The Braves put another series win under their belts as they make their way to the postseason. Their record stands at 85-54 and they hold a 14 game lead on the Washington Nationals in the National League East.
Though the Braves took 2-of-3 from the Mets, they weren’t without a hiccup or two. The Braves dropped the series finale to the Mets after spot starter Kameron Loe struggled mightily against Mets’ offense and continued his trend of giving up far too many long balls. Loe, who has pitched for 3 MLB teams this season, has allowed 11 dingers in 22 big league innings. Unfortunately, that trend continued when Loe gave up 2 homers in the game. In 4 1/3 innings, Loe allowed 5 runs on a whopping 11 hits.
Entering Kameron Loe’s start Wednesday, the Braves were 27-8 with 2.66 ERA in past 35 games, and 19-4 with a 2.53 ERA in their past 23 home games. Their starting pitching, minus a few anomalies in Wood’s last outing and as Maholm has returned, has been dominant in the last few weeks. The Braves have watched as confidence has allowed Minor and Teheran to develop into two of the best young pitchers in the game, Wood was barely edged out for NL Rookie and Pitcher of the Month by the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez, and Kris Medlen has regained the command he displayed last year when he moved from the bullpen to the rotation and went on an otherworldly tear.
More on Medlen: Kris Medlen had a solid outing in game 2 of the series. Medlen brought his season record to 12-12 and his ERA to 3.48. He went 7 strong innings, gave up 7 hits, allowed 1 run and struck out 9 batters.
While the rotation is getting a great deal of ink as they dominate opposing hitters, it cannot go unmentioned just how amazing Craig Kimbrel has been this season. The closer was named August’s Delivery Man of the Month and a case could have been made for him being NL Pitcher of the Month. In August, Kimbrel was 1-0 with 12 saves and 19 Ks in 16 1/3 scoreless innings. Over that span he only allowed 2 batters a free pass on base, gave up only 8 hits and he converted each save opportunity he was given. This is the 3rd time in Kimbrel’s young career that he won this particular award, the previous 2 awards coming in August of 2011 and September of 2012.
Of course, the entire series wasn’t defined by pitching. A few offensive highlights include Monday night’s Freddie Freeman Show. The dark horse MVP candidate matched a season high with 5 RBIs. In his career he has had 3 games in which he has batted in 5. Freeman appears to have taken the title of Mets’ Killer from Chipper Jones since the third baseman’s retirement. Freddie has hit .306/.377/.566 with 12 homers in 53 games (196 ABs) against the Mets.
Another offensive highlight of the Mets’ series was the return of El Oso Blanco. After being sent down to Triple-A Gwinnett last week to get some consistent at-bats, the Braves welcomed back Evan Gattis Tuesday. While at Gwinnett, Evan Gattis had 6 hits including 3 doubles and a homer. He continued his hot hitting with 4 hits, including a double, homer and RBI in his 2 games back. In addition to his hitting, Gattis made his presence known on the base paths. In Wednesday’s game, Gattis had a stolen base erased by the official scorer, advancing instead on a wild pitch. In his big league career, he remains without a stolen base.
BRAVES VISIT NOT SO UNFLAPPABLE PHILLIES…
The Braves will arrive in Philly as their once dominant division rivals are struggling. Between players past their prime and a slue of new guys playing positions that were once manned by big-name stars, the Phillies are in sad shape. Their defense has been more reminiscent of a little league team than a high-paid big league roster. And their offense has been just as inconsistent. For the Braves, who are rapidly nearing the magic number of games won that will send them to the playoffs, it will be a good time for them to arrive in Philadelphia.
With September call-ups still making news across Major League Baseball, the latest call-up for the Braves will join the club for the upcoming series. Right-handed reliever David Hale has been recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett. Hale went 6-9 with a 3.22 ERA in 22 games for the Triple-A team. This will be his first appearance on a big league roster. The Braves also made a move in the opposite direction. They have traded catcher Matt Pagnozzi to the Houston Astros.
As the Philly series opens, manager Fredi Gonzalez has said that outfielder Jordan Schafer should be ready to play Friday. Schafer was scratched from the lineup Wednesday with a quadriceps contusion that was created by him fouling a ball off his leg. Tuesday against New York, Schafer had 3 stolen bases in the first 4 innings of that game. Schafer has 11 steals in 18 games since returning from the disabled list with his foot/ankle inury. That matches the highest season total for any other Brave. B.J. Upton has 11 steals.
Friday night’s series opener in Philly will feature Minor (13-5, 3.08) vs. Lee (11-6, 3.09). Game 2 will pit the rested Wood (3-3, 3.15) vs. Kendrick (10-12, 4.51). The series finale will feature Maholm (10-10, 4.41) vs. Hamels (6-13, 3.50). The Braves’ road trip will then continue in Miami.
Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter @framethepitch.