The Braves have been bringing more dead things back to life lately than George Romero. They single handedly resuscitated two defunct offenses in the Orioles and Reds, while failing to reanimate their own. They are standing at the precipice of the hardest part of their schedule–in the coming days they play the Yankees, Phillies, oh and the Red Sox twice, just to add insult to injury. They have run out of room for error. Joe Simpson said it quite plainly last night after another pitiful performance: they HAVE TO win this series. I’ll punctuate that, if I may, with: or it’s over.
Barring a miracle turnaround, it’s difficult to imagine a way for the Braves to escape June with a remaining glimmer of hope of making the playoffs. They have been overmatched by journeymen pitchers nearing their 40’s; what Josh Beckett or C. C. Sabathia could do to them borders on cruel and unusual punishment. If you take a close look at the Braves veterans, you can see the frustration starting to come to a froth. When Brian McCann impetuously swung at the first pitch he saw, popping it up harmlessly to center field, Chipper Jones, standing on second after his double, snapped his head in disdain, refusing to watch it’s trajectory, and stomped his foot back on the bag, where he would stay of course until the third out. When our best hitter is putting Chipper in a foul mood, the ship has really run aground.
Despite their generous littany of post game pardons, Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez are starting to get a little miffed, too. After his best outing of the year last week, Vazquez framed his opinion inside something close to a pillory when he said he was so accustomed to losing games in which he pitched well, it wasn’t phasing him much anymore. Let’s hope Lowe’s bad performance against the Pirates was an anomoly, because if he and Jurrjens and Vazquez start to become indifferent, this could get awfully ugly awfully fast. Not to belabor the point, but, if the hitters at the bottom of the order simply start doing the little things like making productive outs with men on base, rather than hitting into inning ending double plays (Jeff and Kelly), they will find themselves in a position to win most games. Their pitching will provide the remaining ballast.
Or, they can continue to galumph through the rest of the season like the living dead.