No one has seen anything like it before, and everyone is ready for it to end. Bobby Cox has never seen anything like this, not during his playing days or his managing days. But again there was optimism in his answer. "The thing is, they still come to play. They're trying their asses off." The most telling comment from him was that the team needs to "learn the value of a couple of hits back to back."
That was a good analysis from the embattled skipper about his underachieving ball club. Only two times all night did the Braves get more than one runner on base at the same time; in the fifth and seventh innings. But strikeouts and pop-ups and a lack of timely hitting ended those threats.
With Jonathan Papelbon on the mound in the ninth inning for the Red Sox, it's like the Braves only get to play an eight inning game. Their opportunities to score runs in the seventh and eighth were managed around by Terry Francona, as he used a trio of relievers to bridge the gap from Beckett to Papelbon. Beckett was wildly effective on the day, issuing four walks, a wild pitch, and a balk while only surrendering three hits and two runs over six innings.
Cox said, "the bullpen kept us in the ballgame, the entire day. Cormier had an okay outing, not a great one. At five to three we're still in the game all day long." The Braves bullpen did indeed do another fine job on the day, limiting the Red Sox to only one more run through the last five innings.
When asked what it's going to take to end the skid, Cox was honest and acted like he was tired of the question. His response was simple, "a win." Andruw Jones thinks the answer is "to go out there and score eight runs or ten runs and give our pitching reasons to go out there and relax and get their confidence back up." Indeed the Braves have not scored a lot of runs this month, only once scoring more than five runs in a loss to Arizona on June 3rd. So eight or ten runs is a lot to ask out of this offense right now. Jones continued, saying that "everybody's trying to be too perfect right now."
I could write some more about the comments of Andruw Jones and Lance Cormier and others, but everyone seems to be falling back on clich? to answer every question. Andruw wants everybody to "keep [their] chin up, and keep going out there and do those little things that [they] need to do to win ballgames." But I wonder if the Braves have forgotten what those little things are and how to do them.
Atlanta will look to John Smoltz to be their stopper tomorrow night against the Red Sox and Curt Schilling. The two pitchers have only faced each other twice before with each claiming a win a piece. Hopefully the veteran Smoltz will know what to do with the pressure that will likely accompany him. He's been the guy to handle the pressure games in the postseason, but I doubt he's ever had to handle a pressure game like this so early in the season. If Florida wins their game against Toronto today, then the Braves will go into Sunday night's game in last place in the NL East.
Boston 5, Atlanta 3 at Turner Field
Boston Record: (38-28)
Atlanta Record: (30-39)
Winning pitcher - Josh Beckett (8-3)
Losing pitcher - Lance Cormier (2-2)
SV - Jonathan Papelbon (22)