Posts Tagged Atlanta Braves

April 7 MLB Roundup: No Lead Is Safe

Obviously, Monday’s biggest sports story had nothing to do with baseball. As we predicted less than a month ago, the Kansas Jayhawks knocked off the Memphis Tigers in overtime, 75-68, to be crowned the collegiate national champions for the first time since 1988.

It was an incredible back-and-forth affair, as neither team could seemingly pull away when it took the lead. It wasn’t until late in the second half, when the Tigers took a nine-point advantage with 2:12 left on the clock, that the game looked to be in hand. Kansas had chosen to foul Robert Dozier, with its apparent game plan being to exploit what was perceived to be Memphis’s glaring weakness, foul shooting. But when Dozier sank both shots, the game looked to be over.

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Oh Crap, There Was Baseball On Today? (Links to April 5 Box Scores, Since I Have Nothing To Add)

Even less to add than my usual nothing may be more like it. Sorry, but my brain is pretty much fried from the two basketball games tonight. I caught the final inning of Chicago’s win over the Tigers that put Detroit at 0-5. This was especially unfortunate since I apparently missed Dontrelle Willis apparently throw five of the shittiest one-hit innings in Major League baseball history. His final line: 5 IP, 1 H, 3 ER, 7 BB, 0 K. Yes. Seven walks and zero strikeouts. This is the guy I felt would make the difference in an October series with the Red Sox. I feel stupid.

That reminds me, I also happened to notice that Ken Rosenthal picked the Atlanta Braves to win the World Series. Even with the team I picked to win it all struggling to win at all, that prediction is just ridiculous to me. Their bullpen sucks and they haven’t significantly improved last year’s team, which was good, but surely wasn’t winning any championships. You could argue that shedding Andruw Jones was addition by subtraction, but seeing as how he was replaced with Mark Kotsay, you would be dead wrong. And, again, does anyone expect that starting rotation to remain healthy? I think Mike Hampton just hurt his shoulder again trying to raise his hand.

Oh! I also saw Jonny Gomes make a fool of himself in the second inning of the Rays-Yankees game by going into a home run trot on a hard-hit ball that bounced off the upper part of the wall in right field at Yankee Stadium. Rightfielder Bobby Abreu quickly recovered the ball and fired it to second base. At about the point when he was dead between first and second bases, Gomes noticed, “Oh shit, I guess it wasn’t a home run!” He made a half-assed effort to rush back towards first base, then just gave up and was tagged out. It was not his finest moment.

In the bottom half of the inning, Gomes was charged with an error in, yes, right field, when he simply failed to catch a routine fly ball hit by Hideki Matsui. Though he didn’t actually drop the ball or make contact with it, the play was so disgraceful that the official scorer at Yankee Stadium felt obligated to give him an error anyway. This was also not Gomes’ finest moment.

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April 3 Roundup: Royals 170 Wins Away From Perfection

The Kansas City Royals completed their season-opening sweep of the Detroit Tigers with a 4-1 win at Comerica Park on Wednesday afternoon, leaving the team as the only one that has yet to suffer a defeat in the young 2008 Major League Baseball season.

I’d like to say that I saw this coming — I could point to my AL Central preview post to show that I at least thought Kansas City would be competitive this year — but this pesky “I shall make a prediction for every game of the MLB season! What a great idea this is!” documents my small amount of faith for the Royals in this opening series (I had them winning on Wednesday, at least). Also, I picked the Detroit Tigers to win the division in that post, and to win it all in this one. So, any way I try to spin it, I still coming out looking like a jackass. Suffice it to say, once again, I was wrong. (What a credibility-building statement. Did I really need to throw in “once again”?)

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My Bad On Garza-Cabrera (April 2 MLB Roundup)

A day ago, I pointed out what I thought was an interesting pitching matchup in Wednesday’s Tampa Bay-Baltimore meeting. The game was to involve two pitchers who had previously dominated the opposing team — Matt Garza for Tampa Bay (3-0, 2.16 ERA in three starts vs. Baltimore) and Daniel Cabrera for the O’s (6-0, 3.04 ERA in 11 starts against the Rays). I speculated that pitching would likely be the key to the game, even calling it a “sleeper” matchup.

Well, I was wrong. Neither pitcher made it past the sixth inning — Cabrera was gone after four — and neither factored into the decision. Cabrera was particularly awful, relinquishing six runs on six hits in the four innings. As he often does, Cabrera also struggled with his control, walking five batters while only striking out a pair.

Garza’s line wasn’t much prettier. He got the hook after tossing 5 1/3 innings of 5-run ball. He allowed six hits and walked two batters while striking out three. Despite his poor outing, the former Twin left the game in a position to pick up his fourth win in as many starts against the Orioles.

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Me Against The NL Central, Day Four — Now With Deceptive Standings!

The first full day of the 2008 Major League Baseball season has passed, with 12 of today’s 15 scheduled games having been played to their completion. As it usually does, Opening Day provided us with several wild games, a number of star pitchers getting lit up, and a couple of statistical anomalies.

Two of the more interesting anomalies are directly related to each other. The Washington Nationals are currently the best team in Major League Baseball, having won both of their games. They followed up Sunday night’s Ryan Zimmerman walk-off home run with some more late-game heroics, as the Nats, for lack of a more delicate way of putting it, beat the shit out of interim Phillies closer Tom Gordon. Gordon retired only one batter while being charged with five earned runs, which impressively puts his ERA at 135.00.

Two other closers imploded Monday in what was likely the game of the day between the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs. Ben Sheets and Carlos Zambrano were both dominant, with both starters taking shutouts into the seventh inning before turning the games over to their respective bullpens. Until the ninth inning, both ‘pens were similarly magnificent, and the game remained tied.

Then came the guys that are paid to slam the door shut.

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Me Against the NL Central, Day Four

Well, I’m down to 1-2 following Washington’s dramatic 3-2 win over the Braves on Sunday night. With Monday’s slate of games fast approaching, I decided to err on the side of caution and just throw out my quick and dirty picks for Opening Day. In the future, I’ll probably briefly feature at least one of the day’s scheduled games before making my picks. But, in the interest of saving time, I’m just going to bust out the picks and then take about a seven hour nap. If you’re looking for MLB-related content, though, I’ve recently written preview pieces of each of the six divisions, and will probably culminate that series with my playoff/World Series picks on either Monday or Tuesday.

Here it goes.

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Me Against the NL Central, Day Three

Once again, there’s only one game on the slate tonight, the National Game of the Week between the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals.

So far, I’m 1-1 in my picks for the year, while there have been no games played yet by NL Central teams. In the big picture, these single-game dates are relatively meaningless to my overall goal of having a better prediction winning percentage than the best team in the National League’s Central division. Still, 2-1 looks a lot better than 1-2, even at this early stage.

Therefore, my pick for tonight’s game is the Atlanta Braves. Braves starter Tim Hudson has been outstanding against the Nationals throughout his career, racking up a 5-1 record in eight starts against the Nats while posting an ERA just over 1 and allowing less than a baserunner per inning. Historically, the most successful Nationals against Hudson are newcomers Rob Mackowiak and Paul Lo Duca.

Nationals opening day starter Odalis Perez hasn’t been quite as successful against the Braves. He enters tonight’s game with an earned-run average over 5 and just one win in seven career appearances (six starts) against his former team. Jeff Francoeur, in particular, has had a lot of success in his limited number of meetings against Perez, going 4-for-6 with a triple and a home run against the southpaw.

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