A quick poll to start off this post… Question: San Diego is ____ ?
A. Spanish for “bloop hit”
B. Nerd for “Braves Kryptonite”
C. German for “a whale’s vagina”
If you answered (D) All of the above, then you got it right. Yep, of all the teams that the Braves could lay a terd against, they chose the Padres. Atlanta is 1-and-5 against them this year. If I may point out something strange, it is that of the 5 wins San Diego has had against Atlanta, 4 of them have resulted in saves — all by different relievers. Yep, that’s weird… moving on.
What does a team do after such a drubbing by a bad team? Why, haze the rookies of course:
The good news… is that the Braves still have the best record in the National League by two games, and are on top of the Nationals by 10 games, and have a magic number of 4 to clinch the division. They travel to Washington for a 3-game series, and if they win two of those games, they clinch. I’m sure the Nationals will not want that to happen in their home park, so they’ll be playing extra hard. That Nats will send Dan Haren (9-13, 5.02ERA), Tanner Roark (6-0, 1.30ERA), and Ross Ohlendorf (4-0, 3.15) to the mound, while Atlanta will counter with Mike Minor (13-7, 3.15ERA), Freddy Garcia (1-1, 1.32ERA), and Alex Wood (3-3, 3.45ERA). It’s time to put them away. Please let Freddy Garcia pitch a complete game shutout to clinch the East.
Good pun: Baseball writers and tweeters were ecstatic on Friday as David Hale and his infinitely punnable last name made a terrific Major League debut: 5IP, 4H, 0R, 1BB, 9SO. That’s the best start David Hale has had all season… maybe his entire career. I’d like to say it’s a sign of things to come, but it seems more like an aberration. We’ll see how he does in spring training. If nothing else, he could be a good arm out of the bullpen (which is what I’ve thought it was all along). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Hale established the Braves franchise record for strikeouts in a Major League debut. Since 1900, two Braves pitchers had eight strikeouts in their debut: Bob Dresser (8/13/1902) and Kenshin Kawakami (4/11/2009). Over the last 10 seasons (since 2004), only two other pitchers did not allow a run and fanned nine or more players in their MLB debuts: Matt Harvey and Collin McHugh, who both did so for the New York Mets in 2012.
Good news: Jason Heyward took batting practice on the field twice this weekend, and looks like he’s getting closer to returning. The plan is for him to travel with the team to Washington (hopefully pop some champagne), take more BP, then travel to the Braves complex in Orlando for the Instructional League and get a few at-bats against live pitching, and then I’m guessing he’ll be back for the season-ending 7-game home stand against the Brewers and Phillies starting next Monday. That’s probably the best case scenario, but it’s looking more and more likely. Heyward is usually cautious about returning from injury, but I get the feeling that this time it’s the team or doctors that are holding him back, as Heyward wants to jump back into things immediately.