The Braves Report: Reynolds Stung by the D'Rays

<B><U>Devil Rays 9, Braves 7</B></U> <BR> Despite a two-run homer from Vinny Castilla and RBI performances from Javy Lopez, Matt Franco, Gary Sheffield, and Robert Fick, Tampa Bay still managed to down Atlanta with the help of Shane Reynolds. <BR> <BR> <B><U>Down on the farm</B></U> <BR> Poor pitching by John Ennis, Chuck Smith, and Matt Coenen helped hand losses to Greenville, Rome, Richmond, and Myrtle Beach Saturday night.

I mentioned after last night's game that this game might be a deciding factor as to what role Shane Reynolds will play the rest of the season for the Braves. After his performance tonight, hopefully his role will be bench coach. Or free agent.

Reynolds was in trouble right out of the gate against the vaunted Devil Rays offense. The first two batters reached base on a single and a walk, and are then driven in by a double off the bat of Aubrey Huff. I immediately have thoughts of last night's Red Sox/Marlins game, wondering if the Rays are going to break a 1 day old record for most runs to start a game without recording an out.

This IS the Devil Rays we are talking about though. Tampa didn't put 14 runs on the board in the first inning, Shane Reynolds notwithstanding.

Reynolds allowed one more run to score before Damian Rolls was gunned down trying to steal second to end the inning, with the Braves down 3-0. Tampa added 4 more runs in the 3rd off of Reynolds, on 2 singles, a double, a walk, and 2 stolen bases, both by Rocco Baldelli, to extend their lead to 7-0.

Atlanta bounced back in the bottom of the third with 2 runs of their own on RBI singles by Javy Lopez and Matt Franco, who filled the DH role tonight. Then for some reason, Bobby Cox decided to stick with Shane Reynolds to start the 4th. Two hits and one run later, Cox finally decides to pull Reynolds in favor of Trey Hodges. Reynolds line on the night: 3.1 innings, 8 hits, 8 earned runs, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts. His ERA now sits at 6.03 after 13 starts. It's time to make a move.

The Braves manage to hang around and make the game interesting. Robert Fick has a sac fly RBI in the 5th, followed by a Vinny Castilla 2-run homer and a Gary Sheffield RBI ground out in the 6th. With the score at 9-6 heading into the 9th, Fick kept up his hot hitting, driving in Andruw Jones with a double, before Javy Lopez flew out to center to end the game, 9-7.

The Braves had their chances tonight, leaving 19 men on base. Every Brave had one hit, except for Sheffield who was 0-for-4, and Fick, who went 3-for-4 and drove in two. Once Reynolds left the game, Tampa scored only one more run, as Trey Hodges, Jung Bong, and Kevin Gryboski combined for 6 strikeouts over the final 4.2 innings. The three relievers did allow 5 hits, and Bong walked 3 batters, so they didn't exactly throw clean innings.

The rubber match of this series is set for 1:15 ET Sunday, with Russ Ortiz (9-4) taking on Jorge Sosa (1-5). The Braves need a solid performance out of Ortiz tomorrow to take 2 out of 3 from Tampa, as the Phillies inched one game closer tonight with their win over the Orioles.

Down on the farm

Richmond Braves 3, Indianapolis Indians (MIL) 7 -- John Ennins gave up 7 earned on 8 hits in 5 innings, as the Braves fall to the Indians, 7-3. The loss drop his record to 2-10 on the season. SS Jesse Garcia and RF Damon Hollins were each 1-for-4 with an RBI.

Greenville Braves 1, Tennessee Smokies (STL) 5 -- Starter Chuck Smith falls to 1-2, giving up 5 earned runs on 6 hits in 6.2 innings, in the loss to the Smokies, 5-1. OF Cory Aldridge was 1-for-3 and hit his 8th homer of the year for the only Braves run of the night.

Potomac Cannons (CIN) 10, Myrtle Beach Pelicans 2 -- The Pelicans had 11 hits on the night, but only got two runs across, as the get bombed by the Cannons, 10-2. RF Carlos Duran was 3-for-4 and 3B Andy Marte was 2-for-4 with a triple, but neither had an RBI. Matt Coenen took the loss for the Pelicans to fall to 3-4. Coenen allowed 6 runs - 4 earned - on 9 hits in 5 innings. Brad David had a rough Myrtle Beach debut, allowing 3 runs on 2 hits in 1 inning of work.

Charleston-SC RiverDogs (TB) 9, Rome Braves 7 -- C Brian McCann hit his 11th homer on a 2-for-3, 3 RBI night, and CF Jeff Francoeur and 3B Wes Timmons were both 3-for-5 with an RBI, but it wasn't enough, as Rome falls to Charleston, 9-7. Kyle Davies got the start for Rome, allowing 4 runs on 10 hits in 5.2 innings of work. Ricardo Rodriguez took the loss to fall to 7-3, allowing 5 runs, only 1 of them earned, on 2 hits in the final 2 innings of the game. Rome committed 3 errors in the loss.

Kingsport Mets 9, Danville Braves 10 -- This must have been an ugly game to watch, as Kingsport had 8 errors on the night, allowing the Braves to squeak by the Mets, 10-9. 1B Scott Schade was 2-for-4 with 4 RBI, and both RF Matt Esquivel and 2B Mike Hanson had 3-for-5, 1 RBI performances. Steve Russell got the start and the win to even up his record at 1-1. Russell allowed 4 runs - 2 earned - on 2 hits and 5 strikeouts in 5 innings.

Melbourne Marlins 4, Orlando Braves 6 -- CF Steve Doetsch went 2-for-4, and DH Jarrod Saltalamacchia was 1-for-4 wiith an RBI, as the Braves beat the Marlins, 6-4. 1B Carlos Moreta also added his 2nd homer of the year on a 1-for-4 night. Jose Capellan got the start, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits in 4 innings, with 4 strikeouts. Dan Smith got the win with 3 innings of relief, allowing 1 run on 2 hits, and striking out 5.

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