Sports Magazine

Game 38 : #Pirates Vs. #Braves : 05.17.16

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
Game 38 : #Pirates vs. #Braves : 05.17.16
The Atlanta Braves are off to a historically bad start, and it has cost manager Fredi Gonzalez his job.
Six seasons into his tenure with the Braves, Gonzalez has been fired by the worst team in baseball.
The last time the franchise that would come to be known as the Atlanta Braves reached 20 games under .500 before the season was 40 games old was the only time they've achieved such a feat. Taft was in the middle of a one-term presidency, New Mexico and Arizona were nearly states, and the 1911 Boston Rustlers were on their way to a 44-107-5 season.
They got to 20 under in 36 games, and while that won't happen to this group, 38 doesn't sound much better. That can happen Tuesday night in Pittsburgh as the Pirates try to take the first two of this three-game series.
Braves general manager John Coppolella confirmed the firing of Gonzalez on Tuesday, and Brian Snitker, who has been manager of the Braves' Triple-A Gwinnett team, will move up as interim manager.
Atlanta is in the midst of a dismal stretch and is already 13 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East.
Pittsburgh (20-17) opened the series with Monday's 8-5 to drop the Braves to 9-28 and end a four-game home losing streak. Matt Joyce was 3 for 4 with a home run and has gone deep four times in 23 at-bats over his last 15 games. He's 11 for 25 when in the starting lineup.
The Braves haven't won consecutive games over a 5-19 span during which they've averaged 2.7 runs and hit eight home runs, a quarter of which came Monday. It was the first time Atlanta has gone deep twice in one game since opening day, and it took the first home runs of the season from Jeff Francoeur and Kelly Johnson to pull it off.
The Pirates haven't lost a series to Atlanta since August 2014, going 8-3 since, and the Braves are relying on a winless pitcher to avoid falling 20 under.
Yet Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has at least on occasion been impressed by the Atlanta rotation.
"They have a nice asset over there in young starting pitching," Hurdle told MLB's official website. "All five of their guys have pitched well one time through the rotation, some of them two times."
Aaron Blair is still after his first major league win entering his fifth start. Last time out, he didn't make it far enough to qualify for one. The right-hander gave up four runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings of Thursday's 7-4 home loss to Philadelphia but escaped with a no-decision.
The 23-year-old Blair (0-2, 4.05 ERA) has walked 11 in 20 innings of his debut season while managing just seven strikeouts.
"(Blair) was just behind in the count a lot tonight, which is very uncharacteristic of what he does," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "He usually pounds the strike zone. Tonight, he had a hard time, especially with his offspeed (pitches), and they took advantage of it."
He's up against Juan Nicasio, who has seen his ERA increase by more than a run in his last two starts as he's surrendered eight runs and 13 hits in 10 1/3 innings. Nicasio (3-3, 4.34) gave up four runs and four hits in six innings of Wednesday's 5-4 win in Cincinnati but was stuck with a no-decision.
In terms of control, it was a step in the right direction with the right-hander not issuing any walks after averaging 5.33 per nine innings in his previous five starts.
As a starter, Nicasio has been roughed up by the Braves, going 1-4 with a 9.64 ERA in six assignments. Freddie Freeman has done all sorts of damage against him, going 6 for 12 with four home runs, a triple, a double and four walks.

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