Playoff hopes quickly crumbling for Atlanta
If the first series after the All-Star break shows anything about a team’s season then the Braves are finished. Atlanta’s pitching could not hold Washington’s offense throughout the series and therefore things do not look good for Mark Teixeira’s future in a Braves uniform. Unless Atlanta drastically turns things around quickly, their season will be over and they can look forward to 2009.
On Friday Tim Hudson toed the rubber against Tim Redding. Hudson didn’t bring his best stuff as he gave up 5 earned runs in 6 and 2/3 innings. Atlanta was able to provide just enough offense to hold off the Nationals and give Hudson his 10th win in a 7-6 Atlanta victory. Brian McCann who drove in 3 runs with a 3 run double in the 3rd inning provided most of the offense. Blaine Boyer, Will Ohman and Mike Gonzalez had solid relief appearances. Gonzalez notched his fourth save and appears to be back to old form.
Game 2 on Saturday had Jair Jurrjens face off against John Lannan. Jurrjens brought very little as he gave up 5 earned runs in 6 and 1/3 innings. Lannan limited Atlanta to just 1 run over 6 innings. Jurrjens was hoping to help his Rookie of the Year campaign but only hurt it with this less than spectacular performance. Greg Norton provided Atlanta’s second run with a solo home run in the 9th inning but was not nearly enough. The Nationals took the 2nd game 8-2.
The final game of the 3 game set took place on Sunday. Jo-Jo Reyes took on Odalis Perez. Washington simply embarrassed the Braves as they put up 15 runs. Jo-Jo Reyes left his game at home as he lasted only 2 and 1/3 innings, giving up 6 earned runs and walking 4 batters. Buddy Carlyle came in to relieve Jo-Jo and was even worse. He lasted only 1 and 2/3 innings giving up 6 earned runs. Atlanta’s 4 errors only fueled Washington’s fire. Mark Teixeira was one of only two bright spots for the Braves as he blasted 2 home runs. Bobby Cox was ejected in the 3rd inning to raise his all-time record to 141. This sadly, was Atlanta’s only other highlight.
If the Braves want to make the playoffs this needs to be turned around very quickly. This series their pitching was just dreadful. A bad sign is Jo-Jo Reyes who is supposed to be the future is doing terrible this season. He has horrible control this season and is a bullpen killer. Fans can only hope he doesn’t turn into the next Kyle Davies, tremendous talent that goes to waste in an Atlanta uniform.
In injury news Mike Hampton is hurt again. No big surprise here as his return is again delayed. This does not phase Atlanta fans as they are used to not having him on the mound. Rafael Soriano is feeling better and may return to the bullpen soon. This would boost a bullpen that has been overused for the duration of the season. Tom Glavine is throwing off flat ground and is having expected pain in his attempt to return. This however is unlikely and Tom Glavine amazing career could be over. Starting shortstop Yunel Escobar could return as early as Monday from his shoulder injury. Brent Lillibridge has filled in very well but Escobar may be the boost the Braves need to make a playoff push.
With the Braves dropping the first series after the break against a terrible team, Frank Wren is surely looking for Mark Teixeira’s new home. He may not be moved as there are few candidates for him and they all have issues that need to be worked out before a deal can be made. Hopefully he stays and can be resigned in the off-season. The Braves should have a large amount of money to work with in the off-season with free agent departures so they should be very active in the market.
The next series for the Braves is a trip to Florida to face the Marlins. Game 1 is set to put Jorge Campillo (4-4) against Chris Volstad (2-0). On Tuesday Charlie Morton (2-2) will face whomever the Marlins plug in. They slid the rotation up a spot and now need someone to make a spot start on Tuesday for them. Wednesday is the final game of the series and has Tim Hudson (10-7) facing Ricky Nolasco (10-5). Could this be Teixeira’s last series as a Brave? Who knows? Hopefully it isn’t.
By Ben Burrows
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