Atlanta Offense Fails to Show Up

James HulkaAnalyst IJune 11, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 25:  Kelly Johnson #2 of the Atlanta Braves bats against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on May 25, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

"There's only so many times you want to give the other team credit," Braves catcher David Ross said. "We just can't keep letting good pitching performances go by the wayside."

No kidding.

By my count this is the fourth game the Braves have wasted a solid, if not spectacular, pitching performance by Javier Vazquez. When your starter goes eight innings, strikes out twelve, and allows only one run on three hits with no walks - you have to win that game.

Vazquez's win total is half of what it should be (See April at Philadelphia, and both starts versus Arizona).

Ross is partially to blame as the bottom of the Braves order had one hit all day against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

With the exception of the first five innings of Monday's game, the Braves offense has been - quite offensive. Eight runs scored in the last 34 innings isn't going to cut it.

Everyone is to blame at some point in time.

As good as Chipper was in the first two games, he's looked that bad the last two nights.

Yunel Escobar had the blunder in the field that cost the Braves Wednesday night's game when he forgot there was a runner on 3rd base and tried to call timeout. It didn't help his throw was nowhere close to even giving Brian McCann a chance to tag out Craig Monroe. His at-bats today were nothing short of awkward, regardless of the situation.

Nate McLouth had the golden opportunity to drive in the go-ahead run in the seventh with Kelly Johnson on 3rd base after a double and a sacrifice bunt. But his approach was nothing short of awful chasing a slider in the dirt and a fastball a foot too high and outside on consecutive pitches to whiff, when all he needed was a groundball not at somebody or a fly ball to the outfield.

David Ross has cooled off since his productive start as McCann's backup. He's failed in chances to drive in runs with runners on base.

Kelly Johnson got robbed today on the second blown call in the ninth inning by 1st-base umpire Brian Knight who called Johnson out as replays showed Matt Capps at-best got there at the same time as Johnson. A few innings earlier, Canizares's tag on Freddy Sanchez was missed as was the fact that Sanchez didn't even appear to touch the bag.

That doesn't excuse some of his silly and stupid swings in the past week or so.

Jeff Francoeur had the only RBI of the day, but that doesn't excuse him for a poor series all the way around.

Garret Anderson hit a solo homerun in the ninth inning on Wednesday, but his first three at-bats were hideous as he left runners stranded on 3rd base with less than two outs.

Which begs the question - what do the Braves do?

Some of it is personnel, some of it is approach.

The way some of the Braves hitters go up to the plate and either take too many strikes or swing at too many balls is not a new thing isolated to 2009.

Sure, missing Casey Kotchman and Omar Infante, two hitters who have a better idea of the strike zone than Jeff Francoeur and Yunel Escobar, factors in.

But, I have to ask the question.

Would the Braves be better off with someone other than Terry Pendleton?

I know Terry Pendleton's a respectable guy, and knows how to hit. But knowing how to hit and being able to teach and instruct major league hitters how to handle different pitchers is completely different than just having the ability to swing the bat and make solid contact.

No one said Terry Pendleton is Rudy Jaramillo. If that was the case - the Braves wouldn't be in the bottom third of the NL in runs scored and Jeff Francoeur wouldn't have to spend his off-season working with Jaramillo on his swing.

Outside of Chipper and McCann, two players who go to their fathers for hitting advice, there isn't any hitter in the Braves lineup who scares the opposing pitchers and has a good approach most of the time they go up to the plate.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I'm sure that there's likely no easy fix to the Braves offensive ineptitude.


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