Bombs away. Chicks are diggin the long ball again at the Ted, and so are the fans all over Braves Country. We had not one, not two, but THREE jacks off Cole Hamels to cap off our 7-5 win yesterday. That kind of day brings the fans out in droves on sports talk radio, the forums, and hopefully at the ballpark the rest of this week. In fact, the only time last season that Cole Hamels gave up 3 homers was to the SF Giants, and they went on to win the World Series. Food for thought.
Our offense was electric. 10 hits, 3 homers, 7 runs, 3 doubles, 3 walks, and 8 Ks. However, the offense was mostly off the moonshot. The Braves only went 2-8 with RISP, and they left 5 on base. Bear in mind that while the dingers bring fans out of their seats, they are usually very sporadic. Sometimes you get 3 in a game, and sometimes you go 3 games without one. We also need to be able to generate some key hits when guys are on base to really take advantage of the power and speed in our lineup.
Chase Utley did his best to try to ruin the opening day. In fact he was a double short of hitting for the cycle. Without him, the Phillies would have quietly gone into the good night. Instead, the Phillies went 3-10 with RISP and managed to plate 5 runs, which wasn't enough for the win, even with Hamels going. The difference was Durbin coming into the game in the 6th (as a Philly this time), and proceeding to walk Uggla, give up a double to Chris Johnson, and then a single to Laird that eventually plated both guys. If Durbin doesn't come into the game and give up 2 runs on no outs, who knows? Those little things make the difference.
Let's make sure we understand what went on here. Our offense saved our ass. It didn't look that way live, but that was the case. Huddy didn't even get 5 innings and gave up 3 runs with 6 hits. His ERA in that game was a 6.23, and that's not a good outing. He got a no-decision because of it. Avilan came in to get the win with 1.2 innings of fantastic shutout work, so I'm proud of what he did on the mound. Eric O'Flaherty started the bleeding again by giving up a triple to Utley before inducing Howard into a grounder to score him. Walden came into the game and gave up a double to Mayberry before advancing him to third on a WP. Then Kratz got a single, scoring Mayberry, and advanced to second on a WP. We were 1 swing away from a tie game at that point in the 8th. We sort of limped to the finish in the bullpen with the exception of Avilan and Kimbrel. The middle part of the bullpen is something to keep an eye on for me. It's not set yet, and I'm not sure what to think about it.
You have to take the good with the bad in every game and hope the good carries the day. In this case, it did, and we won game one. I love watching our guys go yard. I also won't pretend that our pitching didn't make me cringe at times. It's going to take some mental adjustments from what we're used to with this team scraping together runs and hoping for good outings by the pitching staff.
Several people had questions about the CPA and its prediction the Phillies would win. Let me tell you a little more about what it does. For starters, the CPA is completely independent of what I think about the game's outcome. I'm biased and would predict nothing but wins. Right now, the CPA is basing a lot of it's numbers on last year's stats, and the current year projections. We have little to no data on the regular season since it just started. As things continue, the CPA will adjust to the more recent data until the 2012 data has completely rolled off the books. What it's set up to do is give you an idea of an average score from each team given the location, pitchers, lineups, career matchup history, recent successes, overall run production, and any relevent trends. In the first couple of weeks, it may be hilariously wrong, because it will have a hard time predicting how big plays affect the game. Example, homers. If you look at yesterday's prediction of 4-3 Phillies, it didn't predict the 3 HR breakout performance of the Braves. Remove that and the lone Utley homer from the equation, and suddenly a 7-5 Braves win becomes a 3-4 Braves loss. At the very least, it should give you an idea of the general outcome in a game, and how an average matchup would play out. If I could accurately predict the outcome of every game to the run, I would live in Vegas. Unfortunately I don't possess the sports almanac from Back to the Future.
With that in mind, let's see what the CPA thinks about tomorrow:
Braves 5 - Phillies 3.
The CPA seems to think Halladay is on a slide, and that Maholm's numbers at home are stronger than his road numbers. Also, not many batters in the Phillies lineup have faced Maholm, which usually gives an advantage to the pitcher over the hitter. The swing runs here will be on guys like Brown, Nix, Revere, and Simmons all whom have no history against these starters. Overall, the CPA thinks the Braves will win this game.