Results tagged ‘ Johan Santana ’

Santana appears to be heading toward more tough luck

It’s hard to believe Johan Santana arrived at Turner Field this afternoon with a whole lot of confidence.  His Mets teammates, who have scored two runs or fewer in four of their past six games, will draw the challenge of solving Tim Hudson, who has allowed one earned run or less in nine of his past 14 starts and six of his past eight.  

Oh yeah, Santana will be also be staring at the Tomahawk-chested club that has frustrated him throughout his career.   In 11 career starts against the Braves, his teammates have never tallied more than two runs while he’s still been in the game.   This should better explain why he’s gone 2-6 with a 2.31 ERA in these outings.  

And to add to Santana’s woes, he’ll once again be facing an Atlanta lineup that includes Matt Diaz.   After striking out in his final two at-bats of an Aug. 2 matchup, Diaz enters tonight’s game with a .533 career batting average against the former Cy Young Award winner.  

The Braves will be looking to complete their first four-game sweep against the Mets since May 22, 2008.   In case you were wondering, Hudson provided eight solid innings that evening and beat Santana, who was charged with three earned runs. 

Before allowing four earned runs during his Aug. 2 matchup against Hudson, Santana had never allowed more than three earned runs against the Braves.   In fact, he’s allowed two earned runs or less in eight of his 11 career outings against them. 

Hudson hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of his four previous starts against the Mets.  The lone earned run he’s allowed them in 13 innings this year came of an RBI double produced by Carlos Beltran. 

I haven’t seen the Mets lineup yet.  But I’m going to guess that Beltran will be playing.  He has hit .381 (24-for-63) with four homers in his career against Hudson. 

BRAVES LINEUP:

Infante 4
Heyward 9
Prado 5
Lee 3
McCann 2
Diaz 7
Gonzalez 6
Cabrera 8
Hudson 1 

Santana bidding for rare win vs. Braves

Looking simply at the fact that they are sending Johan Santana to the mound to face Kris Medlen tonight at Turner Field, the Mets should feel pretty good about the odds of sweeping this two-game set against the Braves.  

Of course the Braves also felt pretty good about sending Tommy Hanson to the mound
Saturday night to oppose Rodrigo Lopez.  Eleven runs later the D-backs snapped a seven-game losing streak and once again proved why Pete Rose has learned it’s now easier to supplement his bank account through appearance fees.   

Making his second start of the season and the sixth of his career, Medlen has fewer career wins (1) as a  starter than Santana’s total of Cy Young Awards (2).  But by the end of the night, the versatile young right-hander could have as many career wins (1) against the Mets as Santana does against the Braves.

In his eight career starts against the Braves, Santana has never allowed more than three runs and he has been charged with two earned runs or fewer in six of those outings.  But he’ll enter tonight 1-5 with a 2.21 ERA against Bobby Cox’s teams.  

Santana has recorded at least two victories against each of the other 28 Major League clubs that he has made at least three career starts against.   The only other clubs that he has posted a losing record against are the Angels (2-4) and Blue Jays (2-4).   

The .290 batting average that Santana has surrendered against the Braves stands as the highest mark he has allowed against any organization.   Taking this one step further, Medlen can feel good about the fact that he will be backed by some of the same guys who are responsible for this mark.  

Careers vs. Santana
Yunel  Escobar .333 (6-for-18) 1 double  1 K
Chipper Jones  .294 (5-for-17)  2 BB, 2 Ks
Brian McCann .273 (6-for-22) 1 double, 2 HRs

This will mark the first time Troy Glaus has faced Santana while wearing a Braves uniform.  In his 24 career at-bats against the left-hander, Glaus has hit .333 with three doubles and a homer.  

It might seem ridiculous right now to play anybody in favor of Eric Hinske, who has hit .571 with five doubles and two homers while starting in left field during each of the past six games.    But he is 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in his career against Santana and he has had just four at-bats against left-handed pitchers this year.   

If Cox is willing to take a gamble tonight, he could be persuaded to put Brent Clevlen in left field for tonight’s game.  Santana is the only pitcher that Clevlen has compiled more than six career plate appearances against.  

In the process, Clevlen has hit .300 (3-for-10) with a double and a triple against Santana.  But with each of his seven outs coming via strikeouts, maybe it would be better to just go with either the red-hot Hinske or Melky Cabera, who is 2-for-10 with a double and just one strikeout in his career against the Mets ace.  

McCann’s struggles:  Regardless of what McCann says to avoid creating an excuse, his vision problems are the primary reason he’s not producing like he did in the past.  As anybody who has ever worn glasses will attest, it takes time to get used to the feel on the face and the vision that they create.

Before going hitless in four at-bats last night, McCann was showing some signs of improvement.  In his previous four games he had gone 6-for-16 with a double and a homer.  

Those two extra-base hits matched the total he had compiled in his previous 19 games.  
Within last night’s game story, I focused on the fact that McCann is hitting just .192 with runners in scoring position this year and .222 since the beginning of the 2009 season against left-handed pitchers.  

In hindsight, I should have also mentioned that this hitless evening was completed against a couple of guys who have had little trouble with left-handed hitters this year.   Feliciano has limited left-handers to a .172 (5-for-29) batting average this year and the right-handed Pelfrey has limited them to a .208 (16-for-77) mark.  

As McCann continues to get used to his glasses, he’ll show some of the same promise that he was building entering Monday night’s game.  As a four-time All-Star, he’s likely going to once again find himself heading into the offseason with a batting average around .300 and an RBI total that is around the century mark.   

But if the Braves are going to be playing meaningful games down the stretch this year, there’s no doubt that McCann is going to have to start taking advantage of those numerous run-producing opportunities that he gets in the cleanup spot.

With Martin Prado and Jason Heyward now occupying the lineup’s top two spots, McCann should start getting more opportunities to drive in runs.  It’s almost ridiculous that he has sat in the cleanup spot in 27 games this season and has just 27 at-bats with runners in scoring position.   

Further showing how bad the Braves leadoff hitters were during the season’s first six weeks, Chipper Jones has sat in his customary third spot of the lineup throughout the year and totaled just 21 at-bats with runners in scoring position.  

But following in the footsteps of Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera has shown that run-producing situations too often occur at the wrong time.    In just 26 games, Cabrera has totaled 35 at-bats with runners in scoring position and hit just .171 in those situations.  

Fortunately for the Braves, Nate McLouth has hit .318 in his past six games and allowed Cabrera to fill the backup role that was envisioned when he was acquired from the Yankees.  If McLouth goes 1-for-4 tonight, he’ll improve his batting average to .200  –  marking the first time since April 9 that he would at least be at the Mendoza Line.  

Braves prepping for Citi Field introduction

New ballpark.  Same old rivalry.

Say what you want about the cats and rats that existed at old dingy Shea Stadium.  But you can’t deny the fact that there was almost always a great sense of excitement whenever the Braves traveled to play there over the course of the past decade. 

Whether it was a creation of John Rocker’s pot stirring or just a sense of jealousy that developed during Atlanta’s run of consecutive division titles, there’s no doubt that Mets fans have grown to love to hate the Braves.

The most obvious love-hate relationship is shared by Chipper Jones and those Mets fans who have always showered him with chants of “Lah-REE”.   You can bet that those same mocking references to his given name will be heard at Citi Field.

But for now, we can only hope that the modernized stadium in Queens creates the same type of hostile atmosphere that was present in Shea.  There’s just something great about those moments when fans truly raise the game’s energy level. 

Since the Braves moved into their modernized digs at Turner Field, there have been numerous moments when the fans have caused goose-bump-type atmospheres.  But as many of you will attest, those moments occurred much more frequently during the early 1990s at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

Much of that had to do with the sudden sucees enjoyed by a previously pitiful Braves organization.  But there’s also reason to wonder if the new stadium’s environment set the tone for a more tranquil atmostphere. 

Whatever the case, Jones is hoping that Citi Field presents the same blue collar atmosphere as its predecessor.

It would be nice to see Jones’ sore right elbow prove to be healthy enough for him to be in the lineup for tonight’s series opener against the first-place Mets.  We’ve got a nationally-televised game featuring a pair of aces (Derek Lowe and Johan Santana) who will both be attempting to prolong their respective team’s current success.

Jones’ participation would only add to the intrigue.

The primary reason the Braves have won four of their past five games stems from the fact that they’ve once again become whole with the returns of Brian McCann and Garret Anderson.  Taking Jones out of the lineup would produce the same negative effect that manager Bobby Cox encountered far too often during the season’s first month.

Still there’s no indication that Jones is battling anything serious and so if you’re looking at the big picture, it won’t be a big deal if he needs just one more day to rest the elbow that he hyper-extended with two seperate swings on Sunday. 

Winners of seven straight games, the Mets have every reason to feel good about the fact that Santana is taking the hill tonight.  Still while asserting himself as the game’s top pitcher, the veteran left-hander is still winless in five career starts against the Braves.  

During the four starts he’s made against the Braves since the start of the 2007 season, Santana is 0-2 with a 2.57 ERA.   He has worked seven innings during each of those outings and allowed as many as three runs just once. 

His most recent start against the Braves occurred on Sept. 13, when he tossed seven scoreless innings and then exited after allowing consecutive singles to begin the eighth.  Two batters later, Jeff Francoeur tied the game with one of the six hits he recored last year in 33 at-bats with the bases loaded.

The numbers tell a lot about the game.  But they don’t create the stories that develop.

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