Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Braves @ Nationals: Game 2 Recap

That sound you hear is our division championship chances circling the drain. In another horrible hitting perfomance, the Braves lost to the Nationals 1-4 on a rainy Tuesday evening. I'm tired of writing these entries where I have to describe how bad we were at the plate. We all know exactly why it scares the hell out of us as Braves fans. The wound from 2011 when we went dead cold at the plate in September is starting to open up again, and we're grimacing with every loss. My confidence, which is usually unflappable when it comes to this team, will come into question if we don't salvage something from this series tonight. I've pointed at this 10 game stretch as the three series to define our postseason. So far, we're 1-4 in five of those games.

Jason Heyward was outstanding last night. He went 3-4, and 1-1 with RISP, in addition to stealing a base. That was where the good ended. Everyone else was terrible. The Braves went 1-6 with RISP, and outside of Heyward, only 4 other guys touched one bag. Maholm gave up 4 runs on nothing but homers. Even if we don't give up the last 3 run bomb, you have to score more than ONE RUN as a team. The idea that we're going to shut out opponents in an NL division race is laughable. I said in the series preview we'd need about 20 runs to feel comfortable in this series. We've scored 5 in two games. Washington has scored 9.

I'm going to call out the reason we're losing. There are people who are absolutely awful at the plate, and it has to be addressed. First, Brian McCann is batting .146 in August. On the season, Brian is batting .163 with RISP. He's been a disaster, and it's not just this year. It was latter half of last year too. Post all-star break he was batting .203 with 42 strikeouts. I'm very close to being done with him at the end of the year. We'll probably bring him back because he's optioned, but why? He's not producing and he's not defensively strong. Second, it's Dan Uggla. I'm back to wishing we'd traded him when we had the chance. Now, nobody would poke him with a 10 foot clown pole. Uggla's batting .206 in August, and that's after a good start. Third, Freddie Freeman has gone into the tank. He's batting .225 in August and he's only .244 with RISP on the season. Granted he's been clutch in the 2 out scenario, but other than that he's not been great. So there you go, your 4-5-6 hitters in the heart of the lineup have been dreadful this month. And the worst part is that the rest of the team has been performing AROUND them against bad teams. When we beat the Padres 6-0 last week? The three of them went 2-8 with no RBIs. During the last 7 days, all three of them are a combined 9-66 (a .136 batting average). That just so happens to be against the opponents we need to beat to get the playoffs. They aren't stepping up when we need it, and it could kill our season if it goes on much longer.

That's my rant. Here's the thing. I can forgive Freeman. He's a young kid who's been in the league for 3 years. He's an amazing talent in the field. He can pick a ball that nobody else can at first base, and he has been solid leading up to this point in the season. He's still batting near .270 on the year with this slump. The other two? You could dump them tomorrow and I would be ok with it. I'm tired of watching Dan Uggla attempt to break out of it, give us hope, and then dash it against a wall when it matters. I'm sick of Brian McCann being injured or not hitting and then hearing about how much money he's going to cost us next season, or that we'll have to make some tough decisions with our lineup. No, we won't. Let him go and spend that money elsewhere. This isn't me being reactionary. This is a steady progression look at what they've done on this team for a season and a half. Good and bad.

Medlen's on the hill tonight. He's been a winner in the last 14 games. I still think he can win here even though we're in a complete slump. However, if he doesn't, and we get swept by the Nats when it mattered most? Even I'm hitting the panic button. Not just because we'll have tanked the division, but because we're shedding game after game in the wild card race. Let's not let that happen. Go out there and win one tonight for Chipper, for the fans, and for our sanity!

Go Braves!

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