Monday, April 16, 2012

Brewers @ Braves: Game 2 & 3 Recap

Braves swept away the Brewers this weekend in a series that will put many minds at ease. The questions of whether or not this offense can produce have been tucked away neatly in their beds, given a night light and some Nyquil, and are now slumbering peacefully in their footy PJs. The home opener and subsequent games were full of Braves fans giving the home team a lusty chop at full throat, and there were more fireworks than what Publix set off on Friday night. But I disgress.

The best thing about these two games had to be the dominate starting pitching by Minor and Beachy. Minor went 7.1 innings with no earned runs, 4 Ks, and only one walk. Beachy went 7 innings with no earned runs, 6 Ks, and 2 walks. Folks, if we get that kind of performance out of our staff this year, we would go 100-62. I'm extremely happy that we broke through the 5 inning wall we seemed to be hitting in our earlier games, and set the house on fire with the long bombs.

I'll break these two games down hitting-wise into the good, the bad, and the ugly as I am prone to do after a weekend of reflection:

The Good - Chipper Jones and Jason Heyward both came up large in these games. Chip came off injury with a huge homer in his first AB, and Jason had 2 hits, 2 runs, an RBI, and a walk in his two games. Bourne also put together a 3 hit day in game three that really cemented the win.

The Bad - Our fielding could be better. We had an error that cost us a run in both games, one from Prado and one from Uggla. We are 22nd in fielding right now in the MLB, and I hate that. Last year we were 4th. I fully expect a solid defensive team out of the Atlanta Braves even when we're not scoring tons of runs, and I think we let the defense slip a little during this series. I hope we can shore that up against the Mets.

The Ugly - It's official. Freddy Freeman is in a slump. He didn't have a single hit in the entire series. Worse, he struck out four times. The kid is batting .120 on the week, and doesn't really have a good handle yet on his swing. He's hitting the ball hard, but I really don't like the way he looks on outside pitches. Opposing hurlers seem to focus on the tailing fastball or changeup away, and he has no answer for it. Part of the issue is when I watch him swing, to my untrained eye, it just looks like he's trying to golf the ball out of the stadium. I would like to see him protect the plate more and try to go the other way if the pitchers insist on working the outside corner against him.

And now for the Stat of the Series! It's a new feature I'm bringing to the blog where I focus on one particular stat that lead to our success (or abject failure). Today that stat is...WALKS. Our starting pitchers only gave up 5 walks during this entire series. That kind of efficient pitching helped us break through the 5 inning barrier and led to these wins. Meanwhile our hitters were very patient at the plate and earning 15 walks for the series. We knocked out their starters early by forcing them to throw more pitches and put pressure on their D on the basepaths.

So, that's the story of the sweep. The Braves need to carry that momentum into tonight against the Mets. I want some revenge, and I know you do too.

Go Braves!

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