Braves still trying to break out of funk

As they spent a portion of Friday afternoon addressing the ridiculous actions of Derek Lowe and Roger McDowell, Braves general manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez both spoke about the need for the team to bond together during an embarrassing stretch.

“Hopefully this is a point of the season that will define us and build character,” Gonzalez said.

Approximately 24 hours later, the Braves had lost consecutive games in which they had a lead in the eighth inning or later.   But instead of suffering another disheartening decision in Sunday afternoon’s series finale, the Braves managed to regain the lead they’d squandered in the eighth inning and enjoyed their first walk-off win of this young season.

With last year’s Mr. Clutch Brooks Conrad delivering the decisive hit in Sunday’s 6-5 win, the Braves might have created that moment that truly does allow them to turn things around and enjoy one o those extended successful streaks they were flirting with when they entered Friday with wins in five of their previous six games.

But it’s quite obvious that we really don’t know the turnaround point of a season until well, it’s proven that something has indeed been turned around.

Through the first 29 games of this year, the Braves are in better position than they were last year, when they were 12-17 and showing absolutely no signs of life on offense.  During their 28th game, Scott Olsen held them hitless through the first seven innings.  One night later in Philadelphia, 47-year-old Jamie Moyer created history while tossing a two-hit shutout against the Braves.

Three days later, the Braves began a 39-game stretch during which they would record 29 victories and average 5.7 runs per game.  Nobody saw this coming and there was certainly little reason to believe Troy Glaus would be the most valuable player during this stretch.  He hit .194 with a .292 slugging percentage in April and then hit .300 with a .614 slugging percentage during the pivotal 39-game stretch.

In other words, there’s still plenty of time for Dan Uggla to do something more than produce the occasional clutch hit.  He did provide a hint of encouragement with four hits, including two doubles,  in the 12 at-bats he collected this weekend.  But it’s about time for him to step up and  allow the Braves to feel a little better about the five-year, $62 million deal they gave him in January.

The 39-game stretch that ended the Braves’ woes last year began with a four-game series against the Brewers, who just happen to be in Atlanta tonight to begin a four-game series.

If you only keep tabs on the Braves, you might not feel good about the odds of Jair Jurrjens getting enough run support tonight to beat Yovani Gallardo, who tossed a two-hit shutout against the Braves on April 5 to improve to 3-0  with an 0.96 ERA in five career starts against them.

But since tossing his gem against the Braves nearly a month ago, Gallardo hasn’t been nearly as effective.   While posting an 8.86 ERA in the four starts that have followed, he has allowed opponents to hit .380 against him.    He has allowed at least four runs in each of those four outings.

Of course the Braves still haven’t given reason for pitchers to feel threatened this year.

While going 5-11 from April 5-21, they batted .225 with a .294 on-base percentage and .356 slugging percentage.   While winning six of their past nine games, they have hit .229 with a .299 on-base percentage and .372 slugging percentage.

So there still hasn’t been a dramatic improvement for an offense that needs Uggla and Brian McCann to start showing more consistent power.   But heading into the 30th game last year, there also wasn’t much reason to be optimistic about the offense.

19 Comments

This will build character, I hope it does as they are showing a definite lack of character at the moment. Not sure how you build character in someone who has none. Atlanta seems to be a place where free agents go to die. Most of the free agent acquisitions have been total flops in Atlanta. Roger McDowell should be fired as who will repect him going forward? 2 week suspension and an apology fixes what???? The man obviously has no class or compassion for fans or the game in general. If he does, then he was either drunk or on drugs!!

@ Joseph Smith – A little harsh, don’t you think? McDowell is partially responsible for the emergence of Jurrjens and Hanson, not mention some of the young guns and their development. I still don’t understand what made him buckle other than the normal away fan’s instigating things – and I’m not sure we’ll ever know the whole story – but his reaction seems to have been out of character for him, and without excuses, reprehensible for a MLB and Atlanta Braves employee. I really don’t know why you would questions his “class or compassion for…the game”. If this is an isolated incident, let’s forgive and forget. If it’s not, Braves management know what to do. Remember, even Bobby Cox was scrutinized for a domestic dispute with his wife; and look how he’s revered.

Just like last year, April has shown not to be the Bravo’s month. At least it was better than last year & at least it’s over. Who will be the Troy Glaus of 2011?

EVerybody says almost same like Apr2010 season. Hope K.Kawakami back to at least 40Roaster. There’s no offensive support when KK starter game. He can pitch as starter-set-upper every-situation. Understanding, Braves want to trade(release) to other club. But his cutball is quiet well. Now Braves need KK

You really have to be joking. Is this you Brandie?

Nice play, Nate. First you misread the ball, then you drop it. Poor JJ get’s charged with the runs and loses his lead.

I’m starting to get a little worried about the leadership in the clubhouse. It might be my imagination and/or frustration but it seems like the team is rather blase. It is no longer “early”. A little shake up never hurt a team and Feddie is not Bobby with his infamous loyalty (which was also frustrating at times).

I am so mad right now. I can’t believe the bottom of the order is driving in runs.

Wow, that slug Prado has a 6 game hitting streak.

I believe that we have the best defensive shortstop going in the game right now. His offense isn’t shabby either.

Hi Bill. Are you enjoying Nate making a contribution every game?

You mean like when he dropped the ball for a 2 run triple. The only runs they scored??

Very nice work from the pitching staff so far. This is a good game. We need to win this series to get back on track

Also, David Ross is far too good to be a back up! We are lucky to have him.

Bill…..Nate drove in another run. He is getting on base alot, and is getting hits. His range is also godo in defence, he is a quick base running, and a good teammate. You need to start to recognise his that his contribution this year is growing and we are going to see the Nate of 2008/09 back soon

Wow! Six days between posting new articles on this blog. Mr. Bowman, why this sense of urgency all of a sudden?

Maybe Mark doesn’t have the time to write a blog every time someone hits a homerun, like Mr. Zolecki does. Also, there’s this nifty little micro blogging site called Twitter, which Mark uses frequently. Might wanna check it out. Or don’t, in fact.

I wish Ross could play OF, we could get him more at bats.

I really think that in this day and time, comments and gestures such as Roger McDowell made are mean and hateful. A man in his position and representing the Atlanta Braves should have better sense. I think it is odd that he make these comments especially since Atlanta is hosting the Civil Rights games. This means everyone’s civil rights. I personally, think that the punishment is not severe enough, it was like a slap on the hand. I think the Braves should fire him!! There is no place for those comments. I have been a Braves fan for many many years, and do not like this kind of publicity for the team. His apology means nothing, he should have had the common sense not to say those things and make those gestures. I have lost all respect for him.

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