Originally written April 15, 2012 on Fox Sports South:
Do you remember those four straight losses to begin the season? I didn't think so. The Braves don't either. Five wins in a row are a great way of making folks forget the past, more handy than those little strobe lights they used in the "Men in Black" flicks. That dismal start is long gone and everything is clicking for the Braves, who used every part of their game to sweep the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend. What did they do right against the Brewers? Let us count the ways. They hit four home runs. They stole three bases. They turned five double plays. They received wins from two starting pitchers. They had two saves from their closer. They beat two left-handed starters. Oh, and Chipper Jones provided another Roy Hobbs moment, smashing a three-run home run in his first home game of the season after one of his bad knees wouldn't cooperate the first two games of the series. The Braves gave plenty of reasons to believe they can contend in the NL East this season, but they know they need to keep it going against the New York Mets, who are coming to town for a three-game series that begins Monday. The Mets sent the Braves to the first three of those four season-opening losses. "To get out of here with three wins against (Milwaukee), which is swinging it really, really well," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We've played good baseball the last couple of series. Good baseball we're playing right now. You know the other day when I said we weren't pretty to watch. We're pretty good to watch right now." Winning streaks are great for fans, who suddenly get all excited, believe their team is invincible and will win the rest of their games, the playoffs and the World Series. Players are more realistic during these streaks. They know all too well that the big-league season is six months long, and winning streaks, like the Braves' four-game losing streak, will eventually end. That doesn't mean the Braves aren't enjoying life right now. They feel great about Sunday's 7-4 victory over the Brewers, especially the strong pitching performance from Brandon Beachy. Matching fellow starter Mike Minor, who held the Brewers to two hits and one unearned run in 7 13 innings on Saturday, Beachy held them to three hits and one unearned run in seven innings on Sunday. Milwaukee scored in the second and Beachy worked out of trouble in the third to start his streak of retiring 11 consecutive Brewers. "Watching Minor, I can't let him make us all look bad, so I've got to try to keep up," Beachy said. Minor and Beachy have given spark to a rotation that struggled through the first seven games of the season, which included the first three wins of this streak. No Braves starter had recorded an out in the sixth inning before Minor did it on Saturday. Beachy came back with a perfect sixth and used a double play to erase a leadoff walk in the seventh. Of course, Beachy was pitching the middle innings with a four-run lead, thanks to Jones' penchant for the heroic. Jones, who is playing his final season, homered against Houston in his first game off the disabled list Tuesday, helping the Braves to their first victory of the season and their current streak. He played again Wednesday, but his left knee swelled up on the flight back, forcing Jones to miss Friday's home opener and Saturday's game. Jones returned to the lineup and announced his presence with authority, smashing a three-run shot to left in the third inning. "Just running around the bases, I was thinking to myself, 'Man, this was pretty awesome,'" Jones said. Those are the kind of magical things that happen when a team is on a roll. Hits start falling. Pitchers are unhittable. Aging stars with two creaky knees send fans to their feet with clutch home runs. Wins start piling up. This streak has shown the Braves have the potential to win the NL East. The other four teams have their issues. The Phillies miss Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. The Mets might not score enough runs. The Marlins are adjusting to a lot of changes. And the Nationals have holes. The Braves have their problem areas, too, but they're not showing up right now. This streak has put a shine on their season.
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