The Reds hadn't lost a home series...until now! The Braves took the day rubber game with the help of great pitching by Minor, and a late grand slam by Juan Francisco. Also, Dan Uggla wasn't too shabby with his two solo homers that gave the Braves the lead in the 6th inning. The Reds were so confident that they could rely on their ballpark and past history to wear down any opponent, but they were in for a nasty shock. The Braves can hit homers too, and in large numbers.
The Braves went 3-8 with RISP, hitting the magic win number (.300+ avg with RISP), and hitting for 3 homers in the process. Also, remember when Simmons was struggling at the plate? Yeah, neither do I. He's scorching hot right now at the plate, and he went 4/5 yesterday afternoon to add to his totals. In the past 7 days, Simmons is batting .440 with 2 homers. He's not the only guy who's been snapping out of a slump. Dan Uggla is hitting .375 over the last 7 days with 3 homers. Freeman is hitting .346 in that stretch, and Schafer is hitting .333 as well. That's a lot of Braves swinging the hot lumber.
Minor entered yesterday's matchup off two bad losses to the Tiger and Mets. He was determined not to let Great American get the best of him, and it didn't. Minor made one mistake to Zach Cozart in the 3rd inning to give the Reds a 1-0 lead, but after that point he kept a clean scorecard giving up just the one run in 7 innings of work. Not only did he hold the Reds to 0-5 with RISP, but he also notched 7 Ks with only 3 walks on 117 pitches. Then Varvaro came in for 2 innings of solid work, except for the one solo homer mistake in the 9th. It didn't matter, however, because Juan's game destroying 4-run bomb off Hoover in the 8th sealed the win for the Braves. We didn't have to worry much about the bullpen with a 6 run lead in the late innings, which is a blessing due to recent issues.
Now the Braves get on with the rest of the road trip by taking a quick flight out to San Francisco. We have a 4 game series with with the Giants over this weekend, and then we finish with a 3 game series in Arizona to face the Diamondbacks. Get ready for some late nights, folks. The first two don't even start until 10PM EDT.
The bad news for Braves fans is the Giants are playing great ball right now. SF is 7-3 in their last 10, they are 12-6 at home, and they are 4-2 in the last 6 straight at home. The good news for the Braves is that was very similar to the Reds home record going into the last series, and although the Giants have 20 wins, they are only outscoring opponents by a combined total of 3 runs. The Braves run differential is +37 by comparison in their 20 wins. Why the difference in runs even though the wins are the same? The Giants have been winning closer games against inferior teams, plain and simple. They almost got swept by a bad Philadelphia team at home, but they pulled out the final game in extras for a 4-3 win. Also, a lot of the Giant's wins have come off the hapless Dodgers (5 of 6 in those series), and the Dodgers are tied with the Cubs and Mets for the 2nd worst record in the NL.
Series preview in the next update. I wouldn't mind a 2-2 split in the 4 gamer with SF, but let's just win the first two and get a little greedy!