I have a minor delay in getting the recaps done this weekend. The car needed work and I had dinner plans. As we get closer and closer to the end of the season, I'm going to return to my usual pattern of doing daily updates during the week, and recapping the weekend series as a whole on Mondays. Reason being is that I begin to travel around the place so it's simpler to do it that way. To facilitate that, I'll probably do the CPA for all the games in a series on the Friday before they start in the preview.
By now you know my philosophy on a 4 game series. I always want splits, and the rest is just gravy. In this case, we got the split against a team that's likely a wild card contender. Also, we end the fictional first half the of the season up 6 games on our division competitors. I can't complain about the way we've played overall on the season. I can complain about health in the second half. My main concerns now are twofold. First, can we keep our hot hitters in the lineup and away from the DL? Outside of Dan Uggla and Simmons, I don't think we have a regular starter who hasn't missed some serious time on the DL. Second, due to that shift in the lineup, I'm worried about our good hitters losing a step in their routine, and I'm worried that our bad hitters will lose whatever momentum they've gained in the last month. BJ was showing signs of making contact, and Jason was breaking out of his slump along with Justin. Now? Who knows?
The good signs for the season are that the Nats look awful. I had expected them to charge, but every time they put something good together, they crap out on the road. Sound familiar? Nobody is winning on the road in this division, so Braves fans shouldn't feel like we're losing ground every time we leave Turner Field. It's frustrating to watch for sure, but it's common. Also, look around the league. The NL West is either a bad division or a dogfight depending on your POV. Arizona still holds the lead, fending off the charging Dodgers, but the Padres have completely fallen apart, and the Giants pitching is frankly a disaster. Colorado has an outside shot, but right now it looks like a two horse race with the loser not even getting a wild card bid. The Central is where all the talent lies, in a 3 horse race between the Pirates, Reds, and Cards. If they don't get at least one WC team, I'll be floored. Our division is paltry by comparison with the Phillies and Nats staying 6 games back, and the rest of the division wallowing in despair and trade rumors.
The games this weekend were bizarre. Game 2 was another first inning disaster by Kris Medlen that completely sunk the ship. The Braves couldn't ever recovered from that 3 run deficit early in the game. Game 3 looked like it was about to go off the rails, but Minor escaped from a bases loaded jam in the first, and controlled the damage to 2 runs in the 2nd. Our starters really REALLY need to stop giving up runs in the first two innings. Luckily the Braves managed to get 5 runs in game 3 due to the backups in the outfield showing up large. Then in Game 4, we pulled people out of the stands it seemed to play in the field. I don't even know if I can count that as a legitimate effort, other than the fact it counted in the standings. In essence, after the game 1 win, the Braves went 1-2 with a lot of injury issues.
Constanza in the leadoff spot was the standout player in Game 3. He went 3/4 and 2-2 with RISP. Very solid for a guy who just got called up from the minors. He's been on and off the roster for a while now, but he can't seem to get any regular time. I'm hopeful we can get something for the kid in a trade, because right now he's got zero shot at making the roster full-time. McCann and Uggla added a couple of homers with a Mike Minor 2-RBI double to seal the deal. This was way different than in Game 2, when the Braves couldn't even seem to get people on base. If not for McCann hitting a homer late, it would have looked like a total whitewashing against a pitcher the Braves normally light up. Arroyo pitched around all the damage, and the Braves kept popping the ball up.
Do I really need to recap Game 4? Here's my analysis. We played Gattis at first base, Constanza at left, Reed at center, Terdoslavich at right, and Laird at the plate. With that lineup, we should have just forfeit the game right before the All-Star break. As it was, we played the game, and got stomped into the ground. Teheran had a bad 3rd inning with the home run ball, and the Braves couldn't match the Reds offensive output when they smelled blood in the water.
Now we get a break. A real break. That's good because it's been a grind for a lot of our guys, and we need to get people healthy to make a run down the stretch. If you're into the All-Star game, enjoy the festivities. I honestly probably won't watch Bud Selig's desperate attempt to make it matter, or listen to Chris Berman yell BACKBACKBACKBACKGONE over and over again. I'll enjoy the Steam Summer Sale of gaming, and probably clear out the DVR while cooking ribs. In fact I better got check on those ribs right now. Enjoy the break!