If this recap (and remember we’ve sort of stopped calling our recaps, recaps!) is a little late, I apologize. I went to game 2 of the current three-game series between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets last night. I didn’t get in until quite late, or early in the a.m. actually, so bed became a touch more important than writing. Plus, I had to collect my thoughts and dream a little bit about what I witnessed at Turner Field. Take it for what you will, but here’s what I dreamed, and took notes for with my stylus and Samsung Galaxy Note II… (queue the dream sequence and angelic music in your head)…
Dream Of More Of That Offense
Yes! I certainly dreamed of the kind of continued pitching we’ve already seen, and saw in dramatic fashion last night with the season debut of Ervin Santana, but I’ll get to that in a minute. First though, I dreamed that the Braves would cleanly step out of the offensive doldrums they’ve been in lately, and start regularly putting the kind of offense on the field we saw last night.
Where do I start? Jason Heyward was in a slump, mired pretty deep in fact, being 0 for 22 up until last night’s game. We can only hope that last night was a definitive sign he’s come out of it! In my own opinion, Zack Wheeler is a much better pitcher, and pitched much better than Bartolo Colon did in game 1. If you agree, then you’re probably as baffled as I am why the Braves struggled so much against Colon, but took it to Wheeler. I have some theories on that, but I don’t much care right now.
What impressed me was how well Jason Heyward came out of the gate with patience, making Wheeler work hard from the start, and in every subsequent at bat. Our own Fred Owens did a phone interview with ESPN Coastal yesterday afternoon, and said something along the lines (I paraphrase) of how important it was for Heyward to get going, and how it all starts with the leadoff guy. That is so true, and quite possibly prophetic, because Jason definitely got going with a 3 for 4, 2 RBI night! He set the tone, and the Braves as a whole maintained it!
Freddie Freeman played again like Freddie Freeman plays! Need I say more?
The decision by Fredi Gonzalez to put Andrelton Simmons in the 2-hole last night – was that a stroke of genius? No, Fredi is not what I’d call a genius, but it was a good decision in any case, and a decision that in my opinion he should have made before game 1 of the season. I will maintain to my dying day that it was pure stupidity to put B.J. Upton in the 2 hole, regardless of any positive signs we may have observed in Spring! B.J. Upton is being paid a good deal of money, but there are still massive problems with his overall approach at the plate, and there is no wisdom at all in putting him in the 2 hole. Get him going? He’s a veteran that should long ago have figured out how to get going, whatever hole he’s in. I’ll say no more about B.J., but will reiterate that Fredi Gonzalez would be foolish not to keep Andrelton Simmons in the 2 hole.
Outside the those players, while Chris Johnson went 0-fer on the night, this was his first hitless game on the season. Perhaps he’s regressing (sarcasm)? The Braves as a whole hit the ball hard, and while Dan Uggla went hitless on the evening, I still love his approach at the plate. Justin Upton still needs work.
Dream Of An Ace
The Atlanta Braves pitching staff has been just spectacular. Despite all our worries, almost to a man they have stepped up and pitched beyond anyone’s expectations. We all knew that Ervin Santana could be good, but he put together the kind of performance last night that is Cy Young worthy! He had multiple innings of fewer than 10 pitches to get 3 outs, had only thrown 70 pitches through a full six innings, and threw 22 strikes before we saw the first ball! He went a full eight innings, giving up on 3 hits on the night, with zero runs, zero walks, and six strikeouts! I’ve rarely seen a better performance since the days of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine! If he can sustain that kind of momentum, we have a legitimate ace on this staff.
The bullpen struggled a little, and gave up the shutout when both Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel gave up walks and a scattering of hits that led to a nail biting, 4-3, hair of our chin victory, but I won’t complain too much about that. The pen has been equally great so far.
A Couple Of Waking Dreams and Simba!
I should add that in my dreams, Evan Gattis very quickly improves as a catcher. His offense is another question right now, and that’s a question that’s been in the back of my mind for awhile. I feel that will work itself out, but I was more concerned about his ability behind the plate rather than by it. He’s been improving with each game, was blocking the ball well last night (although he rarely had to), and seemed to be making really good pitch decisions. I like the improvements I’m seeing.
Finally, none of us need to dream about Andrelton Simmons’ ability at short stop, but the play I saw last night has to cement this guy’s legacy! I had to pinch myself, and if I hadn’t saw it live, I’m not sure I would’ve believed it. Okay, I’m pushing it there, but it was an amazing play!!! It was so cool, I grabbed the embed off MLB video to share. I’ll share that in closing. You might also want to check out Alan Carpenter’s Standing O on Andrelton as well. Go Braves, and let’s keep that momentum going tonight to take this series against the visiting New York Mets.