Send your Ailing Bats to Atlanta

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In the 1960’s, Dristan decongestant ran a TV ad about sending your sinuses to Arizona. That ad can still be seen on youtube decades. later. I’ve never been to Arizona, so I don’t know if my sinuses would do better there, but I know this. The Atlanta pitching staff has recently been a health spa for the ailing bats of major league baseball, whether they played in Atlanta’s home stadium Turner Field or elsewhere. This time it was in the nation’s capital where the Braves were easy marks for Washington pitching. The once proud Braves have lost an insane 16 out of 17. The 1962 Mets once lost 17 in a row and Atlanta hasn’t reached that degree of futility–yet! But I can hear people gnashing their teeth all over the South, where Braves games rule the TV as Boston games rule TV sets in New England. Last night in a 15-1 demolition, Atlanta gave up 15 or more runs for the third time in a week. The other two were a 15-4 flogging and a 20-6 burial by the Yankees. And may I add, these aren’t your father’s Yankees of Reggie Jackson, Graig Nettles, Chris Chamblis and Thurman Munson. These Yankees lack the pitching staff to make a  deep run in the playoffs  even if they get there. And the hitters who did the damage? Didi Gregorius? Chase Headley? Jacobi Ellsbury? Good players, but Jeff Idelson at the Hall of Fame won’t be adding them to his Rolodex any time this week.

The Nationals meantime are barely a .500 ball club, and I mentioned earlier this week in this forum that they have been a huge disappointment to their local  fans. Last night though, the Nats had 7 on the board early and the Braves were like a fighter looking to find a comfortable piece of canvas to lie down on for a count of 10. Bryce Harper, who can do anything but sell hot dogs before the game, managed a feat very few  have done in 100 years without unleashing his deadly weapon. He walked four times, scored after all four walks and even got an RBI because he walked once with no vacancies on the bases. Only Larry Doby in 1951, Joe Morgan in 1973 and Rickey Henderson in 1989 have scored 4 runs and driven one home without putting bat on ball. And may I add, all 3 are enshrined in Cooperstown.  Before Doby, nobody had scored 4 and driven one across without making contact since 1914, when the hit record was “La Cucaracha.”

Besides the fact that the Nationals were beaten by a below-average Yankees team, this isn’t  the Atlanta team of Smoltz, Glavine and Maddox. The Braves had given up 15 earned runs only 10 times going back to April 10, 1991, a whopping 3948 games-until this week. Since Friday they have been so biblically bad as to do it 3 times in 7 games. Don’t blame Shelby Miller-he probably wants out of this nightmare. He’s 5-12 with a tiny 2.56 ERA, and has allowed 27 fewer hits than innings pitched. He’d look good in pinstripes, Dodger blue or Pirates black and gold.  But ERA’s over 5 are much more common than Miller’s 2.56. Their staff has more dead wood than your local DMV office.  Here are some of the pitchers who make batters’ eyes light up when they enter the game.

Mike Foltynewicz: 5.71
Williams Perez: 5.65
Matt Wisler, 5.22 but 9.49 last 3 outings.
Eric Stults, 5.85
Trevor Cahill, 7.52
Cody Martin, 5.40
Andrew McKirahan, 5.82

With 3 more games against the Braves, the Nationals will have a chance to start getting well. The Mets will need to be on their mettle in Miami to maintain the lead they now have.

Call All Hands-Man the Pumps!

I wouldn’t say the Pirates’ ship is sinking, not in today’s baseball world of two wild cards. But I would say the ship has sprung a leak and their manager Clint Hurdle has all hands trying to pump out the water and hopes to plug up the leak with September reinforcements. For now, their ship is pitching in heavy seas. The Brewers-yes those lowly Brewers have swept them a 3-game series. Milwaukee has now taken six straight off the Buckos. Last night, their long tall Texan rookie,  six foot six inch Taylor Jungmann improved to 9-5 in beating the Bucks. Until July 11, 2015 no Brewer had tossed a complete game at Dodger Stadium,  until Jungmann pulled it off. There was nno complete game for Jungmann though me might have preferred it. As it was, the Brewers were up 4-1 and called on Will Smith (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) who nearly cancelled Jungmann’s good performance. He had given up two runs before being replaced. The Brewers got an insurance run in the 8th and turned to their closer Frank Rodriguez to wrap it up.

Things don’t get any easier for the Pirates. They’re off to St. Louis  for the weekend and trail the Cardinals  by six and a half games in the NL Central. An obvious point of concern to Pirates fans is that J. A. Happ is starting tonight. He hasn’t started against the Cards since 2012, and when he did pitch against them he was 1–8 with a 6.79 ERA. RedBirds starter Carlos Martinez on the other hand is 13-6, and was given extra rest because his back troubled him during his last start. The final game of this series will be ESPN’s Sunday night matchup, with Gerrit Cole slated to face John Lackey.

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