Good morning everyone. Friday is almost here. Today’s links feature a good amount of Braves stuff, but also a really good read on the Atlanta Falcons. Check them out:
MLB–Mark Bowman’s recap of last night’s game. We apologize for not getting the recap up on the site ourselves, this rarely happens:
An undermanned, injury-depleted bullpen did more than expected after an injury forced Kris Medlen to make a premature exit. But instead of rewarding the effort, the Braves’ offense endured another frustration-filled night against a group of Blue Jays pitchers with which they were unfamiliar.
As the Braves attempted to separate themselves from the frustration they endured during Wednesday night’s 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays at Turner Field, they could at least take solace in the fact that Kris Medlen seemingly did not suffer a severe injury when he was hit with a comebacker in Toronto’s two-run second inning.
Medlen completed the second inning after getting hit on the upper portion of his left calf by Emilio Bonifacio’s line drive. But his inability to come back out to begin the third inning seemed to set the tone of the night for the Braves, who stranded five runners through the first four innings and then produced just one baserunner against the three Toronto relievers who combined to work 5 2/3 innings.
“You felt like you had a really good opportunity,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We just didn’t get good at-bats against the three guys they ran out of the bullpen.”
MLB–Bowman and Eric Single discuss Kris Medlen’s injury and what the implications are for the team. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to be something that lingers, which is fantastic. We really can’t have much more happen to our pitching depth:
“It’s a leg thing, and the more you use it, the worse it’s going to get,” Gonzalez said. “So hopefully, five days from now, I think he should be able to make a start, and we’ll go from there.”
“I’ve been hit by a lot of balls in my life, just playing short and whatever else, and that’s probably one of the harder ones that I’ve felt,” Medlen said. “I think I knew right away, but I just wanted to at least get through the inning.”
The Braves brought right-hander David Carpenter out of the bullpen to replace Medlen before the start of the third inning. Carpenter teamed with relievers Anthony Varvaro, Jordan Walden and Cory Gearrin to hold the Blue Jays scoreless over the final seven innings.
MLB–speaking of depth, the two previously mentioned writers talk about a guy that should help out with that situation any time now:
Brandon Beachy saw his command improve in his second Minor League rehab start, working five scoreless innings for Class A Rome on Wednesday afternoon to put himself one step closer to returning to the Atlanta rotation.
Beachy scattered three hits, recorded three strikeouts and issued a walk during his 68-pitch outing. He needed 70 pitches to get through four less efficient innings for Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday.
TheFalcoholic–Tired of all of the Braves news? Well too bad they are in season. Regardless, here is a nice read by Jeanna Thomas about whether or not the Falcons are the team to beat in the NFC:
First of all, the Falcons did actually beat the Seahawks in the playoffs, a fact that is consistently glossed over or dismissed as a fluke by members of the media when discussing how potent Seattle should be on both sides of the ball this season. Percy Harvin–a talented receiver, who can also run the ball, and is a skilled return specialist–was a decent acquisition for the Seahawks, although his impact will depend largely on his health, which has been an issue throughout his career. The Seahawks also added Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril to their defensive line during the offseason–both excellent additions. Russell Wilson will enter the season with a full year of experience as a starter. The Seahawks were a very good team last season, and their offseason moves made them better. But the Falcons did beat the Seahawks when it mattered, in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs following the 2012 season, and the Falcons have also theoretically improved on both sides of the ball.
The 49ers are media darlings, there’s no doubt, and they deserve respect–even if it’s offered grudgingly–for getting to the NFC Championship in consecutive seasons, and making it to the Super Bowl last season. They’ve retained a lot of their starters, and they had what seemed like a billion draft picks to work with in 2013. They lost Dashon Goldson and Delanie Walker in free agency, but signed Anquan Boldin. Colin Kaepernick has more experience under his belt, after taking over the starting role in the middle of last season, but teams around the league also have more experience in preparing to defend the read-option San Francisco runs with Kaepernick. The Falcons very nearly beat this 49ers team in the NFC Championship Game, and Atlanta has addressed many of the weaknesses that kept them from scoring while failing to contain the 49ers offense in the second half of that game, leading to the loss.
Are the Falcons the team to beat in the NFC in 2013? That remains to be seen, but it’s reasonable to expect that they’ll be in the mix, and that they’ll be prepared to compete with the best.