The Braves lost again, their fifth straight. I haven't been this frustrated watching Braves baseball since the '96 World Series. And honestly, this season may be even more frustrating than that.
I touched on a lot of this some days back, and I'll try not to go over and over the same points. But the problem is it's the same things that are still going wrong and will still be going wrong in another two weeks if something doesn't start to work.
The team is starting to get healthy again. Chipper, Escobar and Kotsay are all back in the line-up. There's also good things being said about Tom Glavine's progress and that he hopes to be back soon. Matt Diaz is also expected back relatively soon.
But all this good news doesn't mean anything when the team isn't performing with all its missing pieces put back into place.
What is the root of the Braves' problems this year? It isn't pitching. Sure the coveted Glavine-Smoltz combo isn't working out, but Atlanta is second in the NL with a 3.78 ERA.
Jair Jurrjens has been impressive. But he's 22 years old and can't do it all. Jo Jo Reyes has been good also.
Jurrjens gave up three home runs tonight to the first place Phillies, but otherwise pitched a good game. Therein lies the problem. Run support.
The offense isn't providing any. How many one run games have the Braves lost this year? How many games have they lost on the road? Why? Run support. If you can't push across those two vital runs on the road, you're sunk.
It's not that they're failing to hit the ball. Chipper is still batting close to .390. They're hitting the ball just fine. They're just not driving in runs. No matter how good your pitching is, if you can't score runs you can't win games. I'm honestly a little surprised that they're 40 and 46 and not worse (even though MLB.com's expected W-L has them at 46-40).
No one in the division is playing the best baseball in the world. It's still a very close race. Here's what it looks like after play tonight:
|National League East|
What all this means is that right now, two weeks before the All Star break is that seven games back isn't the end of the world. But they've got to start winning, because if the Phillies decide to get hot and win fifteen of twenty, it could easily get out of the Braves' reach. But they've got to start scoring runs, and I have a feeling that I'll be saying that a lot throughout the rest of the summer.
Up next is a weekend series agasint a Houston team that isn't playing all that well either, maybe a few good wins would help Atlanta's (or Houston's) cause.