Going into the desert with a four game winning streak I was riding high. I was so confident we could tear through a seven game road trip that I was calling for Chipper to go under the knife. Then we make Manny Parra look like an All Star and blow a late inning lead in Game 1 against the D-Backs. Okay, no problem, we should have won the game but no reason to panic. Then another one run loss and just like that, swept by Arizona. At this point I came away from that series being more impressed with the D-Backs than disappointed in the Braves.
Then on to Anaheim. The Braves and Angels are very similar teams centered around great starting pitching, solid defense, and underperforming offenses. Despite the similarities I went into the series thinking the only edge they had over us in the series was their manager, Mike Scioscia. After three games with the Angels I was convinced. I want to be like Mike.
It’s still too early in the season to grade Fredi Gonzalez as manager but watching the way the Angels play small ball left me wanting more from our skipper. I spent the off day on Monday thinking how Fredi needs to get creative, hit and run more, bunt for hits, steal some bases, just do something different. With all the injuries if felt like it was time to mix it up a little and try to manufacture some runs.
The Pirates series couldn’t come soon enough. I don’t know what happened on the flight from Los Angeles but a different team showed up in Pittsburg. Maybe it was the presence of Jordan Schaefer leading off, but our approach at the plate was significantly better. We actually played small ball. We moved guys over, worked the count, a few hit and run plays, Hinske even tried to lay down a bunt! I know it’s the Pirates but this is how I want us to play.
The Braves are stretched super thin right now with all the injuries. It would be easy to sit and sulk about the current state of affairs but that’s not healthy. You could write off the club and start sifting through NFL lockout articles, but where’s the fun in that? I’m trying to stay positive with the Braves right now. In fact, I’m willing to go as far as to say we’ll even benefit long term from this stretch.
First, its really good to see Schafer back. If you believe the old saying that you should never lose your starting position to injury than Schafer should start the rest of the year. Long before Heyward, Freeman, Minor and Teheran, the highest graded prospect in the system was Schafer and not just because he has a tiny head. Hopefully McLouth can return and contribute, but honestly, Schafer is an upgrade.
All the talk in the beginning of the year about changing the lineup ignored one major flaw, the Braves have no leadoff hitter. Prado was outstanding at the top of the order but he could bat anywhere and probably is more suited for the 2 hole. Keep chipper third, Mac forth, Heyward fifth, and then let Uggla swing for the fences.
For now I’m going to keep channeling my inner thoughts to Fredi. Why stop now, I think it might be working. How else can you explain “The Diesel” laying down a bunt?
1. Jair Jurrjens – Split his two decisions for the week but has pitched well all year. Still hasn’t given up more than 2 ER in any of his starts.
2. Joe Mather and Brooks Conrad – Game winning hits from some unlikely heroes. Managed to salvage something out of the road trip thanks to these two.
3. Alex Gonzalez- 11 for 27 in the last week despite the visible frustrations. Maybe Gonzo needs to give Uggla’s bats a scolding.
1. West Coast Trip – 1 win in 5 games looks awful but we just didn’t get many timely hits, 6 for 33 with RISP.
2. Heyward to DL – This might be long overdue but there is a big difference between playing hurt and playing injured. Love the toughness, trying to play through pain, but in many ways he was letting the team down.
3. Tim Hudson- Hudson’s back was acting up during the Angels game, leading to his bad outing. Let’s just hope this isn’t a re-occurring problem.