Last Night The Braves Were Their Padre
By Fred Owens
They say what goes around comes around and it came around quickly for the Braves last night as they whipped the Padres’ tail and Jair Jurrjens notched his 10the victory of the year. You’ll read better game reports in the AJC or from your favorite reporter. The big news – on a night where Fredi Gonzales and Frank Wren both came out in support of Larry Parrish – was that the Braves bats returned with a vengeance as they responded to their partially self inflicted ass whipping on Friday by returning the favor in spades.Although Jason Heyward had a couple of doubles and drove in four, the story getting most attention on the night – aside from the superb pitching under fire of Jurrjens – was Dan Uggla going 2-3 with a walk and driving in four runs. Uggla hit his 11th home run after the Braves had already smacked around Evan Scribner pretty badly. It was an awful pitch (almost shoulder high) in terms of strike zone making it even more amazing that he hit it as far as he did (405 feet). Those Popeye-like arms aren’t just for show, when Uggla nails one it stays nailed. I’m not sure this is a sign of the turn around for Uggla we all hope is underway but I was glad to see the reception his teammates gave him in the dugout. That kind of thing must relieve a lot of the mental burden he’s carrying because of his .180/.247/.339 line. In the last week that line improved to .222/.300/.556. While not magnificent it is a big improvement.
As I was looked at his numbers it struck me that Uggla’s 52 hits consist of 11 homers, 11 doubles and a triple. That’s a 42% extra base hit rate which is pretty danged good. His RBI rate isn’t as impressive – only 27 so far – and oddly only 1 sacrifice fly. A fly ball power guy like him usually has more of those indicating how badly he’s struggled with his timing so far. When he turns this slump around for good opposing pitchers should wear their flak vests.
Other interesting things I noted last night:
Alex Gonzalez – he of the magical vacuuming glove – struck out swinging on three pitches for the 27th time this year. He’s third on the team in Ks with 66 behind Uggla with 68 and first pitch Freddie Freeman with 71. The next closest ever day player in Jason Heyward with 42 followed by Chipper Jones and Brian McCann with 40.
Speaking of Freddie Freeman, Gonzales and others in the infield owe him more dinners than he will ever be able to eat. He’s become so adept at picking throws in the dirt and out of the sky above that when he misses one it stands out like a sore thumb. Make no mistake about it, gold gloves are in his future, lots of them. I was pleased to see him hitting the ball with authority the opposite way again. During his hot streak pitchers tried to go inside and he adjusted and smacked them into right field and he got a little pull happy. The home run to dead center Friday night and the double that was almost out to left field last night show a return top his gap to gap swing that will raise his average and produce lots of runs for us.
Runs is the subject of this next insignificant number as well John Autin over at the Baseball-Reference Blog noted that
"Chipper Jones (1 run, 2 RBI) even his career Run and RBI totals at 1,534 each."
It’s one of those quirky happenings that means nothing in the great scheme of things but is interesting nonetheless. Cjipper is now 45th on the all time RBI list three behind Joe DiMaggio, 16 behind Fred McGriff, 21 behind Willie McCovey , and 51 behind Mike Schmidt and 52 behind George Brett. Brett leads Hall of Fame third basemen in career RBI. Chipper should have that title soon and while he won’t catch Alex Rodriguez, he’s never been so overwhelmed by expectations that he stuck a needle is his butt either.
Jair Jurrjens performance was once again stellar. Not only did he notch his 10 victory putting him in a three way tie for the major league lead, he regained the ERA lead (2.07) and leads MLB in ERA+ (183) as well. He throws strikes 65.4% of the time and f pitchers who have thrown at least 90 innings this year, his WAR of 3.3 ties him with Cliff Lee for sixth and his clutch rating of 0.7 is eighth. Opponent’s batting average with two out and RISP is a miniscule.171 and anytime with runners on third it’s just .125. All of this certainly puts him in the Cy Young conversation.
Today Tim Hudson 6-6, 3.73 faces off against Cory Luebke 1-2, 3.23. I suspect David Ross will get a start today though that hasn’t been confirmed yet but it is a day game after a night game and a left handed pitcher for the Padres so it’s a good guess. Hopefully the bats are well rested and ready to help us take this series and head to Seattle to cool down a recently hot Mariner team.