• Exclusives

    Braves win streak snapped by KC, next up: Pittsburgh

    The 2-game set between Atlanta and Kansas City at Turner Field ended in a draw. While Atlanta rebounded in spectacular fashion with a 4-run 8th inning off Kelvin Herrera in game 1, Atlanta’s bats went cold in game 2. The expanded strike zone of plate umpire Doug Eddings and the pitching of Wade Davis shutout the Braves, snapping their 10-game win streak.

    Game 1:

    What started out as a solid outing by Kris Medlen with merely little run support behind him turned into a home run parade in the 8th inning when Juan Francisco, Justin Upton and Dan Uggla went back-to-back-to-back. Francisco had his first career multi-homer game.

    Justin Upton’s 8th home run of the season continued his torrid April and put him atop the league in homers. 6 of those 8 home runs have come with 2 outs. In addition to being atop the league leader board in home runs, Justin Upton became the first player in Braves history to hit 8 homers in the first 13 games of the season. Prior to his 8th homer, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Eddie Mathews held that record with 8 homers in the first 16 games of a season.

    After an incredible roller coaster on offense, the wind was let out of the sails when when Luis Avilan came into the game in relief and crumpled to the ground as he was about to throw. He immediately grabbed for his leg and was helped off the field. It turned out that Avilan had a hamstring strain, luckily not an arm injury of any kind, and was dealing with muscle cramping. After hydrating, Avilan was limping around today, but is hoping to avoid a trip to the disabled list. Avilan has a 1-0 record with a 2.08 ERA in 4 1/3 innings pitched. He has been a reliable arm out of the ‘pen for the Braves and has contributed to the relievers’ record of not allowing a single inherited runner to score.

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

    W: O’Flaherty (3-0) L: Herrera (1-1)

    Game 2:

    Mike Minor took the bump and did a fantastic job despite a very unusual strike zone employed my plate umpire Doug Eddings, but he took a tough loss when the Braves couldn’t get a run on the board. Minor went 6 innings, gave up 5 hits, 1 run and struck out 5. The only run for the Royals to cross the plate was thanks to former Braves Jeff Francoeur in the 4th inning with 2 outs. Francoeur plated Alcides Escobar.

    The Braves had one opportunity to score when Juan Francisco was thrown out at the plate as Chris Johnson doubled. It was a repeat of a play during game 1 when Andrelton Simmons was sent around third and thrown out at the plate by right fielder Jeff Francoeur.

    Like Mike Minor’s outing, Luis Ayala had an impressive outing in relief. Ayala went 2 innings, surrendering only 1 hit and striking out 2 Royals. Since Ayala joined the Braves he has given up only 1 hit in 3 innings and has 2 strikeouts. Should the injury to Avilan send him to the disabled list, the Ayala pickup will turn out to be crucial. Prior to Avilan’s injury, Ayala’s pickup had been important with the loss of Venters and Martinez to the DL.

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

    W: Davis (2-0) L: Minor (2-1) SV: Holland (3)

    BRAVES HIT THE ROAD FOR PNC PARK…

    The Braves begin a 10-game road trip in Pittsburgh tomorrow. Though their streak was snapped by Kansas City, the Braves are by no means slumping. Their 2 losses this season have both been shutouts, but they have won every game that they have hit at least one home run in.

    It was announced just prior to the Kansas City series that the projected return for Freddie Freeman is Monday the 22nd. Freeman will have his first workout tomorrow with Gwinnett. Freddie will have a 3-game rehab stint with Gwinnett and then, if all goes well, will join the team in Colorado on Monday.

    While the Braves have been hot and their 10-2 record has had Major League Baseball abuzz, the team is by no means firing on all cylinders. As @FriedBasballATL" href="https://twitter.com/FriedBasballATL/status/324346330401099777">someone much smarter than me said, the Nationals equivalent to Atlanta’s injury situation would if they were without Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Drew Storen, Ryan Mattheus, and Henry Rodriguez. The Braves have been winning with very little production from Jason Heyward, Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton. Those three and Andrelton Simmons are at the Mendoza Line (.200) or below. The ‘pen is without workhorse Jonny Venters and Cristhian Martinez. Walden, who the Braves acquired in the Tommy Hanson trade, has not been a part of the equation thus far. And Julio Teheran has yet to get a win in 2013. Then consider that the Braves are without silver slugger Brian McCann who might be back at the end of the month, backup shortstop Paul Janish who is without a timetable for return, first baseman Freddie Freeman and hurler Brandon Beachy who won’t be back ’til June. Consider just how good this team could be with all the pieces in place and working together.

    The 4-game set against the Pirates will begin Thursday with the face off of Teheran (0-0, 7.36) vs. Locke (1-1, 4.09). Friday night’s game will feature veteran Hudson (2-0, 2.50) vs. TBD. The Saturday matchup will be Maholm (3-0, 0.00) vs. McDonald (1-2, 5.27). The series finale on Sunday will be Medlen (1-1, 1.42) vs. TBD.

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