The Atlanta Braves got on the board early last night, but a two-run fifth inning for the Philadelphia Phillies sunk the Braves, with the Braves losing 3-1.
Brandon Beachy, who made his major league debut last night, had a decent game, striking out one, walking three, and giving up three runs, only one earned. He performed decently against one of the best offensive teams in the league.
In fact, Bobby Cox said that he was the best option given the short notice. When asked if Kenshin Kawakami could have filled that spot, Cox replied by saying, "Kawakami hasn't pitched in a long time. This kid is better prepared than he would be going out there right now."
What sunk the Braves was a costly fielding error on a slicing liner off the bat of Shane Victorino. That led to a two-run fifth that cost the Braves the game and, possibly, the National League East title. With the Atlanta Braves now trailing by four games, they would need to take the next two games from the Phillies and play above .500 ball while the Phillies would need to have a serious downturn.
I have two things to note here. First, I believe they have finally given up on Kenshin Kawakami, as they should have awhile ago. Kawakami isn't worth his weight in wonton. He has simply been ineffective, has only won one game, and, when he started against the Marlins in a test of his capability, he failed. Miserably. Kawakami is running this team's budget up for nothing. I would rather him just be hurt. We would save money that way.
Secondly, I don't think the Braves care enough. They haven't shown me that they want it that bad. Either that, or they are trying too hard. Hitters aren't being patient at the plate, pitchers are getting too comfortable with the strike zone, and our rotation is starting to lose its ability to get the job done.
Jurrjens is a good pitcher, but, as of yet, he hasn't shown me the ability to last a full season. Losing Kris Medlen seriously hurt this team, but Mike Minor has stepped up and shown his talent. He had a similar game to Beachy in his debut, but dazzled with 12 strikeouts in his next start. I think Beachy will be a good replacement if Jurrjens will be out longer.
I hope this team wants it as much as its fans do. As a Braves fan, I am fairly confident in saying that I speak for the majority of the Braves' fan base in saying this: we want to see Bobby go out with a ring. We have held Bobby Cox in such high esteem all these years and he has become family, in a way. Seeing Bobby retire without a ring would seem disrespectful to the legacy of one of the bets managers in Major League history.
In any event, the Braves need to seriously step it up. There is much to do and little time. I hope to see the Braves atop the NL East when the final bell tolls. If not, they have a man's legacy to answer to.