Smoltz’s six K’s and 7 scoreless innings weren’t enough for the Braves as they couldn’t muster more than two hits against Nationals pitching. Chad Cordero made his first appearance to save the Nat’s only second lead in the first 2 weeks of the season. Although the Washington lead was jeopardized in the bottom half of the ninth when the Braves loaded the bases, Thorman’s check swing, full count strikeout stranded them and doubled the Nationals win total for ’07.
Smoltz wasn’t in dominate form but went eight and had a lot of out pitches working for him. The two hit batsmen (who were both Chris Snelling) hurt Smoltz the most. The later coming in the eighth and proved to be the winning run. However, the real problem lies in something that has plagued John in the past and kept him from a number of wins in seasons past; lack of run support. Although the Brave bats came alive for 16 in the first two, a shutout against DC is a hideous blemish on an otherwise promising season. At least the Braves lack of offense has been saved for their only two loses of the season (only one run scored in both of those defeats).
So although I’m unhappy to see a loss and would love to head into the weekend set with Florida with two divisional sweeps, I’ll take a third straight series win and a mostly strong outing from Smoltz any day.
Like I always say, great pitching will give you a great season. Batting will be off some nights causing the best lineups to get no hit and the best sluggers to slump. We have a lineup made up of mostly proven hitters who will come around. Now if we’re in late September and our lineup has only managed 3 RBI’s in two weeks my optimism may be replaced by an adamant plea with the Boys to get the bat on the ball.
As for now, apart from Macay McBride’s second infuriating time loading the bases in late innings, I like how our pitching is looking and thus say: let’s go Fishing!
Across town, tucked behind the CNN Center, another Atlanta franchise skates for the first time in the postseason. Good luck to our Thrashers, but an April baseball game always manages to capture my attention just a little bit more than April hockey. Nonetheless, Go Blue! How fitting that they play New York in their first ever postseason.
Smoltz will take the hill tonight as the Braves seek a second series sweep in the young season. He’ll be squaring off against the 25 year old hurler Jason Bergmann who got knocked around and lasted only 3 innings in his last start. John, coming off an impressive win against former teammate Glavine, will be looking to keep the Braves going on their best start in 12
You’ve got to feel optimistic going into tonight’s game against an anemic Nationals lineup that has squeaked out only 3 runs in two nights to the Bravo’s 16. Let’s hope to see Smoltz’s slider working well and some solid bullpen help if needed.
Game’s starting. First pitch to Lopez is a strike. Stay tuned after the game.
JB from ATL