Before the Braves could get on a plane to Cincinatti to welcome back their All Star catcher to the roster, they faced off at home against the Mets. Unfortunately, Mother Nature shortened the series to two games instead of the scheduled three. The Braves have yet to make an announcement about when the game will be made up, but there is a possibility of lengthening the 4-game series June 17-20 into a 5-game set.
When Lucas Duda led off the 2nd inning with a home run off Mike Minor, it didn’t appear Minor was long for the game. However, after giving up the blast to Duda, Minor buckled down and pitched 5 consecutive perfect innings. Minor was able to retire 18 straight after that home run.
The offense was lively, but not in the usually explosive ways it has been in games where the Braves have scored multiple runs. Evan Gattis launched a go-ahead home run in the 8th, but had struggled at the plate before that at-bat, striking out in his previous 3 at-bats. Gattis’ home run was the highest high of the game, by far. B.J. Upton had his 4th multi-hit game of the season and Jordan Schafer walked 4 times, just missing the franchise record of walks in a game (5) set by Dale Murphy.
If a Braves game requires a high high and a low low, the lowest low came via the bullpen. Game 1 marked only the 13th time since the 2010 season that the bullpen allowed multiple homers in a game. It was the first time in their careers on the same roster that Eric O’Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel each gave up a homer in a game.
Closer Craig Kimbrel has been hit hard of late. He has now allowed 3 runs in his past 3 appearances, something that he hasn’t experienced in a very long time, if ever. Before this slide, he had given up 3 runs total in his previous 61 appearances. Kimbrel still has only given up 7 home runs in his big league career. Kimbrel notched his second blown save in 10 days. His first came in that bizarre game in Colorado when they Braves had a 2-run lead and a misplay by Justin Upton contributed to Kimbrel’s blown save.
W: Parnell (2-0) L: Walden (1-1) SV: Familia (1)
The Braves were without Juan Francisco for the second game of the series. Francisco left game 1 with a mild right ankle sprain. He is currently day-to-day and says he is feeling better.
Braves’ offense hit Jonathan Niese hard. In the 3rd inning, the Braves sent 10 men to the plate, including pitcher Tim Hudson twice. Had it not been for the wind, Justin Upton’s sacrifice fly in the 5th inning would have been a grand slam. Nothing Niese threw seemed to be getting hitters out. Dan Uggla hit his first triple of the season off Niese. It was also the Braves’ first triple of the season, the last team in baseball to do so. Uggla’s triple came in game 30 of the season and the franchise record for the latest first triple of the season was set in 1977 during game 31.
Torrid offense and solid pitching from Hudson gave the Braves the opportunity to add to the oft-cited record of Huddy’s that gives him a record of 138-3 when given a lead of 3 or more runs.
W: Hudson (4-1) L: Niese (2-3)
BRAVES JOIN BRIAN McCANN IN CINCY…
The Braves begin their 10-game road trip tonight in Cincinnati. They will ten swing through San Francisco and Arizona before returning to the Ted.
For the second time in two weeks, two pitchers, Medlen and Bailey, bring the same ERA to the matchup. Last week we saw that with Gonzalez and Hudson.
The big news for the Cincy trip is that the Braves will have catcher Brian McCann returning to the lineup. And not a moment too soon. McCann holds a .333 average with 3 doubles, 10 homers and 19 RBIs in his 22 games at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. He has a nearly unheard of 1.130 OPS in the Queen City. Mac will face a pitcher that he is very familiar with in his first game back. Against Bronson Arroyo, Mac is 9-for-18 with 4 homers.
On the matter of the bullpen: While Kimbrel and O’Flaherty have been shaky recently, part of this can be attributed to the state of the Braves’ bullpen of late. Losing Luis Ayala to the 15-day DL with an anxiety disorder was a big blow to a ‘pen that had relied on his consistency. Since returning from a hamstring injury, Avilan has not been as consistent and commanding as he was before. Walden is not tricking batters, except for his one appearance against the Nationals when batters seemed to be perplexed by his change up. And the absence of Jonny Venters is felt. Venters will return in the coming weeks barring a setback and the Braves hope for a speedy recovery for Ayala. However, if the Braves were to go looking for some bullpen help, they need look no further than Double-A where Alex Wood is tearing it up for Mississippi. Promoting him to Triple-A Gwinnett sooner rather than later would set him up to be of service to the big league club should they need it.
The Braves will send Maholm (3-3, 3.08) to the mound vs. Arroyo (2-3, 3.95) for game 1. Tuesday’s game will feature Medlen (1-4, 3.38) vs. Bailey (1-3, 3.38). The final game of the series features Minor (3-2, 3.26) vs. Leake (2-1, 4.15).