• Exclusives

    Braves drop series in San Diego

    RHP Kris Medlen was brilliant on Tuesday, logging 8 shutout innings

    If there is one thing that has been proven time and time again in baseball, it doesn’t matter if the team you face has a winning or losing record, no win is a given. While much has been said about the fairly easy schedule ahead in the final month of the season for the Braves, Atlanta will have to go out and secure wins against their opponents regardless of their record. Unfortunately, the Braves didn’t get those wins in San Diego, earning just one behind the dominant Kris Medlen. As they head to Philadelphia this weekend, they will have to step up.

    Chipper Jones was welcomed to San Diego with a standing ovation in a pre-game ceremony honoring his career. He was presented with a surfboard, yes, a surfboard, by former closer Trevor Hoffman prior to game 1. In Chipper’s first at-bat of game 3, Chipper was once again welcomed by a standing and lengthy ovation by the San Diego fans in his final game at Petco Park. Chipper made his MLB debut in San Diego in September of 1993. This “retirement tour” Chipper has embarked on throughout the 2012 season has been truly amazing. For Braves fans who have had the pleasure of cheering for Chipper his entire career with Atlanta, it has been wonderful to see fans of other teams in stadiums across the country send Chipper off with appreciation and absolute class.

    The first game of the series, Atlanta sent Paul Maholm to the mound. Since being traded from the Cubs, each of the 10 earned runs Paul Maholm has allowed have been long balls. With the exception of the home runs, Maholm has not pitched poorly. Like Minor during the first half of the season, Maholm’s success will continue to hinge on whether or not he gives up the long ball and whether he allows runners on base prior to those jacks. Of course, like Minor, Maholm has not had the benefit of run support in many of his starts as an Atlanta Brave. The Braves offense stayed in the clubhouse for much of the San Diego series.

    The Braves have now won 17 straight games started by Kris Medlen and are 20-4 in his 24 career starts (6-0 this season). Since joining the rotation on July 31st, Kris Medlen is 6-0 with an 0.67 ERA. In that time, he has 38 strikeouts and only 5 walks. Medlen holds a scoreless streak of 28 1/3 innings. Medlen has gone 4-0 with an 0.52 ERA in the month of August. There is no question that Kris Medlen belongs in the rotation, not the bullpen, and deserves to be in the rotation for years to come.

    Medlen’s success in game 2 meant that Craig Kimbrel was finally handed a save opportunity. In his first save appearance since August 3rd, Craig Kimbrel entered the game with a ridiculous 0.49 ERA, an opponent’s average against him of .083, 67 strikeouts and 4 walks in 37 appearances  (37 innings pitched). Kimbrel earned 78 of his previous 126 outs via the strikeout–a nearly unheard of number. Unfortunately, Kimbrel was only given 2 save opportunities in August.

    Despite coming into his 4th start at Petco with a 3-0 record (1.42 ERA), Tommy Hanson was not sharp. The Padres notched 13 hits in game 3, 8 of them against Tommy in his 4 2/3 innings on the mound. In Tommy’s defense, the Braves were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and were out hit by the Padres by nearly 2-to-1. It was not a good series for Atlanta’s bats.

    One worry that resurfaced in game 3 involved reliever Johnny Venters. Venters gave up 3 hits and 2 earned runs in 1 inning pitched. His 2 earned runs were on the heels of 2 earned runs allowed by Chad Durbin. Both outings were reminiscent of early outings in 2012 by the two. While Kris Medlen has been dominant in the rotation, there’s no denying the ‘pen misses his consistency in relief. The Braves will likely add arms in the ‘pen when the rosters expand September 1st.

    Line scores from the 3-game set in San Diego:

    Game 1:

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    Braves 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
    Padres 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 x 3 9 0

    W: Kelly (1-0) L: Maholm (11-9) SV: Gregerson (2)

    Game 2:

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    Braves 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 7 0
    Padres 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 1

    W: Medlen (6-1) L: Werner (1-1) SV: Kimbrel (32)

    Game 3:

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    Braves 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 2 7 1
    Padres 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 4 x 8 13 1

    W: Stults (5-2) L: Hanson (12-7)

    MUST-WIN 3-GAME SET AGAINST RIVAL PHILLIES…

    Friday: Halladay (8-7, 3.88) vs. Minor (7-10, 4.71)

    Saturday: Lee (3-7, 3.67) vs. Hudson (13-4, 3.57)

    Sunday: Hamels (14-6, 2.99) vs. Maholm (11-9, 3.44)

    The Braves get underway at the Ted at 7:35 p.m. (EST) Friday. Game 2 of the series will be featured on MLB on FOX Saturday afternoon.

    Before you go, check out the Lineup Card on the BravesWire homepage with headlines from over a dozen Braves news/opinion sources.

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter @framethepitch" href="https://twitter.com/#!/framethepitch">@framethepitch.