Derek Lowe gave his best on Thursday, with bat and ball, but couldn't do enough to stop the Braves falling to their fourth straight defeat in Spring Training. The Braves went down 7-5 to the Toronto Blue Jays after defeats to Washington, Pittsburgh and the New York Mets in the last few days.
Despite the skid after a promising few weeks, there are still plenty of positives to take from both the game today and the last few days. Most notably, Lowe went 6 innings for just one run on five hits, striking out seven in the process and also picked up two RBIs with the bat. This consistency from the starters has been mirrored in recent days with quality starts from Kawakami, Glavine, Jurrjens and Javier Vasquez. The Braves rotation is in excellent form, but has been let down by an inconsistent bullpen.
Today was the turn of Boone Logan and Kris Medlen, who between them gave up six runs in two innings and cost the Braves the game. Coming into the 8th inning with a 5-1 lead, Logan surrendered three runs on four hits and a walk before being pulled by Bobby Cox. Despite finishing the 8th inning, Medlen faired no better in the 9th, his three runs coming on two hits and two walks.
Essentially though, Spring Training is an exercise in experimentation. There are no prizes for winning the Grapefruit league and managers would be foolish to try and do so. The Braves will leave Thursday's game satisfied with the positives of the game and indeed the last week's play. Chipper Jones and Brian McCann have returned from Team USA action and settled back into the swing of things very quickly, whilst the vast majority of the team continues to hit over .300.
Next up for the Braves this Spring is another visit from the Detroit Tigers on Friday at 1:05pm. Tom Glavine is slated to start his second game of the Spring as he attempts to fine-tune himself following his return from injury. Despite the irrelevance of results in Spring Training, the Braves will want to get back to winning ways as soon as possible, as winning is a good habit to get into.
26th March 2009