Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Braves @ Yankees: Game 1 Recap

By now you've probably heard the bad news. Beachy is done for the year with a ligament tear and will need Tommy John surgery. That means our best pitcher in terms of ERA, and the best in the MLB for that matter, is now off the board for 2012. Coming off a loss last night against the Yankees, it's going to be easy for people to start to panic. In fact, if you're masochistic enough to look at the wretched hive of scum and villiany that is the AJC message boards, you probably already see a lot of panic. What I'm here to tell you, intelligent Braves fan, is not to panic. I'll explain more as we go, but let's hit the highlights of the game yesterday.

It was a Monday which means we lost. Sad how that goes, but we're 0-10 on St. Garfield's Day. We started strong with a leadoff triple by Bourn. He's one of the guys I noted that needed to get right in this series for us to have a change. Prado managed to sacrifice him in, and we had the lead! Unfortunately, Bourn was the only guy who had clutch hits yesterday. Our lineup from 2-6 went 1-for-19 at the plate with a walk. I got news, folks. When your heart of the lineup hits like that? You'll never win another game. In comparison, our 7-8-9 and leadoff hitters went 6-for-14. That's completely backwards from what you'd expect.

Minor can't win a game with only 2 runs against the Yankees. I hesitate to say anybody could win a game with only 2 runs against the Yankees. In fact, I'm going to look it up to see if the Yankees have been beaten all season in a 2 run game. The answer is yes, only one team has beaten the Yankees in a 2-0 victory, and that was the Texas Rangers with Yu Darvish on the mound. Seeing as we're not the defending AL Champs, I don't think 2 runs is going to do us any freaking favors during this series. So, I'm not going to pick on Minor, and I'm going to point out something that's very critical for the Braves. It's also a reason why we shouldn't panic about the loss of Beachy.

As much as Braves fans are used to the idea of us winning games with pitching, we have to get over that mental hurdle during this season. Our pitching won't win us ballgames this year. In fact, we don't NEED our pitching to win us ballgames. All we need it to do is keep us in the ballgame, and we can win if we do one very critical thing: SCORE THREE RUNS OR MORE A GAME. Is it really that simple, you might ask? Why yes, it is. Let me explain. When the Braves score at least three runs in a game, we're 32-11. That stat should smack you between the eyeballs, and tell you that pitching is the least of our concerns.

Here's another key fact. When Dan Uggla is hot, this team wins. We're 1-7 in our last eight games, and Dan Uggla was 3/25 (.120) in that stretch. Go back to our six game winning streak at the beginning of June. Dan Uggla goes 6/19 (.316) with 10 RBIs, and 7 walks. But the rabbit hole goes so much deeper than that. 4 game sweep by the Reds? Uggla was 2/12 (.166) with 2 RBIs. Sweep of the Cardinals in St. Louis? Uggla was 5/13 (.385) with 3 RBIs. The list goes on and on and on. Dan Uggla is very much a key to this team's success.

If scoring runs and Dan Uggla are the keys to victory, why am I so optimistic? Because Dan Uggla is a .283 hitter in his last three seasons after the All-Star break, and he slugs .535. He's the definition of a down the stretch player who struggles in interleague play. In fact, he's a .205 hitter in interleague play from 2009 thru this year. So, am I really concerned about him playing well against division opponents in July, August, and September? No. In fact I think we'll thrive when we get out of this god-awful interleague schedule.

 So, intelligent Braves fan, don't buy into the panic. Endure this schedule with a quiet calm while the rest of the fanbase runs about like reactionary idiots. These things will pass. The time to panic will be if we struggle to score runs in July. Should that happen, I will be the first one to push the button. In the meantime, let's score some runs and knock these Yankees off that winning streak.

Go Braves!

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