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The Braves Have Problems of Their Own

Mike SteffanosSunday, April 27, 2008
By Mike Steffanos

Game 24: Mets 6 - Braves 3

The thought that became the title of this recap occurred to me when John Smoltz left this game after 4 innings. The Braves had the favorable starting pitching matchups this weekend, yet not only did they lose both games but needed 9 innings from the bullpen. Sometimes as a die-hard fan you get so hung up on your team's own shortcomings that you forget everyone else has them, too.

Apparently Smoltz admitted to shoulder discomfort after the game and may need to get checked out. Tim Hudson has had 2 of his last 3 starts go only 3 innings. Closer Rafael Soriano is on the DL and still experiencing elbow discomfort. Chipper Jones experienced back spasms while putting on his uniform Saturday and wasn't able to play at all this weekend.

As for the Mets, it was good to see them pull out the last two games. Nothing they did made me feel they are ready to go on a roll, but winning a series against Atlanta was a decent step. It was the Braves without two of their hottest hitters -- Larry and Yunel Escobar -- but it was still the Braves. They don't apologize for beating the Mets without Alou, El Duque and Pedro.

Reyes had an important double against Smoltz today. It was his only hit in the series, but it was still big. Castillo responded to yesterday's day off with 3 hits and a run scored. David Wright struck out twice against Smoltz, but then had a huge RBI hit in the sixth to drive in a run after the Braves had broke through against Nelson Figueroa in the top of the innings to cut a 4-0 lead down to 4-3. Raul Casanova had 3 hits including a 2-run homer. Ryan Church took an 0-for at the plate but made a great catch to bail out Schoeneweis.

Even more hopeful, if tenuously so, was Carlos Delgado's 2 homers, including one off a lefty. We've seen too much of this in the past two seasons to go crazy over one good day for the Mets first baseman, but for one day (at least) he looked like the player he was in 2006.

As with Delgado, I'll temper my optimism about the past couple of days. They were close games that could have gone either way. Still, they were wins against the Braves. For one day at least, the sun seems to shine a little brighter and life feels a touch sweeter.

View Nelson Figueroa's Full Season Stats

Box Score

Comments (7)

Mike, Didn't it seem nice to see Delgado carry the team? He basically did this all by himself. The only thing that bothers me with this is Ruth did the same at the end of his career. We will need to see more from hinm before I'm convinced he's coming out of his funk. I enjoyed seeing him and Reyes doing their handshake. Figgy looked good again today. He has been a real asset filling in for Pedro. Kind of makes me wonder who will emerge as the fifth starter once he comes back. Right now I would trust Figgy a bit more. This is a good problem when it arises. Castillo actually spanked the ball down the third base line today. he showed a little pop today. When is Castro due to come back? Casanova does have some punch but I'm really a Castro supporter.

we've heard more from fidel than ramon castro lately, i wouldnt count on him. i like delgado a lot and hope he can go out with a bit more dignity than he has been afforded recently.

i'm not a willie fan club member but i will say that willie has been bold in some respects. He sat down delgado and i saw a clip of him holding infield defense practice last week. I think these things send the right message, especially since I hate shoddy defense and mindless mental errors.

i should addd: unless of course, i am the one commiting them.

I believe Babe Ruth actually had a three home run game while with the Boston Braves, a few days before retiring.

What I like the most about the game is that Figgy keeps it going. He's basically a modern version of Rick Reed, and when he gets his strike zone going, he's really good. Plus, he's not the walk machines that Ollie and Maine can be at times.

The one thing I've liked about Delgado this year is that he's swinging at bad pitches alot less. He's being more selective in his strike zone, which has resulted in more walks. The lineup still needs another power bat, however. If they can't get Alou back anytime soon, they'll have to start thinking about trades. But in the short term, if Jose Valentin can come back and play some 1B, OF, and 2B (even spell Wright at 3B), he'd be a huge boon to the lineup if healthy. Mike Carp is killing the ball in Double AA, but he still needs to get some seasoning at Triple AAA. I wouldnt be suprised if he gets called up to Triple AAA sometime in May, and there's a possibility, if he continues to play this way, that he'll find himself in the Majors after the All Star Break.

d.d., Did Ruth hit three in a game with the Braves? I was on a roll and really didn't think about the specific number but the idea. Did you understand what I meant?

William - I agree Delgado has to have more than just a good day before I stop worrying about him. I wouldn't worry too much about the fifth starter until Pedro gets close to a return. If both Pelfrey and Figueroa are pitching well at the time I might favor Figueroa taking over for Sosa in the bullpen, unless Sosa really turns it around.
IMFM - Agreed on Castro and Delgado... and mindless mental errors.
dd - Good thing Delgado only hit 2 then.
Jason - I'm actually a little worried about Figueroa's walks in his last 2 outings -- 8 BBs in his last 10.1 IP.

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