The first sign that this was going to be another bad night of West Coast baseball for the Braves was when there was a nearly three-and-a-half minute review of the balls-and-strikes count during the second inning of the game. Anytime something dumb like that occurs, it's a bad omen for one of the teams involved, and it ended up being a bad omen for our Braves. The Padres blanked the Braves 9-0, and five of the RBIs came off of the bat of an Upton brother who hit two homers. The Upton Brother was Melvin Upton Jr. No, that wasn't a drug-induced nightmare; It actually happened. Petco Park has become yet another West Coast house of horrors. Hello darkness, my old friend.
Before Tuesday night's debacle of a game, the Braves got some extremely good news: Freddie Freeman's back! The Braves' star first baseman has recovered from his oblique injury and will be activated in time for today's series finale against the Padres. As such, Joey Terdoslavich will be headed back to Gwinnett. Also, here's hoping that Freeman's latest return from the DL goes a lot better than his return from a wrist injury.
Meanwhile, newly-acquired infielder Hector Olivera should be joining the Braves pretty soon, as he's still currently on rehab assignment within the Braves' organization. He hasn't got a hit yet in four games, but that's not really a big deal and shouldn't really be a cause for serious concern at this point. Now, if it continues into his time with the big league squad, then maybe we can start making preparation to hop off of a moving plane without a parachute.
Braves Pitching Coach Roger McDowell has developed a reputation in baseball as one of the very best pitching coaches that the game has to offer. Seriously, the Braves could acquire any type of pitcher from any type of scrap heap and the consensus opinion about the Braves' acquisition would be "Well yeah, this pitcher has tons of question marks but let's see what McDowell can do with him before we judge." What's the secret to McDowell's success at his job? Well, it has to do with a positive, patient approach to each and every pitcher he takes under his wing.
If a pitcher is a golfer, he'll use golf analogies to help them recapture their focus when things go awry. If they're into fishing, he'll go that route instead. That, McDowell says is an extension of Duncan's axiom.
"If I get to know those things and I get to know the individual, which goes back to the saying 'They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.' I think that's important," he said. "When pitchers are going well, they don't need anybody. They need somebody there for them, supportive, positive, patient when they're struggling."
He's proven adept at turning them around, whether in a moment or in a career. Since he took over the job for the '06 season after Leo Mazzone left for the Orioles, McDowell's pitchers have a collective 3.78 ERA. That trails only the Dodgers' 3.67 among all teams in that span, and most remarkably, isn't far behind the MLB-best 3.53 that Mazzone's staffs, which boasted HOFers Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz, totaled from 1991-2005.
One of the hottest prospects in the suddenly talent-flush Braves' minor league system is outfielder Mallex Smith. Smith has blazed through the minor leagues thanks to his speed on the basepaths, and looks like a clear contender to become the Braves' leadoff hitter of the future. But is he ready for the big leagues right now? He might get a September call-up, so we may get an answer to this soon. However, the good folks over at ATL All Day decided to try to see if Smith is ready to make the jump to the Majors.
The best team in the American League picked up yet another win as the Royals edged the Reds in a 13-inning contest. Our old friend Kris Medlen played a big role in Kansas City's victory. The reliever struck out two batters in the 12th inning, then laid down a beauty of a bunt that the Reds failed to field properly. That led to Jarrod Dyson scoring the go-ahead run, Kris Medlen's first win since 2013, and the Royals being 26 games above .500 for the first time since 1980. It's a really good time to be a KC Royal right now. Also, congrats to Flat Brim for getting back in the "W" column.
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In what has to be considered a pretty smooth landing for the guy, Dave Dombrowski has joined the Boston Red Sox as their President of Baseball Operations. This marks the end of a relatively short stint for Ben Cherington, who will be staying on with the team to ease the transition. Also, there's a familiar name in the running to become the GM under Dombrowski: Frank Wren. Again, talk about smooth landings.