Well, the first two games went about as expected, with Tommy Hanson allowing three homers and losing 6-2, while Mike Minor shut down the Phillies, winning 8-2. What didn’t make sense was the Braves offense getting shut down by Kyle Kendrick while hammering Roy Halladay (again). The Nationals also split their first two games with the Brewers, leaving them 5.5 games ahead of Atlanta, almost assured of the division.
Friday night was not pretty for the Braves, as the longball destroyed any hopes of a victory. Hanson allowed homers to Kevin Fransden, Ryan Howard, and Carlos Ruiz, while Luis Avilan allowed one to my vote for most underrated player, Chase Utley. The Braves’ middle of the order really hurt the cause, going 0-for-11 with 6 K’s. Martin Prado and Dan Uggla each had two hits, with both of Uggla’s hits being doubles.
Tonight’s game was much better, getting to Roy Halladay again. In his four starts against Atlanta this season, Halladay allowed 22 runs in 17.2 IP, while he has a 3.50 ERA in the rest of his starts. After Michael Bourn walked to lead off the game, a sign of Doc’s struggles, he was caught stealing, but that did not deter the Braves from having a big inning. Prado and Chipper Jones reached, then Freddie Freeman hung a three-spot with a homer.
The second inning looked uneventful, with Jose Constanza and Minor striking out after a Brian McCann walk. A single by Bourn and another walk to Prado led to a bases-clearing double by Jason Heyward to chase Halladay. Chipper then doubled home Heyward to close the book on Roy. It was the second game the Braves had scored at least seven runs off of him this year, while Halladay only allowed two seven-run games the previous four seasons combined. Minor went six solid innings, only blemished by a Howard homer, and Jonny Venters, Chad Durbin, and Eric O’Flaherty finished out the game.
While the Braves have seemed to have a horribly streaky, inconsistent offense, other teams have shown such problems. The Rangers went from the highest-scoring team to three runs a game and back to the top over this season, showing that no team is immune to such streaks. There are no solid 1-8 lineups like some of the recent Red Sox and Yankees teams, so every team is going to struggle throughout the season. Atlanta seems to be more fickle, going series-to-series with their abilities, but they’ve won 22 more than they’ve lost, which means they can’t be too bad.