I questioned what kind of impact Jair Jurrjens return would have on the Braves and if Wednesday night’s performance is any indication then the Braves just got a valuable weapon back in the arsenal. Jurrjens looked confident, rested, and healthy in his return. He pitched five innings allowed six hits and only one run while striking out six and only walking two. He tired in the sixth inning as the only thing that appears he needs to get back is his all of his stamina.
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His return really couldn’t have went much better. The Braves didn’t waste any time getting Jurrjens the lead as Martin Prado led off the home half of the first inning with a double and later scored on a Brian McCann double giving the Braves a 1-0 lead. That score remained until the fourth inning when Jurrjens himself faked a bunt attempt and promptly slapped an RBI single to left. Prado added a sacrifice fly later in the inning and the Braves led 3-0.
Jurrjens ran into a little bit of trouble in the sixth inning but Peter Moylan induced a double play grounder from Ivan Rodriguez. The Nationals scored their lone run on the play but a would be big inning was stymied. The Braves later added their fourth and final run of the night on a bases loaded walk to Eric Hinske. Billy Wagner struck out the side in the ninth to record his 401st save of his career.
I feel that Gregor Blanco deserves mention as he had two more hits in the game which makes him five for his last ten at bats. His performance in Jason Heyward‘s absence is exactly what this Braves season has been all about. Role players like Blanco, Omar Infante, and Eric Hinske have stepped up when they have been called upon to produce. Those contributions are a huge reason that the Braves find themselves currently at the top of the division.
The Braves will enjoy an off day on Thursday before opening a three game set with the Florida Marlins on Friday. The Braves are in a big stretch of divisional games and upon finishing the Marlins series will travel to Philadelphia and New York before heading into the All Star Break. The Braves current record within their division is a surprising 11-12. They will have to improve that number if they want to go into the Break with the division lead.