Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Back in First

I thought it was a bad call at first, but a later replay from a better angle made the pitch look borderline at best. A call a pitcher probably gets if he's had good command prior, but Ayala's previous 3 pitches weren't anywhere near the zone. A good win after Livan had confounded the Braves for most of 6 innings. LaRoche's homerun in the seventh got it started, true. But Chipper Jones and Brian McCann had come ridiculously close to homeruns in prior innings (Chipper getting robbed on a fantastic catch by Brad Wilkerson in fact). The Braves were starting to get to Livan before LaRoche's blast.

Smoltzie didn't appear to have his best stuff but he pitched very well. The Bullpen did it's job admirably. Andruw is going to get some serious MVP talk, particularly if the Braves win the division. Pujols is having a fantastic year, but Edmonds, Sanders, and Walker are having solid season as well (when healthy). Andruw, thanks to injuries, doesn't have that around him (LaRoche comes to the closest, followed by a currently slumping again Giles). Lee is not playing on a playoff contender, which may hurt (but won't kill, by any means) his chances.

Sportsline said the game had a sellout crowd of 43,000. No it didn't – Turner Field capacity is in the 52-54k range. Frank Robinson was lamenting the ball 4 pitch saying “you pitch it down the middle because nobody swings at ball 4” - not true with a Cox led team. Bobby green lights on ball 4 more than anyone. My gut says Andruw was taking anyway, but he may well have picked out one part of the plate and said “if it's a fastball here, I'm going after it”. Still, I think Frank is right that a 3-0 count with the bases loaded is the wrong time to nibble.

Livan Hernandez thought the pitch was perfect. Maybe he saw it after the game, but he certainly wasn't in a position to judge that during. The ball call was fitting though; Hernadez deserves to have the worst karma in sports (well, outside of Owens or Bonds maybe) and any team he plays for should inherit that karma. Thanks again, Eric Greg.

Even after all these years, stepping into first place like this still feels good.

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