The Atlanta Braves broke through in extra innings late Wednesday night to record their 1st win of 2017. It was how they did it that should really excite fans.
Any win is a good win. Any divisional win is a great win. Any win over the New York Mets is a fantastic win. The Atlanta Braves went to extra innings last night to best the Mets, and in doing so, bolstered fan optimism for the year.
There have been a couple of areas of concern for the Braves heading into 2017. In fact, there may be more than a couple. But the two most verbalized and expressed have been whether the Braves can hit with runners in scoring position, and whether the bullpen can hold up in an extended game.
Those two areas were addressed, albeit briefly, in last night’s win. Make no mistake about it, this Mets team is a good one. Jacob deGrom is one of the best and their lineup is dangerous in most spots. Atlanta was challenged.
For most of the night, Atlanta struggled to hit. When there were guys who got on base, and in scoring position, Braves batters failed to move them over or bring them home. At the end of regulation, it was a 1-1 tie, and Atlanta had stranded nine runners.
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But a magnificent night at the plate from Matt Kemp masked the ineffectiveness of the top of the order for much of the night. Kemp went 3 for 5 with 3 doubles and 2 RBI.
If he really is healthy and fit, the way spring training reports indicated, he could be a stalwart in that lineup. Meaning, his game winning RBI came after New York intentionally walked Freddie Freeman to get to him. He made them pay and won the game. That is a very good sign.
But the most surprising revelation was the play of the bullpen. Bartolo “Big Sexy” Colon gave six strong innings, and then turned the ball over. This is usually an issue. But not last night.
Ian Krol, Arodys Vizcaino, Jose Ramirez, Jim Johnson combined to pitch 6 scoreless innings and only gave up 2 walks and 3 hits in that time. In short, they pitched very well against a good lineup and gave Atlanta’s bats a chance to do something.
One shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from one game. But one conclusion that we can agree to is that Atlanta showed last night that they can get timely hitting and can get timely pitching. That is very positive.
The MLB season is a very long grind. The Braves showed last night, though, that they can put together a complete game. They didn’t play great, but they did play well enough to win an extended road divisional game.
Brandon Phillips flashed his glove, Kemp flashed his bat, and the pitching staff showed that they can go long innings. My Braves friends and family that is nothing to sneeze at. It is something to chop for. Chop away. They go for the series win tonight.