A Brave New World

After the painful final game against the Pirates I was really looking forward to the upcoming series against the Atlanta Braves. It still seems funny to say. For so many years teams have dreaded seeing the Braves and their potent pitching staff and strong hitters. These days the Braves have come back to earth and are in the midst of a mini-rebuilding phase. Tom Glavine and John Smoltz are both injured as is Tim Hudson meaning that the one-time strength of the team had suddenly become an unknown and unproven commodity. The Braves had just come off two series where they had lost 4 of their last 6. This was just what the Diamondbacks needed to erase the bad memories of that near perfect game.

Game one of the four game series saw the Diamondbacks send Yusmeiro Petit to the mound to face Charlie Morton for the Braves. Yet again I hearken back to the point that Diamondbacks hitters have historically struggled against rookie pitchers. Morton is in his first year with the Braves and made his 10th start of his career on that day. Although the Diamondbacks did get a hit early in the game they were held scoreless through the first seven innings of that game. Petit pitched adequately although not dominating. He allowed 2 runs on 4 hits in 5 1/3 innings of work. This should not have been an insurmountable deficit to erase. In fact the Diamondbacks bats would come alive once Morton left the game lighting up Braves reliever Blaine Boyer for 4 runs in just 2/3 of an inning. The problem was that Diamondbacks reliever Tony Pena again imploded giving up 4 runs in the top of the inning leaving the Diamondbacks 2 runs short and handing them their second loss in a row.

Game two of the four game series had the Diamondbacks sending veteran left-hander Doug Davis to the mound to face Jorge Campillo for the Braves. This game started off well enough with the Diamondbacks scoring in the first inning to take the lead. Unfortunately that was the only lead the Diamondbacks would have and it lasted just until the second inning when Davis allowed 2 runs to score. He followed that up by allowing 5 more runs to score over the next 2 1/3 innings leaving in the top of the fifth inning. The bullpen continued their struggles allowing another 4 runs to score over the remainder of the game giving the Braves an 11-4 victory.

In the first two games of a series against a team that came in 10 games under .500 the Diamondbacks had scored 8 runs which you would think would have been a positive. Unfortunately Diamondbacks pitching had themselves given up 17 runs and in the process digging such a deep hole that the offense just could not catch up. As if this news was not bad enough the Los Angeles Dodgers continue to win behind decent pitching and the hitting of newly acquired Manny Ramirez. Clearly things needed to get better if the Diamondbacks are to maintain their hold on first place in the National League West.

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