Having been doing this a while now, I know full well how it works. If I write that a team looks really good, it loses its next 10 games. (Or, in football, its next three.) If I write that a team is in trouble, it wins the next 10. (Or three, or whatever.) That’s because I’m a jinx or a reverse jinx or a bad analyst or … something.
But, as recently averred, I really do believe the Atlanta Braves are in trouble. (That particular effort ran in today’s AJC and is available online via myajc.com.) On cue, the Braves went out and won 3-1 in Denver last night. If history holds, they should expect to win the next nine as well.
Except that I’m not sure history will hold. The Colorado Rockies are a good team to get well against. They’ve lost 10 of 11 and 14 of 17, and no wonder. They’re missing three injured members of their everyday eight — Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer and Nolan Arenado. Their starting pitcher Monday was a call-up, and Wednesday’s is scheduled to be likewise. (This from a pitching staff that was already the worst in the majors, though some of that has to do with Coors Field.)
But the Braves didn’t exactly batter the rookie Christian Bergman on Monday. They managed five hits and two earned runs in six innings against him, which is pretty much in keeping with what the 2014 do against most every pitcher. I’ve already gone on too long about how I’d reconfigure this lineup, but after all that verbiage I’m not sure it would make much difference.
The Braves have played 62 games — only 100 to go! — and that’s long enough for a pattern to have revealed itself. Their starting pitching is great. Their hitting is lousy. Given that pitching is 75 percent (or 90 percent; estimates vary) of baseball, that still might be enough to carry them into the postseason. But I’m feeling less confident with every week.