Coming off of a brutal series in Pittsburgh, the Braves traveled to Colorado for three games against the scorching hot Rockies. Thanks to some unfortunate weather (snow in late April!), the 3-game set began with a double-header on Tuesday. Let’s take a look at what went down.
Tuesday, April 23rd (Game One) – Win (4-3)
The story of the game (other than the pure, on-field action) was the fact that this was the coldest game-time temperature in the history of Coors Field. It was 23 degrees at first pitch, and when you factor that in, it was a very impressive performance for the visiting team, led by Mike Minor. Minor tossed 6 innings of 3-run ball before handing things over to the Avilan/O’Flaherty/Kimbrel trio who slammed the door with 3 scoreless innings. Offensively, it was a tale of the home run ball (again), as all four runs came on the strength of three bombs off of the bat of Justin Upton (his league-leading 10th), Evan Gattis, and a 2-run blast from Dan Uggla. It wasn’t the prettiest of games, as there was no scoring after the 4th inning by either team, but a win in those conditions is pretty big to kick off a series.
Tuesday, April 23rd (Game Two) – Win (10-2)
10 runs. 14 hits. Back-to-back homers from the Upton brothers. I’d say this was a fun game. With all of that said, the best thing (by a wide margin) about the win was the performance from Julio Teheran. The youngster threw 7 innings, allowed 8 hits (a little high, but still), and only 1 earned run. Factor in that it was in Coors Field, and that’s a great sign for Teheran. The offense was obviously tremendous as well, led by the Uptons, and a 2-for-5 day from Juan Francisco that included a home run and a double with 3 RBI. Jon Garland never had a chance.
Wednesday, April 24th – Loss (6-5 in 12 innings)
This one hurt a little. With the Braves leading 5-3 and the game heading to the bottom of the 9th, it seemed to be virtually over. Craig Kimbrel has been unhittable for a long, long time now, but he stumbled here in the 9th, allowing 3 hits, 1 walk, and 2 earned runs for his 1st blown save of the year. Following the implosion, Atlanta battled for 2 break-even innings in extras, but the Rockies pushed across the game-winner on a Yorvit Torrealba single in the bottom of the 12th. Aside from a 3-run 4th innings, the Atlanta bats went silent for much of Wednesday, and while the 5 runs should have been enough, the Braves left some opportunities on the table (most notably with a botched squeeze attempt in the 9th). Tim Hudson pitched well enough to grab his 200th win (6 innings, 3 ER), but it will have to wait for Huddy. As far as takeaways go, Fredi Gonzalez has to be criticized for the squeeze attempt (why?!?!?), but Craig Kimbrel blowing a save isn’t cause for concern, and games like this are bound to happen over the 162-game slate. Nothing to see here.
It looked for all the world like this series would end in a sweep, but taking 2 of 3 in Colorado against a red-hot Rockies team is a good result, and with Detroit on the horizon for the weekend, it was a much needed series win. Stay tuned.