Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Reflections on Braves Opening Day

The shine of the season wore off fast yesterday at the Braves found themselves 3 outs from victory, only to be foiled by their own ability to catch or throw the baseball. And you'd figure for pure athletes it wouldn't be so difficult, but the two errors to lose the game were among the most frustrating back-to-back gaffes I've seen in a while.

This year instead of doing recaps where I tell you what happening in a game, I'm going to do reflections on the game itself. Why? Because for most of my readers, I know you already watched the game yesterday. A recap would tell you what you already know, and I have no desire to rehash the same information you can get anywhere. Instead, I'll pick out 2-3 things from each game and talk about them in depth. So let's try that here.

First, Julio looked simultaneously good and bad out there on the mound. He had moments where he looked in command, and the changeup was working well. Then he had moments were he left pitches up in the zone that got planted in the bleachers (and some that luckily didn't). In a game where mistakes matter, he only make two that counted as runs with two solo homers, and that's a better outing than most. I don't believe in the Quality Start statistic (6 innings with 3 runs or less) because that's an ERA of 4.50 on the year, and that sucks. However, I do believe that any time you can hold a team to 2 runs and hand the ball to the bullpen you did your job as a starter, and Julio did that.

Second, the defense was bad all game. There were two actual errors in the game, but there were several more plays and mental errors that just really showed me we're going to have an issue all year in the field. Two throwing errors by two different shortstops really cost the Braves, and AJ Pierzynski not being able to hold on to what would have been the final out at the plate was a complete disaster. That doesn't count as an error, but it was. Oh, and Markakis cost the Braves on the basepaths by oversliding second and getting called out on the Chase Utley slide rule. For those of you who don't know what that means, Chase Utley busted a guy's kneecap on a takeout slide last year, so this year we're wrapping everyone in freaking bubble wrap and chanting about our Shakras before you slide into second base, or you're called out.

Not really, the actual rule is that you actually have to hold onto the bag when you go into second, but I'm pissed about the rule. Like when someone broke Buster Posey in half at home plate, we now have to overreact in baseball and make up rules about contact in a supremely low contact sport. Nevermind the fact it took them decades to put replay in place after it was commonly accepted in every other profressional sport, SLIDING IS DANGEROUS AND IT MUST BE STOPPED! MAN YOUR PEARL CLUTCHING STATIONS, FULL SPEED AHEAD!

So the Braves lost the game because they couldn't hold onto a lead, which by the way you better get used to this year. I have no illusions as I said in my Bold Predictions piece that this team will hold leads. I do think they'll score runs and be in games, but the defense is a very real issue (along with some pitching problems) that will rear its ugly head over and over again. You'll just have to find a zen place in your life to stuff your sorrows in a sack when Gordon Beckham beanbags a guy in the first row of the dugout section.

0-1, Braves play the Nats again tomorrow after a day off. I'll be at my TV asking for more.

GO BRAVES!

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