As I’ve mentioned, one thing that does impress me about Fredi’s management is that he won’t sit by and let Derek Lowe lose the game because he’s a “veteran workhorse”. Fredi realizes that Lowe is a guy who has to have a short leash in the middle innings, and pulls it accordingly. This is a game that Lowe might well have been left in to lose last season.
He got an early lead with a second-inning homer from Freddie Freeman. The Braves left two men on in that inning. In the fourth, the Rockies starter for some reason seemed to be pitching around Uggla and McLouth to get to Lowe with two out, loading the bases. It backfired, big time, when Lowe hit a bases-clearing double — it would have been a triple for Jurrjens, the left fielder had to run forever to retrieve the ball — to make it 4-0.
Unfortunately, he gave two of those runs back in the next inning, and needed to get a ground ball from Todd Helton to get out of it without more scoring. The Lowe Watch was on, and after he allowed a pair of one-out hits, Fredi made the move to the bullpen. Sherrill got the one man he faced, but unfortunately Gearrin allowed a single to the next batter to make it 4-3 before getting out of it. Still the right move to pull Lowe.
Then Dan Uggla hit a homer leading off the bottom of the inning to get the run back. Uggla actually was 2-2 with two walks on the night. Just one of those things, I guess. O’Flaherty allowed a hit in the seventh but pitched around it.
Jonny Venters came in to pitch the eighth, and again looked shaky. He walked the leadoff man (after seemingly having him struck out 2-2) and then went 3-2 before allowing a single. And then, suddenly, he was Jonny Venters again. Groundball and two hapless strikeouts later, the inning was over. Kimbrel got the save, allowing a two-out hit to Helton but striking out two.