Braves Beat the Rain, But Can’t Avoid The Astros In 5-1 Loss
Game No.23 Recap: Astros 5, Braves 1
Jair Jurrjens didn’t have to worry about the Atlanta offense not scoring any runs for him this afternoon.
A one hour and 37 minute rain delay took care of that.
However, it was a group of Braves (11-12) relievers that endured the misfortune of limited run support.
Jurrjens, who has gone 0-2 in his previous three starts despite giving up only three runs collectively, tossed just two innings, allowing one run and four hits on 36 pitches before a lengthy downpour hit downtown Atlanta. His only misstep came in the form of a first inning solo home run off the bat of Lance Berkman.
When play resumed in the bottom of the second inning, the Braves bats seemed prepared to take on a host of Houston (10-14) arms after Roy Oswalt’s (1 inning pitched) day was done due to the rain.
A Jeff Francoeur (1-for-4) leadoff double and a Kelly Johnson (2-for-3) bunt single put Atlanta in prime position for a big inning facing Astros righty Felipe Paulino. Yet, consecutive strikeouts doomed the inning and the Braves could only push across a run on a wild pitch that brought home Francoeur.
From that point on Atlanta’s offense was stagnant, collecting only five hits the rest of the afternoon while going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Though for as dreadful as the hitters were, the bullpen kept the Braves in the game. Buddy Carlyle (0-1) threw three solid innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits.
Houston scored three times in the fourth inning when a Chipper Jones error on a ground ball that could have easily been converted into a double play opened the flood gates. Ivan Rodriguez and Kaz Matsiui each had RBI singles and Darin Erstad drove in a run on a sacrifice fly.
Eric O’ Flaherty surrendered just two hits in two scoreless innings out of the pen and righty James Parr allowed one run in two innings of work on a Michael Bourn RBI triple in the ninth.
The Braves will take on the Astros in the series finale Sunday afternoon at 1:35 p.m. Jo-Jo Reyes will take the mound for the Braves.
– Today wasn’t the advertised pitcher’s duel we expected. Jurrjens was done after two and Oswalt pitched just one inning. With the ladder happening, it was safe to say the Braves bats caught a break. But, of course, as these hitters have done nearly all season, they failed to provide any run support against a group of mediocre bullpen arms.
– Despite the loss, it was nice to see a new-look Braves lineup. Jordan Schafer for the first time this season and the first time in his career was penciled in as the leadoff man. With Kelly Johnson moving in the sixth spot, Atlanta transfered speed to the top of the lineup for contact at the bottom. Of course, the results weren’t great, but give it a week or so and it could prove to be worthwhile. Also, place Brian McCann back in the middle of that order and the Braves will have a great mix of speed, power and contact up and down the lineup.
– Speaking of McCann……As much as we would all love to see Mac back in the lineup, you can’t complain about the performance of David Ross. Not only does he provide great defense, which he highlighted this afternoon when he threw out Hunter Pence trying to steal third, but he also offers a very viable bat — something that hasn’t been seen out of an Atlanta backup catcher since Eddie Perez or Charlie O’ Brien in the 90’s. And, yes, I know what you’re thinking, he went 0-for-4 today, but trust me on this one.
– Chipper’s defense was terrible today. He committed two errors, making that a total of four on the young season. I’ve always thought Chipper is one of the more underrated third baseman’s in the league when it comes to his defense, but he can’t be letting simple plays (a la the ground ball in that third inning) get away from him.
– If you’re the Braves, this is not exactly how you want to start a stretch of 43 games with just one day off with two consectutive rain delays. Last night’s was more than two hours and this afternoon’s clocked in at just over an hour and 30 minutes.