After a successful weekend series against the Arizona Diamondbacks (except for a Saturday meltdown) the Braves began this week with another heart-breaking loss to the, ugh…New York Mets. Derek Lowe pitched adequate, going 7 innings and allowing only 3 ER—hey, for D-Lowe this is a moral victory. The Mets countered with Mike Pelfrey, or as the Mets call him “Big Pelf.” I’m not exactly sure why, but every time I hear that name I vomit.
Pelfrey has bounced back from a lousy 2009, but after seeing him pitch against the Brave twice (winning both games) I am perplexed as to why his numbers are so good. The Braves had multiple chances to take the lead Monday, but as we have seen much too often, they squandered the opportunity with ill-timed strikeouts and double plays.
Of course, you can’t win every game, but wins against the Mets would be nice. The Brave are now 0-4 against the Mets so far this season and personally, it feels awful. Losing to the Mets is like jock itch—it is most annoying, painful and generally irritating but it won’t kill me. It’s a feeling that I wish I never had to feel again. Sure, when it’s been a few days it will hurt less and less, but in the back of your mind it may come back, worse than before. This is the most accurate way to describe my feelings. John Madden, where are you when I need you?
Tuesday night it finally happened—the Braves won. It was the most relief I have felt in a while. Though it was partially a gift from Mr. David Wright, I will take it, no questions asked! Kris Medlen pitched very well once again, giving up just 2 ER. I have felt from the beginning of the year Medlen is the 4th best starter on the Braves’ roster and until Jurrjens returns, he will get to show why I’m right. I know it won’t happen, but I’d love, LOVE to see Medlen remain in the starting 5 and KK sent to the bullpen. I know, I know, KK earns too much to pitch in middle relief, but I’d actually like to see the best player be given the job and a winning team on the field.
The Braves will next take on the NL Central leading Cincinnati Reds for a 2-game series. (The schedule-makers really showed what they are made of this week). The Reds are the hottest team in the league (winning 8 of their last 9) and will send their super-rookie Mike Leake (no relation to Kelly) to the mound for the finale on Thursday. Leake has been a surprise to many this season around the baseball world, but not the Reds. A #1 pick by the Reds in 2009, he is their version of Tommy Hanson (who I can’t even put in the same class) and oddly enough, will face Hanson in a battle of potential aces.
The Braves will then enter a stretch of 9 games that they absolutely HAVE to dominate—three in Pittsburgh, three in Florida and Three more against Pittsburgh at the Ted. The Braves are again in last place in the NL East and won’t get a shot to pick up this much ground again until August. This is obviously not the start the Braves (and Braves fans) had envisioned; it may be a carbon copy of last year.
The problem, as it seems like it always is, is the hitting. The Braves bats are coming off their best week of the season, but because of some glaring holes in the lineup, it is hard to stay consistent. The foundation of the Braves lineup, Chipper Jones and Brian McCann, has been their biggest downfall so far. When you add in the sub-.200AVG of Yunel Escobar, you have a recipe for disaster. The 2009 Braves MVP, who has just come off the DL, has not had a hit since Opening Day. OK not really, but it sure seems like it. I would like to think Omar Infante will be called back to duty soon if Escobar doesn’t produce, but after watching the Braves for the past 20+ years, I know better.
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Until Next time…Go Braves!