It's probably safe to say that Kris Medlen's first start as a Brave did not follow the script in his head, Thursday, as he took the loss in a 9-0 defeat to the Rockies. The defeat meant the Braves could only tie the series 2-2, in what was otherwise a very winnable encounter against a poor Rockies team. Medlen, called up from AAA Gwinnett as Jo-Jo Reyes was moved to the bullpen was making his debut after a string of impressive starts for the Braves' affiliate.
Medlen had given up just one run in his previous 20 innings, but got off to a shaky start and was tagged for a run in the first inning. His control completely deserted him and though he was able to stutter through the 2nd and 3rd innings, Medlen loaded the bases in the fourth with nobody out. At this point, manager, Bobby Cox, had seen enough and pulled the debutant from the game, hoping to limit the damage. Unfortunately for the Braves, Todd Helton planted his fifth home run of the season off reliever James Parr to effectively end the game as a contest and charge Medlen with another three runs. Medlen's final line read three plus innings, three hits, five walks and five earned runs.
That said, Medlen refused to get down on himself and remained focused on his next start "The wheels just fell off", he noted. Offensively, the Braves did not help the young pitcher's cause. Amongst the hype of Medlen's debut, it was somewhat lost that the Rockies' Aaron Cook was pitching a four-hit shutout, two of which were to Jeff Francouer. Cook was superb and needed just 108 pitches to beat the Braves, giving up just one walk in addition to the four hits.
The defeat leaves the Braves 2.5 games behind the first place Phillies going into the first round of interleague play of the season. Considering the team is at .500, things could be a lot worse. There are tough games all round for the competing three in the NL East this weekend. The Braves will face the AL East-leading Toronto Blue Jays, which sees Bobby Cox take on Cito Gaston in Atlanta for the first time since the 1992 World Series. The Phillies take on a resurgent New York Yankees, whilst the Mets send Johan Santana to the mound to face the Boston Red Sox, themselves hot off a sweep of the Blue Jays.
Game 1 of the Toronto series is Friday night at 7:30pm and sees Roy Halliday (8-1) look for his ninth win of the year, at only the quarter-way point. He faces Kenshin Kawakami (2-5) who has not pitched past the 6th inning yet this year.
22nd May 2009