04 May 2007

Chipping in with an ayiyiyi of my own

Right, the Braves.

Ayiyiyiyi indeed!

Somehow, though, I'm feeling lucky. I'm thinking that we have a chance in this series, and that the results won't rhyme with "codgers wept".

If you look at the Braves' record so far, they appear menacing. They're 7 games above .500, pacing the Mets, the team that really does send me scuttling away from the TV and into hiding.

But, against what sort of opposition have the Braves compiled this record? Remember, they play in the NL East, and though this is no NL Central or 2005 NL West, it is also home to the appalling Nationals, and the seemingly perennial should-contend-and-doesn't-quite-do-it Phillies.

The bad news is that the Braves have taken four-of-six from the Mets, and we all know how the Dodgers measured up against the Mets last year.

They have also taken five-of-six from the Phillies, who are having to do without Howard's power stroke.

Against the designated punchbags of the division, the Nationals, they have taken three-of-five, with both losses being a case of their lineup being shut down - 1 and none runs respectively.

The Marlins are ahead in their season series at the moment, with the Braves going two-for-five against them.

The rest of the Braves' record are made up of a 1-1 split with the Cubs, and a two-of-three series with the Rockies, the loss coming in an extra-inning slugfest special at Coors.

Of all these teams, only the Mets currently boast a winning record. The case could therefore be made that the Braves have been playing so-so opposition, given that the Dodgers have compiled their 17-11 record by playing above .500 ( as of current standings, which arguably may not reflect the strength or weakness of the teams when they played them, but maybe do give a better idea of the overall strength of the teams ) teams 20 times for a 12-8 record and below .500 teams 8 times for a 5-3 record.

Does all of this mean much in May? Perhaps not! I just expect the Dodgers to show up and play well. They can't really expect to give up five or more runs ( or perhaps even four or more! ) against this team and win the game.

Therefore the defense needs to be good: Pierre needs to stop looking like a lost fish under fly balls and Kent needs to grow a couple inches to prevent those line drives from glancing off his glove. Martin needs to throw to second base instead of center field, and Furcal needs to run out to make relays for the weak part of the outfield.

In addition, the pitching needs to win our games for us. I hope Lowe's sinker works, because the less balls to the outfield, the better. Tomko needs to guard against that one meltdown inning. I seem to recall he did this last year, too. Wolf needs to guard against the long ball, which is also a recent weakness for him! The starters need to keep the Braves to three or so runs maximum, and hopefully the bullpen will continue to be money and give us time to catch up.

As a final thought, the lineup needs to guard against those first pitch outs! Swing away if you think you saw your pitch, but please, and especially if things are tough going for the rest of the guys, somebody needs to stick in there from time to time and see some pitches! Ethier's 10-pitch walk the other day was the at-bat of the season so far, for me - even though his foul little roller up first could have easily retired him and he probably wasn't looking to just draw a walk!

Okay, that's all from me. I can get garrulous sometimes!

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