This was not the way it was supposed to end for Chipper Jones. Those who had seen him homer twice in his first career postseason game and again on his 40th birthday certainly had reason to expect a grand finale.
Instead, Jones exited the Braves‘ clubhouse on Friday night seemingly shell-shocked by what had transpired in a 6-3 loss to the Cardinals in the National League’s one-game Wild Card playoff. He committed a costly throwing error in St. Louis‘ three-run third inning and was limited to a broken-bat infield single in five at-bats.
“I wanted to come out here and play well,” Jones said. “Today, my heart is broken not for me, my heart is broken for my teammates and my coaching staff, and all these fans that have been so great to us this year.
“But I’ll be OK. It’s just one of those things. You come to the park, and I walk out of here knowing that I brought it every single day. I think when you walk out of here knowing that you brought it every day, it makes walking away on the final day a little bit easier.”
- Chipper throws one away in finale (nypost.com)
- Chipper: Not way I thought career would end (espn.go.com)
- Disputed call overshadows Cardinals wild-card playoff win (triblive.com)
Great news for the Atlanta Braves last night. Jurrgens returned and did well. And, it was against Boston. Of course, Braves fans know that the Atlanta Braves started their franchise in Boston before there was a Red Sox team. While I am not a big fan of inter-league play, I love it when we play in Boston.
So Jair Jurrjens returned, and it was the Good Jurrjens, keeping the ball in the park, not walking people, but only getting a handful of strikeouts so you’re not too certain about his long-term outlook.
The game was scoreless through three when Matt Diaz grounded out to score Freddie Freeman, and Andrelton Simmons doubled home Jason Heyward (who was 3-4 with two doubles on the day) to make it 2-0. Simmons added an insurance run with a sac fly to score Heyward in the sixth.
Meanwhile, Jurrjens was cruising. He allowed a first inning single and a third inning walk, and that was it until the eighth. He allowed a leadoff double in that inning, and another double with two out to make it 3-1; Chad Durbin came in to get the last out. Freeman singled in Michael Bourn in the ninth to make it 4-1, and Craig Kimbrel had, yes, a 1-2-3 ninth for the easy save.
via Braves 4, Red Sox 1.
Great game last night. You always have to love a win in extra innings. I am very encourage with the Braves this year. They are hanging in there. Even with Chipper injured most of the season so far. Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla are impressive.
Is Jason Heyward waking up? He scored twice and drove in a run last night, one of the runs being a game winner.
The Braves’ first run came on a bases-loaded walk of Dan Uggla in the third, scoring Brandon Beachy, but Heyward flew out to end that threat. Beachy had a shutout going through five, but in the sixth allowed a leadoff homer to Jose Bautista and walked the next two, so Fredi brought in Chad Durbin. Beachy struck out six, but walked five, and threw 108 pitches in those mere five innings. Durbin let one of Beachy’s runs score to make it 2-1 Jays.
Uggla led off the bottom of the inning with a walk, and Heyward followed with a double to score him and tie the game. With two out, after pinch-hitter Freddie Freeman couldn’t get him home from third, Heyward scored on a balk to make it 3-2.
Jonny Venters walked a man, but otherwise was good in the seventh. The Braves blew a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the inning, and in the eighth Eric O’Flaherty gave up the tying run, which scored on a Yunel Escobar groundout.
Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth, allowing an infield single, and Cristhian Martinez pitched the tenth. Heyward led off the bottom of that inning with an infield single, and Jack Wilson bunted him to second. On his own initiative, Heyward stole third. The catcher threw the ball away and Heyward came around to win the game.
Atlanta Braves’ Dan Uggla follows through with a two-run home run in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Saturday, May 26, 2012, in Atlanta.
The May 2 Braves Phillie game was crazy. We won in extra innings. Here are some of the stats.
- It was the highest-scoring extra-inning game in the Major Leagues since 2006.
- It was the highest-scoring extra-inning game in the National League since July 4, 1985, when the Mets outlasted the Braves, 16-13, in 19 innings.
- The only other major-league team in the past 30 years that won a game after rallying from a deficit of at least six runs and overcoming a separate disadvantage of four or more runs was the 1997 Mariners, in a 12-11 victory against the Rockies.
- The last team to lose an 11+ inning game while scoring 13+ was the 116-win 2001 Mariners.
- The last team to win in 11+ innings while scoring 13+ was managed by… Charlie Manuel, tonight’s losing manager.
- This was the Braves’ 4th win since 1918 when allowing 13+ runs, and the 2nd in the last 60 years.
- This was the first game in MLB history to end 15-13 in 11 or more innings (since 1918, anyway).
- Roy Halladay gave up eight runs, the most he had allowed since surrendering nine on May 5, 2007 against the Rangers.
- This is the first time in Halladay’s career that he’s given up more than 6 runs to an NL team.
- Halladay was working with a 6-0 lead when he gave up six runs in the fifth inning and then two more in the sixth. He was 107-0 in his career in starts in which he was given a four-run lead. The Phillies, though, let him off the hook by rallying in the seventh.
- The Braves had 3 bases-loaded hits all year coming into last night. They had 3 bases-loaded hits in the 5th inning of last night’s game… off Roy Halladay.
- Brian McCann hit just the fourth grand slam ever given up by Halladay (Evan Longoria hit the last in 2008).
- The I Hit A Slam Off Roy Halladay Club: Evan Longoria, Alfonso Soriano, Andy Sheets, and now Brian McCann.
- That was the first homer allowed by Halladay in six starts this season.
- Chipper Jones and Jason Giambi each hit game-ending home runs on Wednesday. It was the first day in major-league history on which two players age 40 or older hit walk-off homers.
- Never before had two men, each with at least 400 career home runs to their credit, hit walk-off round-trippers on the same day.
- Jones’s walkoff was his first since May 17, 2006 against the Marlins. It was the eighth of his career.
Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves hits a fourth inning home run against the Milwaukee Brewers at Turner Field on April 15, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. All uniformed team members are wearing jersey number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day.
Chipper Jones hit a three-run homer in his return after missing two games, Brandon Beachy pitched seven strong innings and the surging Braves beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-4 on Sunday for a three-game sweep.
Tommy Hanson’s first opening day start was pretty good. Unfortunately Johan Santana, the Mets starter, did better as the Braves lost 1-0.
Santana was making his first start since September 2010 and as usual, he was stingy, allowing only one hit through the first four innings. The Braves threatened to score in the fifth, loading the bases on a double and two walks, but Santana escaped. They also put two on base in the sixth, but again failed to score.
The Braves were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
That pretty much sums it up for the day. Great pitching, no hitting.
“It’s a whole new year, and we need to be looking at it like that.” ~~Brian McCann (Atlanta Braves player)
Now this is an understatement. It is a new year. I am hopeful. The Atlanta Braves can redeem themselves for last year.
“We have an exciting team,” McCann said. “Everybody is excited to get going and to redeem ourselves. It’s a whole new year, and we need to be looking at it like that. We don’t need to be worrying about what happened last year.”
You have to love today. It is Happy Pitchers and Catchers day. Baseball is starting and none too soon!!
What seemed like an eternity since the Atlanta Braves made the final out against the Phillies is now in the past and fans can only look towards the upcoming season now. Which players emerge like Freddie Freeman did last season? Which players succumb to injuries for most of the year as Jason Heyward did? Do guys like Mike Minor, Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino break out in 2012? We’ll know the answers to these questions and more in the near future.
On Sunday morning, Braves pitchers and catchers reported to Orlando for the first official team meet and to get a little work in. Many members from the roster showed up a few days early, most notably Jason Heyward and Chipper Jones. We have tweet updates, photos and some newsworthy bits after the page jump…
With pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training one week from today, the Braves’ roster looks about the same as it did during the September swoon that kept them from the playoffs.
This disappoints me because I wanted general manager Frank Wren to shake things up. But players who endured one of the worst late-season collapses in history seem pleased to have the same cast as they crank things up again.
“I’m happy,” said closer Craig Kimbrel, National League Rookie of the Year after leading major league relievers with 127 strikeouts and tying for the NL lead with 46 saves.
“We have a good team. All the pieces are here. It’s not like we had to go out and get anybody. The team’s talented. We’re going to be fine. We’ve got a really good clubhouse; that’s a big part of having a good team. I’m glad we didn’t break that up.”
The Braves’ pitching staff, one of baseball’s best in 2011, could be even better if the Braves can stay reasonably healthy. They return all key members of the NL’s top-rated bullpen, led by Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty. Also back are their four best starters — Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy — and a group of young pitchers who will compete for the fifth rotation spot and one or two bullpen openings.
The Braves traded veteran pitcher Derek Lowe to Cleveland with a year left on his contract, agreeing to pay $10 million of his $15 million salary in order to turn the page after his second disappointing season and to open a rotation spot for a youngster from a group that includes Mike Minor, Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado.
Hudson had back surgery in November and will be brought along cautiously. He might not be ready at the season’s outset, but the Braves think the worst-case scenario is a return by early May.
Braves players understand we wanted change, even if some wanted change for change’s sake. Others were disappointed the Braves didn’t add the big outfield bat that general manager Frank Wren said he was looking for after the 2011 season. Wren says they could still add a hitter or fill other needs in the coming weeks, but the Braves will evaluate some of their own players during spring training to gauge those needs.
“Any time you struggle the way we did down the stretch, it’s the last thing anybody remembers,” said Venters, arguably the majors’ best reliever until his late slump contributed to the Braves’ 10-20 skid to the finish.
“[But] we had the fourth-best record in the game going in the last month. Our team’s great. The clubhouse chemistry is better than any that I’ve been a part of. I’m excited about the team.
“I think we have everything we need to be successful. I don’t think we needed to make any moves, and I think Frank did a great job with the way he approached the offseason and let it play out. I mean, we had some unfortunate things happen last year — Tommy getting hurt, J.J. [Jurrjens] got hurt, Brian [McCann] got hurt, [Martin] Prado. And then you had J-Hey [Jason Heyward]. He’s not going to do what he did [in 2011]. He’s too good of an athlete to not make the adjustments and figure it out.”
Jurrjens (knee) and Hanson (shoulder) missed most of the second half, and both are healthy now and without restrictions. Through July 9, Jurrjens and Hanson were a combined 22-7 with a 2.14 ERA in 33 starts. After July 9, they went 2-6 with a 6.75 ERA in 12 starts.
“There’s no doubt that our rotation was the strength of the team,” Venters said. “That’s why we [relievers] pitched so much because our starters kept us in so many games. If those guys stay healthy, there’s no telling. … I expect to be in the thick of the division race anyways. But having those two guys, they’re horses. They’re No. 1 starters on most teams.”
Jurrjens and left fielder Prado were at the center of many offseason trade rumors, but Wren said all along he wouldn’t trade key players in any deal unless it made the Braves better. The Braves didn’t sign a major league free agent from outside the organization.
“I don’t think any of us really expected [significant moves],” third baseman Chipper Jones said. “Nobody was going to be a free agent; everybody was coming back. The bottom line is, for 4 1/2, 5 months we were pretty dang good. We had the third- or fourth-best record in baseball. We were right there. We just didn’t finish it out. I think that’s the sour taste that everybody still has in their mouth — [everybody] that’s not inside this clubhouse.
“We’re confident that we can go out and still play the same brand. I really didn’t expect us to do anything position-player wise, other than maybe a move or two off the bench. I expected most of the movement that we made to be done in the pitching staff, and you’ve seen it. With the exception of D-Lowe, there hasn’t been much, period. We’re OK with that.
“You sit back and you watch some of the other teams in your division make moves, you’re thinking to yourself, ‘They’re getting better by the day.’ But that’s the nature of the beast. It really doesn’t mean anything.
“On paper it looks good for those people. It might sell a couple of extra tickets. But if you make all the moves and you look up at the end of July and you’re still five games under .500, it doesn’t do you a lot of good. We don’t plan on being in that spot.”
Now here is some good news. I am a firm believer that with the right investments, the Atlanta Braves can continue to improve this year. This is a good sign.
Atlanta has placed five players on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list for the upcoming season. Julio Teheran leads this group as he ranks fourth on the overall list, second among pitchers and first among right-handed pitchers. The 20-year-old right-hander ranked as the 10th-best prospect last year.
Two other Braves pitchers — Arodys Vizcaino (36) and Randall Delgado (42) — rank among the game’s Top 50 prospects. The organization’s other additions to this year’s Top 100 list are shortstop Andrelton Simmons (65) and catcher Christian Bethancourt (91).
I don’t know what to make of this. I am generally a “Moneyball” fan but this level of commitment doesn’t seem like it will get the Atlanta Braves to where they need to go. It is interesting that this is half of what the Division winning Philadelphia team spent last year. What do you think? Can we “Moneyball” it this year?
The Atlanta Braves have set a player payroll budget of $94 million for this year, leaving them with several million dollars still to spend, the team’s chairman and CEO said.
Terry McGuirk, in a wide-ranging interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in his Turner Field office, also said team owner Liberty Media has expressed no intention of selling the club.
And on another significant note, McGuirk disclosed that the Braves are locked into 25-year local TV contracts that will prevent the franchise from cashing in on Major League Baseball’s trend toward dramatically higher telecast rights fees.
The issues of payroll, ownership and TV rights are integral to the business of the Braves or any major professional sports franchise. Here is more of what McGuirk had to say about those topics:
McGuirk defended the Braves’ payroll, which ranks near the middle among MLB teams and has drawn sharp criticism from some fans during an offseason that has seen the team make no major acquisitions.
He said the Braves have “a little over $90 million right now” committed toward 2012 salaries and will reach the previously undisclosed $94 million budget, up slightly from last year, with acquisitions before or during the season.
“We will be spending 94 this year,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys to look at in spring training. There are still decisions to be made.”
McGuirk said a $94 million payroll is the maximum amount supported by the Braves’ projected revenue, contending the team will operate at that level with “no profitability, no free cash flow.” The Braves ranked 15th in MLB in attendance last season, about the same as in payroll.
McGuirk acknowledged that a $94 million payroll “will look more like $84 million in actual players on the ground” because the team will pay $10 million toward pitcher Derek Lowe’s salary, even though Lowe — ineffective last season — was traded to the Cleveland Indians in October.
McGuirk made no apologies for the Braves’ payroll, which was barely half as large as NL East winner Philadelphia’s last season, or for their absence in recent years from competing for top-dollar free agents.