The Atlanta Braves were reeling a bit as the series finale against the New York Mets approached on Thursday night, but fortunately, they were in the ever so capable hands of Aaron Harang. With tongue firmly planted in cheek concerning Harang, the big right-hander was lights-out yet again, and with the offense doing just enough to survive, the Braves avoided the sweep and snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory.
It wasn’t always pretty for the 36-year-old Harang, who happened to issue four walks in his seven innings, but all in all, it was yet another productive outing. The right-hander allowed only four hits and a single earned run, and he managed to navigate the New York lineup without the benefit of high-end strikeouts, as he only whiffed two Mets. Still, Harang was able to improve on his season-long ERA, lowering it to an impressive 3.53, and the dream continues.
Offensively, Thursday night’s effort was nothing to write home about, and the lion’s share of the damage occurred in the opening frame. Andrelton Simmons got things going with a 1-out single, Freddie Freeman plated him with an RBI double and after a Justin Upton strikeout, Jason Heyward capped a 2-run inning with a single to left. That gave Harang all the cushion that he needed, and only a double play by Justin Upton (no RBI) plated another run in the game.
After Harang exited following his 104th pitch, Fredi Gonzalez did something that he very rarely does. Jordan Walden secured the first two outs of the eighth inning before running into some mild trouble, and Gonzalez elected to insert closer Craig Kimbrel into the fray in the eighth inning. On cue, he was rewarded for actually using his best pitcher in a high-leverage spot, as Kimbrel escaped the eight and mowed down the Mets in the ninth for his 28th save of the campaign.
All in all, it was a positive night at the office for the Atlanta Braves, and they’ll look to carry over that momentum as they square off with the Chicago Cubs in the final series prior to the All-Star break. Stay tuned.