Atlanta Braves Series Recap: Teheran’s Gem Highlights Sweep of Pittsburgh

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Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran, center, is embraced by teammate Ramiro Pena, right, after closing out the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday, June 5, 2013, in Atlanta. Teheran gave up a single to Pirates batter Brandon Inge with 2 outs in the eighth inning to break up his no hitter. The Braves won the game 5-0. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

After a solid series that saw the Braves win 2 of 3 from the rival Nationals, the Pittsburgh Pirates arrived in Atlanta for a 3-game set. Let’s take a look at what transpired.

Monday, June 3rd – Win (7-2)

Kris Medlen was the shining star of the Braves series-opening victory. Medlen tossed 7 innings, allowed only 1 run (which was unearned), and struck out 6 in route to his first win in his last 6 decisions. His trademark control was back to being pinpoint, and Medlen allowed 0 walks on the day to go along with his 6 punch-outs. With a sparkling 3.14 ERA, the doubters will likely quiet on Medlen, and it was a very encouraging start. On the offensive side, the game was highlighted by three tw0-run home runs in the middle innings that proved to be enough for the win. Brian McCann, Jason Heyward, and Freddie Freeman each left the yard within a 2-inning span, and when the dust settled, Alex Wood entered the game in his Major League debut and slammed the door for Medlen and company. Overall, it was very strong day, as the Braves solved the Pirates #1 starter in AJ Burnett, and cruised to a comfortable win.

Tuesday, June 4th – Win (5-4 in 10 innings)

This victory took a while, but in the end, the payoff was spectacular. Andrelton Simmons found the gap in right field to bring across the winning run in the form of Dan Uggla to bring this 3 hour, 44-minute marathon to a halt. The offensive heroes were many for Atlanta, as, in addition to Simmons, BJ Upton tied the game with a slump-busting 2-run homer in the 6th, and the struggling Jason Heyward/Dan Uggla duo each added two hits in the win. On the mound, Mike Minor didn’t have his best stuff, but he willed the Braves through 6 innings, allowing 4 runs (only 2 earned) before handing it over to the bullpen. Fortunately for Atlanta, the bullpen was spectacular, allowing only 1 hit through 4 scoreless innings, and their ability to keep the Pirates at bay was crucial. It is pretty clear that Walden and Kimbrel are the 8th/9th guys for the club, but it seems as if Luis Avilan and Anthony Varvaro have claimed the additional set-up responsibilities, and each guy was great in this spot. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was an entertaining victory.

Wednesday, June 5th – Win (5-0)

There is a legitimate possibility that Wednesday afternoon could be forever known as “The Julio Teheran Game”. The youngster was incredible, taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning, and completing 8 shutout innings having allowed only 1 hit, walking 2 batters, and striking out 11. It was frankly 107 pitches of absolute brilliance, and only Brandon Inge’s single to left marred what could have been the first Atlanta no-hitter since 1994. I could probably write 500 words just on Teheran’s performance, but the big takeaway is that he has arrived in full. With the bats, the Braves did enough to give Julio some breathing room, but the exciting damage was done in the sixth inning. Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird blasted back-to-back home runs off of Vin Mazzaro to give Atlanta a 3-0 lead, and the Braves later manufactured 2 runs in the 7th with some help from porous Pittsburgh defense. For the 28,703 people that snuck out of work on Wednesday, it was an absolute treat, and they witnessed a performance for the ages from the Braves stud right-hander.

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Sweep! If this was a “normal” Pirates team instead of one that entered with a blistering 35-22 record, it wouldn’t be a shock to take all three games, but this was a highly impressive display. The pitching was tremendous, allowing only 6 runs in the 28 innings (including Teheran’s masterpiece), and the bats produced 5+ runs in each game. At 37-22, the Braves have laid claim to the 2nd-best record in the National League on June 5th (behind only the Cardinals), and this is a red-hot ball club.