Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves catcherBrian McCann
(16) celebrates with teammates after beating the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field. The Atlanta Braves won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
After losing 5 of 6 games against the Diamondbacks and Giants, the hope was that the friendly confines of Turner Field would do wonders for the Atlanta Braves. Let’s take a look at what transpired when the Dodgers arrived in Atlanta.
Friday, May 17th – Win (8-5)
If there was a “conventional” victory during this series, this was it, but even then, the path to the win wasn’t particularly clear. The Braves fell behind 4-2 after the top of the 6th inning, and it looked to be another rough night at the office for Atlanta. Then, the Braves loaded the bases (after a single, error, and walk) for Justin Upton, and the rest was history. Upton smashed a 461-foot grand slam off of Paco Rodriguez that would give Atlanta a 6-4 lead that they would never give up. In addition to the offense from Upton and company, Paul Maholm threw 6 strong innings (4 runs, only 2 earned), and Craig Kimbrel slammed the door for his first of three consecutive saves in the series. With one, perfect swing, Justin Upton seemed to ignire the entirety of the Braves 25-man roster, and it was one of the biggest plays of a tremendous series.
Saturday, May 18th – Win (3-1)
For 7 innings on Saturday, it certainly looked as if Friday’s win was nothing more than a fluke. Braves-killer Chris Capuano was absolutely cruising on the mound (4 hits, 0 ER) and while Kris Medlen was fantastic, he had allowed the game’s only run as a result of a Justin Upton error in the 4th inning. Then, BJ Upton had his best at-bat in days (not an exaggeration) to punch a 1-out single, and Don Mattingly made the long walk to the mound to summon Kenley Jansen to face the pinch-hitting Evan Gattis. After a long at-bat, Gattis smacked a 2-run rifle shot over the left-field fence to give the Braves a 2-1 lead, and the next pitch from Jansen was another home run by Andrelton Simmons to push the lead to 3-1. In a snap of the fingers, the Braves had taken control of the series, and after Craig Kimbrel went 1-2-3 in the ninth, the Braves had clinched a series win from thin air. It wasn’t the prettiest of victories, but there was a lot to be encouraged about (Medlen’s performance, for one) and Saturday ended with an important win.
Sunday, May 19th – Win (5-2)
Rain, rain, rain. That was the theme of what seemed like a marathon day on Sunday. However, the Braves were able to pull out yet another late-inning comeback in pulsing a 5-2 sweeping win. LA began the scoring with 2 runs in the first 3 innings (both coming off of the bat of Adrian Gonzalez) and even after the Braves scratched across a run in the 5th inning, the Braves went into a long rain delay trailing 2-1. Fortunately for Atlanta, the rain stopped (and slowed) long enough to get the duration of the game in, and the bats exploded once the Dodgers bullpen entered the game. Atlanta scored 4 runs in the 8th inning and they did so without the benefit of even one extra-base hit. Two RBI singles (by Gerald Laird and Chris Johnson) and two sacrifices (by Ramiro Pena and Jordan Schafer) keyed the scoring, and it was an inning filled with quality, patient at-bats against overmatched pitchers from LA. Following the binge, Kimbrel capped off his third consecutive save, striking out the side in the 9th, and with the final out, the Braves had secured an unlikely sweep in a series in which they trailed in each of the three games.
All sweeps aren’t created equal, but this one felt fantastic. The Braves sorely needed to get the train back on the rails, and three wins against a quality (despite LA’s record) opponent is a God-send. Stay tuned as the Braves welcome the lowly Minnesota Twins to town for a three-game series starting on Monday night.