The Braves didn't really have much of a chance in this matchup due to the amount of bad news they received in less than 24 hours. Not only is Heyward out for at least a month and change, but Brandon Beachy is slated to see Dr. James Andrews about his elbow on Monday. That's never good. That kind of news can really take the wind out of the sails of any clubhouse, even if they are up double digit games in the standings.
Despite getting 9 hits, the Braves went 0-3 with RISP, which is bad on two counts. First, they didn't get a key hit, and second that they only put 2 guys on second base all night. The one highlight was Justin Upton hitting a homer that scored Maholm and took the lead 2-1 in the 5th. Things were looking up at that point. However, Maholm self-destructed in the bottom half and gave up 3 runs on a series of doubles to Carpenter, Beltran, and Holliday. I remember mentioning in the prior preview that Carpenter and Beltran give Maholm troubles, and they sure did.
Maholm went 5.1 innings, only 5 hits but 5 runs, and 3 walks. Kelly went 6 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs. In general the pitching was pretty even until the 5th inning when Maholm imploded. If not for that, the game probably would have remained in doubt to the end. However, the way the Braves were hitting with RISP, maybe not. The new guy, Elliot Johnson, came in at second base for the Braves and provide 2 hits of his own, in addition to BMac and Simmons having multi-hit days. However, Gattis and Terdoslavich grounding into double plays really killed a couple of the Braves rallies.
Gattis is mired in a large slump right now, and the hope is that he'll be able to get out of it with some more regular playing time. The downside to that theory is when the regular playing time comes against some of the best pitching in the NL that the Cardinals have to offer. It might be tough sledding for him in this series, but I do believe that getting him back on the field is a good thing for his longer term numbers as we get closer to the end of the season.
Now we look at the weekend. The CPA will take it's shot at what will happen, after correctly predicting the Braves would have trouble last night.
CPA Prediction Game 2: Braves 4 - Cardinals 2
CPA Prediction Game 3: Braves 3 - Cardinals 0
CPA Prediction Game 4: Cardinals 5 - Braves 1
These next two games, the CPA expects the Braves to shake off the hangover and get back to some semblance of normal. That means they can do some of things with RISP they haven't been doing in spades over the last week. Also, the pitching will have to be lights out, because the Cardinals are in a dogfight in their division and don't want to give up any ground. The last matchup the CPA thinks is a loss due to the insertion of Minor instead of Beachy, and Minor has really had trouble with his ERA in August. Maybe he turns the tide with a new slot in the rotation, but the Cardinals may be gunning to even up the series at this point.