Wednesday, April 06, 2005

First Place!

Thank you Larry Jones! Chipper's solo home run in the 13th inning was the difference in the Braves win over the Marlins. As a result, your NL East Standings?

1. Washington
1. Atlanta
1. Florida
1. Philadelphia
5. Mets!!!

And if Joe Lieberman can claim a three-way split decision for third place in a race he was losing by 40 points, I can say we're a first place team!

Yeah, it's only two games, but let me smile for at least one night!

As far as the actual game tonight...

--It was good seeing the team get some extra-base hits. Although if Kenny Lofton actually learns that he's not 24 any more and that he can't play as shallow, at least three of those hits disappear.

--I want to hate on Vinny Castilla, but I can't. He made a great defensive play on a grounder early in the game, and wrapped out a bunch of hits too. The offense is gravy. I just want him to play gold glove defense.

--Cristian Guzman must be forcibly removed from the second hole. He has zero patience, and until his popup, he had hit 7 straight groundballs right at infielders. (And strangely, got 2 hits out of it!)

He has ZERO patience. And when you watch him, it really looks like he has no clue what he's doing. Compare it to a Nick Johnson AB -- the difference is startling. Nick seems in command, even when the results don't pan out. Guzman just looks out of control.

--Terrmel Sledge is a solid defensive outfielder. He's made a number of difficult catches, especially with the wind, and his range has enabled him to become well acquainted with the padding on the stands in left field foul territory.

--Brad Wilkerson doesn't look pretty in center, but there hasn't missed a ball he should've caught yet. (Though there was a close call or two!)

--Zach Day looked good. I didn't see all of his performance, but he was in command, with a strong sinker early. And the numbers back it up. (Although, I'm wondering if Burrell's homer made it to Delaware.?)

--Guillen the Barbarian showed up tonight. Both in his home run, but also on the check-swing third strike call. The umps DID blow the call, but Guillen started to go postal on him. Amazingly, he didn't throw him out, especially with the arms-out gesture Guillen used.

What distressed me most about that was that it took Frank Robinson about a week to get out of the dugout. The third base coach was there. Frank has to do a better job protecting his players, especially someone as volatile as Guillen. (You're in a real market now, Frank. You can't nap anymore)

--Baserunning was sloppy early. Wilkerson got thrown out trying to steal second. And it wasn't even close. I'm going to assume, knowing that that might make an ass out of you and me, that it was a missed hit and run. Guzman was up, and he had a reputation of not always paying attention to signs in Minnesota. I'm not sure if that was the case here, but I'm assuming that Brad's steal attempts won't be that pitiful.

Later, Guillen got thrown out trying to go from first to third on the centerfielder. I know that Lofton has a rag arm out there, but wasting base runners for a marginal increase in scoring possibilities isn't worth it. It wasn't even a particularly tough play for Lofton either. The throw beat him cleanly and easily -- an ordinary play.



Overall, it's a good start! -- Hopefully the first of many this year! If the offense can produce the extra base hits it did tonight, we'll score enough runs to win most nights. But, we still need to work on our patience: 1 walk off a starter who traditionally has control problems is not good.

But, I'll take the 16 hits! I'll take the runs! I'll take the good outing by the starter and the decent relief work. And I'll sure as hell take the win!