Atlanta Braves Series Recap: Wins are Wins


Jun 2, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves outfielders Reed Johnson (7) and B.J. Upton (2) celebrate defeating the Washington Nationals at Turner Field. The Braves defeated the Nationals 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

On the heels of a split in the wild, two-city series with the Blue Jays, the Braves welcomed the rival Nationals to town for a three-game set as Atlanta looked to lengthen their division lead. Let’s take a glance at what took place.

Friday, May 31st – Loss (3-2)

When All-World pitcher Stephen Strasburg exited after two innings with an injury, it certainly seemed like the Braves were in good shape to grab a series-opening win. Then, Craig Stammen (really!??) came on and threw four no-hit innings, completely stymieing the Atlanta offense and setting the stage for a Washington win. Julio Teheran was solid in his 6.2 innings, allowing only 3 earned runs and striking out 9, but it wasn’t enough to match Stammen, and Steve Lombardozzi’s sac fly in the 6th proved to be the difference. Offensively for Atlanta, it was a mess. The Braves managed only 4 hits on the night, and only two players (Ramiro Pena and Freddie Freeman) combined for those hits. It was slightly disconcerting to see the potent Atlanta lineup (admittedly sans BJ Upton and Andrelton Simmons) go quiet against a run-of-the-mill guy like Stammen, but that kind of thing happens in baseball. It wasn’t a positive start to the series, but it wasn’t a disaster either.

Saturday, June 1st – Win (2-1 in 10 inn.)

BJ Upton walk-off!!! With the game dead-locked at 1-1 in the 10th inning, Upton strolled to the plate, and frankly, he was the last guy that any Braves supporter wanted to see in the box with the game on the line. However, Upton smacked an opposite-field single, and the pinch-running Jordan Schafer motored around from 2nd to score the game-winning run in walk-off fashion. This was absolutely huge for the struggling Upton, and seeing him get mauled by the entire Braves roster was honestly a pleasure. Elsewhere in the game, Tim Hudson was fantastic on the mound. Huddy threw 7.1 innings, allowing 3 hits, 1 unearned run, and striking out 4 over 108 pitches. It was the first great start in some time for Hudson (going back to April 30th, actually), and the Braves veteran desperately needed a solid outing to lower his ERA to a more respectable 4.80. It was another weak offensive game from Atlanta, as Gio Gonzalez mowed through the lineup, but in the end, the pitcher’s duel was won by clutch hitting from the Braves in extra frames.

Sunday, June 2nd – Win (6-3)

On Sunday, the offense woke up. The top four players in the order (Simmons, Pena, J. Upton, Freeman) combined for 8 hits and 4 runs to lead the way, and BJ Upton continued his minor “breakout” with a solo home run in the 2nd inning. Ramiro Pena has been a revelation this season (he added another home run here), and while I don’t think he should get increased playing time, the fact that his bat his played this well is encouraging in his super-utility role. On the pitching side, Paul Maholm was solid (6 IP, 2 ER, 4 Ks) and the bullpen combined for 3 shutout innings (on each from Varvaro, Avilan, and Kimbrel) to shut down the Nats. It was sort of  “ho-hum” victory for the Braves, but those are never a bad thing, and this series-winning victory was no different.


When the dust settled, the Braves grabbed two of three, and as of Sunday evening, hold a strong, 6.5-game lead over Washington in the NL East. Things are looking up for the hometown team, and with three more home games to start the week (against Pittsburgh), the lead could easily grow.