I think we all kind of saw this one coming. Armed with a mid eighties fastball (due in part to his “cranky” elbow) and a terrible goatee, Joe Blanton does not have the look of a pitcher that is going to shut out the opposition. His counterpart Jair Jerrjens however, is putting together a really impressive start the the season with an unblemished 4-0 record and a sub two ERA. In addition, Joe has never won at Fulton County Stadium (I refuse to call it Turner Field) and Jurrens has pitched really well against the Phillies. To no one’s surprise, this game did not start out well. Marin Prado and Nate McClouth hit back to back home runs in the first inning. Giving up home runs to the first two batters may be the very definition of “bad start.” I was fairly certain that every Braves batter was going to homer off of Blanton after McClouth’s bomb to deep center field. Suprisingly Joe settled down after leaning a little more heavily on his breaking stuff. His final line was not retch inducing, five innings, five hits, five strikeouts, two earned runs and one walk (on a questionable pitch).
Jurrjens had a perfect game through five and 2/3 innings. I am not really sure how much more I can add to that abomination. Rule five pick-up Michael Martinez singled up the middle to break of the perfect game in the sixth and Jimmy Rollins followed with a double to ruin the shut out. Rollins was caught between second and third and made the final out in a run down.
J.C. Romero has actually been serviceable thus far. Excluding last night, the left hander has exceeded the extremely low expectations that we all had for the excitable left hander. He did not do his job against Atlanta. His job is to get left handed batters out and he failed in to retire rookie left hander Freddie Freeman (surprisingly, Freeman has a higher batting average against lefties than righties .238-.225). After a walk to the struggling Dan Uggla, Romero got himself into a jam by allowing Freeman to single on a play in which Jimmy Rollins appeared to force out Uggla at second. Remember yesterday when the Philadelphia conspiracy wonks were placated by a missed call on a strike to Victornio? Well, they were given more ammo by the missed call at second. After a play like that, it is pretty obvious that the Braves were going to capitalize on the favorable umpiring. Increasing the likelihood of the Braves extending their lead was the appearance of Kyle Kendrick. It looked like Kendrick could wiggle free of trouble after he got Alex Gonzalez on a 400 foot pop out to get to weak hitting catcher David Ross. Ross bunted for a single after Kendrick failed to field the suicide squeeze attempt. Kyle could have mitigated the damage with Braves starter Jair Jerrjens coming to the plate. He walked the pitcher. Really. Kyle walked the pitcher to get to the hottest hitter in baseball. Prado singled in two runs making the score 5-1.
Danys Baez entered the game and promptly loaded the bases. It looked like he was going to destroy any ability of a comeback. Inexplicably, Baez worked out of the jam. The Phillies scored another off of Jurrjens in the eighth with a Wilson Valdez double, knocking him from the game. His final line was seven 1/3 innings, three hits, three runs, one walk and six strikeouts. He gave way to Johnny Venters, who greeted Carlos Ruiz by hitting him in the calf. Venters uncorked a wild pitch to give the Phils men on second and third with one out. John Mayberry pinch hit for Baez and grounded out to make the score 5-3. Rollins lined out to Marin Prado to end the threat. In addition, Shane Victorino tweaked his hamstring in the seventh inning, meaning he will be out for the series finale. When will this bloodbath end?
The other young arm in the Braves pen, Craig Kimbral, earned the save by striking out two of the four batters that he faced. He also proved that Ben Fransisco will shit the bed if you give him the opportunity to do something good in a meaningful portion of the game. This was a frustrating loss. It looked like the Braves were going to knock the snot out of the Phillies, but Blanton settled down and kept them in the game. If not for a missed call and a squeeze bunt from the catcher, the Phils could have climbed back into the game, but it was not meant to be.
The Phils look to exact revenge for their loss by sending Roy Hallady to the mound in an attempt to win the series. He will be opposed by Tim Hudson.