The Braves rolled out six left-handed batters in the starting lineup against Charlie Morton tonight, including Jordan Schafer in the leadoff spot. It was Schafer’s first big-league start in almost two years, filling in for Nate McLouth (out with a left oblique strain).
Going into the game, lefties were hitting .385 with 10 runs scored vs. Morton this year compared to right-handed batters, who were .156 with five runs scored. Morton said it forced him to throw more off-speed pitches, and he wouldn’t be surprised to see the strategy employed by more teams down the road if they have the option to do so.
“I would assume so,” Morton said. “I’ve done well against righties. The word’s out. So if they have good lefties they’re going to throw them out there. And they’ve got plenty of lefties. It’s a good lineup.”
Manager Clint Hurdle said he thought Morton was a little quick at times tonight, but was still impressed with the outing.
“He kept his emotions in check, he made pitches, he’s learning how to pitch without his best stuff, sometimes without his secondary pitches as well,” Hurdle said. “It’s probably the most left-handed hitters he’s had to face in a lineup so that’s another good experience. That’s going to happen. More and more teams are going to try to find a way to do that.”
= Interesting note in that before the game, Hurdle compared Morton to the Rockies’ Jorge De La Rosa in terms of being a pitcher that a lot of people had given up on and struggled before finding success. The Pirates went after De La Rosa in the offseason and, when they didn’t get him, turned to Kevin Correia. De La Rosa’s season likely ended tonight when he suffered a “complete tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.”
= The Braves had a ground-rule double in the fifth inning when Chipper Jones hit a fly ball to center field and a fan reached over and caught the ball in his hat for a second before it fell out. The officials conferred but the play stood as called, putting Martin Prado on third base. Here’s what Garrett Jones had to say about it: “That ball was going to hit off the fence but he reached down and caught it and almost brought it up. It actually helped us because it kept (Prado) from scoring from first. He probably would have scored so it saved us a run.”
= And finally, here’s a little post-game Evan Meek on striking out the side in the ninth. “It’s good to get back out there. It’s been a while. I was just telling myself to throw strikes, throw down, get some ground balls. Any time you can do that it’s nice. But I just go out and try to get ahead in the count and get guys to ground out or pop out, but it was good.”