Friday, July 6, 2012

Cubs @ Braves: Game 4 Recap

It's amazing what a few early runs will do. It's also kind of creepy that after game one, I asked for 18 more runs out of the Braves for the series, and they scored exactly 18 runs. Also, last night I asked for 7 runs, and they scored exactly seven runs. Today, I'm asking for a winning powerball ticket and a lost Kate Upton to wander into my apartment in a two-piece.

The game was a combination of great long-ball hitting and good pitching. Prado, Heyward, Freeman, and McCANN, all hit extremely well. All of them had a mult-hit game, and Bourn contributed with 2 walks. Amazingly, with 7 runs, we went 0-3 with RISP during the evening. When that happens, there's only one root cause: we were going deep a lot. Heyward, Mac, Freeman, and Francisco all went yard. Minor was also his standard "good enough" that I like to see out of the kid. A big key for Minor is to keep his walks down, and he did that with a line of 6.1 IP, 3H, 2ER, 2BB, 6K. There's two more things I'd like for Minor to do before I really start to get on board with him as a regular starter. First, he needs to improve his first strike count against hitters (yesterday it was 10/23, and I'm looking for over 50%). Second, I'd like for him to improve his ground ball to fly ball rate to a more 50/50 count. Currently on the season it's 101-176. Reason being, ground balls never leave the park, and Minor's big issue has been home runs.

MVP of the game was Brian McCann. It was great to see Brian swinging like the Mac of old, going 2/4 with a homer and a sac-fly, totalling 3 RBIs on the night. We need that so badly in this lineup. Despite Brian's struggles of late, he still has 38 RBIs on the season. It's funny that we see long stretches of bad from him, but he has these concentrated games of awesome. I suppose that's the reason I am hugely frustrated with his performance so far. It's like a golfer that shoots in the 70s once, and then goes out there and has 10 straight rounds in the 90s. As an outsider observer, nights like last night let us know EXACTLY how good Brian McCann can be, so when he isn't we get frustrated.

Yesterday, you also may have heard that Jonny Venters got put on the DL for 15 days. Let me tell you how I believe that conversation went:

Fredi - Jonny, how are you feeling after yesterday? Does your elbow feel hurt?
Jonny - No Skip, I feel okay, just frustrated I can't get the dip on the ball.
Fredi - Think hard, son. You sure you aren't hurt?
Jonny - No, I'm good.
Fredi - I don't think you are, I think you're feeling some tendonitis.
Jonny - What? I don't...
Fredi - Yep. Looks like tendonitis. I can see it from here. You better take some time off.
Jonny - Oh. I see.
Fredi - Yeah, 15 days on the DL should set you right. In the meantime we'll just bring up that AA lefty.
Jonny - ...

<scene>

Put me in the camp that believes this is just a move to get JV off our roster without publically saying he sucks. It's one of those funny baseball moves, but you'll notice that they give no plan for when he's coming back. They just say it will be "when he's ready." That's a demotion, folks, plain and simple. It's just wrapped up nicely in "injury" wrapping paper.

Today we head into our last series before the all star break, and it just happens to be against the Phillies in Philly. What a terrible town. I hope our players are immunized against ugly and stupid. Series preview will go up in a couple of hours after I've had several cups of coffee. It keeps me sharp.

Go Braves!

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