Thursday, August 9, 2012

Phillies @ Braves: Game 3

What do you do when 6 runs isn't enough? You score 6 more. That's how the Braves solved their little Phillies problem during the rubber game of this series. A win is a win, but a series win over the crappy Phillies is pure sweetness. Aside from the buzzsaw game with Hamels, I felt pretty good about our team all week. Hudson had one epic failure in the 5th inning, but we covered that up with some outstanding offense. If you liked runs and action, this was the game for you.

The Braves had 12 runs, 10 hits, 9 walks, 4 doubles, a homer, 6 2-out RBIs, and went 3-10 with RISP. Also, David Ross stole his first base ever without a throw. So shocked was the entire Phillies lineup that Rossy took off, they just put the ball in their pocket. The game seesawed from down 1 to up 5 to tied to up 6 by the end. Neither starter went long enough to qualify for anything because the game was so bizarre. Kendrick was gone in the 4th, and Huddy couldn't escape his 20 pitch disaster in the 5th. Also, I'd love it if the Braves would stop giving up stupid runs in the first inning. It doesn't inspire confidence that the game is going to be easy for us.

MVP of the game? Who else but Dan Uggla. That's right, Dan freaking Uggla is off the shnide in August. Last night he went 3/4 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored in addition to a walk. All 3 of his RBIs came with 2 outs. Dan was hugely clutch last night, and clutch is everything in baseball. What I like to see right now, and what I didn't see from him before, is that Dan is starting to level off on the top half of the baseball. He's making solid contact on line drives that he was popping up or missing a month ago. That tells me that his eye level has gone back to normal and he's seeing the ball like he used to. Is he "back"? Well he's hitting .346 in August so far. If he's not back, he's certainly much improved from his previous starts in prior months, so I'll take it. A big key for me is that he's slowly cutting down on his strikeouts. Right now he's had 7 Ks in 28 plate appearances. Last month he had 28 Ks in 92 plate appearances. That's a 5% reduction in his strikeout rate from last month, and a 3.5% reduction from his season overall. Small victories, folks.

The Phillies, outside of a flurry of offense in the 5th, were completely awful at the plate. In fact, after Hudson went exit stage left, the Braves bullpen only gave up one hit in 4.2 innings of combined work. That's either unbelievably good pitching or unbelievably bad hitting. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Still, I'll point to Minor going to the 7th in a losing cause as a reason our bullpen could come out of the gate fresh in this game. We had the opporunity to throw a rested Durbin, Venters, EOF, and Kimbrel at the Phillies in 4 consecutive innings. That lineup didn't have a chance. Tip your hat to those relief guys for firing on all cylinders, and tip your hat to Minor for giving them the rest they needed yesterday to be dominant today.

We head into an off day today, so I'll leave you with the Good, Bad, and Ugly over the last week:

The Good - Dan Uggla and Chipper Jones are both batting .350 on the week with 6 doubles and 12 RBIs. While the Old Grey Mare has been very good this year, having Uggla step up as well is gravy.

The Bad - Brian McCann only had 3 hits on the week. It's not the worst thing in the world because pitchers have been largely pitching around him. He drew 6 walks for an OBP of .450 for the last 5 games.

The Ugly - We stink in the first inning in our division. During the Phillies games we gave up 4 runs in the first inning combined. We gave up 4 runs in the first inning in the Miami series. In fact in our last 3 divisional series, 9 of our 19 runs we gave up were in the first inning. You get rid of our bad starts, and we could be 10-0 in those games. Let's clean that up.

Go Braves!

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