• Exclusives

    Braves hit snag against Fish, face middle-of-the-pack Phillies

    Likely All Star, Craig Kimbrel surrendered the go-ahead run to the Marlins in the final game of the series.

    Likely all star Craig Kimbrel surrendered the go-ahead run to the Marlins in the final game of the series.

    If there is anything more inexplicable than the feast or famine offense for the Braves, it is the way they can sweep one of the better teams in baseball and then drop the following series to presumably the worst team in baseball. That is precisely what happened in the 3-game series against the Miami Marlins this week as the Braves entered the series fresh off a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks. It wasn’t all on the offense, however. The bullpen faltered last night in a big way and we saw that rare event when the game ended and Craig Kimbrel left the mound without the save. Such is the game of baseball and in a season consisting of 162 games, the Braves are bound to lose their fair share.

    Game 1:

    W: Medlen (6-7) L: Jennings (0-1)

    While much is made of the Braves offensive struggles on nights when they don’t homer, the Braves managed a hit parade in game 1, their only win of the series, without going yard. Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons each had triples, not a regular occurence for the 2013 Braves. Freeman, McCann and Johnson contributed doubles. And even pitcher Kris Medlen got in on the act, notching a single and double for his own cause.

    Kris Medlen pitched 6 innings of 3-run ball and then handed the game over to a flawless bullpen. Anthony Varvaro and Alex Wood each pitched 1 scoreless inning in relief.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    Marlins 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 11 2
    Braves 0 1 1 1 0 4 1 3 x 11 16 1

    Game 2:

    W: Nolasco (5-8) L: Minor (8-4) SV: Cishek (16)

    Each of Ricky Nolasco’s recent starts have been referred to likely his last in a Marlins’ uniform. Unfortunately for the Braves, Nolasco wasn’t traded before he pitched against them in Atlanta. The Braves were unable to get much going against Nolasco in the 7 innings he pitched and their rally in the 9th fell short, scoring only 1 run.

    Mike Minor was on his game until the 5th inning when the wheels fell off for him. Up until the 5th, Minor was cruising along just as he has in so many of his starts this season. For their part, the bullpen was hit and miss. Varvaro and Carpenter did their job, but Gearrin allowed 2 additional runs, putting the game out of reach for the Braves by the last chance in the 9th inning.

    Chris Johnson, Freddie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons each had multi-hit games and Brian McCann hit his 10th home run since his return from the DL. McCann has continued a torrid streak, returning to the offensive threat he had been prior to the 2012 season when he struggled mightily and then required shoulder surgery.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    Marlins 0 0 0 0 3 1 0 2 0 6 9 1
    Braves 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 3 10 0

    Game 3:

    W: Ramos (3-2) L: Kimbrel (2-2) SV: Cishek (17)

    The Braves had a series win within their grasp when Craig Kimbrel went to the mound in the 9th to hold the Marlins at 3 runs, giving his club a chance to win the game in a walk-off in the bottom of the 9th. However, that wasn’t in the cards for the closer. Kimbrel allowed the run that won the game for the Marlins. Though, his offense didn’t bail him out in the bottom of the 9th with any runs on the board. This certainly isn’t a sight that the Braves are used to, but the young closer does have to fall to Earth every now and then. Kimbrel is a lock for the All Star Game at Citi Field. ASG participants will be named tomorrow on FOX at 6:30 (EST).

    Atlanta was 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position in the final game of the series, despite doubles by Jason Heyward and Brian McCann. Julio Teheran pitched 5 innings, giving up 3 runs and notching 7 strikeouts in 104 pitches.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    Marlins 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 4 10 0
    Braves 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 7 0


    The Philadelphia Phillies are quietly sitting in the middle of the pack in the NL East behind the Washington Nationals. Though they aren’t making much noise, the Phillies could be the spoiler in the NL East as we get closer to the playoffs. Though the Braves have a lead on the Nationals, once healthy, there is still the possibility that the Nationals will put pressure on the Braves for the NL East crown. They’ll each have to win games within the division to make that happen and the Braves know from the series with Miami that they have to work much harder at this.

    Heading into the series, the Braves have a few key pieces in their favor. Brian McCann is raking. In his last 8 games, McCann has 13 hits in 31 at-bats with 4 doubles, 3 homers and 11 RBI. In those 8 games he is batting .419 with a .486 on-base percentage and is slugging .839. In the month of June, first baseman Freddie Freeman was the Braves’ most consistent hitter. He hit for an average of .291 with 30 hits, 6 doubles, 4 homers and 19 RBIs. All of this bodes well facing a team that both hitters have done well against. Additionally, both Justin Upton and Dan Uggla have come alive of late and are contributing semi-consistently.

    Jordan Schafer was placed on the disabled list as his ankle contusion continues to heal. In his place, the Braves have called up prospect Joey Terdoslavich from Triple-A Gwinnett and will use his bat off the bench. Terdoslavich is the Braves no. 14 prospect. With a .318 batting average, 18 home runs and a .926 OPS in his 85 games at Triple-A this season, the switch-hitter will be a good addition to the bench until the Braves get Gattis and Schafer back from injury. The Braves lost Ramiro Pena for the entire season.

    The series opens tonight with veteran Hudson (4-7, 4.22) vs. Lee (9-2, 2.59). The middle game will pit Maholm (9-6, 3.69) vs. Kendrick (7-5, 3.59) and will be nationally broadcast on FOX. The final game of the series on Sunday will feature Medlen (6-7, 3.11) vs. Pettibone (4-3, 3.99).

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter@framethepitch.