• Exclusives

    Braves wrap successful road trip

    Despite hairy defense in the last 2 games of the series, the Braves managed to squeak out a series win in Flushing. The Braves were carried to the series win by yet another near no-hitter by Aaron Harang in a handful of games, dominant offense by Mets’ killer Freddie Freeman, continued April prowess by Justin Upton and another gritty start by Ervin Santana.

    Aaron Harang pitched 7 no-hit innings against the Mets, giving up 6 walks and striking out 5 before being pulled.

    Aaron Harang pitched 7 no-hit innings against the Mets, giving up 6 walks and striking out 5 before being pulled.

    Aaron Harang has quickly ingratiated himself to his new Braves teammates with 2 outings where he has flirted with a no hitter, going at least 6 innings in each of his 4 starts, a 3-1 record and a 0.70 ERA. Friday’s game in New York was his first game back to Citi Field where he pitched last season and was his best start yet for his new team. Harang went 7 innings without allowing a hit before being pulled by Fredi Gonzalez when he reached the 121-pitch mark. Afterward, Harang sang the praises of Fredi for having his and the team’s best interests in mind with that tough move. Once Harang left the game, Luis Avilan attempted to continue the no-no, but gave up the first and only hit to the Mets.

    Ervin Santana, much like Harang, has quickly showed the Braves why he was worth the late spring free agent signing. Santana threw 7 innings against the Mets, allowed 6 hits and 1 earned run, while striking out 7. Santana now holds a 2-0 record with an impressive 0.86 ERA. Like Harang, he has pitched at least 6 innings in each of his innings.

    While David Hale may not have been as dominant as veterans Harang and Santana, it wasn’t all his own doing. Hale’s start in the series finale was mired down in costly defensive blunders. The Braves recorded 3 errors, 1 by Justin Upton and 2 by Dan Uggla. Hale completed 6 innings, allowing 6 hits and 2 earned runs (1 unearned). He walked 2 and struck out 5. Hale’s ERA now stands at 2.93. Hale, of course, my be the odd man out when Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd return to the rotation in the next few weeks. However, he has made the case that he deserves to be in the big leagues and could potentially wind up in the bullpen.

    David Hale’s start may have ended after 6 innings, but the game ended in the bottom of the 14th inning.The last time the Mets defeated Atlanta in a game that went as long as 14 innings was on May 5, 2006. Unfortunately, the Braves paid for the defensive blunders in the game. For his part, reliever Gus Schlosser may have walked away with the loss, but he pitched 3 2/3 innings, 3 of them scoreless, and he recorded his first big league hit. For a guy who stretched out in spring, but wasn’t needed to start, he did an admirable job bridging the gap in a long game.

    Braves’ fans saw something they had only seen one other time: the removal of Craig Kimbrel in a save situation. In his first game back in a week due to shoulder soreness, Kimbrel hit a batter, gave up a single, an RBI double, struck out a batter, allowed an RBI single and then allowed a walk. He seemed out of sorts in a way we may have never seen him on the mound. Jordan Walden was brought in with 2 outs & the bases loaded with a 7-5 lead to close the game. Walden recorded a save.

    There is no question that Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis carried the offense on the road. While Upton’s bat cooled in the frigid Philly temperatures, he was back at it in New York going 5-for-13 (.385) with a triple, homer and 4 RBI. Freeman continued to torment the Mets going 6-for-14 with 2 doubles, a home run and 4 RBIs. Evan Gattis went 6-for-21 on the roadtrip with 3 homers and 4 RBIs.

    B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla continue to have hopeful moments at the plate. B.J. is above the Mendoza Line at .208 with a .269 on-base percentage. He hit .286 against the Mets (4-for-14) with a double and RBI. Another great sign for B.J. is that on the road trip he had 5 walks. Getting B.J. on base gives the Braves speed on the bases that they cannot match with any other player. Upton also had 3 stolen bases on the road (all three in Philly). Uggla is also above the Mendoza Line at .234 with a .286 on-base percentage (.375 slugging). In the 3-game series in Flushing, Uggla hit .333, .429 OBP and .417 slugging. He went 4-for-12.

    BRAVES RETURN TO THE TED TO FACE MARLINS…

    The Braves return to Turner Field today for a 6-game home stand against the Miami Marlins and the Cincinnati Reds.

    Miami is fresh off a sweep at home of the Seattle Mariners. The standouts from the series were starter Eovaldi and the hot-hitting Giancarlo Stanton.

    Mike Minor allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits with 4 strikeouts over 6 innings for the Gwinnett Braves Saturday. He will throw a side session on Tuesday in Atlanta and depending on the outcome, could make his 2014 debut on Saturday against the Reds. Minor got a slow start at spring training due to a urethra surgery this winter. He then dealt with shoulder soreness that shut him down.

    Gavin Floyd has made 4 minor league appearances and is expected to make at least 2 additional starts before the Braves consider adding him to the big league club. However, there doesn’t seem to be a need for Floyd at this point. Where Floyd would fit is unclear given the early success of both Santana and Harang. The question becomes one of what happens with the bullpen, most likely. If Floyd and/or Hale were to be added to the bullpen, who would be the odd man out? Early success by Ian Thomas suggests he’d not be going anywhere. Varvaro seems to have taken the position of reliability in clutch outings that Luis Avilan held last season. Would Gus Schlosser lose his spot? For a team that looked like they were short on pitching when Gearrin, Beachy and Medlen all went down, they now seem to have a surplus of arms.

    The series opens Monday night with Koehler (2-1, 1.89) taking the bump against Teheran (2-1, 1.93). Tuesday’s game features reigning Rookie of the Year Fernandez (2-1, 2.66) against Wood (2-2, 1.67). The series finale Wednesday night will get underway with Eovaldi (1-1, 3.55) on the hill against Harang (3-1, 0.70).

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