Thank God interleague is over. During our stretch of interleague play this month, we're 6-9 with some seriously bad blowout losses. Outside of JJ and his miracle comeback in the Boston series, we got shelled at Fenway. That's to be expected due to the short porches in the old ballpark, but it's also disappointing because we were actually scoring runs in those games. Delgado was completely off his game in game 2, and Minor continues to struggle in the middle innings in game 3.
On the plus side, you have Game 1's MVP Jair Jurrjens. It's very encouraging to see him come back strong against a tough team in a tough ballpark. He knew exactly what he had to do, and he executed his locations flawlessly. After going 7.2 innings with only 3 hits and one earned run, I can say with certainty that he's physically able to hack it again at the major league level. Now, we just need to see how his mental game looks over 4-5 starts. Heyward continued his hot work in Game 1 going 3/4 with 2 doubles. However, the Braves struggled with RISP during the game going 2/11. That would come back to haunt us...
When we went 2/11 with RISP in game 2. Without a sharp starting performance (and let's be fair this was Delgado's worst outing of the year) the Braves had no real chance in this game. Michael Bourn tried his hardest to keep us in the game with a 3 hit, 2 RBI day, but you need more from the middle of your lineup than we got. However, this game was all about Delgado's inability to go more than 2 innings as a starter. Fredi gave him the quick hook, but it didn't really matter. Varvaro also came into the game at one point and stunk up the joint. The guy has replaced Gearrin, but he's terrible. With an 8.44 ERA in 3 games, we might as well have me out there throwing slow pitch softball.
Game 3 was another pitching disaster, this time courtesy of my favorite, Mike Minor. This is what you get when you live with Minor as an everyday starter. He usually starts well first time through the order, then the second time around the hitters absolutely abuse him. After that, he doesn't have the mental makeup to step the bleeding. But because we're out of options, and even bigger because he's a lefty, we're stuck with him learning on the job. Oh and we went 1/11 with RISP at the plate. Seeing a theme? Not only did the pitching completely break down, the clutch hitting went into the tank right along with it. It was a shame because Heyward, Simmons and Hinske went a combined 7/10 at the plate, and our top end of the lineup flatlined.
So what can we take away from this? Well, we're 4 games over .500 heading into a 10 game homestand. We have 13 games left in the first half of the season, and we're 4 games back of the Nationals. We get a series against them at home where we can make up some ground. At this point in 2010, we were 12 games over .500 and in first place. That's the last time we made the playoffs. The odds of a team being under .500 at the All-Star break and making the playoffs is pretty slim. So, during these 13 games, the majority of which are at home, it's imperative that the Braves go at least 7-6 and hit the break with a solid record. We're not only going to be chasing the Nats this year, we're going to be chasing the 2 Wild Card spots as well. For that, we need to do a better job of taking care of business on our home turf.