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Ahh... Braves Spring Baseball... in HD!

I got off work early, stopped by the deli and picked up a sandwich, got home and got comfy, and sat down to watch the Braves and Dodgers go at it on ESPNHD (I had recorded it from earlier in the day). Let me just say that baseball in HD looks AWESOME!

We didn't get to hear Joe Morgan doing the color commentary for ESPN, so sad. The announcers were the always-monotone Gary Thorne with John Kruk and Steve Phillips (meh). Those two have some good things to say as well as some stupid stuff, but with the ESPN requirement that all their announcers fill every available moment of air time with chatter it's got to be tough to constantly come up with interesting stuff to say. (Say, could that be Morgan's problem? Nah.)

Jair Jurrjens started the game for the Braves and looked pretty good. I liked seeing how he kept most every pitch down in the zone, and when he missed with a pitch he usually missed low. The only high pitch I noticed from him was a 94 MPH heater at the shoulders that got a swing and a miss (from Repko, I think). Jurrjens got into some two-out trouble in the first inning after an infield single to the hole between short and third. He seemed to lose his concentration with a runner on base and allowed a stolen base then a walk. The other LaRoche then came up and smacked a hanger to deep center for a grounds rule double. Jurrjens showed a bit of his youth by letting the first get out of hand with two outs, but he came back in the second inning and looked solid.

In the third inning Javy Lopez took a 1-0 pitch on the outside corner and pulled it over the right left field fence for a two-run homerun in his first at-bat. The pitch was a lazy 82 MPH and looked to be a hanging breaking ball - Javy really tagged it.

Gammons interviewed Cox in the top of the fourth, and Cox said that Mike Gonzalez was ahead of schedule in his rehab and set to return on June 1st - good news.

Jeff Francoeur had an opposite field run scoring single in the fourth - very good to see Frenchy hitting the ball where it's pitched and going the other way to drive in runs.

The top of the fifth got a bit messy. Brandon Jones misplayed a ball on a sinking fly ball (and then didn't really hustle after the ball to get it back into the infield). Javy Lopez threw a ball into centerfield on a double steal attempt when no infielder covered the base. The announcers thought it was probably a missed sign by Javy. The pitcher that inning was Peter Moylan, and he didn't look too sharp. He was topping out at 91 MPH, and last year he was topping out in the mid-90's. Perhaps it takes him longer in the spring to get up to full velocity.

In the bottom of the fifth it was the Braves turn to pick on the Dodgers mistakes and bad pitching. Jordan Schafer got an at-bat, and boy is he an aggressive. With him, Francoeur, and Escobar on the same team, games might take less than two hours. Joe Borchard had a nice opposite field double. I must say I like his approach at the plate. Amazingly, Scott Thorman drew two walks in the inning - that's how bad the Dodger pitching was in the fifth when the Braves batted around and scored seven runs.

A good game overall, even for this early in spring training. Kelly Johnson looks like he's ready for the season to start. Of course, Francoeur was ready a couple of weeks ago. Chipper had a bit of a target on him today with a ground ball off his chest and a dicey play on a throw in the dirt to him at third with the runner bearing down on him, but he seemed to escape unscathed. While Moylan looked a little shaky, the rest of the relievers competing for spots looked pretty good. Buddy Carlyle breezed through two innings of work, and Yates and Ohman pitched well. Damian Moss also had a pretty good inning of work.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Braves. Even though most of the regulars were out of the game by the fifth inning, I like seeing all the young rookies playing in Atlanta Braves uniforms (despite jersey numbers ranging into the 90's). Hopefully we'll get a few more televised games (in HD) before the end of spring.

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