Jul 6, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Atlanta Braves third baseman Chris Johnson (23) against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Braves defeated the Phillies, 13-4. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
On the heels of an ugly finish to the series with Miami, the Braves took to the road for three games in Philadelphia. Let’s take a look at what went down.
Friday, July 5th – Loss (5-4)
Controversy ruled the day on Friday. Gerald Laird and Fredi Gonzalez were ejected for arguing (impotently) with Angel Hernandez on a high strike call, and earlier in the game, Philly catcher Humberto Quintero hit a 349-foot “home run” to right field that should have been a ground-rule double. In the case of Laird/Gonzalez, there was zero gray area, as the pitch was laughably out of the strike zone, but on Quintero’s blast, the use of instant replay would’ve been quite interesting. At any rate, the Quintero home run, along with a Ryan Howard blast and another RBI double from Quintero staked the Phillies to a 5-0 lead that they would never relinquish. The Braves put on a late run with some 7th inning fireworks that included a 3-run home run by Dan Uggla, but they fell short of the 5-run mark and that was that. Paul Maholm struggled a bit, allowing all 5 runs (4 earned) over 6 innings in route to the loss. He wasn’t a disaster on this night, but he wasn’t particularly sharp either and when he’s hittable, he’s hittable. On the offensive side, the aforementioned Uggla home run was really the only bright spot, but Justin Upton and Brian McCann (in relief of Laird) added 2 hits a piece for Atlanta.
Saturday, July 6th – Win (13-4)
Hello, offense! The Braves belted 3 home runs and 7 total extra-base hits on the day, exploding to an 11-1 lead before settling with a 9-run victory margin. Brian McCann led the team with 4 hits, but Andrelton Simmons had a huge day (3-for-5 with a HR and a triple) and Jason Heyward provided the single largest blow with a 7th-inning, 3-run home run. Every Braves starter had at least one hit in the game, and frankly, the team mauled every pitcher in front of them, but most of the damage was off of Kyle Kendrick, who allowed a staggering 12 hits (and 6 runs) through 5 innings. On the mound, Tim Hudson cruised through 7 innings of 1-run ball, and it was really encouraging to see him glide through a full game against the lefty-heavy Phillies. All in all, this game didn’t provide any tension, but the offensive burst was a pleasure to see.
Sunday, July 7th – Loss (7-3)
Sigh. This got away from the Braves in a hurry, but it wasn’t “over” until a 2-run wild pitch. Philly put 2 runs on the board in the first inning off of Kris Medlen, and when Ben Revere tripled in 2 more runs in the 4th, the Braves had a 4-run deficit that basically put them away. There were signs of life for Atlanta late in the game, after a 2-run 7th, but the damage was done before that ever took place. As for Medlen, he probably pitched better than his line (5.1 IP, 8 hits, 7 runs, 6 earned, 3 walks, 5 K’s) would indicate, but that’s not saying much, and he certainly wasn’t sharp at all. The 2-out hits/runs seem to plague Medlen more than other pitchers, and that also applied here. Offensively, Brian McCann continued his hot streak with a 3-for-4 day (boosting his slash line to .304/.386/.540 in the process), but the rest of the bats were virtually silent aside from a late Chris Johnson home run.
Losing 2 of 3 on the road isn’t the end of the world, but the Braves didn’t play well at all in both losses. Starting pitching let them down in both cases, and the team will need more, especially from Medlen, going forward. The Braves continue their road trip this week with a 3-game visit to Miami beginning on Monday night. Stay tuned.