Medlen Does It All in 2-1 Win over Dodgers


June 8, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kris Medlen (54) pitches in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

For the third consecutive night, the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers played a nip-and-tuck, low-scoring affair in Dodger Stadium. Fortunately for the Braves, Saturday night’s result was very different from the previous two evenings.

Kris Medlen led the Braves to a 2-1 victory on the strength of his golden arm and, surprisingly, with his bat. Medlen tossed 6.2 shutout innings that saw him allow only 5 hits and 1 walk while striking out 6, and in addition, smacked the first home run of his young career to help his cause in the 5th inning. It was the second consecutive scoreless outing for Medlen, who has displayed his trademark control in recent starts, but the highlight of the night for him was certainly that lead-extending blast.

Dan Uggla provided the “other” part of the scoring for Atlanta, and he did so in the same 5th-inning fashion. Uggla broke the 0-0 tie with a towering home run to center to keep with his “three true outcome” approach. Uggla continues to “struggle” to a .185 batting average, but his OBP is a semi-respectable .310 after another 1-for-4 outing, and the power (11 home runs) has been there for the most part.

Elsewhere, the offense scuffled a bit. Outside of a three-hit night from Andrelton Simmons, the Braves were thoroughly mediocre across the board, and the team has now produced only 3 runs in 28 innings during the series. Jason Heyward had the “2nd-best” night, going 1-for-3 with a walk, but in addition to the across-the-board mediocrity, there was a particularly interesting play/decision in the 1st inning. After a double by Andrelton Simmons and a walk by Jason Heyward, #3 hitter Justin Upton inexplicably laid down a sacrifice bunt. Following the game, Fredi Gonzalez assured the media that Upton was “bunting for a hit”, but it was certainly an interesting decision by whoever decided to do it, and while it was more of a “procedure” issue than a “results” one, the Braves failed to score in the inning.

At the back end of the night, the Braves bullpen did another fine job. Jordan Walden allowed an RBI single (that was charged to Luis Avilan) in the 8th inning, but as a unit, the ‘pen was just fine. Craig Kimbrel emerged from obscurity to lock down a 2-strikeout ninth inning, and in the process, he left the Dodgers new star (Yasiel Puig) in the on-deck circle.

It was a very successful night for the Braves, but it wasn’t without its issues. The offense is really struggling right now, and the bats were frankly bailed out by a fluke-ish home run by Medlen, and another sparkling pitching performance. While the pitching is certainly tremendous for Atlanta, relying on the arms for this much dominance would be a mistake, and eventually (read: Sunday), the Braves are going to need an offensive explosion. Stay tuned as the series finale arrives on Sunday when the now-famous Mike Minor squares off with Ted Lilly at 4:10 PM ET.