Who means more to this team than Brian McCann? For almost half the game he was 100% of the offense for the Bravos. But that was before Edgar Renteria found his opposite field power stroke. Could we see another en fuego April from Edgar like we did last year? The other star(s) of the game, and perhaps the real star(s) of the game were the Braves bullpen. Gonzo looked like he was going to sully the reputation of the pen early on, but he proved to everyone that he can reach back and get out of serious trouble when he needs to. Sori and Wick were dominant and so was Chad Paronto - way to go, Par on toe. Folks, this is the difference between this year and last - Braves bullpen, four innings = no runs (in a close game).
The real shitter of the day was Jeff Francoeur's complete inability to even advance a runner - something that may have provided Smoltz with a couple more runs to work with. Maybe I'm finally starting to see it, but Francoeur's inability to make "productive" outs really does cost us run scoring opportunities. To further the woes of the "everyone after McCann" in the order, how feeble were Thorman and Langerhans? The 6th, 7th, and 8th spots in the order accounted for almost half of the Braves strikeouts, and got only one hit!
I also question some of the moves by Bobby Cox - something I normally don't do. He used his best power pinch hitter in the eighth leading of the inning instead of using one of his speed guys like Orr or Woodward, and then when it came to a bases loaded situation in the ninth he only had Brayan Pena to call on...and he struck out and looked completely overmatched on three straight pitches.
Also, mark John Smoltz down for one less earned run after a pop-up went off of Kelly Johnson's glove and was called a single - WHAT! Home field scoring run amuck. And I should have mentioned this earlier, but Smoltz was ON this afternoon. Save for a couple of mistake pitches, he had his changeup working like I can't remember - he deserved better.
But the great story of the day was that our "pen" was able to keep it close and then hold the lead - just AMAZING, especially after watching the team last year.
Atlanta 5, Philadelphia 3 at Citizens Bank Park
Atlanta Record: (1-0)
Philadelphia Record: (0-1)
Winning pitcher - Bob Wickman (1-0)
Losing pitcher - Ryan Madson (0-1)
SV - Chad Paronto (1)