Post-Halladay hex once again haunts Braves
It’s never nice to pile on, especially when they are not around to defend themselves. . But after reviewing all of the facts, Kenshin Kawakami has to bear the blame for the Roy Halladay hex the Braves have now battled for two straight seasons.
Of course, had Dan Uggla not hustled around the bases and then hit the game-winning, eighth-inning homer when the Braves beat Halladay for the first time ever on May 15, these past two weeks might not have been nearly as frustrating as the nine-game losing streak that began when Halladay beat the Braves on April 21 of last year.
With Kawakami out of the picture, maybe the blame should be pointed solely in Uggla’s direction. But instead of piling on the new second baseman, it seems more appropriate to look at the history of this Halladay hex.
After earning a no-decision while Kawakami helped the Braves claim a 1-0 win over the Blue Jays on May 22, 2009, Halladay gained reason to seek vengeance during any future trips to Atlanta. Given what has transpired in the days following his only two subsequent starts at Turner Field, it seems he has succeeded.
Last year’s unforgettable nine-game losing streak began with Halladay tossing a five-hit shutout. The Braves hit .223 and averaged 1.9 runs during that futile nine-game stretch.
Given that the Braves have hit .245 averaged 2.8 runs and split the 14 games played since they last saw Halladay, it might not seem appropriate to compare these two spans. But those of you who have watched the Braves hit just .192 with runners in scoring position during this stretch may at least agree that the resulting frustration has at least been comparable.
Given how May concluded, it might be hard to remember that the Braves were much more productive than they were during the season’s first month. <p>
When the Braves went 13-15 in April, they were six games behind the Phillies in the National League East race and 4 1/2 games behind the Marlins for the top spot in the Wild Card race.
After going 17-11 in May, they enter June trailing the Phillies by 4 1/2 games and the Marlins by just 2 1/2 games.
Still even while gaining ground, the Braves seemed to lose the great opportunity they possessed after winning 10 of the first 14 games in May. Included in that stretch were a pair of series victories against the Phillies.
Two days after beating Halladay, the Braves were energized by Brian McCann’s incredible late-inning heroics. It would have seemed McCann created a great spark when he hit a two-out ninth-inning pinch hit homer and 11th inning walk-off homer to complete a two-game sweep of the Astros on May 17.
But two weeks later, it’s more appropriate to say he just blurred the offensive struggles which started to mount during that two-game series.
While winning 10 of the first 14 games played in May, the Braves hit .272 with a .342 on-base percentage and .433 slugging percentage. They scored 4.8 runs per game (fifth-most in the Majors) while hitting .268 with runners in scoring position during this span.
While splitting their final 14 games of the month, they batted .245 with a .310 on-base percentage and .346 slugging percentage. They scored 2.8 runs per game (second-worst in the Majors) while hitting just .192 with runners in scoring position during this span.
Fortunately, the Braves know they have the ability to hit the clutch. They exited their May 15 matchup with Halladay with a .301 batting average with runners in scoring position — the game’s third-best mark through the season’s first six weeks.
Even with all of the opportunities they have squandered over the past two weeks, the Braves still rank sixth in the Majors with a .273 (108-for-396) batting average with runners in scoring position.
With a pair of late-inning RBI singles in Tuesday night’s loss, Chipper Jones improved his team-leading batting average with runners in scoring position to .429 (18-for-42). Brian McCann has found nearly equal success hitting .381 (16-for-42) in these situations.
Further proving that clutch situations always seem to find the wrong guy in the lineup, Uggla has recorded 51 at-bats with runners in scoring position — seven more than any other Braves player. And he has hit just .118 (6-for-51) in these situations.
Fortunately for the Braves, the calendar has turned to June and there is no chance of Halladay pitching in Atlanta again until the final three days of the regular season arrive.