A look at Atlanta’s recent futility in Milwaukee
Because of an affinity that dates back to those youthful days when he would go to County Stadium to see Hank Aaron and his beloved Milwaukee Braves, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has declared that the Braves and Brewers will play the final two games of this week’s series at Fox Cities Stadium, the home of the Wisconsin Timbler Rattlers.
And to further level the playing field, any current Brewer who has pitched against the Braves at any point during the past few seasons has been given a two-day suspension that must be served immediately.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has since announced Sidd Finch will serve as his starting pitcher tonight and in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale.
I’m not much for the April Fools’ thing But given what the Braves have experienced over the past few years while playing in Milwaukee, I figured this was an appropriate time to provide some levity to those of you who have chosen to forecast impending doom based on what transpired during the first of the 162 games Atlanta is scheduled to play this year.
While these next couple nuggets might provide the appearance that I am extending this April Fools theme, they are legitimate facts that prove how dominant the Brewers have recently been against the Braves.
The Braves have been shutout in five of the seven games played against the Brewers dating back to last year.
If possible, this factoid becomes even more unbelievable when you account for the fact that Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo has started just one of these five games — Monday’s 2-0 Opening Day contest at Miller Park. Milwaukee’s starting pitchers in the other four games were Wily Peralta, Donovan Hand, Marco Estrada and Kyle Lohse.
Since the start of the 2013 season, the Braves have played 4.3 percent of their games against the Brewers. Yet, 27.8 percent (5 of 18) of the shutout losses they have incurred during this span have come courtesy of Milwaukee’s pitching staff.
The Braves have lost nine of the past 10 games played at Miller Park
Since the start of the 2011 season, the Braves have produced a National League-best .525 road winning percentage. But they have lost nine of the 11 games played in Milwaukee during this span. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think this futile stretch can be blamed on Ben Sheets and shadows.
To make this span even more baffling, the Brewers have gone 2-8 at Turner Field since the start of the 2011 season.
LOOKING AHEAD: This might be a good time to mention that the Braves have not been shutout in consecutive games to begin a season since opening the 1980 season in Cincinnati.
But things won’t get any easier for the Braves when the Brewers send Lohse to the mound tonight. Given what has occurred the past two times the veteran right-hander has faced Atlanta, there is a chance that something odd or riotous could occur.
Lohse served as the Cardinals starting pitcher the night that umpire Sam Holbrook became a villain in Atlanta with his infamous infield fly ruling during the 2012 National League Wild Card playoff game. Lohse was also on the mound last September when Brian McCann halted Carlos Gomez’s insane home run trot approximately 10 feet in front of home plate.
And as fate would have it, Lohse will be opposed by Braves southpaw Alex Wood, who will be making his first start since he vociferously critiqued umpire CB Bucknor’s performance as he walked off the mound at Nationals Park on Sept. 18.
Less than two years removed from his days at the University of Georgia, Wood possesses a genuine sense of confidence that should prove beneficial as he encounters the inevitable frustrations that even the best young players are bound to encounter during the early portion of their careers.
We’ll wrap this up with some telling thoughts from Wood as he prepares to build off the success he had after being called to the Majors last year.
“I feel more weight on my shoulders now than I ever did last year, because last year if I did well, I exceeded expectations,” Wood said. “If I didn’t, it was, ‘Oh he’s 22 years old,’ or, ‘He went through the Minor Leagues fast, he’s going to have some growing pains.’
“Well, I really didn’t experience many growing pains last year, so now what I did last year is what everyone expects. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. My biggest thing is getting an opportunity. If I get an opportunity, I don’t typically let it get away.”