Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

While one-half of the season would truly be 81 games, Atlanta enters the break at 95 games. 54 times, the Braves were victors while 41 times saw the final out recorded with the Braves behind.  There have been eleven shutouts by teams facing the Braves and seven times, Atlanta shut out the opponents.  Eleven different times, the score was tied after nine innings, forcing the Braves into overtime where they won seven games.  Fourteen different times, the Atlanta Braves faced a member from the AL and they have won as many games as they lost.  In 28% of the games, or 27 of 95 games, the Braves were involved in what baseball-reference calls a blowout, a game were the difference was five-runs.  The Braves are 18-9 in those games.

They finished the half with winning records against 10 of the 17 teams they have faced with a losing record against just four of those teams.  They won ten straight once this season and eight straight another time.  Twice, they have lost four straight.  Since the sixth game of the year, the Braves have led the division by themselves for every single day.  Sometimes, that lead reached 7.5 games.

As the Braves enter the break, it is only appropriate to take a look back at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Games of the first half.  Because I love the good news last, let's start with the Ugly.

The Ugly Game
Also: April 24 at Colorado, June 18 vs. New York (Game Two)

July 12th, vs. Cincinnati

On the face of it, losing 4-2 to a good Reds squad is hardly that ugly, but the events of the game were quite strange.  On the mound, Kris Medlen failed miserably to locate and was charged with four runs in four innings.  It could have been worse if Alex Wood had not done the job he did by stranding two of the three baserunners he inherited.  The Braves began the game after losing Jason Heyward the previous day to a hamstring injury.  During the game, news broke that Jordan Schafer, who had been on the DL for an ankle issue, would miss even more time because he actually had a stress fracture.  And then, there was the game.  With two outs and the score 2-0 in a rough first inning, Medlen struggled to put away Todd Frazier.  On the 8th pitch of the at-bat, Frazier hit a ball that was slicing toward right-center and falling rapidly.  B.J. Upton charged toward the ball, banging his knee in the turf and his other knee on the ball that he failed to catch.  Frazier ended up on third on a "triple" and the Braves outfield shifted around with Reed Johnson moving from right-to-center and Justin Upton moving from left-to-right.  For the first time since getting called up, Joey Terdoslavich grabbed his glove for game action and got the call in left.  Down 4-0 in the seventh, B.J.'s younger brother opened the inning with a groundout and he was limping after the play.  A calf strain ended his day and the outfield that the Braves finished the game with was Terdo in left, Tyler Pastornicky in center, and Johnson in right.

The Bad Game
Also: May 7 at Cincinnati

April 26th, at Detroit

Atlanta entered Detroit on a long road trip that saw them drop four-of-seven already.  Anibal Sanchez faced Paul Maholm to open things and things got nutty real quick.  After two K's in the first, Sanchez struck out Freddie Freeman to open the second.  After Chris Johnson doubled, Evan Gattis K'd.  Juan Francisco would follow a B.J. Upton walk with a strikeout.  The Braves wouldn't get another baserunner to second until Gattis's two-out double in the seventh.  Meanwhile, Maholm gave up four hits, uncorked a wild pitch, and got a error from Justin Upton in a four-run third.  Things got worse in the fourth.  Three runs scored and a runner was on base when Maholm's day finally ended with two outs in the fourth.  Anthony Varvaro provided little help, walking a batter before Matt Tuiasosopo hit a soul-crushing three-run homer.  Not that Sanchez was giving the Braves much of a chance to come back.  Dan Uggla struck out four times in four trips to the plate.  Freeman did the same.  Francisco picked up a hat trick while seeing only 13 pitches in 3 plate appearances.  All in al, Sanchez K'd 17 in eight innings and the Braves fell 10-0.

The Good Game
Also: April 6 vs. Chicago Cubs, April 12 at Washington, July 8th at Miami

June 5th, at Pittsburgh

Some good options for this, but few compared to the day that Julio Teheran seemed to arrive. He retired the first eleven he faced until Andrew McCutchen walked.  He would walk another batter and even hit a pair of Pirates.  Meanwhile, Atlanta took an early lead when a Chris Johnson groundout scored Andrelton Simmons in the first.  In the sixth, Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird went back-to-back to make it 3-0.  The Braves manufactured a pair of runs in the seventh to lead it by five.  Almost forgotten, Teheran was throwing inning-after-inning with no Pirate reaching on a hit.  Unfortunately, that changed when Brandon Inge singled with two outs in the 8th.  Teheran was lifted before the ninth after a 107 tremendous pitches with eleven K's.  David Carpenter finished as the Braves won 5-0.

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