Atlanta Braves Series Recap: A Big-Time Rally For a Split


June 9, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19), left fielder Justin Upton (8) and right fielder Jason Heyward (22) celebrate the 8-1 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

When the Braves arrived in Los Angeles for a four-game, weekend set, the team had all the momentum in the world. Let’s take a look at how things went down when they arrived on the West Coast.

Thursday, June 6th – Loss (5-0)

While the final score of Thursday’s game went into the books as 5-0, it was far closer than that. However, Yasiel Puig busted the game wide open with a 8th-inning grand slam off of Cory Gearrin and the rest was history. It was historically rough night for Gearrin, who allowed 3 hits (including the bomb) and a walk while recording just one out, but the story was Puig’s effortless swing on the game-clinching home run. For the Braves, however, the biggest issue was the offensive power outage. The Braves managed just 7 hits on the day in route to being shut-out, and aside from a 2-for-4 day from Jason Heyward (both singles), the lineup struggled mightily. In fact, the only extra-base hit of the night came on a Ramiro Pena double in the 2nd inning, and that “doubled” as the only real threat of the night. Positively, Tim Hudson was extremely effective once again, going 7 innings while allowing only 4 hits and 1 earned run, but that was the extent of the bright spots for Atlanta here.

Friday, June 7th – Loss (2-1 in 10 innings)

This one hurt. The offense simply couldn’t solve Hyun-Jin Ryu, and the suddenly-terrifying Yasiel Puig lifted the Dodgers to another win over Atlanta. The Braves scratched out 8 hits, but managed only 1 run (on a Dan Uggla RBI single in the 4th) off of the Dodgers’ pitching, and Ryu was lights-out over 7.2 innings. It was another case of quality pitching from the Braves starters (Paul Maholm allowed 1 run over 7.1 innings) being overshadowed by late-game heroics by LA, and the way this game ended was tough to take. Anthony Varvaro uncorked his 2nd wild pitch of the 10th inning, allowing Skip Schumaker to score the walk-off run to send the Braves to the showers. There was some debate about whether Gattis or Varvaro was responsible, but there’s nothing quite like losing a game on a wild pitch. The aforementioned Puig tied the game with a 6th-inning home run off of Maholm, but the Braves also threatened in the 8th inning before coming away empty-handed again. After Friday night, sunshine and rainbows were certainly not present in the Braves locker room.

Saturday, June 8th – Win (2-1)

That’s more like it. In yet another low-scoring game (come on, offense), the Braves squeaked out a 2-1 victory on the back of Kris Medlen. The right-hander threw 6.2 shutout innings (using a wild total of 116 pitches) and keyed the Braves offense with a left-handed (he’s a switch-hitter) home run that doubled as the game-winner and his first career deep fly. It was a story book night from Medlen, who grew up a Dodgers fan, and he is showing real signs of being the pitcher from the 2nd half of 2012. Elsewhere, Dan Uggla continued his improvement by accounting for the only run via a solo home run, and the bullpen combined to hold serve late in the game, highlighted by a dominant, 2-strikeout ninth from Craig Kimbrel. After a brutal start to the series, this one was much needed.

Sunday, June 9th – Win (8-1)

In the finale, things were a little bit more comfortable for the road team. Dan Uggla (who we seem to be mentioning more and more) led an offensive breakout with 2 home runs, and the Braves scored 7 runs during the two-inning stretch of the 3rd and 4th innings. For Uggla, it was his 12th and 13th home run of the year, and with his recent power surge, he exits the series with a suddenly-respectable .193/.322/.421 slash line and a pace of 33 home runs. Obviously, the .193 batting average isn’t what you want to see, but Uggla is taking walks at a very high rate, and the power is coming. On the pitching side, Mike Minor struggled early, loading the bases and allowing the game’s first run in the opening frame, but he settled down in a big way and finished 6 strong innings having only allowed 1 run. His control was uncharacteristically poor (3 walks in 6 innings), but the strikeouts were there (he had 6) and it was great to see him battle through the slow start. Rookie Alex Wood emerged for 2 innings in the 7th/8th and was electric, allowing only 1 hit and striking out 2 batters, and bringing about concerns for why he actually up with the team if he is only going to be deployed in mop-up duty. For the non-Uggla offense, Jason Heyward (2-for-3 with 2 runs and 2 walks) and Freddie Freeman (2-for-5 with 3 RBI) continued their hot-hitting, and Heyward has seen his batting average climb to .200 with a much more respectable .321 OBP.


Overall, this was an up-and-down series, but the results were just fine. Splitting a series against a depleted Dodgers team isn’t the ideal result, but the offense seemed to awaken on Sunday, and the pitching was tremendous throughout the 4 games. As the Braves head to San Diego for 3 games with the Padres, the team is a scorching-hot 39-24, and the lead in the NL East is up to a staggering 7.5 games over the Nationals. Everything is right with the world.