Monday, April 02, 2007

Renteria lifts the Braves in extra innings.

Nobody was more clutch Monday afternoon than Braves' shortstop, Edgar Renteria. Not only did Renty have the game tying home run, he also had the game winning home run in extra innings. In the top of the 8th inning, Phillies' starter, Brett Myers, was dominating Renteria and had him behind in the count, 0-2, when he left a ball up and Edgar took advantage of it, hitting it about 430 feet to dead center. And then again in the 10th inning against Ryan Madsen he did the same thing, but with Braves' second baseman, Kelly Johnson, on. Renteria ended up going 2-5, 2 HR's(2) and 3 RBI's(3). A very nice start to his second season in Atlanta.

Also coming up huge was Brian McCann, who started the Braves offense with a double to deep center in the 2nd inning and then a two-run homer in the 4th inning. And he finished his day going 3-4, 1 HR(1) and 2 RBI's(2). John Smoltz came into the game today without much opening day success(0-3 +6 ERA), so he was looking to get off to a good start to his season after being robbed from the Cy Young award last year. He started off untouchable through the first four innings but in the fifth he threw one mistake to Jimmy Rollins and J-Roll, as he is called in Philly, capitalized on it with his first home run of the year. Other than that the only other trouble he ran into was the next inning when Kelly Johnson misplayed a pop up(should have been an error, but they were generous) and it led to the go-ahead lead and eventually knocked him out of the game.

But unlike last season the bullpen was amazing. They held the Phillies scoreless over the remaining 4 innings. And recent acquisition, Mike Gonzalez, is a beast. He literally enjoyed the fact that he walked the opposing pitcher on 4 straight balls and then gave up a double to the next hitter(Rollins). He got pissed and just straight embarrassed the next two guys, striking out both of them(including the reining MVP, Ryan Howard) and then getting a slow grounder to end the inning. Next up was the electric, Rafael Soriano, who hit at least 94 on everyone of his fastballs including a high of 96. He easily disposed of the batters he faced walking one(on a bullshit call, seriously, Umpire, Ed Montague was horrible.) Also having nice games for the Braves were Chipper Jones, who looks great, he definitely lost some weight this offseason and he was running like he was a couple of years ago. Jones ended up going 1-3, 1 run and 2 walks. I know it's only the first game of a very long season, but I feel great about this team, if our starting staff can stay in tact and we can get production from our new second baseman and whoever is playing in left then we should be very tough to beat this season.

--Next game is on Wednesday at 4:00 ET, versus the Phillies and left-hander, Cole Hamels. Tim Hudson will be on the mound for Atlanta.

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