Yesterday was one of those rare games when the Braves scored first, hit a homer, and didn't win the ball game. That was entirely due to pitching, but we expected that. Alex Wood isn't ready for prime-time yet, but he's been pulled out of the oven half-baked. Now, sometimes people can rally in the big leagues and really stun you as a pitcher. However, it's rare, and I don't think Alex with his funky delivery is going to stun many people. He's got to work on a third pitch, since right now all he really has is a functional fastball and change. He's getting a curve going, or some sort of slider, but it's not quite there. Until then, MLB hitters can tee off on his regular stuff unless he really dominates with command and change of speeds. He didn't do that yesterday and it cost him 4 runs.
We also saw another new guy, Kameron Loe. Now, if you were just listening on the radio you heard that Loe (pronounced LOW) was on the mound, and you probably had a terrifying flashback to Derek Lowe like I did. That flashback was only reinforced by the fact that Loe exploded for 3 runs on top of Wood's 4. Let's be fair though, the Braves waved the white flag at the beginning of this game. They were pitching two AAA guys in a row, putting in Laird to catch, and gave Heyward the day off. This was the prototypical give-up-game. Now, we almost won the thing because the Mets pitching wasn't a lot better, but in the end it's hard to outscore 7 runs against.
Not that the offense was firing on all cylinders. If your name is Freddie Freeman, you had a good day. If it wasn't, meh. Uggla continued to make me scratch my head with a moonshot that scored 2, including Freeman. Freddie went 2/3 with 2 runs scored, a walk, and a homer. The Johnson boys had a hit each. The rest of the lineup drew The Bagel. That's a big zero in the hits department. You don't want to get Bagelled. The only concern I have about yesterday is watching Justin Upton. What I feared the most going into the All-Star break was that injuries would cause setbacks. Justin unfortunately is falling into that trap. He's been completely lost for the last 5 games, going 1-21 at the plate. The good news is that he's making contact, but he's late on almost everything. He's getting beat on inside fastballs because the bat is slow, and that's the exact pitch he would have crushed into the stands in April. It's something he has to get back up to speed, which he showed signs of doing before the break. In fact, leading up to the injury in July, he was 15-47 on the month. That's a .319 average where he also racked up 8 RBIs. Now? It's fairly obvious he's laboring. Only time can make that right, and luckily we have an 8 game spread in the division.
Who do we play next? Hmmm. Oh right it's the best team record in baseball, the Cardinals! Sarcastic hooray! Bad luck that we drew these guys right on the heels of a devastating injury AND a road trip. We'll see how the Braves react to getting back home, because the Cardinals are frankly terrifying at the plate. There's nobody who scores more runs in the NL, and only two teams score more in the AL (Boston and Detroit). The Cardinals have won 4 in a row, and 7 of their last 10. They are also 13-5 in July. However, the Braves have had a knack for cooling off good teams inside Turner Field. They swept the Dodgers at home, they swept Pittsburgh at home, they swept Arizona at home, and they split a 4 gamer with the Reds. It's a tough place to play, but the Cardinals will be the hardest opponent thus far. A possible playoff matchup, some might say? I'll discuss in the series preview later this afternoon.