Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cardiac Braves!

Is there any better way to describe the team at this point?? The Braves took two of three from Houston despite a series with 8 (!) errors, an inning that would have made a little leaguer look bad and two blown late-inning leads. A clutch Brooks Conrad homer (aren’t they all?) on Tuesday and a Wednesday extra-inning comeback topped-off by Brian McCann’s 7th career grand slam gave Atlanta their third straight series win. The Braves received strong starting pitching between Mike Minor’s Monday debut (Braves fans should be quite excited about him), Jurrjens’ solid Tuesday outing and Hanson’s dominant Wednesday performance. Atlanta’s now 7-3 over their past 10 games.

Brooks Conrad hit his 9th inning two-run home run after subbing for Chipper Jones earlier in the game. Chipper was injured on a SPECTACULAR play where he looked at least 10 years younger than his 38 year-old self. Unfortunately Chipper landed awkwardly on his left knee and was immediately pulled. This morning’s MRI revealed a torn ACL for the Braves icon, likely requiring season-ending surgery. Chipper’s the third Braves starter to be bit by the injury bug since the All-Star break, following Martin Prado and Kris Medlen. We can probably expect a combination of Brooks Conrad and Omar Infante to fill-in at third for Jones. With Prado eligible to come off the DL on Sunday (no word on when he will actually return, though he’s begun some throwing and hitting off a tee), Infante may soon be freed-up from his second base duties.

The other big story of the series was the boarder-line atrocious defense. As mentioned, the Braves committed 8 errors in the three-game series and now lead the majors in post All-Star break errors. Just as the team seems to be getting over its problems with runners in scoring position (6-17 this series), they’re now battling this. It’s pretty clear that the team is simply not executing their fundamentals as they’ve managed to make a number of SportsCenter-worthy plays (Chipper’s play included) during the same time period. Hopefully it’s just something they need to get out of their system. I guess it’s better to have this problem now than in late September.

The Braves have an off day today and will begin a three-game four-game series back in Atlanta against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday. The starters have not been officially announced, but we can presume Hudson, Lowe, Jurrjens and Hanson (Minor’s spot will be skipped to allow him extra rest) will match-up against Kuroda, Lilly, Padilla and Billingsley, respectively.

Unrelated, but with the Braves visiting the Mets for another weekend series coming up towards the end of September, I’ve been looking at tickets to head downstate again for the Saturday contest. For a $125 million underperforming team, I can’t believe your average Mets fan (and there are a lot of them around here) can stand paying a minimum of $60 for anything better than an upper deck seat. Ugh.

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