Braves once again look to get healthy at Turner Field

In observance of the upcoming Ryder Cup, the Braves have taken a gentlemen’s approach and honored the Phillies’ standing as two-time defending National League champs by giving their brothers from Philadelphia a half-game advantage in the NL East standings.
 
Had the Braves simply split the disaster that is also known as the just-completed six-game road trip, they would have returned to Atlanta still holding the same first-place position that had been theirs since Memorial Day.
  
But while laboring to win just twice during this six-game span against the Marlins and Pirates, they squandered what was a seven-game lead on July 22 and created the possibility that they wouldn’t even have home-field advantage during the opening-round of the playoffs.
 
A week ago there was little reason to worry too much about the possibility that the Braves won’t at least find entry into this year’s playoff field.  Yes, there was already reason to wonder if the Phillies would once again reclaim their familiar spot atop the NL East standings.
 
But with a four-game advantage over the Giants, the Braves seemed to  at least have some comfort in the Wild Card standings.  Well the Giants have reduced that comfort to two games and with yet another of their late-season surges, the Rockies now seem very dangerous while sitting 4 games behind the Braves in the WC standings.
 
Maybe it’s only fitting that this club that has habitually managed to deliver decisive hits in their last turn at bat will force Bobby Cox to spend his final 22 regular season games feeling some of the same stress that was present when his club won the first of its 14 consecutive division titles. 

Through the first 130 games of the 1991 season, the Braves were tied game with the Dodgers in the NL West race.  With 22 games left in the 1993 season, they were four games behind the Giants.   At this same point in 1999, 2000 and 2001, they didn’t have a lead greater than 1 games.

The Braves clinched the division during the final weekend of the regular season in ’91, ’93, 2000 and ’01. With the Phillies scheduled to close the regular season in Atlanta, it appears the excitement regarding this year’s final weekend will extend far beyond the tributes paid to Cox. 

Or maybe there truly is reason to be concerned about what transpired since the Braves last played at Turner Field.   Yes they managed to beat top NL Cy Young candidate Josh Johnson and veteran Zach Duke.   But they also lost games started by four pitchers who have combined to post a 5.03 ERA this season. 

The composition of this sentence has been changed since I originally wrote that there has been reason to be concerned about the Braves offense since they slumbered through the four-game series against the Brewers immediately following the All-Star break. 

Upon further review, the Braves have hit .263 with a .762 OPS and averaged 4.8 runs in the 52 games played since the break, In the 52 games leading up to the break, they batted .272 with a .761 OPS and averaged 4.8 runs.

The Braves pitching staff posted a 3.22 ERA in the 52 games leading up to the break.  They have posted a 3.44 ERA in the 52 games that have followed the break. 

While the batting average and ERA aren’t identical, it’s still hard to look at all of these similar numbers and understand how the Braves won 35 of 52 heading into the break and just 28 of 52 since the break.   That’s essentially a difference of a little more than a win per week.  

The 52 games leading into the break included an identical number of home and road games. 
Of course that was back when the Braves were actually able to be productive outside of Atlanta. 

With just nine wins in the 24 road games that have followed the break, the Braves aren’t the same team that won 6 of 11 during an early June road trip that took them to Los Angeles, Phoenix and Minneapolis.   Instead, they’ve looked much more like the club that went to Chicago a little more than a week later and got swept by the then red-hot White Sox. 

Now that they’ve unpacked their suitcases and reintroduced themselves to Atlanta, it’s time for the Braves to rekindle the optimism that existed exactly one week ago when they were bidding to complete a four-game sweep of the Mets.   The loss suffered in that series finale dropped the Braves to 19-9 at home since the break. 

The Braves will return home tonight looking to extend the recent struggles of the Cardinals, who have batted .236 and averaged 3.8 runs while winning just seven of their past 23 games.   Any matchup against Albert Pujols can’t be deemed comfortable.   But Jair Jurrjens can head into this start with confidence that extends beyond the fact that he is 6-0 with a 2.15 ERA in eight home starts this year. 

Coming off the masterpiece he tossed against Johnson Saturday night, Jurrjens will be looking to also further damage Adam Wainwright’s once-strong Cy Young Award candidacy.  The former Braves top prospect went 7-1 with a 1.14 ERA in a nine-start stretch that ran through Aug. 11.  In his past four starts, the lanky right-hander is 0-4 with a 4.88 ERA.  

If tonight’s game was in St. Louis, there would certainly be reason to deem this a prime opportunity for Wainwright to end his recent frustrations.  But now that the Braves are back in Atlanta, it’s seemingly time for them to once again start looking like a first-place team.

28 Comments

Well Braves Management is Johnny on the spot once again. Fredi Gonzalez is interviewing for the Cubs managerial position.

That is probably window dressing, don’t you think Bill? They don’t want the mandatory minority interview candidates to think they don’t have a chance to get the Atlanta job.

Has Freddie been staying away from Atlanta, or has he been seen around here and there?

I wouldn’t take it too seriously.

Over on the Phillies’ blog, Todd Zolecki has projected the Phils pitching rotation through the end of the season. Paying particular attention to the two three-game series against the Braves. Days rest in parenthesis…..

?Sept. 20 vs. ATL: Hamels (5)
?Sept. 21 vs. ATL: Halladay (5)
?Sept. 22 vs. ATL: Oswalt (4)
?Sept. 23: OFF
?Sept. 24 vs. NYM: Blanton (4)
?Sept. 25 vs. NYM: Kendrick, Worley or Robertson (6)
?Sept. 26 vs. NYM: Hamels (5)
?Sept. 27 at WASH: Halladay (5)
?Sept. 28 at WASH: Oswalt (5)
?Sept. 29 at WASH: Blanton (4)
?Sept. 30: OFF
?Oct. 1: Hamels (4)
?Oct. 2: Halladay (4)
?Oct. 3: Oswalt (4)

I hear Jamaica and the Caribbean Islands are nice to visit in October. Plan a vacation so you won’t be bored during the playoffs.

I don’t know why Fredi would take the interview if he thought he was window dressing. Something is funky here.

DLee gets off the Schneid. An oppo with authority. Damn even baseless Hinske gets a hit.

D. Lee gets his first HR as a Brave. Takes some professional hitting to take a Wainwright curve out the other way.

Why on gods green earth can’t this team hit on the road??? It’s like a different team. I think they need to rent a house in a visiting town and all move in and bring in some girls who can play like wives, and have a few dogs hanging around, and cater some home cooking…………

If the earlier innings are any indication, the slugfest looks to be on. Who will have the bigger sticks?

Uh oh. Jurrgens didn’t last as long as the NFL pre-game show. I’m enjoying the fans dressed as empty seats in your “home field.” What a pack of losers. Can’t sell-out a key game against the Cardinals in September. I’m guessing the fans won’t care all that much when the Braves choke it up.
NOTE FROM THE ORIOLES: We sell more tickets than you, and we’re 35 games out.

NOTE TO THE ORIOLES: You said it yourself, you’re 35 games out.

When I’m concerned about my team suddenly in 2nd place, I couldn’t care less about who’s in the stands. That’s not the point of the game. What happens between the chalk lines is much more important than the number of butts in the seats.
But I’ll entertain you, you troll, and your erroneous statement. Atlanta is 14th in attendance this season, Baltimore is 24th. So who sells more tickets again?
BTW, I lived in Baltimore the past four years. Will NEVER go back there to live.

Daggone timestamp…

Note to papilgee4evava: Apparently you’re too stupid to get the joke. The Braves are 14th in the Majors in attendance, even though they were (Were) in first place most of the summer. What do you people do down there that’s so much better than supporting your baseball team? Must be a Hell of a place to live. Maybe the ballclub should move to a place where they can be appreciated.

Some people wok for a living, which includes a lot of weeknights, you dumb ******.

And a lot of Braves fans live no where Georgia. Since Braves are no longer on TBS, thank god for the MLB package.

*near*

Anyone heard anything on Heyward?

No word yet, speedy. I’m hoping he just tweaked something and will be back in there tomorrow night.
In other news, McLouth looks decent at the plate now, actually. I never thought I’d say that of our three CFs, he’s the one swinging the best bat now. Think Bobby starts him tomorrow against Carpenter?

Brandon, Do You “wok” for a living? I didn’t know they had Chinese restaurants in South GA. I had to quit watching this game after the 5th. I was ready to start beating the dog. All of this dramatic come from behind crap is catching up with us now. We are playing really bad fundamental baseball. It has even begun to permeate our home games. We are gonna be hard pressed to make the playoffs. Sorry, but it had to be said.

Bill – I wish you would have had that attitude before you decided to go trash talking on the Phillies blog with2.5 months left to play baseball. Now, not only do we have to watch our team underachieve when it really matters, we have to sit here and read Phillie Phags attempt at trash talking. Thanks for contributing to the rapid decline of what used to be a decent thread.

During the later 1940s, Lightnin? Hopkins devoted his song “Henny Penny Blues” to the fable about Henn Penny.

There’s many people in the world just like our Henny-Penny,
They panic when they listen to the news,
They think the sky is falling and we’re all about to die,
I’d say they have the Henny-Penny-Blues.

They in fact do, bill. And yes I do work for a living. I forgot there was a crime in missing a key. And Bravo is right.

And wis is right. I live 3 hours away from Atlanta. I can’t just go anytime I want, and neither can like 60% of the state. But I will be traveling to the game tonight with my college.

Oh Bravo, shall I send over a little hankie for you to wipe your little tears away. Geez, if you can’t handle a little Philly razzing maybe you should root for the Wahhhhkeees. I am sure that it is my fault, all those woes in your world. And guess what Bravo- I still trash talk the Phillies fans, and I don’t snivel about someone else “contributing to the rapid decline of this thread” . The Filly fans will all disappear when they start losing again. Why don’t you place blame where blame is due. Maybe Frank Wren deserves a little of your wrath for not getting a bat at the trading deadline. Maybe Bobby deserves some of it sticking his head in the sand and being a cheerleader instead of a coach. Maybe the players deserve some of it for sleepwalking their way out of a 7 game lead. And Brandon with his usual little jump into someone else’s battle. Not even worth commenting about.

Brandon Woodworth…..We do understand. You southerners have to work twice the time for half the money. It’s in your roots. Who needs any of those socialist unions down here in Dixie when one can raise himself by his own bootstraps. Of course one needs to be able to buy the boots to even attempt this impossible feat.

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