Notes: Reitsma bounces back
Tough-luck setup man hopes his run of bad fortune is over
ATLANTA -- After taking some time to scream his disgust during his drive home on Wednesday night, Chris Reitsma composed himself and chose to forget about the unfortunate events which had plagued him just an hour or so before.
Reitsma's anger stemmed from his damaging performance against the Astros in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. He faced five batters and was charged with four earned runs on three hits. The only out he recorded came courtesy of an Andy Pettitte sacrifice bunt.
"If I'm giving up line drive after line drive or home runs or [I'm] walking people, I wouldn't be able to sleep," Reitsma said. "But I made some good pitches."
Reitsma rebounded in fine fashion by tossing a scoreless eighth inning in Thursday night's 7-1 Game 2 win over the Astros. It allowed him to at least minimize the disgust he was feeling 24 hours earlier.
Given the task of keeping Wednesday's game at 5-3, Reitsma's forgettable eighth inning began with Adam Everett lofting a soft liner that was just out of second baseman Marcus Giles' reach. Brad Ausmus followed with an infield single. After Pettitte's sacrifice and an intentional walk to Craig Biggio, the frustration continued with Jeff Bagwell's chopper which hit off Chipper Jones' glove and went into left field.
After the Astros completed their five-run eighth, Jones approached Reitsma in the dugout and told him that he had never seen a pitcher with as much bad luck.
"I appreciated that," Reitsma said. "I'm glad people see it. Unfortunately other people look at the box score and think I'm the worst pitcher ever. But if you're here and you're watching and you know the game of baseball whatsoever, then you realize it wasn't that bad."
If you looked at Wednesday's box score, it showed that Reitsma's ERA in this year's postseason stood at 108.00. Thursday's scoreless performance whittled that number down to 27.00. In five postseason appearances -- all of which have come against the Astros -- he's posted a 20.77 ERA.
But with three games left in this best-of-five series, Reistma now has reason to be confident his luck has changed. His knee, which plagued him in August and September, is feeling better, and he and Braves manager Bobby Cox truly believe Wednesday was just a day to forget.
"In the eighth inning, Reitsma couldn't have made any better pitches," Cox said. "He just got blooped to death. There wasn't a ball hit hard that entire inning."
Turner Field hex: Since moving into Turner Field for the 1997 season, the Braves haven't had much of a home-field advantage during the postseason. They've won just 14 of 31 playoff games in their new venue. Heading into Thursday night's Game 2 matchup against the Astros, they'd won just four of their previous 17 home playoff games.
"You guys [the media] have all this power," Jones joked on Thursday evening. "Why don't you guys have this place blown up?"
If that was the solution to the postseason blues, there might be a few more stadiums that Jones would request be condemned. Since going 15-2 in Division Series play from 1995-99, they've won just nine of their 22 first-round games. That includes a sweep of the Astros in 2001, which was the last year they advanced to the NL Championship Series.
One way to forget: During the ninth inning of Wednesday's 10-5 loss, Jones told rookie Jeff Francoeur that he had to find a way to immediately forget about the game. The rookie right fielder and his roommate Brian McCann obeyed the veteran third baseman's orders.
"After the game, I went home and played Xbox with Brian and his brother for about five hours. We didn't want to watch any [baseball] -- we watched a little bit of the Yankees game -- but we didn't want to watch any highlights of our games or anything."
Younger lineup unveiled: Despite the fact that Julio Franco had just eight hits in his final 46 at-bats of the regular season, Cox chose to stick with his platoon and start his 47-year-old first baseman in Game 1 against southpaw Andy Pettitte. The more surprising move was starting 38-year-old Brian Jordan, who had just 22 at-bats after the All-Star break, in left field.
On Thursday, Cox went with a much younger lineup. Adam LaRoche got the start at first base against the right-handed Roger Clemens, and Ryan Langerhans, who hit .333 in September, was back in left field.
With Langerhans, Francoeur and McCann, the Braves had three rookies in Thursday's starting lineup.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Franco, who was 47 years and 44 days old on Wednesday, became the second-oldest player to appear in the postseason. Jack Quinn was 47 years and 91 days old when he made his first appearance of the 1930 World Series for the Philadelphia A's.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.