If anyone would have told Braves fans that they would drop back-to-back series against the Dodgers and Nationals, few would have believed that after the incredible offense that showed up against the Mets and Padres. However, it happened and it’s time for the Braves to move on and look to a series by the Bay to turn things around.
Though pitching wasn’t terrible, the highlight of Atlanta’s pitching during the series came once again from Kris Medlen who absolutely dominated the Nationals in his Wednesday outing. As Chipper said about Medlen to the press after the game, Kris has Maddux-like presence on the mound. That confidence translates into intimidating batters. Medlen had matched John Smoltz’ franchise record with team wins in each of his last 15 starts. Smoltz had 15 in 1996 during the hey-day of the 90s Braves. Medlen then one-upped Smoltz by securing the win for himself and his team last night. Medlen now holds the franchise record with 16 consecutive team wins in his starts dating back to 2010 (prior to his Tommy John surgery). Medlen’s streak is the longest current streak in Major League Baseball. Medlen also has a 20 1/3 innings scoreless streak to his credit this season. He has been a rock for the Braves.
Braves pitching, despite the sets against the Dodgers and Nationals, is second in the National League since the all-star break. Behind only the Cardinals, Braves pitching has a 3.00 ERA in 354 1/3 innings pitched with a 1.21 WHIP. A great deal of Atlanta’s pitching success since the break rests with the bullpen who have a 1.85 ERA over that stretch (allowing just 27 earned runs in 131 innings pitched). Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty are back in top form in the ‘pen and it is reestablishing the bullpen’s dominance of the league.
After Monday night’s 13-inning loss, the Braves had sent Tommy Hanson and Ben Sheets to the bullpen in the event they were needed. Though this might foretell what the September rotation will look like, the Braves remain committed to a 6-man rotation for the two-week stretch they planned on utilizing it. One unfortunate send down that came with Tommy Hanson coming off the DL was Cory Gearrin who had been outstanding out of the ‘pen for the Braves in August. Look for Gearrin to be a September call-up.
The Braves were nearly able to match the Nationals hit-for-hit this series; the Braves had 27 hits while the Nats had 29. And both teams scored exactly 10 runs during the series. However, the Braves struggled mightily with runners in scoring position. The Braves went 5-for-28 with RISP. Luckily the Nationals were not too far ahead of them at their 7-for-24 clip.
While Brian McCann (.146 in August and .217 in his past 64 games) and Dan Uggla (.203 in August and .144 in past 64 games) remain deep in slumps, the Braves continued to benefit from the hot bat of Martin Prado who went 6-for-14 in the 3-game set with 5 doubles. Though Atlanta’s offense is 6th in the National League since the all-star break, they are 13th in batting average over that span. In the last 7 days they rank 12th in the league in batting average.
Line scores from each of the three games against the Nationals:
Game 1:1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 R H E Braves 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 12 0 Nationals 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 13 0
W: Stammen (6-1) L: Martinez (5-3)
Game 2:1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E Braves 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 6 0 Nationals 0 1 0 0 3 0 0 0 x 4 7 1
W: Strasburg (15-5) L: Maholm (11-8) SV: Clippard (28)
Game 3:1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E Braves 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 3 5 9 2 Nationals 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 9 3
W: Medlen (5-1) L: Detwiler (7-6)
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4-GAME SET AT THE CITY BY THE BAY…
Thursday: Hanson (12-5, 4.27) vs. Zito (9-8, 4.42)
Friday: Sheets (4-3, 3.07) vs. Vogelsong (10-7, 2.85)
Saturday: Minor (6-10, 4.74) vs. Bumgarner (14-7, 2.83)
Sunday: Hudson (12-4, 3.69) vs. Lincecum (7-13, 5.30)
The Giants are fresh off a sweep of their NL West rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, putting them 2 1/2 games ahead in the division. The Braves fell to 6 games back in the NL East, but continue to have a great record at 71-53–4 games ahead of the next Wild Card contending team in the National League (Cardinals).
Once again, the Braves will miss perfect game-hurler Matt Cain in the rotation this series.
On the season, the Dodgers are 12th in offense in the NL while the Braves are 3rd. The Dodgers are ahead of Atlanta on the season in pitching at 2nd (just behind the Nationals and 2 ahead of Atlanta). But the Dodgers lag noticeably in fielding. Los Angeles is 10th in the league while Atlanta is 1st in fielding with a .986 fielding percentage.
An impressive stat for the last game of the series in San Francisco via Jim Powell of the Braves Radio Network: Among pitchers with as many starts as Tim Hudson since 1920, he is 6th in win percentage behind only Whitey Ford, Lefty Grove, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, and Juan Marichal. Until Medlen’s move to the rotation, Hudson was the most consistent starter in the rotation for the Braves. He comes through huge in big, must-win games. Though his last outing didn’t secure a win for the Braves, his pitching was certainly not to blame for the team’s loss.
After three consecutive rain-delayed games in D.C., the Braves are hoping for better weather in San Francisco.
The Giants welcome the Braves to AT&T Park beginning tonight at 10:15 (EST). Game two of the series will be featured on MLB on FOX Saturday and game three has been picked up by ESPN for Sunday Night Baseball.
Before you go, check out the Lineup Card on the BravesWire homepage with headlines from over a dozen Braves news/opinion sources.
Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter @framethepitch.
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