Javier Vasquez must feel like he is going to be the pitcher this year that gets no support from his colleagues. He has turned in two quality starts in his first two appearances this year, but finds himself 0-1. Atlanta's 5-1 loss Tuesday against the Florida Marlins gave him that loss, but the scoreline does not tell the whole story.
Vasquez was in imperious form, striking out 12 Marlins in just six innings of work. You need to go back a couple of seasons to John Smoltz in 2007 to find the last time a Brave struck out that many. Unfortunately for Vasquez and the Braves, his opponent on the night, Chris Volstad, was just that bit better.
Volstad went seven innings, giving up three hits and two walks. The only blemish on Volstad's record was a fourth inning home run by Kelly Johnson, but this could not ruin his night. "We got shut down," Braves catcher Brian McCann said. "Volstad pitched well. It just wasn't a good night for us swinging the bats. You have to tip your cap to him. He pitched great. We just couldn't figure him out."
With Volstad stifling the Braves, all it took to beat Vasquez was a bases-loaded hit from Dan Uggla in the third inning. The Marlins went up by three in that inning and there was no way back for Atlanta. Florida tacked on a couple of insurance runs in the 8th inning off Braves reliever, Jeff Bennett to make it 5-1. These were the first earned runs Bennett had given up this season.
The game for the Braves showed that sometimes it is just not going to be your day. With that in mind, one must look for the positives, which were easy to see. Vasquez's ability to strike out opponents will prove invaluable later this year and he will almost certainly be rewarded with wins should he continue to pitch in this manner. Peter Moylan also continued to find his groove in working a perfect 7th inning. Moylan has now lowered his ERA from 45.00 to 22.50!
The Braves now look to even the series with the Marlins at 7pm on Wednesday at Turner Field. Derek Lowe (1-0) makes his third start of the season against the Marlins' Andrew Miller (0-0).
15th April 2009