Braves look to revive offense against Estrada
While the Braves were being frustrated by Yovani Gallardo Tuesday night, three of their former teammates were playing key roles in walk-off victories and another was simply walking out without talking to the media.
Yunel Escobar drilled a walk-off homer for the Blue Jays. Melky Cabrera’s chopper through the infield allowed the Royals to enjoy another walk-off celebration and Omar Infante scored the winning run in the Marlins’ walk-off win over the Nats.
Meanwhile the Braves were recording just two singles and proving unsuccessful in their attempt to score against Gallardo. But it was quite obvious they didn’t feel nearly as frustrated as Rafael Soriano, who avoided the Yankees’ media after blowing a four-run, eighth-inning lead in what became a 10-inning loss to the Twins.
“It’s just one of those ones where you don’t spend much time fretting about tonight because Gallardo was tough,” Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said.
Since tallying 11 runs and 12 hits in Sunday’s win over the Nationals, the Braves have come to Milwaukee and seen their offense go ice cold. Through the first two games of this series, they haven’t recorded an at-bat with a runner in scoring position.
While some Braves fans might be wondering what has happened to the offense, Brewers fans should be wondering how they could pitch so well in these two games and win just one of them.
The Braves simply ran into two very good pitchers. Many of you already knew about the potential of Gallardo, who is 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA in five career starts against the Braves. Based on what was seen Monday, you’ll soon start hearing much more about Chris Narveson, who has allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts.
If Thursday’s scheduled starter Shaun Marcum’s right shoulder remains healthy and Zack Greinke and Corey Hart return from the disabled list without any problem, this Brewers team will live up to preseason expectations and win the National League Central.
Fortunately for the Braves, the optimism in Milwaukee doesn’t center around Marco Estrada, a 27-year-old right-hander they have promoted from Triple-A Nashville to start tonight’s game. He is 0-1 with an 11.81 ERA in two career starts and opponents have hit .276 with a .362 on-base percentage in his 22 career appearances.
The Brewers were so high on Estrada that they didn’t even include him as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training this year. But as the Cactus League progressed, he started to prove he was the best option to temporarily fill Greinke’s spot in the rotation.
Estrada, who was claimed off waivers from the Nationals last year, will be matching up against Mike Minor, who is making what appears will be his only start in place of the injured Jair Jurrjens, who was scheduled to complete a simulated game with Triple-A Gwinnett this afternoon.
When we last saw Minor, he was struggling to find consistency with his curveball and changeup. He seems to be encouraged with the results he’s realized the past couple weeks.
Minor deserves to be credited for the professionalism he’s shown since the Braves decided to give Brandon Beachy the final spot in their rotation. Through words and actions, he has supported Beachy and remained confident that he will soon have a chance to display the skills the Braves saw when they took him with the seventh pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft and gave him a$2.4 million signing bonus.
When the Braves informed Minor of their decision, he grabbed his gear and immediately went to the back fields to begin working out with the other Minor Leaguers.
“I was fine with the decision,” Minor said. “I didn’t really care. I just want to pitch and compete out there, no matter who it is against.”
Odds and ends: The Braves announced they have put standing-room-only tickets on sale for Friday night’s home opener against the Phillies. These tickets are $15 (4 tickets per person max) and can be purchased on braves.com. If you don’t have a parking permit for one of the Braves’ lots, you are advised to use MARTA.
There are still tickets available for Saturday and Sunday. The Avett Brothers will provide a concert after Sunday’s game.
The Braves have revealed Friday’s pregame ceremonies will include a “very special first pitch.” I’ve got my guess who will be delivering that pitch and I’m sure many of you are thinking along the same lines as Fredi Gonzalez prepares to introduce himself to the city of Atlanta.