Open thread, NLDS Game 3

Here’s the stakes: If the local nine lose tonight the season will hang on the shoulders of Freddy Garcia, and even if he wins the Braves would have to beat the best pitcher in baseball to advance to the NLCS.

Fortunately, we have the right pitcher pitcher on the mound. April aside, Julio T. was arguably the ace of the staff, The Dodgers, meanwhile, counter with a pitcher who may well be injured, despite what Don Mattingly says.

There’s what they say and what they do, and then somewhere is the truth.

Which is where you’re kinda left after the Dodgers tried to explain away Hyun-Jin Ryu throwing an odd bullpen session Friday in Atlanta while Manager Don Mattingly, team doctor Neal ElAttrache and vice president of medical services Stan Conte looked on.

Husbands arriving home in the wee hours with lipstick on their collars and reeking of bourbon don’t look half as suspicious.

Ryu is tough, but the alternative would be Chris Capuano, who has a 2.61 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 76 career innings against the Braves.

The line-up remains unchanged.

Heyward cf JUpton rf Freeman 1b Gattis lf McCann c CJohnson 3b Simmons ss EJohnson 2b Teheran p

Open thread, Game 2 NLDS

Braves get no hit, lose 18-0. In other news, Chip Caray is inducted into Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame, Mark Owens joins him in the booth, Lee Greenwood sings the National Anthem, Jim Leyritz throws out the first pitch, following the pre-game invocation by new team president Ralph Reed.

Go Braves!

Heyward cf JUpton rf Freeman 1b Gattis lf McCann c CJohnson 3b Simmons ss EJohnson 4 Minor p

 

Braves vs. Dodgers: The rivalry that was (’91)

July 7

On June 28 the Braves beat the Dodgers in 10 before 43,000-plus at Fulco, to close within 5.5 games of division-leading L.A. In those days, that was reason for hope. Then the Dodgers won the nightcap and the remaining two games of the series, The two teams met again a week later in L.A., where they split the first two. A loss in the finale would drop the Braves 9.5 games behind the Dodgers in the West.

The Braves trailed throughout and entered the 8th down 5-2. But then TP singled to lead things off, Gant got hit by a pitch and Tommy Gregg reached on an error, loading the bases. The rally was cut short when Jeff Treadway hit into a double play and Blauser struck out. The Braves lost to drop one game under .500 heading into the All-Star break — familiar territory for long-suffering fans.

Sept. 15

In the two months since they last played, the Braves had made up 10 games on the Dodgers and entered the weekend series up by 1/2-a-game. Nearly 140,000 showed up at Fulco for the three-game series, with the Dodgers winning the opener and the Braves prevailing in 11 innings in Game 2. The winner of the finale would leave Atlanta with the division lead, and the Dodgers had their ace, Ramon Martinez, on the mound. But the Braves had Avery, who got all the runs he needed in the bottom of the 1st, when a Sid Bream grand slam gave the Braves a 5-0 lead. Avery went the distance, allowing one run, four hits, walking none and striking out 6.  It wouldn’t be his last big start against the Dodgers that summer.

Sept. 20

It would come less than a week later. The Dodgers had retaken the lead heading into the weekend series at Chavez Ravine. Avery and Tim Belcher matched zeroes through 6, when Gant — stuck on 29 for weeks — scored Justice on a two-run bomb to left. It was all Avery would need. I remember Sutton marveling at the youngster’s composure, and it appeared at that point he was the best of the Braves’ young arms. Tommy G. deserved the Cy Young Award that year, but Avery was the guy you wanted on the mound in a big game.

The Dodgers would win the last two games of  those series but would end up losing the division by one game. Avery’s starts made the difference. .

Braves/Dodgers: The rivalry that was (1983)

I was not among the 48,556 fans at Fulco on August 13, 1983, but I should’ve been. While my parents and a cousin enjoyed the best game of that season from field level seats behind first, I was participating in pious sing-a-longs at a Christian retreat. “God said, to No-ah, there’s gonna be a flood-y, flood-y …”

I had no idea what happened in Atlanta until returning home the next day. I was pissed I missed it but ecstatic with the win.

The Dodgers beat Pascual Perez to open the series, closing to within 5-1/2 games of the first-place Braves. Saturday night’s match-up favored the Bums, with a young Alejandro Pena facing journeyman Pete Falcone.

You forget how good a starter Pena was. In his first two complete MLB seasons, Big Al posted ERAs of 2.75 and 2.48, with 24 wins and seven shutouts.

On this night he coasted through the first five, allowing only one hit and one unearned run. Falcone struggled, failing to make it out of the fourth.

The Braves came to bat in the sixth trailing 6-1. Singles by Brett Butler and Rafael Ramirez stirred hope. Next up: In Claudell We Trust. Boom! Braves within two.

Enter Dave “Lucille” Stewart. After retiring Horner and Murphy, rookie Gerald Perry drilled a single to left. Glenn Hubbard followed with his 7th home run. 6-6. It stayed that way until the 9th.

Steve Bedrosian had struck out six of 10 hitters faced, allowing only a single and intentional walk. Up stepped rookie Greg Brock and his .220 BA. Bedrock grooved one, and Brock numbed the Fulco faithful.

The Dodgers took a  7-6 lead into the bottom of the 9th, with southpaw Steve Howe on for the save. Following a duck snort by Raffy, #8 strode to the plate.

There wasn’t a better pinch hitter that year. Bob Watson, acquired from the Yankees in 1982 for pitcher-turned-actor Scott Patterson (see, John Mullen wasn’t all bad), hit .407 off the bench, with two homers and 13 RBI.

One of those homers came 30 years ago tonight. Braves 8, Dodgers 7. The lead was 6.5 games.

Watson’s blast proved to be the highlight of the ’83 season. The local nine fell to Fernando Valenzuela in the rubber game of the Dodgers series, en route to a devastating 5-14 stretch.

Sept. 11

Though struggling, the Braves were still in the hunt for the NL West. The night before they beat the Dodgers in extra innings, 6-3, to close L.A.’s lead to two games. In the series finale, Len Barker took the mound with the opportunity to ease doubts about the trade that brought him to Atlanta. His mound opponent? Rick Honeycutt, the pitcher the Braves had hoped to acquire before settling for Barker.

It  didn’t start well. A double by light-hitting catcher Jack Fimple plated 2 to break a scoreless tie. The lead didn’t last long. In the third, Honeycutt allowed two runners on in front of the reigning MVP. Murph responded like MVPs do, slugging a three-run homer. One inning later, Jerry Royster scored on an errant throw by Fimple and Brad Komminsk of all people stroked a two-run single to left off Rich Rodas. 6-2 Braves.

The Braves clung to a 6-3 lead going into the 9th. Pinch hitter Jose Morales doubled off Donnie Moore, who then walked Steve Sax. Manager Joe Torre turned to Gene Garber, who had been so good in ’82. Geno had struggled in ’83, however, and came into the game with 6 blown saves and an ERA above 4. He produced accordingly, allowing a single by Dusty Baker to load the bases. All three runners would score on a walk to Pedro Guerrero and a double by Mike Marshall. Garber remained in the game, now tied at 6.

Up stepped light-hitting rookie R.J. Reynolds, a Sacramento product like our blog’s namesake. Reynolds, hitless in three previous at bats, dropped a perfect bunt down the first base line scoring Guerrero to win the game. The Braves would drop seven out of their next nine games, ending any hopes of repeating as NL West champions.

Braves/Dodgers: The rivalry that was (1982)

Though it’s been 20 years since they played in the same division, I still view the Dodgers as one of the Braves’ biggest rivals. They were a reliable draw back in the bad old days, and when the Braves finally righted the ship in 1982 it was the Dodgers who stood in their way. The following season brought another memorable battle for the division title, and if you’re reading this blog you know all about the ’91 race.

So as we await the NLDS to commence, here’s a look back at the rivalry that was, starting with the summer of ’82.

Aug. 5

Even though the Dodgers  had swept the Braves in Atlanta the week before, the local nine still held a 4.5 game lead as they started a four-game series at Chavez Ravine. My best friend and I stayed up late watching recently acquired Pascual Perez toe the slab against Fernando. Pascual was the first to cross the plate that night, scoring on a 2-run dinger by Claudell in the 5th, and he held the Dodgers to one run, leaving after 8 with a 2-1 lead.

Enter Geno, in the midst of his best season as a Brave. With one out and Pedro Guerrero at 2B, Garber coaxed a pop up from Steve Garvey. I remember jumping off the sofa in celebration as Rick Monday tapped a soft grounder to second base. Game over … except Jerry Royster forgot to get the glove down. Monday’s dribbler went right through the wicket into right. Tie game. In the bottom of the 10th, Garber intentionally walked Guerrero and Dusty Baker to load the bases with one out. The curious bit of strategery backfired when a Ron Cey fly scored Steve Sax with the winning run.

What followed was one of the more miserable weekends in Braves history. They lost in extra innings the next two nights before Bob Welch shut them out in the finale. In a span of nine days. the Bravos watched their lead dwindle to just 1-1/2 games. NIne days after that, they trailed by 4 after losing 12-2 to the Expos, their 19th defeat in 21 games.

Sept. 8 

The Braves had crawled back to a half-game of the division lead when the Dodgers came to to town for a two-game set. They’d lose three leads in this game before Claudell evened it at 11 in the 7th with a single scoring Larry Whisenton. It would stay that way until the 10th, when Murph singled in the winning run off Steve Howe. Geno, who tossed three scoreless frames, earned the win in relief to put the Braves back in first place. They padded their lead  the following night, chasing Fernando early en route to a 10-3 win.

Sept. 29 

Both teams struggled in the three weeks after their last meeting. The Braves were swept twice by the Astros while the Dodgers had dropped seven straight heading into the crucial two-game series. As they had done four previous times that season, the Braves and Dodgers went to extras. With two one and one out in the top of the 12th, Terry Harper singled in Rafael Ramirez to give the Braves a 3-2 lead. Royster, making up for that error nearly two months earlier, followed with another single, scoring Brett Butler for what would be the winning run.

Geno, pitching his fourth inning, made it interesting, allowing the tying runs aboard with no outs. The Dodgers closed to within one but it came via a double play by Guerrero, clearing the bases. A Steve Garvey fly ball ended the game and, effectively, the season for the Dodgers as the Braves led by two games with four to play.

The Dodgers won big the following night to close within one but it was too late as a Joe Morgan home run off Forster on the season’s final day clinched the Braves’ first division title since 1969.

 

The Bob Watson game, 30 years ago tonight

I was not among the 48,556 fans at Fulco on August 13, 1983, but I should’ve been. While my parents and a cousin enjoyed the best game of that season from field level seats behind first, I was participating in pious sing-a-longs. “God said, to No-ah, there’s gonna be a flood-y, flood-y …”

I had no idea what happened in Atlanta until returning home the next day. I was pissed I missed it but ecstatic with the win.

The Dodgers beat Pascual Perez to open the series, closing to within 5-1/2 games of the first-place Braves. Saturday night’s match-up favored the Bums, with a young Alejandro Pena facing journeyman Pete Falcone.

You forget how good a starter Pena was. In his first two complete MLB seasons, Big Al posted ERAs of 2.75 and 2.48, with 24 wins and seven shutouts.

On this night he coasted through the first five, allowing only one hit and one unearned run. Falcone struggled, failing to make it out of the fourth.

The Braves came to bat in the sixth trailing 6-1. Singles by Brett Butler and Rafael Ramirez stirred hope. Next up: In Claudell We Trust. Boom! Braves within two.

Enter Dave “Lucille” Stewart. After retiring Horner and Murphy, rookie Gerald Perry drilled a single to left. Glenn Hubbard followed with his 7th home run. 6-6. It stayed that way until the 9th.

Steve Bedrosian had struck out six of 10 hitters faced, allowing only a single and intentional walk. Up stepped rookie Greg Brock and his .220 BA. Bedrock grooved one, and Brock numbed the Fulco faithful.

The Dodgers took a  7-6 lead into the bottom of the 9th, with southpaw *Steve Howe on for the save. Following a duck snort by Raffy, #8 strode to the plate.

There wasn’t a better pinch hitter that year. Watson, acquired from the Yankees in 1982 for pitcher-turned-actor Scott Patterson (see, John Mullen wasn’t all bad), hit .407 off the bench, with two homers and 13 RBI.

One of those homers came 30 years ago tonight. Braves 8, Dodgers 7. The lead was 6.5 games.

Watson’s blast proved to be the highlight of the ’83 season. The local nine fell to Fernando Valenzuela in the rubber game of the Dodgers series, en route to a devastating 5-14 stretch. They’d end up losing the division (#*@! R.J. Reynolds!), though for one night they looked to be the best team in baseball.

Or so I was told.

*Howe’s career ended in 1996 when he was released by Yankees GM Bob Watson.

Open thread, 6/9, Braves vs. Kevin Malones

‘The Sheriff’

Last night Kris Medlen made an enviable decision even tougher, pitching beautifully for the second start in a row. Are you going to move him to the bullpen?

It’s got to be Beachy. And maybe that’s what the Braves are thinking. Just because they’ve announced he’ll start in the doubleheader against the Mets doesn’t mean he’s back in the rotation. If Beachy was unavailable then I assume Sean Gilmartin or someone like him would be called up for the game.

Rookie right-hander Matt Magill, who walked 9 and allowed 4 HRs in his last start, toils for the Dodgers today. Hopefully that means  Fan Uggla sits (don’t expect me to be impressed by his homer last night off a hanging curve). Line-ups haven’t been posted yet, so we’ll see.

Open thread, 6/7, Braves vs. Fernandomania

The excitement over Yasiel Puig hasn’t quite reached the heights of Fernandomania, but it’s getting there.

Of more concern to the Braves is another pudgy southpaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has quietly developed into on the NL’s better starters, posting a 2.89 ERA and 67/22 K/BB ratio in 71 1/3 IP. His control deserted him in his start against the Braves a few weeks back, so hopefully the Braves can work some deep counts tonight, as the Dodgers bullpen is shaky.

The good news for Ryu: Fan Uggla is in the line-up At least Fredi doesn’t have him batting ahead of Chris Johnson. Gattis gets the start behind the plate, hitting 5th.

Open thread, 6/6, Braves vs. Don Stanhouses

Signed for 5 years by Dodgers in ’79, released after 1 season.

One day after placing Stephen Strasburg on the DL comes this headline outta D.C.:

Bryce Harper injury: Nationals OF to visit Dr. James Andrews Monday

The Braves lead the Nats by 8 games and the Phils by 7-1/2. Philly is playing to expectations — .500, give or a take a few games. They’re not a threat.

And while I’m not ready to dismiss the Nats, events seem to be conspiring against them. Perhaps hubris is to blame.

Meanwhile, everything’s going right for the Braves, who will face four Dodgers starters not named Clayton Kershaw this weekend. No Matt Kemp, either, but I am looking forward to seeing Yasiel Puig play.

And it’ll be nice to see our old pal Petah Moylan, now pitching out of L.A.’s pen. Lineups haven’t been posted yet but hopefully we’ll see Pena at 2B instead of Fan Uggla.

UPDATE: Pena gets the start, but at 3B. Fan is batting 6th.

Simmons 6, Heyward 9, JUpton 7, Freeman 3, McCann 2, Uggla 4, Pena 5, BUpton 8, Hudson 1

Open thread, 5/17, Braves vs. Jack Fimples

For the first time this year, the Braves are fully intact. All their regulars are healthy and in the line-up, though one wonders if that’s a good thing.

It is. Though Jordan Schafer and Evan Gattis have produced at the plate they aren’t in the same universe as B.J. and Jay Hey, talent-wise.

Slumps, though generally not so pronounced, happen to the best of them.

In 2004 Chipper entered the All-Star Break batting .214 with a .741 OPS. His second-half OPS was more than .200 points higher.

Not to compare B.J. and Jay Hey to Chipper, though it does illustrate that even the greats aren’t immune to prolonged funks.

Let’s hope theirs end tonight.

1. Simmons SS 2. Heyward RF 3. J. Upton RF 4. Freeman 1B 5. C. Johnson 3B 6. McCann C 7. Uggla 2B 8. B. Upton CF 9. Maholm P

Mike Piazza is a whiny brat

I don’t know if Piazza is a cheater (probably) or gay (who cares?) — allegations he denies in his new book. But I now know that he’s an dimwitted asshole, based on this:

In the book, he blames iconic Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully for turning fans against him during the contract stalemate that preceded his trade to the Florida Marlins in 1998.

Piazza, who was eligible for free agency after the 1998 season, said he hoped to stay with the Dodgers but set a deadline of Feb. 15 to reach a new contract. In the book, Piazza wrote that Scully asked him about the deadline in a spring interview.

“He wasn’t happy about it,” Piazza wrote. “And Scully’s voice carried a great deal of authority in Los Angeles.” …

“The way the whole contract drama looked to them — many of whom were taking their cue from Scully — was that, by setting a deadline and insisting on so much money, I was demonstrating a conspicuous lack of loyalty to the ball club,” Piazza wrote. “I understood that.”

Piazza ripped the Dodgers in a 1998 opening day interview with The Times. In the book, he said that interview did not play well with the L.A. fans, and neither did the fact that he failed to drive in a run as the Dodgers opened the season with a four-game losing streak.

“On top of that, Vin Scully was crushing me,” Piazza wrote.

So many things wrong with this. First, Scully doesn’t rip players. It’s not his style. I lived in L.A. for nearly 7 years and am familiar with his approach.

Even if he had, Piazza is a moron for taking on Scully. Dodgers fans revere Vin the way Alabama fans look up to Bear Bryant.

I can recall only one other player criticizing Scully: Jeff Kent.

Enough said.