Kimbrel Unit malfunctions, Cards beat Braves in 10

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Someone had better perform a level 2 diagnostic on the Kimbrel Unit’s positronic net, because the results it achieved last night were well outside normal operating parameters.

The Braves were up 3-1 on the Cards heading into the bottom of the ninth last night when Craig Kimbrel, perhaps the most automatic thing in baseball this year, was called into the game to close it out.  Things didn’t go according to plan, however. This is what happened:

  • Skip Schumaker singled;
  • Rafael Furcal walked;
  • Ryan Theriot walked; and then
  • Albert Pujols singled in two runs.

Two of these hitters didn’t have much business touching Kimbrel, but that’s baseball for you. As for Pujols, I officially join all of those crazy Brewers fans who hate Albert Pujols. You were right all along, people.

OK, that’s not fair, he was just being himself. But I’m watchin’ you, Albert. Watchin’ you real close.

Anyway, with the game tied they headed to the 10th because that’s what the rules say you have to do. After the Braves went down 1-2-3, Fredi Gonzalez called on Scott Linebrink, because the rule book also says that you can’t use your best available pitcher on the road in a tie game. And that’s a rule backed by science and geometric logic. Linebrink gave up singles to Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, a sac bunt moved them up to second and third and then Nick Punto — the most dangerous man in baseball — hit a sac fly to center, scoring Holliday. Ballgame.

So, here we are: The Braves have a 6.5 game lead on the Cardinals in the wild card with 18 games to play for the Cards and 17 for the Braves.  I am not sweating yet. Not really. Like I said yesterday: if the Cardinals sweep, I sweat. If they don’t, the worst case is that the Braves keep that 6.5 game lead leaving St. Louis with 16/15 to play.  I think that’s insurmountable. At least I’m pretty sure it is.

It is, right? Please?

Jose Bautista is starting at third base for the first time in over four years

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Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista is getting a rare start at third base today. How rare is it? Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae notes that he last started at third base on April 14, 2013 against the Royals.

Bautista has played some third base already this year. On April 27 against the Cardinals, Bautista pinch-hit for third baseman Chris Coghlan and stayed in the game at the position. Last Saturday, Bautista moved from right field to third base as part of a handful of defensive switches. Overall, he’s played four defensive innings at the hot corner this season.

The Blue Jays have had to get creative at third base while Josh Donaldson has dealt with a calf injury. Darwin Barney and Chris Coghlan have drawn most of the starts at third base, but catcher Russell Martin started there on Sunday and tonight we’ll see Bautista there.

Braves’ bullpen hasn’t allowed a hit to last 54 batters, setting franchise record

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The Braves announced on Tuesday, citing Elias Sports, that the bullpen set a franchise record, preventing the last 54 batters faced from getting a hit.

The last reliever to allow a hit was Josh Collmenter to the first batter he faced against the Blue Jays last Thursday. Since then, the bullpen has logged 15 1/3 scoreless, hitless innings with a 10/4 K/BB ratio. Here are the logs since Collmenter gave up that hit.

Date Opp. Pitcher BF IP H R ER BB SO
May 18 vs. TOR Josh Collmenter 7 2.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 18 vs. TOR Ian Krol 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 19 vs. WAS Jason Motte 2 0.2 0 0 0 0 0
May 19 vs. WAS Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 19 vs. WAS Arodys Vizcaino 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 2
May 19 vs. WAS Jim Johnson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 20 vs. WAS Ian Krol 2 0.2 0 0 0 0 1
May 20 vs. WAS Jason Motte 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 0
May 20 vs. WAS Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
May 20 vs. WAS Arodys Vizcaino 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 20 vs. WAS Jim Johnson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 21 vs. WAS Luke Jackson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
May 22 vs. PIT Jason Motte 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 2
May 22 vs. PIT Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 22 vs. PIT Arodys Vizcaino 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 22 vs. PIT Jim Johnson 4 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 54 15.1 0 0 0 4 10

Despite the hot streak lately, the Braves’ bullpen still ranks in the middle of the pack in ERA at 4.07. Its 21.3 percent strikeout rate ranks 18th out of 30 teams and its 8.6 percent walk rate is ninth.