In Friday’s series preview, I wrote that it was “time to put a stamp on a dominant series, and this may be the one”. Little did I know that the Braves would take it to the Diamondbacks in the form of a sweep. Let’s take a look at what transpired.
Friday, June 28th – Win (3-0)
On the heels of the ugly split with Kansas City, the Braves really needed a win and Julio Teheran obliged. The youngster tossed 6 shut-out innings before handing things over the bullpen, but the most impressive part of his outing was the fact that he generated 10 strikeouts. With the dominant outing, Julio lowered his ERA to 3.12 on the season, and he’s been an absolute stud in recent days. Throw in the fact that his off-speed stuff seems to be coming around, and we are seeing the future already. The offense struck early with an RBI single by Justin Upton in the 1st, and the Braves added two more runs on an Andrelton Simmons (!) home run in the 5th as well as a perfectly executed squeeze bunt in the 8th. It was a ho-hum victory in some aspects, but Teheran’s performance was worth the price of admission.
Saturday, June 29th – Win (11-5)
Saturday’s result looked pretty bleak… until the offense exploded in the 8th inning. The Braves batted around as part of a 7-run output, and although the Arizona pitching certainly helped, the contact was very solid and encouraging. In all, there were “only” five hits (two for extra-bases), but there was good patience (a walk by Freeman and some deep counts), horrible pitching (2 HBP’s among other mistakes), and “productive outs” (Sacrifice fly by BJ Upton) to form the explosion. In addition to the 8th inning, it was great to see the offense get back on track, and that begins with the middle of the order. Justin Upton had a 3-hit game, Freddie Freeman continued his stellar play with a mammoth home run, and the Jason Heyward/Brian McCann combination bookended them with two hits a piece. On the mound, Tim Hudson wasn’t spectacular (4 ER in 5.2 IP), but he escaped with a no-decision, and the bullpen did a nice job holding Arizona at bay long enough to get the offense to come around. What a fun game.
Sunday, June 30th – Win (6-2)
The series finale was, yet again, the Freddie Freeman show. Freeman raised his slash line to .307/.384/.470 thanks to another 2-hit night, and it was highlighted by a 418-foot blast that broke the game open for the Braves in the 3rd inning. Atlanta never looked back from there after grabbing that 4-1 lead, and even tacked on 2 more in the 5th with a Dan Uggla home run. It was also a nice day for Paul Maholm, and while he was unspectacular as usual, the lefty finished 6.2 innings while allowing only 2 runs (on 8 hits, yikes) to earn himself the victory. It was the third straight great game for the bullpen, as David Carpenter finished the sweep off with 2 shutout innings in relief. Ironically, all 6 runs for the Braves scored via the longball (with Brian McCann’s solo home run being the other), and both Arizona runs scored via double plays. That’s not something you see every day. At any rate, it was a fantastic win for the Braves, and a sweep was just what the doctor ordered over the weekend.
There isn’t too much to say on the negative side after a sweep, and that’s a relief from the past few installments. The Braves now have a 48-34 record as we move past the half-way mark, and with that, the lead in the division has grown to 6.5 games over Washington. Stay tuned as the Braves try to stay hot against the Miami Marlins this week.