Games get a lot easier when you can hit grand slams. In fact, I'd venture to say that you probably won't lose many games when you hit a grand slam. As such, when Justin Upton came to the plate in the 6th inning, down by two, he just had to remember the immortal words of one Miss Petula Clark. When you're alone and life is making you lonely you can always go...DOWNTOWN.
Late inning rallies haven't come around often for the Braves, but with 6 runs in the 6th and 7th yesterday, that was the offense we needed to blow past the Dodgers. Maholm didn't really pitch well, but 8 runs cover a lot of sins. If you had any questions about who is driving the runs bus, it's the top end of the order. Our 1-5 guys had 6 hits, 6 runs, 7 RBIs, 5 walks, a double, and a grand slam. The 6-8 guys went 0-10. Haves and have-nots. We don't need the entire lineup to get going, but the back end is so bad it's almost a given rally-killer. You are actively hoping that with a 3-1 count someone is swinging rather than taking a walk to get to BJ or Dan.
It was not a pretty game in the field, either. There were 3 errors total, 2 on the Dodgers, 1 on the Braves, and as a result only 2 of Maholm's 4 runs were earned. The reason the Braves won the game is because we roughed up the Dodgers pen. It's a Washington Nationals strategy against this team. Get the starter out before the 6th inning, get into the pen, and go hog-wild. The starter for the Dodgers went 5 IP, gave up 2 runs, and left with the lead. The Dodgers pen gave up 6 runs in 3 innings of work. The only shot to the Braves pen was EOF giving up a solo launch to Van Slyke. Yes, that's Andy's kid, for those of you old enough to remember seeing The Slide live in 1992. I hope you feel old now. I did.
What matters is that the Braves can notch another one in the win column, and start our pursuit of really gaining some ground in this homestand. Washington is playing the awful Padres right now on the road, so you're hoping that SD can steal a game, but I won't hold my breath. After that, the Nats go to SF where I hope they get swept, and then home to play Philly. The Braves have the Dodgers and the Twins, both losing clubs, before facing the Mets on the road (also losers). The scheduling advantage for the next week and change falls to the Braves for once. We need to capitalize on that opportunity.
The CPA goes to 20-14, and looks to see how this odd matchup of Medlen and Capuano will play out in Game 2.
CPA Prediction Game 2: Braves 3 - Dodgers 2
Both of these pitchers are better than their records and ERA. The CPA thinks both are going to pitch better down the stretch, especially against lineups that struggle with contact. The Braves are 10-5 against lefty starters, while the Dodgers are 6-10 in road games, and 9-15 against teams with winning records. This sets up to be a good game for the Braves, but don't be fooled. It could be a close one unless the bats really heat up in the early innings.