Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Game 1 Recap: Diamondbacks 5/13/13

That's more like it. Not only was the pitching 5x better than anything we saw in the SF series, but the offense decided to play along as well. There's something key to talk about with this game, and it's how Minor reacted to giving up the lead in the first inning. A solo shot gave the Diamondbacks a 1-0 lead early, and our other starters have usually spiraled out of control from that point. Minor just shrugged it off and pitched 3 straight scoreless innings until the Braves took the lead back in the top of the 5th. The offense took a while to warm up, but when it did it was electric. Do you believe that if we were down 4-0 by the 5th inning, that the huge offensive rally happens? I don't. That mental lift of only being down by 1 run kept everyone in the game. That's what I was talking about in my rant about starting pitching. It's important for them to set the tone in the first 4 innings so we have a chance to get our offense on track, even when it's not busting out of the gate.

Justin Upton wanted to show off. He wanted to be the guy who came back to Arizona and showed them what they traded away. Not only did Justin hit a homer 440 feet to dead solid second deck center field, not only did he get a double and score 2 runs, he also went 4/5 on the day and really opened up the game in the 6th inning to make it 5-1 Braves. He was a man on a mission, and you could tell how pleased he was on the way back to the dugout after the homer, when he said to the team, "I'm back!" Yes, J-Up you are back, and we are happy you are back with us. But he wasn't the only guy who was back. The kick-in portion of the Arizona trade, Chris Johnson, also decided to show his stripes as well. Chris went 3/4 for a 3 RBIs and a homer that gave the Braves the lead in the 5th. Both prior Arizona boys were intent on making their point, and they made it with style. I'm giving both of them a shared game MVP. Congratulations on the epic homecoming party!

Minor deserves a lot of the credit for this win. He was battling with 8 hits and 2 walks in his 6.2 innings, but he only gave up the one solo home run for his effort. A lot of that had to do with great defense. The Braves had not one, but TWO outfield assists to gun down opposing runners at the plate. BJ managed to nail Prado on a sacrifice tag in the 4th from shallow center, and then Gattis-Simmons got Ross trying to turn home from first on a left field double. Both were huge, and the BJ assist in particular really changed the tone of the game. The Dbacks could have widened the lead to 2 if that run scores, had a runner on second, and only one out. Who knows if they stop there? Who knows if the Braves respond in the next inning with the homer if that happens? Games turn on plays like that in the field, and BJ should be applauded that he's not letting his struggles at the plate carry over into his glove.

Another good sign was the bullpen coming in for 2.1 innings of shutout, no-hit work. We need more of the usual from those guys after a week and change of odd explosions. All the Braves pitchers did a great job of killing Dback rallies, leaving Arizona with a 0-6 RISP number. The Braves managed 4-15 with RISP, which is not great, but not terrible either. We can live with that if we score 10 runs. Also, Arizona committed a very uncharacteristic mistake in the field. The team that's #1 in fielding committed an error in the 5th when Prado overthrew the first baseman, pulling him off the bag enough for Gattis to beat the rap. That would prove costly, as a McCann walk and wild pitch put runners at 2nd and 3rd. Dan Uggla made the sacrifice fly that scored Gattis, and then CJ hit the homer that scored the rest. That was the other turning point in the game, and it started with the usually very sure-handed Arizona defensive error.

The CPA was right about it being a high-scoring game, but it was thankfully wrong about the Braves coming up short. Way wrong. While that game was very hard to predict, this one has a much more concrete set of data. Let's see what it thinks.

CPA Prediction Game 2: Dbacks 4 - Braves 2

To date, Corbin has been unbeaten and never given up more than 2 runs, with a 3-1 K/BB ratio and a strong WHIP of 1.06 for the season. Teheran has been unbeaten, mostly because he's received 6 runs of support a game on average. At some point, his 4.84 ERA and even more disturbing 1.53 WHIP has to catch up with him. The CPA thinks that is today in a battle of young guns. It thinks the Braves strikeout numbers will be high against a young kid they've never faced, and Julio will struggle to keep the Dbacks off the bases. I agree that this game is going to be tough, and I do believe Julio will have to keep the ball out of the middle part of the plate, or it gets ugly fast. We'll need those 6 runs if we can get them.

GO BRAVES!

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