Nate McLouth got his laughs in on me today, picking up two hits, two walks and two RBI as part of a 13-run performance for the Braves, beating the Astros 13-3.
McLouth had a hit and walk off Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez. The other hit was a double off Aneury Rodriguez. Maybe he just needs to face pitchers named Rodriguez. The other RBI came on a walk with the bases loaded.
Brian McCann went 2-4 with two RBI, both scoring on a two-run single. Dan Uggla went 1-2 with a RBI on a sac fly and a walk. Eric Hinske continued his early hitting with a 2-3, 2 RBI day, driving in both runs on a double off W. Rodriguez. Brandon Hicks got in on the action with a two-run double immediately after Hinske's.
Chipper Jones went 1-2 with a RBI single and walk. Everything seemed to be fine with the knee for the second straight day.
Derek Lowe gave up consecutive singles to lead off the game, but he settled down and did not allow another baserunner in two innings, recording four groundouts with no walks and no strikeouts.
Scott Linebrink picked up the first two outs in the third before running into trouble. He hit Michael Bourn and gave up three straight singles to Brett Wallace, Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee, bringing home two runs in his only inning of work. George Sherrill gave up singles to righties Tommy Manzella and Chris Johnson and a walk to Matt Downs, but Bourn grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to end it.
Cory Gearrin was a little shaky as he faced the middle of the order in the fifth, giving up two singles and walk to load the bases, and causing a run to score when he hit a batter. But he also induced a double play to get out of it.
Anthony Varvaro gave up two singles in the sixth but pitched around trouble. Juan Abreu allowed a one-out single in the seventh that was erased by a double play. Brett Oberholtzer finished with a perfect eighth and allowed two singles to minor leaguers in the ninth before shutting the door.
Overall, the pitching was a little shaky with so many singles allowed, but they did good jobs in inducing double plays and getting out of potential trouble. Lowe looked solid in his two innings.
I must give McLouth his due for reaching base four times and driving in two runs, especially when one of the singles and two of the walks were against lefties. Maybe placing him in the two-hole gives him confidence, but check back at the end of camp to see where he is.
Aside from Lowe, none of the pitchers today looked outstanding, but just note that nothing at all should be taken from Sherrill's outings as long as he faces righties. His hits and walk allowed? To righties. His strikeout and double play induced? To lefties. Just saying, you have to look into his outings to see how he is actually doing.
Brandon Hicks should get a star for today's performance. It's good to see him getting work at third base, and a two-run double as part of a 2-3 day is just added confidence.