• Exclusives

    Fresh off sweep of Rockies, Braves roll into Wrigley

    By Tara Rowe

    If the Braves were hoping to forget dropping a series at home to the rival Phillies, they definitely put it behind them with a sweep of the Rockies at Coors Field. A series that got off to an incredibly crazy start ended with solid pitching from Brandon Beachy. The Braves are in Chicago today for a 3-game set with the Cubs.

    Tim Hudson's Coors Field woes continued Friday, but the Braves still won

    Game 1: Hudson/Moscoso

    Just when the Braves thought they’d never have another game like the one they had at home against the Phillies where they rallied not once but twice to beat the Phils, the Braves rolled into Denver and experienced the unpredictability of Coors Field on the first night.

    Handing the Rockies a 5-0 lead in the first inning did not bode well the team looking to put a dropped series behind them. But then the Rockies were met with the bat of Eric Hinske. Hinske had a 4-for-6 night at the plate. Hinske capped his 4-for-6 night with a 2-run go-ahead bomb in the 11th inning.

    Despite an amazing comeback where the Braves scored 9 runs on 19 hits, they continued to show their struggle with runners in scoring position going 3-for-16 on the night.

    In the bullpen, O’Flaherty faced 6 batters, surrendered 2 walks, 1 hit and struck out 2. The walks are beginning to be of concern, but O’Flaherty looked much better in this outing than he had in his last outing against Philly. Like that wild game at the Ted with the Phils, Chad Durbin walked away with another unlikely win. Craig Kimbrel got his 9th save of the season.

    Game 2: Minor/Moyer

    Like the night before, the Braves got off to a rough start when Mike Minor surrendered a grand slam to Michael Cuddyer. Minor had allowed a single and two walks leading up to Cuddyer’s at-bat. Minor’s walks have caused some concern in his last several outings. At Coors Field, those walks will hurt a pitcher. It is one thing that can be counted on at Coors.

    However, the story of the night had nothing to do with the Braves’ starting pitcher and everything to do with the Rockies’ starting pitcher Jamie Moyer. With the Braves behind and Chipper Jones at second base, Jamie Moyer turned on the mound and accused Chipper of relaying signs to the hitters. What that accusation set off was not only a war of words between Chipper and Moyer, but an explosion of Braves’ offense that lead them to the 13-9 victory.

    Hurling an accusation of cheating at Chipper Jones only seemed to motivate the veteran who went on to have key at-bats in his next two plate appearances. Chipper matched a career-high 5 RBI game by the end of the night.

    Freddie Freeman mashed 2 homeruns in Denver

    The “discussion” between Chipper and Moyer doesn’t seem to have ended, though after the game Moyer refused to comment on what went down between he and Chipper. Chipper went on to call Moyer paranoid and attempted to connect that paranoia with the fact that Moyer’s former team, the Philadephia Phillies, has a history of actually stealing signs. The encounter between Chipper and Moyer didn’t get nearly the coverage that last night’s encounter between Cole Hamels and rookie Bryce Harper did, but comes down to the same basic premise–it’s about respecting the game and respecting your competitors. Chipper was understandably insulted by Moyers’ accusation of cheating.

    Game 3: Beachy/Nicasio

    Brandon Beachy and Freddie Freeman are proving that the sophomore slump is no deterrent to their talent.

    After Freeman was hit by a pitch, a pitch that may or may not have been intended for him after the Moyer/Chipper controversy, Freeman turned around and belted the his first career triple. He capped another successful series at Coors Field with a 3-run homer.

    While Freeman’s bat was impressive, the story of the day really was Brandon Beachy who improved to 3-1 with a 1.62 ERA.

    Beachy, unlike Freeman, has not had success at Coors Field. Beachy pitched well this time around, minus the bases loaded mess he handed over to Cristhian Martinez after his 6 1/3 innings. Martinez got out of the mess without allowing a run and went on to pitch 2 2/3 innings of brilliant relief.

    ON TO CHICAGO…

    Monday: Hanson (3-2, 3.74) vs. Samardzija (3-1, 3.41)

    Tuesday: Delgado (2-3, 5.14) vs. Dempster (0-1, 0.95)

    Wednesday: Hudson (1-0, 6.55) vs. Maholm (3-2, 5.13)

    It’s hard to know what to expect from the Cubs. Great pitching performances have been spoiled by now demoted closer Carlos Marmol.

    The Braves have not yet faced Samardzija as a starter and may take a few innings to really figure him out. It’s hard to tell at this early point in the season if Samardzija’s success is legitimate or the result of teams adjusting to him in his starting role. Discounting theĀ 1-0 record and 0.63 ERA notched in his past two starts might not be a good idea. Perhaps a move out of the ‘pen is exactly what Samardzija needed all along.

    Braves pitching looks to settle in and not need these come-from-behind victories that have been fairly common over the past week. Tommy Hanson needs to conquer the Cubs, a team he has yet to beat.

    The Cubs welcome the Braves for a 3-game series beginning at 8:05 (EST).