Runs could once again be at a premium in Seattle
When the Braves were last in Seattle eight years ago, pitching enthusiasts were treated to a delightful three-game series. The pitching matchups that weekend were Russ Ortiz vs. Freddy Garcia, Mike Hampton vs. Jamie Moyer and Greg Maddux vs. Gil Meche. The Mariners claimed a pair of 2-1 victories and John Smoltz notched a two-inning save to give Hampton credit for a 3-1 win.
Both teams combined to score five runs during that enjoyable three-game series. Given the current state of these two offenses, this week’s series winner might not have to score more than five runs.
You’ve already heard plenty about the Braves’ offensive struggles. To give you a glimpse of what the Seattle fans have been dealing with, the Mariners have split their past 10 games while the pitchers have combined to post a 1.63 ERA. Taking that one step further, the Mariners have gone 11-13 this month while posting a very respectable 2.85 ERA.
As maddening as the Atlanta offense has been, the Braves have gone 14-9 this month while posting a 3.28 ERA.
While the Braves have hit .221 with a .288 on-base percentage and .396 slugging percentage this month, I’m quite sure some of you have asked, ‘can it get any worse?’ If you were standing around a Mariners fan at the time, you may have received a quick response.
The Mariners have batted .220 with a .277 on-base percentage and .352 slugging percentage this month. Their only player to record a double-digit RBI total in June has been veteran catcher Miguel Olivo, who has batted .190 with eight homers 24 strikeouts and 19 RBIs.
So as Brandon Beachy takes the mound tonight, he’ll obviously attempt to keep Ichiro off the bases and prevent Olivo from generating any more of his boom-or-bust production.
When Braves media relations director Brad Hainje was preparing today’s notes, he researched where Beachy’s strikeout total ranks all time among pitchers who have thrown 70 innings or fewer in their career.
Through the first 65 1/3 innings of his career, Beachy has recorded 72 strikeouts. That ranks as the fifth-highest total in Major League history. Those in front of him are Dodgers’ reliever Kenley Jansen (83 Ks in 52 2/3 IP), Stephen Strasburg (92 Ks in 68 IP) and a couple of guys who spent most of last year with Triple-A Gwinnett.
Mike Dunn, who the Braves sent to the Marlins in the Dan Uggla deal, ranks fourth on this list with 78 strikeouts in his first 60 innings.
Braves rookie closer Craig Kimbrel owns the distinction of recording more strikeouts than any other pitcher in Major League history through the first 70 innings of his career. Kimbrel has notched 98 strikeouts in his first 58 2/3 innings.
Speaking of strikeouts, the Braves have compiled 603 — fourth-most in the Majors – through this season’s first 79 games. This puts them on pace for 1,236, which would break the franchise record 1,169 set in 2006. Don’t get too consumed with this though. Last year’s team compiled the fifth-most strikeouts (1,140) in franchise history.
As you might have seen in the game story, yesterday marked the fifth time this season that the Braves have been held to two hits or fewer. This equals their combined total of the past two years.
The only other Major League clubs to be held to two hits or fewer four times this year are the Marlins and Blue Jays. These just happen to be the two teams the Braves have swept this month.
When I posted this stat on Twitter (@mlbbowman) last night, multiple fans once again responded with the Fire Larry Parrish refrain. As I mentioned in Saturday’s post, it’s not going to happen any time soon.
In case you were wondering, the Marlins have been held to two hits or fewer twice since firing their hitting coach during the early portion of this month.
Before we wrap this up, Braves fans have until Thursday night to make sure Brian McCann is elected to serve as the National League’s starting catcher in this year’s All-Star Game. Click here to look at the most recent results and to cast your vote.