Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekend Recap: Games 2-4 Cardinals

Well this didn't exactly go well, but the Braves managed to not completely screw the pooch by salvaging the last game of the series. Was it what we wanted? Not really no. But at the same time we knew going into this series that the Cardinals were in a dogfight for their division, and the Braves would be playing guys you likely had never heard of before. Both of those elements meant the Braves had a tough row to hoe against a surging playoff contender.

No excuses though, when you lose 3 of 4 in any series, you're not going to be pleased. The Braves expected better from this series, and the hitting really let them down in the first few games. In game 2 the Braves let Wainwright go for a complete game. It's never a good sign when the Braves have more strikeouts than hits at the plate, and this game was no different. Wainwright struck out 9 and the Braves only managed 6 hits off of him in his 9 innings. Freeman and CJ both had 4 of those hits, so the rest of the lineup took the day off. There's not much good to talk about with this one, other than the fact that Freddie did get another hit with RISP, so he's continued to stay hot even when the Braves go cold around him. Oh and BJ Upton actually got a hit.

Game 3 looked good in the beginning when the Braves jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but Teheran gave that right back immediately in the bottom half to tie it back up. That's not to say he didn't pitch well. Through the 6th, Teheran had only given up 2 runs, but the Braves didn't manage to score again for the rest of his time in the game. Then in the 7th, things became completely unraveled and the Cardinals scored 3 more to seal the deal. With only 7 hits, the Braves went 1-2 with RISP, but that's an indicator of how few people they got into scoring position during the game. It was just bad baseball at the plate, and a lot of it had to do with the shifts in the order. BJ continued to struggle with an 0-3 day and 2 Ks in the 7th, and the new guy Elliot Johnson went 0-4 in the 8th slot. When the back end of the order is that bad typically the Braves can't push across many runs. We need at least something out of those spots, or you're playing with only 2/3 of your team at the plate.

Game 4 was much better in terms of hitting. The Braves jumped on the Cardinals early with 3 runs in the first 2 innings. With 5 runs on 10 hits, the whole team did a better job of getting runs across, going 3-6 with RISP. Note that in this game with Simmons-Janish at the back end of the lineup, they managed 2 hits and 2 RBIs. That's a big difference than drawing an 0-for, because you know that runners are going to come around eventually to the back end spots, and you'll need the occasional clutch hit. Not like you would expect from the 1-4 guys, but still. The other bright spot was Mike Minor going 7 innings giving up only a single run. His performance with the lead early was exactly what the Braves needed to get things going. He pitched to contact, didn't strike out a ton of people, and didn't try to get too fine. Avilan and Kimbrel then came in to put the rest of the lineup on ice. Well sort of. Avilan struggled a little and gave up a run, but then Craig came in for one of his few multi-inning saves in the 8th and 9th.

Overall the Braves went 1-3 on the road trip. We're just going to be happy to get back home to play Cleveland after a day off today. Enjoy the time off by watching a little DVR.


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