was considered a very good fielding first baseman. He might not be as nearly perfect as Kotchman or Tex, but he’s very very above average. Of course he’s been playing for Pittsburgh for the past couple years, and no one pays attention to you while you’re playing there.

I have to echo Viva here(go figure). Laroche has always been considered a very good defensive 1B. Can anyone tell me what’s gonna happen this week?? Are the Braves just setting me up for another 5 game losing streak or are they really gonna play like this until the end. I just want to know now so I know how much alcohol to buy and what kind. Should I get champagne or scotch??

Ha. I usually both celebrate and drown my miseries in whiskey, so I’m gonna stock up on some Jameson for this coming week.

Ugh. Way to blow it, Cards.

Should I get champagne or scotch??Get both! But, we have to figure out a solution for the minors here…I’m thinking grape juice or… peroxide. Well see. http://knoble.mlblogs.com

Jurrj,

Maybe we can get the kids Perrier or Hemlock. A permanent solution for the pain. BTW, I went to your Blog and it said “on hiatus until Oct”. A blogger on hiatus, isn’t that kind of like Casanova with a vasectomy? What exactly are you on hiatus from? Those grueling hours deciding how to spell “offseason”, perhaps you have finger cramps from typing? Is it thinking of witty ways to say “Billreef you were right all along”? Are you hiding under the covers thinking the Braves are going to start getting 3 hits a game again? What is it? You can tell us.

UGH! That stuff is soo bad for you, I don’t know why anyone on earth would want to drink Perrier. We’ve got a long way until I admit you are right. Although, I don’t remember disagreeing with you… I took a hiatus because… None of your damn business, I’m not a full time “blogger.” I have school, which is more important than “blogging” (although, I prefer to call it online writing). There! I just set you up for one of your classic “50 yr. old man witty retorts.” I’ll even get you started. Ahem! “You prefer to call it online writing? Yeah! And I prefer to call it a ‘vertical gyrating bicep exercise’ but that ain’t gunna happen”

I think the playoff race is making jurjj lose his mind. I can only understand about half of what he writes these days.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 41,587 other followers

%d bloggers like this: