The time is ticking away in the 2013 season and, as it always does in the MLB, every game counts. The Braves will take any win they can take at this point of the season – and any way possible.
Freddy Garcia pitched amazing again this Tuesday night going 6 2/3 innings giving up six hits and only two runs. Garcia struck out seven Brewers hitters and only issued one walk. He kept the Braves in the game last night and when he was taken out of the game, the game was tied 2-2.
“He was outstanding,” Manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ”Freddy gave us a great opportunity to win. He knows how to maneuver himself through a major league lineup.”
Then, in the 7th, 8th and top of 9th innings, everything was quiet…
And than we have the game winning walk off by young Andrelton Simmons. He drove a pitch to center field with a single that accounted for his third walk-off hit off the season.
“He’s come up big in those situations all year,” Gonzalez said. ”He makes adjustments, he comes up big in those situations, he’s had three this season but he just seems to come up with something big throughout the course of the game. Maybe not game winners, but keep your eyes open as he will come up with something big or drive in an important run.”
With their 24th last at-bat win of the season, the Braves strengthened their bid for home-field advantage by maintaining their half-game lead over the Cardinals in the race for the NL’s best record.
“He thrives in those spots,” Braves outfielder Jason Heyward said. “He wants to be in those situations. Our lineup usually puts up some pretty good [at-bats] late in the game, especially at home.”
“He’s just getting better,” Gonzalez went on to say about Simmons. ”He cares about winning and losing – we all know what kind of defender he is and I think his bat is just going to get better and better as he matures as a major league hitter.”
Heading into the season, Atlanta’s bullpen was their strongpoint. As the season went on and more and more injuries occurred, the bullpen struggled at times. A bright spot that few saw coming was David Carpenter.
In September Carpenter has pitched in 12 games with a 0.75 ERA with only one walk and 11 strikeouts. He throws almost as hard as Kimbrel and hitters are having an awful time getting anything to hit as his slider has been tremendous.
“You enjoy every bit of it,” Carpenter said. ”Every pitch you enjoy getting that opportunity to set up for one of the best closers in the game right now.”
Braves major number is four now for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. This is something Frank Wren, Gonzalez and all of the Braves players have stressed that home field is necessary. Braves have a 53-23 record at home compared to a 40-41 record on the road.
“We’ve been playing the best baseball in the National League for the whole year pretty much, and you have to smell it,” Simmons said. ”You have to feel it coming, but we still have to work for it.”