Remember the name, Jurrjens…
Well, 21 runs and two games into the homestand, the Atlanta Braves finally picked up their first win on Wednesday night. A close contest into the eighth inning, the Braves bats came to life and put seven on the board against the Pirate bullpen.
Lost in last night’s offensive barrage (for those who like games with lots of runs) may have been a solid first effort by 22-year old right-hander Jair Jurrjens. His peers believe that his baseball acumen to be far beyond his years, not to mention his poise on the mound.
Just ask Braves catcher Brian McCann.
“He’s 22-years old and when he’s on the mound, you’d think he’s a 10-year veteran,” said McCann, the man calling the signs. “When you’re a pitcher, and you’ve got the stuff he’s got and you can put the ball where you want, he’s going to do what he did tonight.”
McCann got the closest look at Jurrjens performance, save the Pirates hitters who struggled to do much against him in the way of run-scoring opportunities. Sure, Xavier Nady knocked home a pair of runs, but no one is expecting a shut-out every time out. More times than not, if you can limit an opponent to two runs a start, you are going to put your team in a position to win.
Jurrjens is a cool customer, no doubt about it. He prides himself on getting outs early in the count and using location and command as the hallmarks of his pitching style.
“I wanted to get the team in the win column tonight,” said Jurrjens of his goal for the night.
Would you expect anything less from the guy who has spent the spring making one of the best first impressions of any pitcher I can remember? This may be the best young pitcher Atlanta has seen since Kevin Millwood ascended into the Braves rotation full-time as a 23-year old in 1998.
Over the first few innings, he did not commit the mistake of many young pitchers and try to overthrow. For five innings he held the Pirates comfortably in check, before trouble cropped up in the sixth inning and he reverted to being more of a thrower than a refined pitcher.
But you don’t have to tell him. Jurrjens knew upon meeting with the press after the game that if there is anything he can take from this start to work on in the future, it would be stick to the game plan.
“That last inning, you could see I tried to over do it,” said Jurrjens. “I got in trouble and tried to overthrow. I need to stop doing that, especially if I want to go deep in the game.”
Now that’s a stream-lined way to get better results next time out. Identify the problem areas and address them. This kid has got it down.
So what do his teammates think of Wednesday’s performance?
“He was great,” said first baseman Mark Teixeira. “This is what we expect from him. It’s alot of pressure for a young kid… but we expect alot of things out of him. He stepped up tonight and showed how good he can be.”
There are some men on the Braves bench that have seen alot of baseball, and I’m not talking John Smoltz and Tom Glavine here. Bobby Cox has seen every arm the Braves have trotted out for more than two decades, serving as Manager and General Manager, beginning in 1986.
“He threw a great game,” said Cox. “He was sensational I thought, [did] a very impressive job.”
When you’ve seen it all, you don’t really have to spend a great amount of time and a great amount of words to describe what you seen. Mark it down though, if injury takes its toll on the Braves veteran rotation, Jurrjens could become an impact player in a hurry.
Till Next time,