Three Cuts: Rockies sink Santana, Braves, force series split
Prior to Thursday, you’d have to track back to Sept. 9 of last year, or 11 starts ago, to find the last time Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin went at least seven innings and surrendered two or less runs in the same outing.
On this day, Chacin kept the Braves in check, never facing more than four batters in a single frame and allowing just two hits and two walks overall.
And frankly, it’s fair to ask why the Rockies benched Chacin so quickly. The veteran righty had tossed only 85 pitches (56 strikes) and was in total command of the Braves, retiring the leadoff hitter six times — with Tommy La Stella’s double in the 5th as the lone exception.
There were some late Braves heroics once the Rockies dipped into their bullpen, with Jason Heyward belting a 390-foot RBI single (scoring Jordan Schafer) and B.J. Upton immediately following that with a two-run homer (trimming the Braves’ deficit to 8-3).
For a second straight day, a Braves starting pitcher was bludgeoned by an eager corps of Rockies hitters.
In this case, Ervin Santana allowed six earned runs and seven hits over 6.1 innings, a porous outing against a lineup that didn’t feature MVP front-runner Troy Tulowitzki.
By all accounts, Laird’s eighth-inning malady — taking an errant bat to the jaw on Chris Dickerson’s backswing — seemed to be clean and without malice on the Rockies’ end.
And yet, that didn’t stop Braves reliever David Carpenter from plunking Dickerson after Evan Gattis had replaced Laird at catcher — during the same at-bat.
(In the postgame, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Laird would be OK for the weekend series against the Angels.)
The whole ‘macho’ thing can be so irrelevant at times, so much that it’s fair to wonder if today’s ballplayers (regardless of club) can properly distinguish an accidental injury from one that warrants retribution in the same game.
And if anything, Carpenter’s antics temporarily overshadowed the bullpen’s galling lack of production over the last few weeks, blowing a handful of saves and giving up runs in droves.
On this day, relievers Carpenter, Jordan Walden and Anthony Varvaro were pounded for four runs (over 1 2/3 innings).
We all know major-league ballplayers chow down on catered food, travel on chartered jets and stay in four-star hotels on the road. So, it’s not like we have overwhelming sympathy for their collective plight during the season.
However, it’s worth noting the Braves have essentially been living out of a suitcase since May 27, hitting towns like Boston, Miami, Atlanta (two-day homestand), Arizona and Denver for just a few days each time.
And following that long flight home to Atlanta (from Denver), the club actually gets a chance to unpack and emotionally recharge for a crucial home stand against the surging Angels (Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols are all healthy) and enigmatic Phillies (last place in the NL East).
Of course, I’ll be in Pinehurst, N.C. for the U.S. Open this weekend … and will have to rely on first-hand accounts of Mike Trout from shaky secondhand sources.