In front of a national television audience on Father’s Day, the Atlanta Braves took the rubber match of their weekend interleague series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim by a 7-3 final, having to overcome another rough start from Mike Minor, and relying on a late surge of offense.
Minor couldn’t find consistency with the inside of the strike zone of home plate umpire Angel Campos, and had to start moving his pitches more over the plate. As a result, Angels hitters absolutely feasted, tabbing Minor for 11 hits in just five innings of work, but he did strike out six (very quietly), and looking back on it, it’s incredible he only gave up three runs. Only two solo home runs, one to Erick Aybar and the other to Mike Trout, and a Howie Kendrick RBI single to drive Albert Pujols home were the blemishes, and, even after going 6.2 innings last night, Minor kept his bullpen and offense in the game.
Arguably, the unsung hero of the game was the first man out of the Braves’ pen, Anthony Varvaro, who went a perfect two innings of relief and struck out three, and kept the Angels lead at three, which meant the Braves were still within striking distance. And it only took an inning of offense to combat.
The Braves strung five hits in a row together to put a four spot up in the bottom of the sixth, which started with a B.J. Upton walk, and then it was Freddie Freeman, Evan Gattis (which drove in B.J.), Justin Upton (driving in Freeman), Chris Johnson and the go-ahead swing came off the bat of Tommy La Stella, which brought Gattis and Justin into score, and Johnson attempted to make it a three-run swing, but was gunned down at the plate. The Braves weren’t done after that point, as they got two in the seventh (a Jason Heyward home run and a B.J. run on a wild pitch), and a final run in the eight when Ryan Doumit got a pinch-hit sacrifice fly to put the lead at 7-3.
But, in typical 2014 Braves fashion, they couldn’t close it out easily. To spare Craig Kimbrel some work in a four run game, Fredi Gonzalez went to David Carpenter (former Angel), but he allowed a hit to Trout and plunked Pujols, which didn’t go over to well with the Anaheim dugout, and forced Fredi Gonzalez to insert Kimbrel. Fortunately, he closed the door, just like Kimbrel does, giving the Braves the series victory.
The Braves will stay put in Atlanta for their next series, as they welcome in division rival Philadelphia to the Ted on Monday. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Julio Teheran against Cole Hamels for a 7:10 first pitch. Stay tuned for all the latest.