Monday, May 13, 2013

Game 4 Recap: Giants 5/12/13

Ok before we get into the game, settle in for a minute, because I have a small rant to get off my chest. I'm getting sick of the starting pitching on the road after almost a quarter of the season. We looked like complete idiots out there for the Giants series, and the way we played we should have lost our hold on first place in the East. The only reason we didn't is because the Cubs decided to play well against the Nats. Do you have any idea what our starting ERA is on the road this year? It's 4.63 across all our starters. That means to win a game on the road, we would have to plate 5 runs just to be in the discussion. I'm sorry, but there no team in the NL who can average 5 runs a game, period. The Rockies are the closest, and they average 4.78 runs a game with the help of that ridiculous ballpark. In short, you can't rely on your offense to cover that kind of bad pitching out of your starters if you want to win games. It simply won't matter. The record bears that out, too. When the Braves score 5+ on the road, they are 8-1. When they don't, they are 4-10. I don't like the fact that we have to rely on scoring 5 runs to win games, because that's not going to be common enough down the stretch. The thing is, the bad pitching is coming from our most veteran pitchers. Hudson's road ERA is 6.97, and Maholm's is 4.98 on the season. That's 22 years of combined experience with ERA's in the stratosphere if they hit the road. For Maholm, that's probably never going to get better, because he's had a road ERA of 4.43 for the last 3 years, but for Huddy? He's normally below 4.00 on the road. Right now, him being off has cost us 3 of the 4 road games our Ace has pitched. Then, you get into a guy like Medlen who couldn't win a game against a high school softball team right now, or a guy like Maholm who has given up 8 runs in his May road starts.

This is the Atlanta Braves. We win on defense and pitching, and when pitching leaves town, we lose. I don't care that we have a shiny new offense that can mash for 10 runs on the board, it can also strike out 16 times and fail to put up more than 3 hits. We need our pitching. We need our starters. And they need to get their act together on the road. If they hold the other team to 2 runs and go 6 innings, and they lose? Fine, you can blame the offense. Maholm can make that case against Washington, and Medlen can blame a loss on the bullpen in Cincy. Otherwise, our overall record when the starters go for 6 IP with 2 runs or less? 10-3. That's what we need. Is it unrealistic to have every game? Sure, but it's not unrealistic to expect our two highest paid starters to get their ERA's under 4.50 on the road. It's also not unrealistic to expect our starters to not put us in an immediate 2 run hole in the first two innings. That's not good for anybody's psyche.

Ok, I'm done with that rant. I think they will get better, but man, it's been horrible to watch us struggle against teams I have a good feeling we'd see in the playoffs. The Reds and the Giants aren't going anywhere. Neither are the Tigers for that matter. So let's look at this game 4 against the Giants. What went wrong? Well, Medlen admittedly said in an interview that, "I had nothing out there. I was battling on every pitch." That's not what I want to hear out of a guy in an anchor game on the road. It showed up in his pitches as well. He was elevating and they were leaving the yard. Belt, Sandoval, and Scutaro all had homers, while Crawford and Blanco has RBIs. Medlen gave up 8 hits and 5 walks. That's a pretty obvious indicator that his command was all over the place.

The Braves batters continue to do their best road slumping impression. 1-7 with RISP? Check. Less than 3 hits off the opposing starter? Check. Not making the most of favorable counts? Check. It's a laundry list of things you can expect if the offense doesn't have it going, and none of it has to do with the much-maligned strikeout totals. Even though the Giants only went 2-8 with their RISP chances, they still were able to destroy out starter while the Braves couldn't touch a previously struggling Lincecum. We look like an antidote for opposing pitchers to get healthy. We're streaky and that's the nature of the beast, but it will wear on us all at times. This series was one of those times where it wore on me. A good series against Arizona would repair a lot of that wear and tear. It's also more fun to watch than getting down 5-0 in the first 5 innings. If you can't win on the road, you should at least keep the games interesting. That's the most depressing part of the series when you'd turn on the game a little late and realize you were already down 3-0 in the 3rd inning.

So we move on to Arizona. They've at least lost two in a row, so they aren't red hot right now. That's a plus in our favor. Another one is that if we can win this series, we go 5-5 on the road trip, which salvages a lot of our complaints. We won't have another 10 game road trip all year, so going .500 after getting absolutely dismantled in this series would be huge. Series preview will be up later today.


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