Thursday, May 03, 2007

Chipper and the bullpen come through again

If this was last year, we would have lost this game as soon as Chuck James came out, with that horrible bullpen, if they would've had to work four innings, we'd be lucky to get out of their with them giving up less than, oh, three or four runs. But it's not last year, it's this year and we have a totally rebuilt bullpen, a great bullpen. After Chuck James, who was dealing before the sixth inning, was chased out of the game thanks to a game tying three-run homer by Ryan Howard, we had to turn to our bullpen a little earlier than expected.

and Mike Gonzalez is currently 1-0 1.59 ERA with a 1.50 WHIP while But our bullpen pitched four scoreless innings in which they allowed a combined one hit. Our biggest transaction from the offseason, Mike Gonzalez, was just plain filthy once again, striking out Chase Utley and Ryan Howard back-to-back in a scoreless eighth inning. If you remember, we traded our left-handed slugging 1st baseman, Adam LaRoche, to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for their lights out closer, Gonzo. It was a move that was frowned upon by some because of the loss of offense, more notably the homeruns. But seeing as how we lead the NL and I believe the Majors in homeruns LaRoche is currently hitting .132/.245/.253 3 HR 11 RBI and Mike Gonzalez is currently 1-0 1.59 ERA with a 1.50 WHIP while. I may be a little biased but I would say we got the best of that deal and oh yeah we got a little prospect named Brent Lillibridge too, who is hitting quite well in AA.

Widely regarded as our top overall prospect and the number one catching prospect in the majors, Jarrod Saltalamacchia made his major league debut. Although he didn't get a hit in the game, he showed me at least a lot of promise. He went 0-2 with a walk and got hit by a pitch, he also threw out Jayson Werth at second in the second inning. Each at-bat he worked the count by taking pitches and fouling off pitch after pitch and nearly missed a double down the right field line that could've scored two runs in the 6th. Later in that at-bat in the sixth he was hit on the upper right arm by a pitch by Freddy Garcia, who was relieved by Geoff Geary right after that. Later in the sixth Salty was thrown out at home by the "Flyin' Hawaiian" Shane Victorino. It is almost a certain thing that Saltalamacchia will be traded sometime this season for pitching help and honestly until last night I had no real problems with that, because he could bring a load of good players and or highly touted prospects but I am now rethinking that. He showed great plate discipline last night, great power as he was about 3 feet from a homerun in his first at-bat and he showed that his defense isn't as big as a question as it was believed to be. I would love to see either him or Brian McCann making the switch to first base that way we can have both of those talented young men in our lineup. But we'll see, something tells me we'll still trade him.

"You're always going to have nerves your first game in the big leagues," he said. "After that first at-bat, I settled down a little bit."

Braves third baseman, Chipper Jones, continued his hot hitting by going 1-3 with a two-run double in the third inning. He also walked for the 19th time this season. Chipper is hitting .318/.421/.692 with 10 HR 22 RBI after tonight, just amazing, simply amazing. And better yet, he's played in all 27 games for the Braves, with no sign of injury or slowing down. Willie Harris is quickly making us forget about Ryan Langerhans as he's already done more in his three games as a Brave than Langerhans did in the 20+ games he was in Atlanta. Harris went 2-3 last night with an RBI single in the 6th scoring Scott Thorman. Harris also made a great diving catch in left field last night to rob former Brave, Wes Helms of a hit in the ninth inning.

"I just want to go out there and earn the respect from my teammates, let them know I play the game hard," said Harris.

WP: Chad Paronto(1-0)
LP: Freddy Garcia(1-2)
SV: Rafael Soriano(2)

HR: PHI- Ryan Howard(4)

The next Braves game is on Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. We have John Smoltz going and they have Brett Tomko going. The game starts at 7:35 pm ET and it's on TBS.

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