Prior to Monday’s series opener at Turner Field, the Philadelphia Phillies were 29-38 and completely reeling as they sank near the bottom of the National League East. By the time the dust settled on Wednesday afternoon, the Phillies had blasted the Atlanta Braves, 10-5, in the series finale to complete a three-game sweep.
The great majority of the fireworks from Wednesday occurred in the first two innings, and the damage began immediately as Atlanta starter Aaron Harang allowed three hits, a walk and a wild pitch on the way to two runs in the top of the first. For a brief moment, it seemed as if Harang would avoid complete disaster, however, as the hometown Braves responded for four big runs in the bottom half, led by a two-run home run from the red-hot Evan Gattis and a 2-run single from Wednesday’s left fielder, Ryan Doumit.
Then, the wheels came careening off the wagon. Despite holding a two-run lead on his return trip to the mound, Harang was unceremoniously hammered in the top of the second inning, allowing five runs on six hits (and another wild pitch) to erase the advantage and turn it into a deficit. While the great majority of the damage was done at that point, the seven runs were more than enough to stake Philadelphia to a lead that they would never relinquish.
All told, the veteran Harang had easily his worst start of what has been a productive 2014 campaign. Fredi Gonzalez left Harang on the mound for a long time, simply to eat innings despite his total ineffectiveness, and he allowed 9 runs (8 earned) over 5 innings while giving up 13 runs, 3 walks and 2 wild pitches. For reference on just how bad Harang was in this spot, his season-long ERA jumped from 3.20 to 3.83 (an astronomical jump in mid-June) and he earned every bit of that increase.
After Harang exited following a 115-pitch effort, the Braves did a reasonable job in run prevention, but it was a “too little, too late” situation. Pedro Beato took the mound after his marathon outing on Tuesday and was much more effective, pitching a scoreless sixth, and he was followed by David Hale (2 IP, 1 ER, 3 hits) and Shae Simmons (1 IP, 1 K) to reach the required 27 outs.
The offense was actually more than acceptable on this day, even if it didn’t ultimately matter on the scoreboard. The aforementioned Ryan Doumit had perhaps his best game of the season, going 3-for-4 with a home run and 3 RBI, while the duo of Jason Heyward and Jordan Schafer each reached base three times with two walks a piece, and Evan Gattis hit yet another home run to maintain his sparkling .591 slugging percentage.
Atlanta will have a mini-break after the day game on Wednesday, but the Braves are in action on Thursday night in Washington, as they get set for a four-game series against the rival Washington Nationals. First pitch is set for 7:05 pm ET. Stay tuned.
Tags: Atlanta Braves