Reslient Braves will win in four

By now you’ve seen many of the expert predictions and likely come away with the understanding that the Braves are understandably entering this National League Division Series against the Giants as the underdogs.  

My good friend and MLB.com colleague Matthew Leach opened his prediction column with, “If good pitching beats good hitting — and more often than not, it does — just imagine what great pitching can do to a wounded lineup.”  

It makes perfect sense to favor a pitching staff that posted a 1.91 ERA over its final 31 regular season games over a lineup that no longer has the benefit to lean on Chipper Jones or Martin Prado.  

But many of these journalists who are picking the Giants to advance to the NLCS are new to this game of doubting the Braves.  Those of us who spent long stretches of this season doing so have come to realize that this Atlanta bunch seems to be at its best when backed into a corner and left for dead.   

Over the course of the 10 weeks leading into the All-Star break, the Braves weren’t the same team that won just one of its final 10 games in April.  In fact, it would be easy to argue that they spent that span proving to be the National League’s finest.  

They managed to win two of three against the Twins in Minnesota and then returned from that road trip to take two of three from a Rays team that at the time owned the Major League’s best record.   

Unfortunately for the Braves, they enter this postseason having spent the past two months attempting to regain that dominant form that enabled them to win 39 of its final 57 games before the All-Star break.   

When the Braves took three of four from the Giants in August, they were showing signs that they might still be the NL’s best club.  They might have swept that four-game set had they not committed a pair of ninth-inning errors (Jones and Alex Gonzalez) and then issued a pair of 11th-inning walks (Peter Moylan) in the Friday night game.  

A few days later Jones blew out his left knee and forced the Braves to start limping toward the finish line.  Jason Heyward became a monster again near the end of August.  Omar Infante continued to be a steadying force when he took over the leadoff spot after  Prado moved to third base and began batting third in place of Jones.  

Without Jones, the Braves exited August with optimism.  Meanwhile the Giants won just 11 of 26 in August and entered September with their postseason hopes fading.  Adding to the San Francisco fans concerns was the fact that Tim Lincecum had spent the season’s fifth month going 0-5 with a 7.82 ERA.  

With a Derek Lowe-like turnaround, Lincecum went 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA in September.  If you need a reminder, Lowe went 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA in his final five starts for the Braves.  

Now Lowe and Lincecum will square off against each other tonight hoping to carry the final-month success into October.  Or maybe more appropriately, both are hoping to be the one that receives the two or three runs of support that could prove decisive in each of the games of this Series that will feature two less-than intimidating offenses.  

Deservedly much has been made about the Giants pitching staff.  But if Lowe continues his recent success, the Braves trio (Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson also included) can prove to be just as effective as Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez.  

From an offensive and pitching perspective these two clubs are very similar.  But as one scout mentioned yesterday, this is a Series that could be determined by the gloves.  

The Braves allowed 17 unearned runs in their final 29 games of the regular season.  They had gone through the previous 53 games allowing just 17 unearned runs.  

The Giants allowed just five unearned runs in their final 32 regular season games.  They allowed a total of 17 unearned runs in their final 77 games.  

Bobby Cox has said that the defensive woes are out of his club’s system.  He better hope so because this evenly-matched Series could be decided by just one or two defensive miscues.  

The Giants have home-field advantage, a rock-solid rotation and the momentum created by a strong run through September.  

But proving that I am indeed capable of learning my lesson, I’m not going to once again assume the Braves to be doomed.  In fact, I’m predicting the Braves will win this Series in four games.    

83 Comments

That’s bold Mark. But you may well be right IF the Braves can play defense to go along with the good pitching. The Braves have a better bullpen and have a stronger bench. I like our starters a little better (but then I’m a Braves’ fan.)

Go get ‘em Braves!

Let’s go BRAVES!

My Bobby Cox moment? When with the Yanks, the umpires would not let him use one of the then new Japanese bats with a cup on the end!

Wow, did you see Brooks start a double play and actually be AT the bag for Omar’s throw on the 3rd out.

Yes! and did you see Infante throw the ball to the bag, so that Brooksy didn’t have to divert five feet towards lefts center field?

geees SECOND TO SHORT not even the same play.

To my knowledge this hasn’t been posted here. I am so sick of having to describe this I am going to post it.

PLEASE – watch the LAST replay angle at 46 seconds into the clip. It clearly shows that Infante was coming to the bag – that he would have been there had Conrad’s throw been true, and that he only diverted from the bag to save the throw from going into the outfield.

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=12651303

And just keep on Bill, I am not going to say anymore of it.

Geez, Brooks…

All these balls hit to third, I’m very glad Brooks isn’t there.

I am now watching the game, and the Braves have STRUCK OUT 5 times in a row. They are making lincecum look good They are swinging at VERY WEIRD PITCHES. Some are over their head, but most are in the dirt. Why do they swing at pitches in the dirt that do not even reach the plate. Are they blind, or near sighted or what. They did this a lot during the regular season. I really believe they need a new hitting coach next year, because the current hitting coach is incompetent.

And Barry look at the play, Infante wasn’t there. Have looked at the play 10 times. Get a life.

CONRAD

Skate save – Brooks Conrad. What is that 5 errors in 6 games?

Nice Braves defense allowing the runners to advance on the run down, typical Braves FU. Who is coaching these guys????

Why are you guys arguing about that one? Give it to Infante, we don’t care. We have 4 more to give to Conrad. Hell, we might have another tonight…

Hey bill, what of a pitcher covering first base? Does an infielder have to wait until the pitcher reaches the base covering to make the throw? Just curious O great baseball mind that you are.

Just felt kind of cool; me and my dad were in the footage TBS just ran from the 05 state championships where we saw Jason and Buster play!

I agree with Brandon about the Brooks play from a week ago.

BTW, that’s FIVE errors in FIVE games, for those of you scoring at home. Brooksy needs to make up for it with his bat.

Terrible call. Good job by Brooksy to get the tag down.

I wondered if you guys saw the blown CS call too.
Even if Posey doesn’t score this inning, this still has an effect as Lowe has to throw more pitches.

The terrible call, and the even more terrible decision to pitch to Ross bites us.

And Infante has to knock that ball down. He should have made the play outright.

Oh and Omar the defensive solution kicks the go ahead run into the outfield. Whoops.

Opportunistic of you to come back after Omar’s (not scored as such) missed play but be completely silent when Brooks boots a grounder right at him.

How does Infante not at least get a glove on the ball?? I don’t give two sh*ts about the play two weeks ago, but right now…Omar should have made the play, that goes double for Brooks at second. This shoddy defense is killing us.

God hates the Braves. Posey was out by a foot. Another blown call by umpires. I have a strong feeling that 1 run is all its gonna take to “outmuscle” this Braves offense.

Not that it was any question…
http://yfrog.com/1194cvj

God doesn’t hate the Braves, the ball does, it never seems to go to our leather and misses our bats….go to your home, don’t you want to go to your home!!!

Hey bill, Diory makes the play. ALL OF THEM.

Brooksy taged him on the hip, you’re never going to get an out call there…Not conrad’s fault, but just how it is. He was most definitely out, but this is baseball, they don’t take 30 min to review every play like football. You get over it, and take care of business.

I’m just surprised Brooks held on to the ball… but wow, what a blown call. bills all over Infante but not Conrad? Well I am appalled…

nice photo CD.

Brandon, so you noticed that too.

What happened to the Braves team with the high OBP and the team that worked all starting pitchers into deep pitch counts?? Where did that go?

Why hasn’t Bobby even tried to put Hienske at third?

speedybream,Bobby doesnt play those guys anymore, or he got rid of them, or they died: Hinske, Glaus, Yunel, Chipper, Prado… all gone.

Ok, so is anyone on Ankiel for looking like a Little Leaguer, Or are the pinheads only on Brooks? Lowe’s pitch was pure meat.

Why did I get worried when they said Venters was warming up? I miss the Johnny from mid-season.

Actually, I think most of that came from Prado, Heyward, and Chipper….and the others fell into line with those guys. Yunel would ground out every play and I can’t even explain how Glaus approaches an at bat….other than take strike down the middle and swing at slider in the dirt

Yeah, Lowe grooved that pitch, and Ankiel didn’t pick the ball up cleanly. Happy?

Same sh#t different day, can’t do the little things to win games. Getting omar over in the first, not being able to field your position, swing at every pitch in the dirt. Same bs we did the last 2 months of the season.

Bill, you are getting too offended by the brooks comment, all of the defense sucks……plain and simple.

you’re right tdog, i’m shocked we turned the double play

Wow, a great turn on the 2nd double play by that retard Brooks Conrad.

billreef, it does not speak well for your confidence in Conrad when you have to point out that he didn’t eff up on a routine play.

“A broken clock is right twice a day.” Thought you might enjoy that, bill. But yes, that was crap from Ankiel, but the dude gave everything he had trying to not knock himself out to get that ball.

Meanwhile, Jonny Venters pulls a Jonny Venters to get out of the jam.

cd just spoke words of true gold. I’m pretty sure I heard angels sing when I read it.

Wonder if we will try PH Glaus for some hopeful late inning pop…or a weak fly ball to CF, whatever at this point….

I’m proudly eating my feet right now about Venters. He looked nasty.

Brandumb, you are just a soccer player who learned to Blog. Braves wouldn’t even be here without Brooks, the facts just suck, don’t they son. And cdDrivel you must be someone’s alterego, here to troll the playoffs. Well you will probably get your wish, this is the worst coached major league team I have ever watched. Bobby spent a lot of time on his Swan song parade and not much on getting his team ready for the playoffs. Kind of apparent, huh? Oh and BarryDumb and Brandumb, I guess you guys get your wish now that the team is cratering, kind of delighted in it, huh?

Well, what did we think? We spent the last two weeks making every 5 and 6 ERA pitcher in the league look like Sandy Koufax. What did we honestly think we would do with this lineup against the likes of Linsecomb?

Maybe we can get one in the 9th.

Hey Bill, I have a question for you. On that steal attempt, did McCann have to wait until Brooks actually got to the bag before he made the throw? Just curious.

Heyward should have walked, but with the way Lincecum has pitched, I guess he deserved that call….maybe.

Just tip your cap to the kid, and show up ready to go tomorrow.

I guess i was hoping the break would help the bats, but it just goes to show that our offense is just really bad. Sad to see a good pitching performance by our staff go to waste because of bad defense and below average at bats.

That was the worst plate discipline I’ve seen all year.

I will tip my hat, but his pattern wasn’t exactly unpredictable, up up up, until he was ahead in count then down with the slider…

BTW – Hanson is questionable for tomorrow. He was struck in the face by a ball that he batted in batting practice, and his eye was swollen.

I’m also a baseball player who learned to play the game by playing it for 10 years, not just bitchingg like a little girl and throwing a fit like a 9 year old every time I get discouraged because I’m an old ******** who obviously doesn’t know how the game is played, and is constantly proved wrong by at least a half dozen people.

*looks at Brooks’ numbers* So by that logic, Eric Hinske must be Jesus Christ to you, eh? Hinske has made 1/4 the errors in double the innings. Hit for higher average, played more positions, has more homers and RBI, better OBP… where’s your Eric Hinske campaign? And what about the All-Star you’re talking crap about? The third highest batting average in the league is just crap, I know…

Bill, you are an idiot. Plain and simple. Al Gore did not invent the internet for your faggotry.

BarryDumb, you ignorant sl*t. Your team stunk up the place and you are still talking about a call a week ago and blaming a rookie for all of the teams woes. You know what, you can not win if you do not score. Anybody still want to defend FW’s choice not to sign a real power hitter for the last 2 years. Not looking really smart now, huh?

So… what exactly are you guys arguing about again? I’ve seen the conversation turn about four or five times.

I’m with you, papilgee.

Everyone, he’s like a dog. Ignore him and he’ll bark himself to sleep.

Hey Brandon, where’s that picture of your number retired on a soccer field in Valhalla somewhere? And if You are talking about “faggotry” one might assume that you are like that guy tapping his foot in MN. He said he wasn’t gay, he had never been

Cd drivel. Do you just show up to troll the playoffs or do we have the pleasure of your company for a week or 2 during the regular season. Have you said anything pertinent to baseball???? I think not. You must be Brandumbs little brother, let me guess, 12?

Some bad news. This is the Braves’ 26th post season series since 1991. This is the 13th time we have lost the first game. We have only lost the first game and won the series 2 times, vs the Pirates in ’91 and vs the Astros in ’99.

Maybe we’re due. I hope so.

Bill, did you watch the same game I watched? I saw a Braves team get beat 1 to nothing on the combination of a bad call, a bad decision, and a bad play.

The bad call on Posey at second base, the bad decision to pitch to Ross with Linsecomb on deck (just stupid) and the bad play – Infante not making the play on the ground ball base hit. He should have at least knocked it down.

I saw Lowe pitch well, and Linsecomb pitch better.

You have to tip your cap to Linsecomb. He was light’s out. The only thing that smells here is your half witted effort at baseball analysis.

Bill, i don’t necessarily agree with your argument, but I appreciate the Dan Akroyd line this late at night, if i can’t sleep, I might as well laugh.
Now, let’s get over it. You guys are taking the jabs back and forth waaaaay to seriously. We were totally inept tonight at the plate and made a couple of defensive miscues that cost us the game. It’s that simple. We keep having the same argument over and over. Let’s not kick a dead horse. Guess what, we are not going to steal bases or bunt runners over. We are built on good pitching and doubles hitting (with walks included i hope). Take it or leave it. There’s about 50 ways to improve this team, but its too late now. It’s the most fun time of the season and all we can argue about it retired soccer numbers and flawed baseball analysis. Dang, I feel like Dr. Phil over here.
All we can do is regroup tomorrow and try to get a W on the road. Good night, and stay classy.

Speedy, i only have one question, since you’re Dr. Phil……… can we assume, that the grass doesn’t grow on a busy street? Are you like, folliclely challenged? Is there a reflection in the mirror when the lights are off? Does Hartfield traffic control call to ask you to go inside on sunny days? :) 1 out of 2 in SF and then home to ATL, where the posies grow. Come on boys.

Shaun angry and sad. Shaun belittle comrades to show unhappiness! Wait, no Shaun don’t. That ridiculous. Big orange circle in sky come out again tomorrow.

BillyBobReefer slept at Holiday Inn last night and the night before and the night before that and…………………………

Speedy, I appreciate your sentiment. You feel like Dr, Phil, but you sound like Dr. Seuss.

There is some reason for hope like you say. I saw Diaz in Left field tonight against a righty. May that continue!?

Hopefully Hanson will not be effected by his freak injury and can go today.

Sam I Am meets Bill the Pill.

Meet Bill the Pill. Bill the Pill, do you like Frank Wren and them?

“I do not like Frank Wren and them, they can’t even beat mighty the mighty Tim.”

Do you not like them in your head? Can you not like them at the Ted?

“I do not like them in my head. How can I like them at the Ted. Can you not see that they are dead? I do not like Frank Wren and them, they can’t even beat the mighty Tim.”

But what about the mighty Brooks? Can’t he get them off the hook(s)?

“The mighty Brooks can do no wrong, But even then I sing my song, I do not like Frank Wren and them, they can’t even beat the mighty Tim.”

But we have Lowe and Hanson and Huddy soon, can’t they make the Giants swoon?

My knowledge of the game supreme, I sit here with my Krispy Kreme(s) and tell you all just how it is, Frank Wren is not, is NOT the wiz. “I do not like Frank Wren and them, they can’t even beat the mighty Tim.”

Stay tuned.

That is hilarious. Nice work Barry.
This whole argument boils down to this. Billreef wanted Brooks to start and be an “everyday player”. Barry and I, amongst others, loved Brooks for his late inning heroics but questioned his ability to play every inning of every game. Particularly because of his lack of production early and his QUESTIONABLE defense. Billreef goes on to mock us with his “everyday player” diatribe for weeks. Finally Bill gets his wish. Brooks is thrown into his “everyday role”… at the expense of Martin Prado.
Immediately, Barry questions Brooks defense at third and thinks that maybe Diory should have been getting his feet wet instead. Of course, Bill jumps all over Barry for this.
5 errors in 5 games later… Bill can’t see the forest past the trees. You don’t really have a leg to stand on, Bill. Just move on. Let’s come together and root for this team. It takes a bigger man to admit that Brooks Conrad is not superman. He is a great story and this team is where they are today because of his contribution off the bench. However, throwing around his stats from 10 years playing in Pawtucket instructional league doesn’t mean a hill of beans. He has the “yips” right now on the field and is becoming Chuck Knoblauch. Defense is key to this series. Ask Omar Infante…

Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: A good friend of mine used to say, “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”

You guys should pray for rain.

I’m just enjoying seeing the Braves in the playoffs even though they really do have no chance. Everyone looked horrible at the plate. Did Lincecum pitch brilliantly or did the Braves make him look brilliant? I think it was the latter. How many of those strikeouts were on whiffs at balls in the dirt? Or at balls 5 inches above the strikezone? We weren’t even hitting fouls. Conrad I think made contact once out of maybe 9 swings. Lee looked horrible. This is just not a good team offensively anymore. It would’ve been embarrassing to watch if I had any belief that they could take 2 series in the postseason. Pitching was brilliant once again. Kimbrel still hasn’t had an appearance without a strikeout. Lowe looked great once again, as did the bullpen and the story all year prevailed. An anemic offense and shoddy defense.

phan.. friends, man. you should look into getting some.

vivabeta, I will be visting with 45,000 of my closest friends this evening. It will be quite a party, as usual.

Phan – are you going to wear the spidey suit again? Maybe you should just streak this time. Especially since you know they won’t tase you. Do us all a favor… please don’t intentionally vomit on anymore children. It’s one thing to run out to the field like an idiot… but another to vomit on an innocent child. Why don’t you just enjoy the game??? Prove to everyone that Philly fans have indeed evolved into human being like the rest of us…

Woah there bill, way to go. Insist I use the term ****** and mean homosexual, being that ****** totally means gay… And then, your comeback to me supposedly calling you gay is about the equivalent of a 9 year old girl saying “…you’re gay!” This coming from the guy who probably would go gay for Brooks Conrad, the way he praises him like Allah.

Bravo, barry. I cried, just a little. I think we may have them tonight guys. We’ve hit Cain before, and we’ll have Hanson up there. I have all the confidence in the world in our starting pitching, but next to none in out defense(about 0.2% in Brooks Conrads, maybe a whole 2% in Infante’s). Let’s hope we don’t have another blow call today.

By the way, bill, I play on the tennis team for my college. Want to pathetically poke fun at that too? Never knew athleticism was a bad thing.

Bravo – I thought that Spidy was Phillisphan?

or pherrisphan… or whatever…..

Trying really hard to get an image of Brandon is his little white tennis shorts at the Country Club out of my head. Please Brandon, TMI!!!!!!!

its all cox fault i told every 1 he doesnt know how 2 make a lineup.or which pitcher should be the closer.its not conrads fault bobby keeps putting him in ther.i saw someone said braves in 4 they ment years right!

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