There’s something to be said for finishing on a high note. The Atlanta Braves did just that with their sizable win on Sunday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs. After almost a full week, the Braves also finally notched a series win. The Braves in their last two games against the Cubs have been on a scoring tear. In fact, the team has scored more runs in these two games than they did in their six matches prior. That’s a lot of offensive production, and most of it is due to the Cubs pitching being absolutely horrific in July. The Cubs have the 28th ERA in the majors for July, and it showed up in a big way.
Gerald Laird started the Braves scoring party with a second inning 2-run double. Julio Teheran also helped himself with a sacrifice in that same inning, making the score 3-0 Braves. In the third inning, the Braves really opened the gap, starting with an RBI single by Jason Heyward that plated Andrelton Simmons. Now, if you watched the game on Saturday, you saw Chris Johnson pop two homers that made a huge difference. Obviously he couldn’t go deep again on Sunday right? WRONG! CJ lit up another deep shot to straight away center that cleared the bases of three runs. Suddenly, it was 7-0 Braves, and the Cubs had only batted twice.
The game trundled along from there with Julio Teheran in a pretty steady groove. But like many things in Wrigley field, nobody stays comfortable for very long. In the sixth inning, the Cubs smashed a two-run homer off Julio to make the score 7-2. The Braves answered back in the seventh inning with a Tommy La Stella three-run double to make it 10-2. The Cubs retaliated with another two-run homer off Julio in the bottom half of the seventh. Then, in the 8th, Luis Avilan had a complete disaster on the mound.
Avilan gave up a single and two walks to load the bases. He was pulled by Fredi Gonzalez without even recording an out. Shae Simmons came in for two batters after that and promptly struck out his first batter. However, he walked the next guy, further ticking off Fredi Gonzalez. Jordan Walden came into the game next and miraculously got an out on a wild pitch where the runner from third broke home, but Laird threw him out at the plate. Walden then gave up a double that scored two more runs, making the score 10-7 Braves.
I was never exactly worried about the outcome of the game, but it was frustrating to watch the Braves bleed away the game instead of just shutting it down. The good news is that Walden eventually got out of the jam, Craig Kimbrel came in and got the easy save, and the Braves won. Can I give the game MVP to the same guy two days in a row? Well it’s my recap so I’m gonna! Take that traditionalists. The MVP goes to Chris Johnson who went 3-4 with two runs, three RBIs, a walk and a homer. The Braves as a team notched 11 hits and six walks, so they had plenty of baserunners, and they hit for a large 5-11 with RISP.
The bad news? It’s the All-Star Break. That means no more Braves baseball for almost five whole days. I don’t know if I can go without the Braves for that long! I guess we’ll find out. Maybe I can fiddle with my terrible fantasy team in the meantime. Make sure to tune in for the All-Star festivities starting on Monday to cheer on your Braves all-stars!