On Friday night Jason Heyward provided all the runs the Braves would need with a monster shot to right center field. Later a double from the seemingly awakening Dan Uggla and a sacrifice fly from David Ross added a second run. Uggla provided the coup de grâce with ninth inning bomb off of Bobby Parnell’s flat fastball.
Maholm cruised through the first five innings but needed help from the quietly impressive Luis Avilan for the final out in the sixth. In a flashback to 2011 Jonny Venters worked a 1-2-3 seventh, Eric O’Flaherty a quiet eighth. Craig Kimbrel surprisingly walking Fred Lewis to open the ninth – only his seventh walk of the year – but finished the inning off with two strikeouts (95 & 96) and a grounder to Paul Janish. Kimbrel’s 35th save of the season secured the Maholm’s third win as a Brave.
Kris Medlen toed the slab for Saturday’s game and it was business as usual for the Braves newest and for some unexpected mound hero. The first three innings were much liked the previous 37+ with no one getting an earned sniff of home plate. But in the fourth a David Wright singled and was running on a grounder to Uggla eliminating the double play and Lucas Duda doubled him home ending Medlen’s streak at 40 1/3 innings without an earned run moving him to 10th in the list.
In the fifth Medlen gave up a home run to Ronny Cedeno but cruised through the sixth easily. He had helped mad his lead when he doubled over the head of Mets centerfielder Jordany Valdespin scoring Brian McCann from second. Medlen might well have gone deeper in the game had the rain not forced a delay of over an hour. It was the Braves 19th consecutive win in a Medlen start, the majors longest streak since the Yankees won 20 behind Roger Clemens in 2001.
Slumbering Bats Making Noise
Aside from Medlen’s continued stellar work Brian McCann had a breakout game with the bat. After failing to get an extra base hit in August, Saturday saw him finish just a triple for the cycle. A week after BMac’s second cortisone shot he drove in four runs and looked free from pain when swinging the bat. He partner in hitting hell Dan Uggla had a good day as well going 3-3 with 3 runs scored. On the day six of the starting nine drove in at least one run and Eric Hinske who hadn’t connected for a long ball since May 4th launched a ninth inning homer as well.
Let’s Not Get Too Excited
The Braves run explosion is cause for more than a few smiles tonight but let’s keep things in perspective. First and foremost this had to happen eventually. There are just too many good bats in the lineup for the low scoring game streak to go on forever. Fredi Gonzales said on Thursday the Braves were due for a blow out and he knew at least subconsciously that it was likely to come against the Mets who aside from R.A. Dickey and Jonathon Niese have at best a 4A pitching staff. I want to see more than a few hits against batting practice pitching before I declare the slump over. Having said that hitting is largely mental and a few good games against any pitching can remove the doubts that cause some to as Chipper Jones put it, think too much about hitting.
The Braves send Tommy Hanson to the bump Sunday and if anyone needs a good outing and can’t afford a bad one it’s Hanson. His 12-8 record hides his 0-3 with a 5.06 ERA and 1.688 WHIP. Against the Mets this year he’s 0-2 with a 5.71 ERA and a 1.442 WHIP. The redhead needs to put it together quickly if he’s to keep his rotation spot as Ben Sheets, Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran are waiting in the wings. On Monday the Braves get Andrelton Simmons back after his rehab starts helped the Hillcats win their league this week. While Janish has been superb on defense the Braves really need the enthusiasm and extra defensive dimension Simba adds to the lineup.
That’s a Wrap
Every win is a good one and I enjoy beating the Mets as much as any Braves fan. It’s sad however that their leadership and ownership so badly abused the franchise and it’s fans. It’s a lot more fun to beat the best than to beat the beaten. The Dodgers – in spite of their highly publicized and expensive influx of talent – have not yet become a consistent team and the Giant’s pitching is still a force strong enough to carry them to the post season. The Pirates seem to have run out of steam as they lost again today against the hapless, hopeless Cubs. Those two things alone should get us to Bud’s Wild West Shootout Death Match. The Braves who will end up north of 90 wins this year and hold onto their wildcard spot barring something really odd happening out west, could use a change of ownership and at manager as well. Neither is likely as even though Liberty Media is a disinterested owner and Fredi Gonzalez a mediocre manager at best, changes like that for a wildcard team would be hard to justify. The whole one game playoff stupidity may cause the bandwagon fan to spend money but it’s bad for baseball. The Braves will get their chance to participate in that idiocy. After that, who knows?