BROOOOMS! It's been a while, guys. Good to see you. How are the bristles? This series was one of the few times where a sweep on paper turns into a sweep for real. The Braves didn't do it the conventional way, though. All the wins were come-from-behind victories, and most of the action came in the late innings. Game 3 was no different as we watched the Dodgers bullpen continue to drill holes in an already sinking ship. This isn't a good Dodgers team, despite the preseason hype and cash paid for it. The Braves really took advantage of a LA lineup that couldn't put the game away. If the Dodgers get more than 3 hits and 2 runs off of the Braves staff during this game, the Braves probably aren't mentally prepared to make the comeback. However, Minor and the bullpen kept the game in reach, and with this lineup that's all you have to do to set the stage for greatness.
Minor went 6 innings with 2 runs and 9 Ks. He was very sharp with a couple of the usual Minor mistakes. When he put leadoff guys on base, they came around to score. That's pretty much what caused Minor issues in this game. He went into shutdown mode from the 4th inning, and the bullpen picked up the slack to not allow a baserunner until the 9th. Kimbrel is looking like the Kimbrel we known and love. He did walk a guy in the 9th with a favorable count to start the AB, but you can credit the rain for that. He locked in for the next batter and the game was over.
The offense didn't have a lot of success in the first half of these games. Yesterday was no different. They had 3 hits in 5 innings, and only one run to show for it. Magill, a rookie who shouldn't even be in the majors, made them look really silly at the plate. It wasn't until the 8th inning, down 2-1, that the onslaught started. You can credit the bench players for this win, because they made the difference late in the game. It started, as most great rally innings do, with a leadoff runner reaching base. Freeman singled to begin the frame, followed by a Brian McCann walk. After an attempted sacrifice bunt by Simmons that caught the Dodgers D with their pants down, the bases were juiced and nobody was out. Enter Gerald Laird in a pinch hitting scenario. On the first pitch, he ropes one into right center, tying the game. The next batter pits Pena in a 0-2 count before he hits a long sacrifice fly to take the lead. Then CJ comes up clutch with another base hit that makes it 4-2, and Schafer lays down a squeeze sacrifice to score Laird for 5-2. At that point, I'm thinking, "Fredi's crazy, we just squeezed the catcher!" He must have been feeling lucky.
The Braves went 3-9 with RISP, hitting the magic number. They had 7 hits and 6 walks. Shockingly, nobody got a single extra base hit. Everything was sacrifices and station-to-station play. That's the very definition of a small-ball win. After two games in a row of getting wins with the long ball, it's always good to close out the series sweep with a little classic NL action. As a counterpoint, I watched the Sunday night game between the Tiger and Rangers. The thing went for 4 hours, and the final score was 11-8. That's not baseball. That's batting practice with a score. It's not shocking the NL has won 4 of the last 5 world series, because even on the best AL teams the pitching can be a joke. When it comes to the playoffs, it's all about pitching and grinding out RISP. The teams that do that win championships.
Next up, the slumping Twins. I always relish a chance to beat up on the Twins, simply because I'll never forgive them for 1991. Series preview after lunch. Will we get another series win against a team that's lost 5 in a row? We'll find out.