To me, these are the types of losses that hurt the most. There are no real excuses, or reasons to point at why the Braves failed to win this baseball game. You can't be mad at the umps, you can't be mad at any particular player, you can't be mad at Greg Norton; he nursed out a walk. You can't really be mad at Bobby Cox, who showed he was serious by going with his 1-2 bullpen options in the 8th and 9th. Both teams played good, hard baseball tonight, and the Phillies just got the better end of it.
Jair Jurrjens did his job, by contributing seven innings, with the exception of the fourth inning, were all solid, and economical, with him throwing first-pitch strikes to something like 21 of the first batters he faced, and 74 of his 103 total pitches all thrown for strikes. His only true mistake was the first pitch strike to Chase Utley in the top of the 4th, who blasted it out to deep right field. And despite the Braves showing some good fortitude by making up for the brief defecit immediately in the following bottom half of the inning with a Ryan Church double, scoring Yunel Escobar, they could provide no further offense the remainder of the game.
Unfortunately his counterpart in Joe Blanton, despite allowing baserunners in every inning, spread them out well, and got out of the messes for minimal damage in seven effective innings.
The Braves stranded eight men on base, but this isn't one of those games where we could look back and simply blame Jeff Francoeur or Jordan Schafer for untimely strikeouts and/or GIDPs. The Philadelphia outfield was absolutely everywhere this particular evening, hauling in every flyball or warning track shot, with a little bit of an assist to Mother Nature who was blowing inward from right field most of the evening. Despite the 1-for-12 performance from our 4-5-6 hitters, they put the balls in play, but between Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth, they managed to catch nearly everything hit up in the air. As a team, the Braves struck out a paltry three times, which is positive.
There were two key plays in this game, I would have to say - in the 5th inning, with Nate McLouth on third, Brian McCann demolishes a pitch to straightaway-center. All the people around me began to stand, and the collective gasp of 36,000 people awaiting to see the beauty of runs, and then Shane Victorino plasters himself against the outfield wall, and peels himself off, with a baseball in his glove. Ensue 36,000 people groaning. Had the highlight catch not occurred, it was a guaranteed off-the-wall go-ahead RBI double.
And then we have in the top of the 9th, Rafael Soriano hanging a slider, which Ryan Howard blasts into left-center seats, to take the lead, and despite the mediocrity of 2009 Brad Lidge, combined with the Braves' capability to frustrate and not make life easy for Lidge, the end result is still the same, with Lidge recording the cumbersome save, for the Phillies win.
As for Soriano, some are already wondering what the deal is - is something wrong with him, or is it just the law of averages reeling him back in from his previous four months of more-or-less sheer dominance? Honestly, this is the only part where I scratch my head, and wish Bobby were still using the Soriano/Mike Gonzalez tandem based on match-ups versus roles.
Tomorrow's another day, and let's hope the Braves can turn the tables and keep this streak of winning series up. And goody for us, FOX is picking up the game for wide-spread regional action, which also means funky start time at 4:05 p.m. EST. Kenshin Kawakami takes the hill against Cole Hamels.
|Final - 8.14.2009||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|WP: Ryan Madson (4 - 4)
SV: Brad Lidge (22)
LP: Rafael Soriano (1 - 4)