It seems impossible that the series with the Royals could be over, but that is what happens when the Braves visit a city for a quick, two-game set. Let’s look back at what happened.
Tuesday, June 25th – Win (4-3)
Remember when people were doubting Jason Heyward? Well, he is back in full force. Heyward blasted the go-ahead (and later game-winning) home run in the 7th inning off of Tim Collins, and the Braves held on for dear life behind Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel. The home run itself was incredibly impressive, as it came off of a tough left-hander (Tim Collins) on an 0-2 pitch, and it was a fantastic sign for Heyward going forward. Kris Medlen gave the Braves a chance to win with a solid pitching outing, throwing 7 innings while allowing only 3 runs, but it was the clutch play of Heyward (who also drove in 2 more runs with a double earlier in the game) and the wiggle ability of the bullpen that were key to the win. It wasn’t pretty throughout the entire night (just ask Craig Kimbrel), but with the victory, the Braves actually formed a win streak (!), and things were looking good on the whole.
Wednesday, June 26th – Loss (4-3 in 10 inn.)
Sigh. Any momentum built up after Tuesday’s exciting victory probably went by the wayside on Wednesday night. The Braves blew countless opportunities in big spots offensively, went 2-for-9 with RISP, and left 8 men on base in route to just 3 runs against a subpar Royals’ staff. Worse yet, Fredi Gonzalez contributed to the defeat in defined ways, as he finished the game without deploying either Brian McCann or Craig Kimbrel, and while I was totally fine with Alex Wood being on the mound in the 10th inning, he never should have faced Alex Gordon. Alas, we could discuss managerial tendencies for 1,000 words, but the Braves didn’t play particularly well on either side of the game on Wednesday. Mike Minor was solid, but again, wasn’t dominant in allowing 3 runs (and 9 hits) over 6 innings. The positive for Mike was that he didn’t walk a batter, but it seems that some of his BABIP luck from earlier in the year is normalizing along with his home run rate. Offensively, it wasn’t dreadful, as the team produced 8 hits, but the timing was off for the most part, and only a 3-run explosion in the 7th inning kept the Braves alive.
It seems like forever since I’ve written a positive “wrap up” to a series recap piece, and that is troubling. However, the Braves get another day off on Thursday before facing the Diamondbacks at home, and with Alumni Weekend on the horizon at Turner Field, maybe the team will be pushed to a dominant home series. Stay tuned.