What does Melden do? HE WINS! You can feel a different vibe on the team when he takes the mound. They play incredible defense, manufacture runs, and make the small plays you need to take every game. As with any shutout win, especially one that's within 3 runs, you need dominant pitching. Medlen provided that and more. Meanwhile, the Braves lineup got several hits, but only went 1-4 with RISP. They stranded 6, but they got across 3 runs. Still, one hit is better than the 0-8 the Marlins had with RISP. Heyward hit a sacfly in the first to score Bourn after he doubled. Constanza hit a single with two outs in the second that scored Uggla. Freeman hit a sacrifice in the 3rd that scored Prado, after he walked to get on base. That was it. That was the scoring in the game. For the other 6 innings, it was all pitching, all the time.
Who gets the MVP. Tough call. Could it be the pitcher who just had his 21st team win in consecutive starts, tying Whitey Ford? Yes, that's Kris Medlen. I doubt I can throw any more bouquets at the kid than I already have, but I'll try. Medlen went 8 innings last night, and could have easily gone 9, without giving up a run. He stranded 5 runners during that stretch. He only gave up 4 hits and a walk compared to 6 Ks. His ERA on the season is now 1.51, and that is #1 in the MLB amongst pitchers with 120+ innings. His Wins Above Replacement (WAR) rating is 4.2, 12th in the Majors for pitchers. He's in the same realm as guys like Gio Gonzalez, Felix Hernandez, RA Dickey, Cole Hamels, and Kyle Lohse. You're talking about the elite talent of the major league pitching ranks, and our little Meds is out there bulldogging it better than anyone.
Defensively, the Braves did a great job of keeping the Marlins in check. Even when Medlen struggled by throwing a pickoff ball past Freeman in the 5th, he got a pop up to center that Uggla quickly fired back in to hold the runner at third, then Medlen got the next batter to ground to Marteeeen who made a quick toss to get him at first. Great plays all around to hold the 3 run lead. Meanwhile, Chipper got a standing ovation from the hundreds of Marlins fans that showed up, and the Marlins organization gave him a nice gift of some fishing gear. I'm not sure where Chipper will fish on his ranch in Texas, but I'm sure there's water somewhere nearby, possibly up in Lake Travis.
Braves get a little rest today as they fly out to face the Phillies for the conclusion of this road trip. The Braves are now 5 games back of the Nats, who dropped 1 of their 2 games of the double header with the Dodgers yesterday. With only 12 games left, the Braves essentially have to sweep the Phillies, and hope the Nats drop 4 of their next 5 to the Dodgers and Brewers. At home. Yeeeeeah, unlikely. However, we can hope. If that doesn't happen, and we look to have things wrapped up with a week to go, expect us to start resting people and adjusting lineups for the dreaded ONE...GAME...PLAYOFF! Until then, just win baby!