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Gameday Thread, #52: 6/1 vs Braves

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Juan Cruz, RHP (2-3, 4.76)
Horacio Ramirez, LHP (1-0, 5.40)

Off to the Home of the Braves we go, for what should be an interesting series against Atlanta. We have four games against them, and I imagine they must be very grateful that they don't have to face Brandon Webb. That's like playing Russian Roulette, pulling the trigger four times, and still walking away. I'm thinking a 2-2 split of the series would be likely: when originally predicting this roadtrip, I thought this was a three-game set, but it isn't the case - there's no off-day today.

The Braves, after a slow start, are beginning to come round, and while still 4.5 games back of the Mets, it'd be an idiot who ruled them out of their nine-millionth NL divisional title in a row. They've been doing it with offense, rather than the traditional Atlanta way, through pitching (their 4.51 ERA is 11th best), and trail just the Dodgers in runs scored this year. On the other hand, only the Cardinals have conceded less runs that Arizona this season, though our ERA is fifth-best in the National League. The key reason is the number of unearned runs: through 52 games, we've allowed twelve, tied with the Tigers for the lowest number in the majors. That, and our 74 double-plays: one other major-league team currently has more than 58.

We face a left-hander in Ramirez today: he's recently come back off the DL with a hamstring injury, but looked solid against the Cubs last time out - though as noted before, the Cubs are adrift against southpaws, with an OPS of .614. We're over 150 points better than that, even with our fairly left-handed stacked lineup, and so Ramirez should pose no particular difficulties. Cruz is the only starter to get an L in the sixteen games we've played since May 13; that was a somewhat unlucky 2-1 loss against the Braves. Walks remain an issue - 13 in 22.2 innings this month - but his K's are still over one an inning. It'd be nice to see him pitch into the seventh this time.

Chad Tracy in the Rep today, talking about strikeouts, and his recent surge thereof. "It's unacceptable," said Tracy. "It used to be that I could sit and bank on a 3-1 fastball right down the middle... I just hate to strike out," he said. "I'd rather put the bat on the ball and take a chance on them making an error or anything than strike out." He's going to shorten his swing with two strikes, improving his chances of making contact, but it does show Tracy is now getting respect from opposing pitchers, and rightfully so.

And an off-topic heads-up: we believe the edition of Room Raiders featuring Mrs. SnakePit and the SnakePitette, is scheduled to air next Wednesday, June 6th at 6:30pm on MTV. [Check local press for details. :-)] Feelings appear to be "mixed" here, regarding the prospect, somewhere between anticipation, and fear of total humiliation for the amusement of a national audience. Me, I'm very glad I did not get involved...

We're leaving for Burbank around 7pm tonight: opted to leave this evening, rather than some horrendous hour tomorrow. But should be about for much of the game, thanks to the East-coast start. You will then be left in the tender care of Nick: he seems to have mastered the tricky art of "posting", and so is every bit as well-qualified as I am. :-)