• Exclusives

    Braves sweep Dodgers, Twins up next

    It’s safe to say that the Atlanta Braves put their horrid road trip behind them with a home sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers. And the timing could not have been better given the blows to the Braves of late, especially in their injury decimated bullpen.

    Before a rundown of the injuries the Braves are currently faced with, the line scores from the 3-game set against the Dodgers:

    Game 1:

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

    W: Maholm (5-4) L: Rodriguez (0-2) SV: Kimbrel (12)

    Game 2:

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

    W: Gearrin (1-0) L: Jansen (1-2) SV: Kimbrel (13)

    Game 3:

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 r h e
    Dodgers 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 3 3
    Braves 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 4 x 5 7 0

    W: Avilan (2-0) L: Jansen (1-3) SV: Kimbrel (14)

    The highlights of the series included a go-ahead homer by Evan Gattis in game 2. Gattis said the at-bat reminded of his time in the Venezuelan Winter League. He said he hadn’t had “many at-bats with that kind of intensity” and that he loved it. 6 of Gattis’ 8 home runs have given the Braves the lead. Each game of the series featured solid pitching performances. Minor and Medlen pitched just as well as Maholm, if not more so, but the hard luck continues to be with Medlen and Minor’s 9 strikeouts couldn’t do anything about the lack of run support while he was in the game. Another great moment of the series was when, just after Gattis homered to give the Braves the lead in game 2, Andrelton Simmons knocked a homer in the very next bat. Andrelton’s homer came off Kenley Jansen who is also from the island of Curacao. Simons has known Jansen since he was 4-years-old and they played baseball together in their native country. Of course, the moment on every highlight reel was the grand slam by Justin Upton. Upton now has 14 homers since joining the Braves. Unbelievably, his 14th homer of the 2012 season didn’t come until September 15th. The fastest he has ever reached the 14 homer mark was on June 23rd during the 2010 season. Clearly he is on an incredible pace this season.

    BRAVES WELCOME AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL TWINS…

    The Braves will be at home for 30 of their next 55 games. A welcome change given how little they’ve played at Turner Field thus far. They’ll welcome the Minnesota Twins Monday and then will go on the road for a series with the Mets and 2 games of a split series with the Blue Jays. Then next weekend we’ll see the Nationals at the Ted for Heritage Weekend.

    A recap of the Braves’ injuries:

    • Brandon Beachy (SP) — Recovering from Tommy John surgery on pitching elbow; Scheduled return 06/13
    • Luis Ayala (RP) — Dealing with anxiety disorder; Unknown return date
    • Jonny Venters (RP) — Underwent Tommy John surgery 05/16/13; Out for season
    • Eric O’Flaherty (RP) — May need Tommy John surgery; May be out for season
    • Jordan Walden (RP) — Right shoulder inflammation; Unknown return date
    • Blake DeWitt (2B) — Lower back strain; Unknown return date
    • Cristhian Martinez (RP) — Right shoulder inflammation; Unknown return date
    Key to moving forward without Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty to setup for Craig Kimbrel will be for Luis Avilan and Anthony Varvaro to step up. Cory Gearrin has been exceptional both with O’Flaherty and without him and will continue to be an important piece out of the ‘pen. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Braves looking for help out on the trade market once they know for certain whether O’Flaherty will undergo Tommy John surgery. One other question will be how the Braves will insert Brandon Beachy once he completes his rehab assignment at Triple-A Gwinnett. The Braves could go with a 6-man rotation for awhile, they could move Teheran to the ‘pen (though his success of late makes that an unlikely option) or they could put Beachy in the ‘pen. Putting Beachy in the ‘pen would be similar to what the Braves did with Kris Medlen when he returned from Tommy John surgery. It would limit Beachy’s innings and allow him to ease back in.
    The Braves will get a better picture of what pieces they may need in relief over the next few days as Varavaro, Gearrin and Avilan are tested. They will also know for sure what the path ahead looks like for O’Flaherty after he meets with Dr. James Andrews tomorrow.
    Against Minnesota, the Braves will feature Teheran (2-1, 4.57) vs. Correia (4-3, 3.35) in the opening game of the series Monday. Tuesday matchup will showcase Hudson (4-3, 5.12) vs. Pelfrey (3-4, 6.57). The final game of the series will feature Maholm (5-4, 3.83) vs. Worley (1-4, 6.20).

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