The Braves went into Pittsburgh on Labor Day on the heels of a tough series loss at Florida hoping for a sweep but desperately needing at least a series win. Instead, they departed the Steel City just barely avoiding getting swept themselves and with a 2nd place standing. And I was there to see it all go down.
Monday’s match-up saw Tommy Hanson throw an effective 6 IP, 3 R (2 ER), 4 H, 4K, 2 BB. Unfortunately the offense didn’t show up to support him. Atlanta got its base runners with 8 hits and 3 walks, but going 0-6 with RISP and 11 LOB lead to just 1 run (on a sacrifice fly). If possible, Tuesday’s affair was even worse. Team ace Tim Hudson took a perfect game into the 5th inning, but then was tagged for 4 ER in a disastrous 7th inning. Braves bats managed just 5 hits (0-3 with RISP, 6 LOB) while getting shut out against the MLB’s worst team. The impotent offensive performance was capped off with a back-breaking Derrek Lee GIDP with the bases loaded on Tuesday. If you’re keeping track, that’s just 1 run over 2 games. To add insult to injury, that 1 total run came against two Pirates starting pitchers with ERAs of about 6.00. Kind of tough to accept if you’re a Braves fan.
Perhaps the only negative was dealing with the ever-persistent autograph seeker/hawkers. Being 1,000+ miles away from Turner Field here in Upstate, NY means I don’t get to see too many Braves games in person (these were my 4th and 5th this year), so I like to get to the stadium as early as possible to watch batting practice. Unfortunately I have to ‘battle’ with those looking to get any autograph possible to add to their eBay store. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a quick picture or autograph when the opportunity presents itself, but it gets frustrating looking for a spot near home plate while nearly everyone else is pulling out their team rosters and binders full of baseball cards. I understand that’s part of going to games, but I still don’t like it.
The Braves ended the Pirates series with a 9-1 win (typical ATL offense..1 R, 0 R, 9 R) for Derek Lowe to go 2-4 on their 6 game road trip. The next 7 games will be home at Turner where the Braves are still an MLB-best 49-19. 4 wins are all but necessary, but 5+ wins would certainly be helpful. Jurrjens, Minor, Hanson and Hudson will face Wainwright, Carpenter, Westbrook and TBA, respectively.