Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Marlins @ Braves: Game 1 Recap

Apparently high socks trump curses. That's what Chipper Jones thought would help the team get over the Monday hump, and damned if it didn't work. The Braves won 8-2 on the strength of some absolutely ridiculous hitting numbers. That's not to say Tommy didn't step up with a 5 inning, 1 run performance, but he's still coming up short in innings due to his pitch economy. He could have gone a 6th, but Fredi yanked him after we went up 6-1. I guess that's good strategy, but I think it's better to leave guys in when they are still under 100 pitches and effective.

On to the hit parade. The only thing missing last night was the clowns and elephants. Heyward, Freeman, and Janish all had multiple hits, and everybody had a hit in the game except Prado and Hanson. We even had two pinch hits which never happens. One came from Juan Francisco with his PH 2 RBI single. The other was from Eric Hinske. All in all, it was 13 hits, 5 walks, and 4-9 with RISP that opened up a can of whoopass on the Marlins pitching staff. Buerhle got rocked for 6 runs in 4.1 innings, and the bullpen got pegged for 2 runs in the remainder of mop-up mode.

The MVP goes to an unlikely guy I really want to highlight. Paul Janish deserves the MVP for this game. Paul went 2/3 with a walk and 2 runs scored. He had his best game so far with the Braves at the plate, and I think that deserves the MVP nod. Janish stepped in to Simmons' SS position with little fanfare, but he's done an incredible job in the field. In 15 games he's turned 11 double plays, with a .984 fielding percentage. Here's another thing you may not know about Janish's tenure with the Braves. He's something of a good luck charm. The Braves are 10-5 since Janish has arrived, and they've snapped the Monday curse. Is is coincidence? Absolutely, but I do know that this kid is doing the yeoman's work in a position where we needed a solid glove due to injury. I'd like to hope that he can get his average up before Simmons returns so we can make him into some good offseason trade bait.

Speaking of trades, the Braves picked up Reed Johnson and Paul Maholm for some cash and a couple prospects. Maholm is a lefty starter intended to bolster the rotation in some capacity (I'm guessing that means Medlen gets put back in the pen). I think we got a great deal on our hands if Maholm can keep up the streak he's had since July started. In that month, Maholm has won all his games with an ERA of 1.23 in 36 innings. Reed Johnson is a right handed RF guy hitting .302 this season in a platoon situation with Bryan Lahair. One would imagine he's here to shore up the days where Chipper needs a day off, Prado has to move to the infield, and we have to stick somebody in left. It's probably a better option to put him out there for defense than Hinske. Also, he'll provide some better options in PH situations late in games.

So the winning streak continues. The Braves have taken it to a league-leading 6 in a row (now that Cincy finally lost), and we're 3.5 out of first. With the way the Mets, Marlins and Phillies are playing, this is shaping up to be a 2 horse race in the NL East. The closest team to us right now is the Mets, who are 3 games under .500 and 8.5 games behind us. We need to continue to take it to a bad Marlins team in order to shore up the gap for first. Right now the wild card is way too tight to worry about making it into the post-season that way. I'd much rather start a new streak of division championships by knocking off the Nats this year.

Go Braves!

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