The Braves finished their homestand with a two-game sweep at the hands of the lowly Kansas City Royals. With the two losses, the Braves NL East lead has dwindled to four games. The Braves won’t have much time to dwell on the losses with the Phillies and Nationals coming up next.
This series was marred with lackluster offense, good starting pitching, and not so good pitching from the bullpen. Despite their wretched record of 39-64, the Royals came in hot, winning 7 of their last 10 games coming into Atlanta. Their momentum stopped the Braves dead, getting the sweep of the quick two-game set.
Starting pitching was not too blame for the two-game sweep. Dallas Keuchel and Julio Teheran both pitched good enough games to get the Braves a win, but the team would go on to lose both games. Keuchel showed flashes of his AL Cy Young days, striking out 12 Royals in his six innings. Teheran’s six innings, giving up no earned runs and striking out six, was just as impressive. Unfortunately, the Braves wasted the two stellar performances.
Surprisingly, the offense, the unit of the Braves that has been thriving since May, was the part of the team that faltered in their series with the Royals. Scoring four runs in two games is what this offense or pitching staff is used to dealing with. Whether it was the Royals pitching or the bats coming back down to reality, the offensive output of the series was troubling. They won’t be down long, however, this offense has been too good for too long to stay cold.
The Braves won’t have much time to linger on their losses, with a six-game road trip that will take them to Philadelphia and Washington. While the Braves have been on the skids, the Nationals have been hot in Denver, beating the Rockies twice in their doubleheader yesterday, trimming their NL East deficit to four games.
We all knew as Braves fans that this team wouldn’t stay hot forever, especially the offensive side of the team. But it’s still troubling to see the Braves struggle so much against a team that is so far beyond contended for anything this season. Maybe it was just a letdown of a series after the highs of the four-game set with the Nationals. Maybe it was the Braves looking ahead at their imminent road trip. Whatever it was, the Braves have to refocus going into Philadelphia. They don’t want their NL East even smaller going to see the Nationals next.