Game 1: Braves 9, Cubs 5
The Return of Jason Heyward! Braves fans rejoice! Seemingly out of nowhere, the Braves activated Jason Heyward from the DL and immediately put him in center field and the lead-off spot. The Braves removed Jason after only 5 innings and 3 at-bats (he went 0-2 with a walk), but just getting him out there was such a great spark for Braves fans.
Paul Maholm started the game for the Braves and pitched okay, but nothing close to worthy of earning a start in October. He pitched 5.1 innings and allowed 4 runs on 8 hits, including a pair of homers and only struck out 2. Luis Avilan gave up the game-tying solo shot to Dioner Navarro in the 7th.
The Braves then scored 4 runs in the 9th, all with 2 outs, to get the win. Jordan Schafer, who replaced Heyward in the 5th, started off the 9th with a walk, one of the 8 walks that the Cubs pitching staff gave up on the day. Freeman was intentionally waked around a ground out by Justin Upton and a fly out by Evan Gattis. Then with 2 on and 2 outs Brian McCann finally knocked home the go-ahead run with the single and the flood gates opened. Chris Johnson followed with a run scoring single, then after an Uggla walk, Andrelton Simmons doubled to deep center with the bases juiced to knock home the last 2 runs of the Braves huge 9th inning before BJ “Buzzkill” Upton struck-out to end the inning.
Chris Johnson led the Braves attack going 3-4 with a home-run, a walk, and 2 RBI and Freddie Freeman added a 3-run homer for good measure.
The Braves released the Kimbrel in the 9th to finish the game.
Game 2: Cubs 3, Braves 1
Kris Medlen continued his late season dominance, but the bullpen cost the Braves a victory. Medlen and the Braves took a 1-0 lead into the 8th inning before Meds started to tire and the bullpen, specifically Scott Downs, couldn’t close the door. Medlen started the 8th by striking out Junior Lake, but that was the last out that he would record. After Starlin Castro singled, Medlen was lifted in favor of Scott Downs, who proceeded for give up consecutive hits and left the game without recording an out and giving up the 1-0 lead. David Carpenter came in and allowed the 4th Cubs hit in a row to give them the lead. Carpenter finally retired a Cub, but it went for a sacrifice fly to give the Cubs the 3-1 lead. Gerald Laird, Dan Uggla and BJ Upton all struck out in the 9th to give the Cubs the victory.
The Braves scored their only run of the day following a Freddie Freeman walk and consecutive singles by Chris Johnson and Evan Gattis. After a Laird ground out and an Uggla walk, BJ Upton struck-out with the bases loaded to end the Braves threat.
Game 3: Braves 5, Cubs 2
The Braves clinched their first NL East title in 8 years during the game Sunday when the Marlins beat the Nationals, but the Braves still celebrated after their win over the Cubs. Wearing shirts that said “We Own The East”, the Braves carried on in the Wrigley Field locker room with all the essentials. Champagne was poured, in glasses and on heads, and cigars were smoked as the players and coaches celebrated their 2013 Eastern Division crown.
As for the game, it was the Andrelton Simmons show. Simmons belted two home runs and drove in 3 to pace the Braves attack. Simmons now has 17 homers on the season, a number far greater than most expected of him, at least this early in his career. Freddie Freeman was his usual self, getting 3 more hits, including his 23rd homer and added 2 more RBI to his team leading 105. Jason Heyward lead-off and played center-field for the entire game for the first time since he came back from his jaw injury. He went 1-5, but it’s just good to see him out there making his way back.
Julio Teheran also did his part to help the Braves finally clinch. He went 6 innings only allowing the Cubs 1 run on 4 hits. He struck out 7 and walked no one. Kimbrel finished the Cubs off in the 9th for his major league leading 49th save.
The Braves won two out of three in Chicago and adding that to the Braves sweep of the Cubs at Turner Field earlier this season gives them five out of six against the Cubbies in 2013. Check back with us in a little bit for the Brewers series preview.