Sunday evening’s final game in the series against the struggling Mets served to snap the Brave’s winning streak. That string of eight wins has propelled the Braves well atop the NL East with a 4.5 game lead over the Washington Nationals, and despite the loss last night, the Braves should still have good momentum as they travel to Toronto to begin a four game series with the Blue Jays.
Because of their long rivalry, any series the Braves play against the Mets is always emotional, but the way this series went was just draining. The series began well enough, although the first game was played with strong, cold winds, and the ever present threat of rain. The Braves had the lead in game 1 off a pinch hit RBI by Evan Gattis, and then the rain came down, in sheets! Anthony Varvaro had come on in relief and was clearly having trouble gripping the baseball, but the officials did not call for a suspension of the game. The controversial decision would be questioned, right or wrong, all weekend long by anyone and everyone. Fredi Gonzalez felt it was a good thing since the Braves had the lead when the rain began, but no one knew that the Mets would rally to tie the game. Whatever your take on the game, the fact is that playing in that kind of rain can be dangerous, and was clearly a factor for Varvaro in giving up the lead. The game was suspended, finally, after the Mets tied it, and the Braves were fortunate to come back in the 10th inning the following evening, and get the win. The Braves also won game 2 handily, but then had to deal with a white-hot Shaun Marcum in game 3.
Pitching Highs and Lows
Mike Minor once again pitched with great precision, and has become the Brave’s most dependable man on the bump for Atlanta. Minor struck out 10 batters in the 6-0 win in game two, but also helped himself by going yard (His first MLB HR).
Julio Teheran has characteristic ups-and-downs, but he seems to be slowly and inexorably improving with each outing. In game 2 he pitched a pretty good game through just over six innings, and even though he gave up 5 hits, he was able to limit the damage to just 1 run.
The bullpen is struggling. With the loss of Venters and O’Flaherty, those struggles are likely to continue until the Braves can right the ship, so it is vital that the Braves bats be hot, and that starting pitching limit damage. With our current bullpen, close games are just that – too close.
Hitting Highs and Lows
Freddie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons both were able to get four hits in the series, and led the offensive charge for the Braves, along with Dan Uggla who had some clutch hits and a pair of homers in the series.
Jason Heyward struggled, getting just one hit in the series. Jason has played pretty well since coming back off the DL though, and I fully expect he will continue to move upward offensively as the season progresses.
Even though the Braves won this series, it wasn’t always pretty. There were way too many errors for the Braves, some bad decisions, shaky pitching, and impatient hitting. The Braves proved they can play better in their previous home stand. Back on the road now, Atlanta needs to tighten things up, take it a game at a time, and remember that despite a 4.5 game lead in the division, there is a ton more baseball to be played.