• Exclusives

    Braves take heated series from Nats, reorder rotation for NYC

    With a series win against the rival Nationals under their belt, the Braves wrapped their home stand with an impressive 19-3 record in their past 22 games. In their last 20 meetings with the Nats, the Braves have come away the victors 16 times. Going into New York, the Braves have an overall record in 2013 of 76-48 (.613) with a 15 1/2 game lead in the National League East.

    Phil Gosselin (2B) joined the club and went 2-for-4 off Gio Gonzalez with a bunt single for his first big league hit.

    Phil Gosselin (2B) went 2-for-4 off Gio Gonzalez  on Sunday with a bunt single for his first big league hit.

    The story of the weekend appeared to be payback. In the last meeting of the Nationals and Braves, rookie Julio Teheran hit Bryce Harper and Harper barked at Teheran as he made his way down the baseline. Harper was then hit by 2 other Braves’ pitchers in the series. That bit of fireworks carried into this series when Stephen Strasburg either lost command or still wanted payback and hit Justin Upton in game 2. Whether he meant to or not, his command went out the window the next inning when he threw 3 wild pitches, 2 of them behind Andrelton Simmons, and was ejected by the home plate umpire. Both Strasburg and manager Davey Johnson were ejected. The game, of course, went 15 innings with the bench coach in charge and the bullpen entirely responsible.

    As the 3-game set with the Washington Nationals got underway, the Braves knew they were now without backup second baseman Tyler Pastornicky. Pastornicky was the interim second baseman while Dan Uggla had Lasik eye surgery to correct his vision. Pastornicky then collided with Jason Heyward in the shallow outfield and tore his ACL. It was announced that Pastornicky would be out until spring training of 2014. This left a hole for the Braves to fill and their two options were infielder Paul Janish and Phil Gosselin of Triple-A Gwinnett. They purchased the contract of Gosselin and will use him as a backup to Janish as well as a bench bat.

    Justin Upton hit 12 homers in the month of April, his first month with Atlanta. He then had a dry spell that lasted May, June and July. Once the calender turned to August, his bat heated up and he’s back to hitting majestic homers again. Upton now has 7 homers in the month of August, including the walk-off winning blast from game 1 of the series against Washington. He is hitting .350 in August with an on-base percentage of .443 and is slugging .767. In addition to his 7 homers, Justin has 4 doubles and 14 RBIs. This is a huge help to a depleted Braves’ roster that has watched a steady stream of players including Schafer, Reed Johnson, B.J. Upton, Tyler Pastornicky and Dan Uggla head to the DL.

    A 15-inning marathon in game 2 that began with a short outing from Mike Minor who went 1 2/3 innings, used up all of the Braves’ bullpen and still needed another arm. That arm ended up being starter Kris Medlen who was called on in the 13th inning and was responsible for the loss due to a home run hit off Medlen by Adam LaRoche. Medlen’s impromptu relief appearance shook things up for the Braves’ rotation. Medlen was originally scheduled to pitch on Tuesday in NYC, but he will be pushed back, giving the start to Brandon Beachy who will pitch on regular rest Tuesday. The remainder of the rotation was then reordered to give Wood the start Wednesday, Minor the start Thursday, Medlen the start Friday and then Teheran on Saturday. This will likely be the last time this order is used as Paul Maholm will be rejoining the club and is likely to return to the rotation. There is talk that Fredi Gonzalez will go with a 6-man rotation for the remainder of the regular season, allowing for the arms of Teheran and Medlen to get adequate rest and for Fredi to determine which of the starters are best suited for the 4-man rotation they will use in the postseason.

    The Braves will visit the Big Apple for an odd 2-game series against the Mets. Tuesday’s game, as was explained, will feature Beachy (2-0, 4.50) vs. Wheeler (5-2, 3.43). Wednesday’s game will pit Wood (2-2, 2.61) vs. Niese (5-6, 4.25).

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