Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 6/29/13
ATLANTA Here are three things we learned from the Braves' 11-5 win over theDiamondbacks a come-from-behind triumph that nearly featured an equal amount of runs (11), hits (11)and offensive ********* batsmen (10) for Atlanta. 1. The Diamondbacks handed this one to the Braves on a silver platter, pure andsimple Let's start out by acknowledging the pink elephants in the room: You can't walk five batters in a singleinning ... and live to tell about it. Not on the road, not against a first-place team. You can't botch a seemingly routine relay throw from left field to third base in the eighth inning (JasonKubel's throwing error off Jason Heyward's RBI double) with the winning run just 90 feet away fromhome. Nor can you let a powder-keg offense like the Braves (47-34) ravage a suspect bullpen for five hits and sevenruns during crunch time. And yet, that's how things broke for the sloppy Diamondbacks (42-38), who still have the luxury of being theonly winning club in the National League West (at the time of this writing). As if that means anything to theArizona fan who's nervously reconciling a below-.500 team on days when Patrick Corbin (9-0, 2.22 ERA) isn'ton the mound. But enough of the D-backs' foibles. The Braves' seven-run explosion in the 8th was more than just the productof shaky pitching. From Heyward (one RBI, two hits) and Justin Upton (three hits, two runs) to BrianMcCann (one run, two hits, two RBI) and Chris Johnson (one RBI, two hits), the Atlanta bats woke up at theperfect time ... and had the admirable killer instinct to crush a wobbly team when it counted. Not bad for an offense that notched two runs and stranded three runners in the 5th ... without the benefit ofa base hit or single ball leaving the infield. "We kept the line moving, offensively," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, emphasizing his team's consistent knack for putting the ball in play and registering zero strikeouts in the all-important 8th. "And we ended upgetting a big number (seven runs) like that." Here's how things went down in that decisive frame, which had a running time of nearly 25 minutes: After D-backs catcher Miguel Montero broke a 4-all tie in the 8th with a solo homer (off Jordan Walden), theBraves responded with a flurry but only after Chris Johnson flied out to short while leading off. For starters, Reed Johnson (pinch hitter) and Andrelton Simmons absorbed back-to-back hits batsmen. Then,against Arizona's defensive shift, Heyward flared an opposite-field double that scored Johnson and tied thegame. Upon fielding the hit, though, Kubel made a seemingly mundane toss to Martin Prado, but the former Brave bootedthe ball ... allowing Simmons to score the game-deciding run, after originally sticking at third base. "That's pure instincts," marveled Gonzalez, saluting Simmons' base-running prowess on Heyward's hit."Knowing where the ball is, knowing where he's at ... it's being aggressive, too, and being able to run abit." With the Braves owning the lead after a crazy turn of events, things were in place for Craig Kimbrel tonet a save in the 9th. But thanks to four more hits, one walk and a sacrifice-fly RBI from Justin Upton ... a6-5 advantage quickly turned into an 11-5 rout for Atlanta minimizing the need for a Kimbrel appearance. "It was a good day, offensively," said Gonzalez. "And I'd like it to carry on for a while." 2. In one respect, Jason Heyward has already enjoyed a record-breaking month For June, Heyward has batted a super-clean .300 for the Braves, while posting rock-solid marks with homers (four),runs (10) and on-base percentage (.358) during that span. But it's not as significant as the following factoids: a. For the month, Heyward has boosted his batting average 85 points (from a deflating .142 to respectable.227). b. Of Heyward's four-year MLB career, this June marks his greatest-ever month of multiple-hit games (13) a figure that was enhanced by his Saturday shakedown of D-backs pitchers (two doubles, tworuns). "I'm just trying to be patient at the plate," Heyward said in the post-game media scrum. "We did a good job ofmanufacturing runs (on Saturday) ... we were able to hang in there and fight back." 3. The Braves are almost ready to wave bye-bye to one schizophrenic June Here's a perfect example of why good pitching trumps all in the major leagues: Among National League clubs for June (heading into Saturday), the Braves sluggishly rank sixth in homers,seventh in OPS (on-base percentage slugging), 11th in hits, 12th in RBI, 13th in doubles and 13th in runs. (Seven Braves hitters have OBPs north of .300 for the month.) And yet, the club has tallied a 15-12 mark for the month (with one game to go), while maintaining acomfortable 6 12-game lead over the Nationals (40-40) in the East division. The primary reason: Atlanta's pitchers cumulatively lead all June-NL comers in ERA (2.65), strikeouts(210), fewest walks (57) and WHIP (1.10) and that includes a few so-so starts from Braves southpawMike Minor (8-3, 2.98 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 9520 K-BB), who remains in the conversation for the All-Star Game onJuly 16 (New York's Citi Field). The three pitching stars for June? Look no further than Julio Teheran (3-2, 1.95 ERA, 0.93 WHIP), Kris Medlen(4-1, 2.14 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) and Kimbrel (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 7-of-7 save opportunities). How sick have Medlen and Teheran been this month? Their combined strikeout-to-walk rate (656) wouldmake Greg Maddux or Cliff Lee blush.
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