Random thoughts on a Friday
Had Martin Prado not produced his tremendous 10-pitch at-bat that concluded with the game-winning grand slam that gave Brian McCann a chance to deliver the walk-off single that gave the Braves a 10-inning win last night, many of you would have woke up in a foul mood this morning and I would have found myself writing something about Dan Uggla or Alex Gonzalez or maybe Derek Lowe.
But instead of being swept by the Nationals, the Braves posted a memorable comeback victory that obviously overshadowed Uggla’s fourth-inning defensive struggles and Gonzalez’s lack of hustle that led to him getting thrown out as he slid into second base with what should have been a sure-fire ninth-inning double.
Prado’s grand slam, McCann’s single and stellar work from the bullpen, prevented Lowe from having to analyze why he looked so shaky while allowing five earned runs in six innings. Just six days earlier he had been masterful in Philadelphia until a right foot blister forced him to exit and perform a subdued Kevin Brown impersonation on his locker at Citizens Bank Park.
Last night’s start and the one he had a few weeks ago in Los Angeles were the only truly bad starts Lowe has produced since pitching coach Roger McDowell sat down with him and altered his approach last September. Quite simply, he reminded the sinkerballer that he is allowed to throw more than simply the sinker.
Speaking of McDowell, he will return this afternoon. In fact he will address the media at 2 p.m. at Turner Field. So we’ll keep this one rather brief.
Here are a couple random thoughts:
1) Brian McCann still hasn’t displayed his regular power. But after collecting three extra-base hits in April, he already has four (all doubles) in May. He’s hitting .310 with and owns a .500 (14-for-28) batting average with runners in scoring position. This is about the time he got hot each of the past two years, after dealing with vision problems.
2) Craig Kimbrel epitomized the definition of filthy last night. Three strikeouts in a span of 13 pitches is quite impressive. But the most encouraging product of that appearance was the fact that he responded in the manner that he did about 24 hours after blowing a two-run ninth-inning lead. The kid is going to be fine and has the chance to be truly special in that closer’s role.
3) Brandon Beachy makes his 11th career start tonight and fourth against the Phillies. Many of you know how he left the Instructional League last year and then made a sudden Major League debut in front of a raucous Philadelphia crowd late last year. Well he ended up making three of his first five starts against the Phils and ended up losing all three.
When I noticed he wasn’t going to be pitching against them last weekend in Philadelphia, I mentioned it to him and watched him remain stone faced before saying, “I want to get those guys. I really do and I will.”