On Monday’s 4th of July, Tommy Hanson and Freddie Freeman provided all the fireworks the Braves would need to defeat the Rockies in the series opener, 4-1.
The scoring began in the first. After McCann beat the shift with a single, Freeman followed with a homer making the score 2-0. In the 4th, the Rockies picked up their lone run after Ellis walked and stole 2nd, then Todd Helton hit a RBI single. In the 6th, McCann went against the shift and hit a perfect single down the 3rd base line. Jason Heyward then hit a double off the right field wall, scoring McCann from first. There would have been a play at the plate but SS Herrara (in because Tulowitzki tweaked his quad) dropped the relay throw. The official scorer elected to rule that an error and did not give Heyward a RBI on the play. Once again I disagree with our scorer. Snitker was sending McCann all the way on the play. McCann did not stop at third and then decide to go home only after Herrara dropped the ball–he was going home from the get go. So now the scorer is assuming Herrara makes the catch with his back to the infield, spins, makes a perfect throw to the catcher who makes the catch, applies the tag and holds on to the ball with McCann barreling down on him. That’s way too many assumptions–Heyward should have been given a RBI on the play. Finally, in the eighth, Freeman completed the scoring with another homer, this time in the driving rain.
Hanson, meanwhile, once again showed that he should be on the all star team. He went 7 strong innings allowing 1 run, 4 hits, 1 walk, and 6 Ks. He is now 10-4 with an ERA of 2.52 (in contrast, all star Lincecum is 6-7 with 3.14 ERA, ?????). Hanson really showed his mettle coming back out to pitch the 7th after the Braves had long bottom half of the 6th. With 2 outs and a man on 2nd and 3rd, he got a big strikeout of Ty Wigginton to end the rally. Venters pitched the 8th and Kimbrel came on in the 9th to get the Rockies 1,2,3 and earn his 25th save (he also is deserving of an all star nod).
Other positives: Conrad, McClouth, and Gonzalez all made good plays in the field. Uggla had a 10 pitch at bat coaxing a walk in the sixth.
Negatives: Schafer struck out 4 times. The mere fact that I get so excited to see Uggla draw a walk is a negative.
Standings: Braves are 50-36 and remain 4 games behind the Phillies. We are the Wildcard leader over Arizona by 4 games, Milwaukee by 5 games, Pittsburgh by 5 1/2 games, New York by 6 1/2 games, and Washington & Cincinnati by 7 games.
Tonight’s Game: Rockies RH Jhoulys Chacin vs RH Derek Lowe at 7:10 on WPCH Peachtree TV. It would be nice to see Lowe have back to back good outings.
Gwinnett AAA update: I spent the 4th of July sitting in the rain watching the G-Braves win. Cristhian Martinez started and went 5 strong innings. The G-Braves had 19 hits including homers from Chris Carter, Ruben Gotay, and Brandon Hicks (a grand slam). Carter went 4-5 with 3 RBIs. Final score–11-3. G-Braves are now 46-38 and in first place in the International League South Division. There were over 10,000 people in attendance; it was the largest crowd since their inaugural opening day. In spite of the rain, (and the annoying “thunder sticks” that were given to every fan) it was a fun night and they put on an awesome fireworks show afterward. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a fun night for one female fan–she was struck in the cheek by a rocket line drive foul ball and had to leave the game in an ambulance, hopefully for precautionary reasons only.