Santana bidding for rare win vs. Braves

Looking simply at the fact that they are sending Johan Santana to the mound to face Kris Medlen tonight at Turner Field, the Mets should feel pretty good about the odds of sweeping this two-game set against the Braves.  

Of course the Braves also felt pretty good about sending Tommy Hanson to the mound
Saturday night to oppose Rodrigo Lopez.  Eleven runs later the D-backs snapped a seven-game losing streak and once again proved why Pete Rose has learned it’s now easier to supplement his bank account through appearance fees.   

Making his second start of the season and the sixth of his career, Medlen has fewer career wins (1) as a  starter than Santana’s total of Cy Young Awards (2).  But by the end of the night, the versatile young right-hander could have as many career wins (1) against the Mets as Santana does against the Braves.

In his eight career starts against the Braves, Santana has never allowed more than three runs and he has been charged with two earned runs or fewer in six of those outings.  But he’ll enter tonight 1-5 with a 2.21 ERA against Bobby Cox’s teams.  

Santana has recorded at least two victories against each of the other 28 Major League clubs that he has made at least three career starts against.   The only other clubs that he has posted a losing record against are the Angels (2-4) and Blue Jays (2-4).   

The .290 batting average that Santana has surrendered against the Braves stands as the highest mark he has allowed against any organization.   Taking this one step further, Medlen can feel good about the fact that he will be backed by some of the same guys who are responsible for this mark.  

Careers vs. Santana
Yunel  Escobar .333 (6-for-18) 1 double  1 K
Chipper Jones  .294 (5-for-17)  2 BB, 2 Ks
Brian McCann .273 (6-for-22) 1 double, 2 HRs

This will mark the first time Troy Glaus has faced Santana while wearing a Braves uniform.  In his 24 career at-bats against the left-hander, Glaus has hit .333 with three doubles and a homer.  

It might seem ridiculous right now to play anybody in favor of Eric Hinske, who has hit .571 with five doubles and two homers while starting in left field during each of the past six games.    But he is 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in his career against Santana and he has had just four at-bats against left-handed pitchers this year.   

If Cox is willing to take a gamble tonight, he could be persuaded to put Brent Clevlen in left field for tonight’s game.  Santana is the only pitcher that Clevlen has compiled more than six career plate appearances against.  

In the process, Clevlen has hit .300 (3-for-10) with a double and a triple against Santana.  But with each of his seven outs coming via strikeouts, maybe it would be better to just go with either the red-hot Hinske or Melky Cabera, who is 2-for-10 with a double and just one strikeout in his career against the Mets ace.  

McCann’s struggles:  Regardless of what McCann says to avoid creating an excuse, his vision problems are the primary reason he’s not producing like he did in the past.  As anybody who has ever worn glasses will attest, it takes time to get used to the feel on the face and the vision that they create.

Before going hitless in four at-bats last night, McCann was showing some signs of improvement.  In his previous four games he had gone 6-for-16 with a double and a homer.  

Those two extra-base hits matched the total he had compiled in his previous 19 games.  
Within last night’s game story, I focused on the fact that McCann is hitting just .192 with runners in scoring position this year and .222 since the beginning of the 2009 season against left-handed pitchers.  

In hindsight, I should have also mentioned that this hitless evening was completed against a couple of guys who have had little trouble with left-handed hitters this year.   Feliciano has limited left-handers to a .172 (5-for-29) batting average this year and the right-handed Pelfrey has limited them to a .208 (16-for-77) mark.  

As McCann continues to get used to his glasses, he’ll show some of the same promise that he was building entering Monday night’s game.  As a four-time All-Star, he’s likely going to once again find himself heading into the offseason with a batting average around .300 and an RBI total that is around the century mark.   

But if the Braves are going to be playing meaningful games down the stretch this year, there’s no doubt that McCann is going to have to start taking advantage of those numerous run-producing opportunities that he gets in the cleanup spot.

With Martin Prado and Jason Heyward now occupying the lineup’s top two spots, McCann should start getting more opportunities to drive in runs.  It’s almost ridiculous that he has sat in the cleanup spot in 27 games this season and has just 27 at-bats with runners in scoring position.   

Further showing how bad the Braves leadoff hitters were during the season’s first six weeks, Chipper Jones has sat in his customary third spot of the lineup throughout the year and totaled just 21 at-bats with runners in scoring position.  

But following in the footsteps of Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera has shown that run-producing situations too often occur at the wrong time.    In just 26 games, Cabrera has totaled 35 at-bats with runners in scoring position and hit just .171 in those situations.  

Fortunately for the Braves, Nate McLouth has hit .318 in his past six games and allowed Cabrera to fill the backup role that was envisioned when he was acquired from the Yankees.  If McLouth goes 1-for-4 tonight, he’ll improve his batting average to .200  —  marking the first time since April 9 that he would at least be at the Mendoza Line.  

53 Comments

why not play infante against the left hander? he deserves more play time. at the same time, collectively the braves struggle against left handed pitchers….let’s hope they can get a W against the tough santana.

After watching last night’s game, and reading Bravomania’s comments about base running, I am concerned about communication with Braves players when they arrive at third base. In just 6 weeks we have seen two plays in particular that are “no brainers” jump up to bite the Braves. First was Yunel’s brain fart, not tagging on a fly ball. Last night with one out and McClouth at third base, the infield was in. The communication should be from Snitker to McClouth (who I know speaks English) “there is one out, make sure the ball gets through, you are tagging on any fly ball to the outfield.” I think that communication should take place after EVERY PITCH. Again, these are major league players who should know the situation. But if my job is third base coach, I see it as part of my job to communicate the situation. Any runner at 3rd is a potentially winning or tying run opportunity. I am curious. Is there communication taking place?

I agree, Infante should play LF tonight.

Lineup tonight:
Prado 4Heyward 9Jones 5Glaus 3McCann 2Escobar 6Cabrera 7McLouth 8Medlen 1

Snitker shouldn’t be coaching Little League. He is the worst 3B coach in the game. And Barry, if it were only TWO plays in 6 weeks I could cut him some slack. But there is a baserunning error almost every night that involves Mr. Snitker and many times there are more than one. I mean this stuff isn’t really rocket science it’s fundamental. That’s why the Braves have such a hard time in close games, lack of fundamental skills which eke out single runs. Sometimes its a baserunning error that costs the game, sometimes it’s a mental defensive mistake and sometimes it a really lousy approach(offensively) to a particular pitcher. We are sometimes too aggressive and sometimes we are watching 3rd strikes. This stuff is related to scouting and preparation, which really doesn’t speak well for our coaching staff.

Wow, MLB.com is only an hour off tonite. If I had a company which couldn’t figure out what time it was, I think I would sell it for a dollar.

Why’d bobby get tossed?

Ouch… Mac, I felt that one up here in Maryland…
Neverwhere, Bobby argued a ruling that Gary Matthews didn’t bunt at a pitch (the umpires actually had this one right, though).

Who woulda thunk, Melky effing Cabrera for a walkoff?

Oh, wait… I forgot about that whole walk off thing..

Hey, I’ll take that.

Lack of fundamentals. Esky couldn’t get the bunt down, melky couldn’t get the bunt down, we win anyway but the long term effect is the same. We have to start playing better baseball or this whole season will be a schizophrenic nightmare. We have the players to do this, but we are playing like the Pirates. Last night and tonite looked like a different bad dream on consecutive nights. I am happy to win a close one but I know that this kind of win is a placebo. The Mets are the worst team in the NL East and we just squeaked out 1 win. Look at it in perspective.

Escobar not getting the bunt down proved inconsequential… if anything, walking instead of sac-bunting at the very least saved us an out. Plus, at that point, if Escobar had gotten the bunt down, unfortunately Melky would have had to swing the bat…

Kris Medlen came up HUGE tonight. Hope he gets a shot to stay in the rotation when JJ comes back. KK back to the pen in my opinion.

I’m still quite foggy on why we are asking our best RBI guy to hit like a 160 lb second baseman in the 2 hole. Is there EVER anyone in scoring position for the 2 hole in Atlanta, besides when Prado hits a double? It just feels like Heyward is being asked to ride his little brother’s bike right now. Move up Escobar to 2, and slide everyone back one, Chipper included. I bet you they still pitch around Heyward to get to Chipper and his 9 RBIs and .359 slugging pct.

I missed part of the game but saw enough to make me feel both sick and fortunate simultaneously. Escobar and Cabrera both have awful bunting fundamentals. Sick. And why was Conrad or Hinske not pinch-hitting for Cabrera at that time? If someone had said before the season started that we would be close to 500 with virtually no production from McCann or Chipper or Escobar I never would have believed it. When we get those 3 going our offense will be okay as right now there are too many holes in key spots. Hopefully the hot guys will continue to hit well when that happens too.

I wonder if the fish might go ahead and fire Freddie G. That way we could hire him as Bobby’s heir and he could coach 3rd for the rest of the year!

Rother – I couldn’t agree more. Not only has Heyward been stuck on 28 rbi’s since he moved the the 2 slot, he has entered into a mini-slump. It happens in baseball all the time when players have no business hitting where they are placed in the lineup. Chipper has already given permission to move out of the 3 slot. Bobby is just too stubborn to make a move. Heyward is being wasted at number 2. He should have 35 rbi’s by now… if he was hitting 3-4-5.
Barry – I don’t think the Fish will fire Freddie. They are in second place. I like him as Bobby’s replacement though. I also like Eddie Perez.

I would like to get the thoughts of all loving Braves fans…I believe the current Marlins / Hanley Ramirez situation is going to end with Ramirez being traded. It just has that smell to it already. If that happens, should the Braves be a primary suitor? I say yes, for several reasons. 1.) It’s Bobby’s last year, and we need to field the best team possible. Hanley’s an obvious upgrade in the field and at the plate. 2.) Bobby has not hidden the fact that he’s a little disappointed in Escobar. Ramirez’s work ethic is at question right now, but come on, he’s an animal. 3.) We could off-load some suspect talent (Diaz, Escobar, maybe a minor league pitcher like Minor, and even Melky) for a proven all star and undoubtedly future multi-time league MVP. Thoughts??

I can see where that would be a good idea, but replacing one headcase with another doesn’t make sense. Hanley is more expensive for a slight upgrade, and at least Bobby and Esky (hopefully and most likely) have some sort of connection instead of a fresh one in Hanley. I still think, without naming any prospects, we go after one more starting pitcher or keep Medlen in the rotation. Other than that I think this team has shown a lot of upsides that are going to keep getting better.

Escobar melky jj and kk for Hanely wes helms and andrew miller or a minor leauge propect. now let everyone jump down my throat but i think this could work then maybe send hanley,freeman, and mcclouth to the brewers for Hart and Fielder.

Now let see everyone jump down my throat on my trade deals and me wanna be GM but if this does happen the braves can get a first baseman with pop and maybe sign Fielder to a long time deal.

You’re not gonna get a team to take three of your worst-performing players for their best one. And I think if Minor keeps progressing, he’ll reach that untouchable status that Hanson had on his way up.
No comment on ncbravefan82’s video-game trades. (Hey, I guess that was a comment.)

ahhhhhhhhhhh! I would have never posted my tongue in cheek comment had I known all of that would have ensued. Geeesh!

I say we just sort the players in the National League alphabetically. What letters do we get? Houston has already asked for the B’s.

OK.. time to jump down the throat of all of you. First of all, the Marlins would probably fire Freddie before they get rid of Hanley. He is the best SS in the game and he’s only 26. You think they would give up their franchise player to a division rival for Escobar (.200 BA), Diaz (sub .200), Melky (sub .200), and Minor who might end up being a #3 starter? YOU’RE CRAZZZY. And NC.. i wouldn’t trade Hanley alone for Hart AND Fielder.

I do think that if a large enough rift is created between Freddie and their face of the franchise, Freddie and the Marlins might try to opt out of his contract for 2011. I would REALLY like to see him in the Braves dugout next season.

Oh and to all you trade happy fans.. Say you are ranking a player with a scoring system of 1-10. Hanley being the best SS in the league, basically does everything well with the exception of his suspect defense. Give him a score of 10. Ok.. So you CAN’T trade 4 players with a score of 5 to get him, even though the total is twice that of Hanley’s (5+5+5+5=20). IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT. 4 crap players do not equal 1 great one. That’s why Kansas City is always in last place. You could trade 3 8s, maybe a 9 and a 7 to get him. Sorry, I know all of this pre-school level math is tough.

I agree, if it is Freddie or Hanley, Freddie is outta there!!! The Marlins lock up almost nobody long term. They locked up Hanley, and he is NOT going to be traded because he got drilled with a foul ball and was limping around, just because the manager (a big friend and admirer of Bobby Cox) decided to give Hanley the Escobar treatment.
We have never been that lucky historically. If Gonzalez gets the boot, it would be perfect timing for the Braves, a thought that I’m sure has gone through his mind more than a couple times this season.
Let’s break out the “Freddie did it on purpose to get fired so he could go to the Braves” conspiracy theory. Oh well, now I suppose Buster Olney will be calling for insider tips. No wait, he never actually uses sources to back up his stuff, never mind….

Johnny Valentine? Sounds like the villain from an 80s movie… OH! You mean Bobby Valentine! I like him but he only took his team to the postseason twice in 15 years. Jerry Manuel.. no way. Scioscia.. won’t be let go. Willie Randolph.. no way. Lee Mazilli? What? Leo? Hahaha. Dude, come on!
I really think that if it’s not Freddie, the Braves will fill Bobby’s spot internally. The only other person not currently in the organization that I can think of who should be given consideration is Grady Little. He came up and spent a lot of time in the Braves organization, had great success as a manager, and his players love him. He was fired from Boston for the Pedro debacle and lost his job in LA because Joe Torre was available. If Pedro had finished that inning he would probably still be in Boston with 3 WS titles.

Ok one i dont see them firing freddy so why not go after someone who is out there like johnny valentine or jerry manuel if he get let go or mike scioscia if the angels are dumb enuff to let him go. I mean nothing againist eddie or tp but how bout give them a shot to manager a minor leauge team and see how they do and one does better then the other then you might bring him in as a manager but these two dont have the experince and the Braves are gonna ride the team on a either of these 2 that dont have manager experince. i mean there are better pple out there wanting a manager job Johny V Willie randolph Buddy Bell Lee Mazellie and who knows the Braves hire him they can bring back Leo Manny Acta. Now I know scioscia wont be there but if he is i would to see either him or Ozzy managing the braves next year.

Ok i take back Acta he is with the Indians. Ok so let me add a few more names like Buck Showalter or Bob Brenly i mean that guy one a world series with the D-backs he be perfect.

Rother – thanks for your voice of reason, and for playing along with me! There are a lot of Fantasy thinking baseball guys here, aren’t there.

These are in response to the following ncbrave comments. I hate this time tag issue.

D*mn you guys have been busy. As to Fredi and Hanley, Hanley has already backed down so I am guessing management backed Fredi. As to how Fredi feels about this I am wondering if he wants to stay in FL and manage a crybaby for 3 more years if he can’t dump him. I think Fredi is the perfect fit here, but I don’t think anything happens till years end(see Marlins record here). As to his skills he brings alot of Bobby’s best qualities and few of his liabilities. He does more with less than ANY manager in MLB. He might even manage to make FW look intelligent(no small feat there). As to Hanley coming here, well that’s just stupid now isn’t it.
On Heyward in the 2 hole, I’ve been arguing against moving Martin out of there for a while. Prado is one of our best situational hitters and Heyward is a power hitting kid. Who is better suited at 2? Duh? The only reason we even face this decision is the incompetence of Cabrera and McLouth.
Now Bobby is pitching Saito for the 3rd straight night. Its kind of like if 2 were good let’s pitch him 5 straight. Bobby’s bullpen management is his Waterloo. He doesn’t have a clue about work load, match ups and when to go to the pen.

So Saito gives up 2 runs on 3 hits and leaves a batter in scoring position. Bobby WTFU.

OK, I don’t know who calls these get-over sliders for Wagner to throw… but most of them get parked in a hurry. At least call it to a corner or something…

CRWeaks you poor clueless child. Kimbrel is the obvious choice here. He has been lights out since March. And this is Bobby’s bad bullpen management style that has always overpitched guys that he falls in love with. He ALWAYS has relievers with the most games pitched in the entire league and he warms these guys up on nights that they don’t pitch. Since Leo left he has been a nightmare with his bullpens. The results speak much louder than I do. And as to Monday morning QBing , I have been consistently saying this exact thing for 2 years, EVERY MONDAY MORNING, and Tuesday, and Wednesday…….. Oh and by the way, if you look at the sometime correct time stamp, I called this debacle BEFORE it happened.

Who else?
WHO ELSE?

billreef – dude, get off your horse. I get the whole monday morning qb thing, but there is more to managing than your cute little analysis. Bobby knew the risks of pitching Saito a third day but felt the chances of winning were still greater with him on the mound. That’s what managing is… playing odds and hoping it works out. I happen to agree with him, but that doesn’t mean ****, it’s a judgment call that goes both ways sometimes.

Honestly, it seems to me that YOU don’t understand matchups. The batters coming up are R, R, L, and R. 3/4 righties… and moylan pitched the previous inning. You have Chavez, Kimbrel, and Saito to choose from… I pick Saito, even on 3 straight days, esp with the way the Reds are swinging the bat late in games. Oh, and guess what… when Bruce (lefty) comes up, O’Flaherty was brought in. Sounds pretty by the book to me. It didn’t work out, and maybe your way would have.. but to call Bobby clueless and ignorant of matchups because of the decision is… well… clueless.

In conclusion… HEYWARD DOES IT AGAIN!

Poor Kawakami can’t buy a win! 6IP, 5H, and 0ER. You can’t ask for much more than that.

CRWeaks you poor clueless child. Kimbrel is the obvious choice here. He has been lights out since March. And this is Bobby’s bad bullpen management style that has always overpitched guys that he falls in love with. He ALWAYS has relievers with the most games pitched in the entire league and he warms these guys up on nights that they don’t pitch. Since Leo left he has been a nightmare with his bullpens. The results .speak much louder than I do. And as to Monday morning QBing , I have been consistently saying this exact thing for 2 years, EVERY MONDAY MORNING, and Tuesday, and Wednesday…….. Oh and by the way, if you look at the sometime correct time stamp, I called this debacle BEFORE it happened

Wow that’s a neat effect. My post went in with two different time stamps. Must be that my warp core is malfunctioning.

I’d just like to throw some statistics out there as to why Bobby Cox having Heyward batting #2 is ridiculous (besides it being obvious):

In 1st inning with Heyward hitting #2 behind Prado: Heyward’s % chance of hitting with runner in scoring position: 6.7%(Prado 2B+3B)/(ABs-HRs)In 1st inning if Chipper batted #2 behind Prado: Heyward’s chance of hitting with a runner in scoring position: 26.1%(Prado % chance on 1st)(Chipper % chance on 1st)+(Prado 2B+3B)/(ABs-HRs)+(Chipper 2B+3B)/(ABs-HRs)Heyward’s AVG with runners in scoring position? ~.475

If you want to say Cox was playing the odds in the 8th then you wouldn’t pitch Saito 3 days in a row. It has been years since he did that. That is stupid. Kimbrel was the obvious choice. Why have him there and never pitch him except in non crucial situations. Especially since he will be setup or closer next year. Can’t see how Cox justifies that. That was really the game there but we found a way to win.

Hinske’s scuffling today… and what is it about Escobar and double-play balls?

EPIC WIN in the 9th. I’m surprised I’m the first one to comment after it… but then again, I guess everyone else is at work…

Mark is taking too many days off this season. Hey Mark, let’s hear your thoughts on today’s HUGE win!

I was watching the game at work, slapped my hands together in a single, loud clap, threw my arms up in the air and shouted “YES!” and scared everyone else in the office lol. I was watching online, but it was TRULY EPIC!!!

I forgot there was a day game today. OH WELL. I’ll just watch the 9th when they upload it.
Glaus is hitting .290.. McSlouch (2009 Billreef) has crept above .200 and hitting the ball w authority.. Hinske is holding it down in LF.. Yunel is still floundering.. way to go Conrad!!.. and how about Jonny Venters’ 3 scorless innings. He has an ERA of 1.08? Where did this guy come from? I looked at his minor league stats and he wasn’t really setting the world on fire down there.

I agree about Venters. I like the fact that none of the lefties in the ‘pen are used as “specialists.” Saves the rest of the arms.

What a game today. They missed several scoring opportunities througout the game, but not in the ninth. What is the deal with DPs every single game? They drive me crazy. It also appears the the umps are out to get Esky. Last night and again today. His eye is as good as Prados, but the umps aren’t helping him as he is always forced to swing at bad pitches?? I was hoping Chipper was getting ready to bust out of his funk, but he had another tough day with RISP. Can’t we hitter Chipper 2nd or 7th until he figures it out. I don’t think he has lost his skills completely, but he is obviously not the same player as two years ago?? Things are looking good…

another game that the braves proved that they can win without chipper….. what would chipper have done in conrad’s spot? lazy fly to center or hit into a double play?!?
chipper do your teammates and fans a favor and call it…you are done! hinske and infante will fill your shoes – and some.

at this point in chipper’s career, that is.

I was at the game today – and this is funny. With an early evening appointment in Marietta, and the 6 run deficit going into the 9th, I decided to leave after J-Hey’s at bat in the 8th. DOOOOGH!

MORE base running mistakes today. BMc. wasn’t running on his two base error, he should have been on 3rd base. And, in my opinion he should have been waived home on the ensuing single. Of course he was stranded by the double play that followed. Some would argue, that you don’t send him down by so many runs. I would argue – they (the Reds) are going to let that run score to keep another runner off of second base with that kind of lead. Send him Snitker!

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