Braves 11, D’Backs 5

You wouldn’t know it by looking at the final score, but this was actually a very close game until the bottom of the 8th inning. Only then did the Braves blow it open and, in the process, leave legions of fans breathing heavy sighs of relief. For those of us who have been watching closely these past few weeks, that inning was a long time coming.

Up until then the game had all of the hallmark qualities of a miserable Braves defeat: an opposing pitcher looking mediocre, at best; the Braves scoring a handful of runs, yet nevertheless stranding hoards of other potential runs on base; an Atlanta starter who coughed up the lead almost as soon as the lineup handed it to him; and a handful of managerial decisions that could have gone either way, only this time they went awry. I’ll spare you the details. You either watched the game and know what I’m talking about, or you didn’t watch yet still know what I’m talking about. When the wary Braves fan saw the Diamondbacks take the lead in the top of the 8th, all-too-familiar groans emanated from that fan’s mouth.

But then the bottom of the 8th inning happened, and all the frustrations about the offense these past few weeks found release. Coming into today, Atlanta had scored a mere 87 runs in 26 June games – only four other teams had scored fewer over the same time frame – but it wasn’t for lack of chances. The team’s .324 OBP in June actually puts them in the top-10 in the league. The trouble has been that with runners in scoring position, the hits just haven’t been coming. The Braves have been getting them on and over, but not in. And so we have wept.

Thank goodness, then, that in the bottom of the 8th inning, 7 Atlanta base runners crossed home plate without the benefit of a home run. In fact, the Braves batted around that inning – they actually sent 11 men to the plate, two of them twice – and 8 of the guys who came to bat reached base at some point in the frame. Only BJ Upton didn’t, and his out nevertheless plated a run (his second sac fly of the game). Altogether, it was a deeply satisfying half hour. This is how we expect them to hit. Nevermind that Tim Hudson didn’t have his best stuff; forget that the normally-reliable Jordan Walden served up a monster home run in a tie game. The Braves hitters bailed out their pitchers, and we haven’t seen much of that since April.

I wouldn’t be shocked to see more hitting in the future, either. Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson have been hitting well all season, but now Jason Heyward, Dan Uggla, and the older Upton are all looking pretty good at the plate. Justin Upton is also showing a few encouraging signs of life. Today we saw what they can do when they’re all clicking: 11 runs on 11 hits. Let’s hope they can do it again tomorrow, when in a matinee performance Atlanta will be going for the sweep.

156 thoughts on “Braves 11, D’Backs 5”

  1. The pitching has been good all year so it’s nice to see the offense bail them out in a game where the pitching wasn’t all that great.

    I really thought Uggla should’ve been wrung up on the 3-2 bases-loaded pitch, but I’ll certainly take it. The strike zone was all over the place yet again.

    The ball the Freeman hit might be one of the harder hit balls of the year. You don’t see too many low lines drives go over the center field wall.

    Chris Johnson had some decent ABs. I think he finally realized he was hitting 8th and that he was going to be pitched around with runners on.

    And what’s up with the DBags hitting our guys so much? I’d say we should fire back today but with Maholm going it won’t hurt them enough to bother.

  2. The world is turned upside down. Yankees are doomed, both LA spent $$$ and suck, Cards trail Pittsburg and Arizona leads NL West as only team over .500. Did I say that SF is in 4th place with worse record than NatsPros?

  3. Fun fact of the day:

    The Braves lead over the Nats is more than twice the lead of every other division leader’s over there second place team.

    AND, the Braves’ lead over the Nats is more than four of the other five division leader’s lead over the THIRD place team in their division. (In the AL West the Rangers are in third trailing by 9.)

  4. Not sure if it was mentioned here but Hefflinger moved up to AA, Elander to A+, and Kyle Wren to A.

  5. My Diamondbacks trivia question went over like a lead balloon, but for anyone interested, they won 100 games in 1998, only their second season in existence. I had forgotten they got that good that early. They haven’t won 100 games since.

  6. Uggla’s slash line since contacts: .292/.413/.458. Small sample size, but promising nonetheless, and accomplished without a home run.

  7. Simmons 6
    Heyward 9
    JUpton 7
    Freeman 3
    McCann 2
    Uggla 4
    BUpton 8
    CJohnson 5
    Maholm 1

  8. Heyward, Uggla, and BJ all turned the corner in June. We really need to address the leadoff spot and get Simmons back in the 8 hole. He expands his zone to much for the leadoff role. He’s better suited before the pitcher.

  9. I’m not sure Fredi would ever do it for an extended period of time but I’d love to see Heyward leading off. He is really seeing a ton of pitches lately and wouldn’t have to change his current approach at all to adjust.

  10. I doubt they’d ever ask Uggla to lead off. They should, but they won’t. Unfortunately, I also think the Braves value speed too much in the lead-off spot for Johnson to lead off.

    Schafer’s the ideal lead-off hitter on this team, but he doesn’t play short or third so he can’t get on the field.

    Does this really matter all that much though?

  11. I was also thinking that this is probably the perfect time for Gattis to be injured. A catcher on his rookie season could really use some rest in the dog days of summer, and this is probably the one time all season the Braves don’t need his bat in the lineup. This may help to keep his legs rested for late in the season.

  12. Flipping Johnson and Simmons would be ideal right now. Speed doesn’t matter when your leadoff has a .250 OBP from that spot. Flipping Heyward and Simmons could also work. Simmons best numbers are in the 2 spot of the order.

  13. If BJ, JH, Uggla and C Johnson are hitting this well McCann could lead off. Success will not see much playing time.

  14. Not only does our current leadoff guy not get on-base at all, but we don’t steal bases when our leadoff guy gets on anyway. Therefore, speed is completely irrelevant, and we should just have the best OBP guy in the spot. In order, that would be Schafer, Freeman, Johnson. Schafer leads off when he’s in the lineup and you want Freeman in the middle of the order to drive in runs, so that leaves Johnson when Schafer isn’t in the lineup.

  15. I’m not even convinced that Simmons is noticeably faster than Uggla if that is the consideration.

  16. Yeah, Simmons is a bad base runner. I’d put Heyward in the spot, personally, but really anyone other than Simmons would mark substantial improvement.

  17. For those of you out of the range of Fox Sports South, today’s game is apparently on TBS. Which means I don’t have a second game to turn to during commercials, but it’s good news for you.

  18. April 30: 4.5 game lead
    May 31: 5.5 game lead
    June 30: 6.5 game lead


  19. Smoltz is saying the Nats are going to blow past us, they’re too good to be that mediocre, blablabla.

    I am kinda worried about playing the marlins so much, they won’t be as bad as they were at the start of the year.

    edit: smoltz really pouring it on against the braves.

  20. Smoltz isn’t really saying anything I don’t hear on a daily basis, but yeah, come on dude.

  21. Someone should probably tell Smoltz that there are two teams involved in this, and that the Nats aren’t the ones with a 6.5-game head start.

  22. Can we actually watch baseball at some point today? This broadcast is a freaking variety hour.

  23. The best thing about that wedding proposal was the complete disinterest the guy who was holding the ring exhibited.

  24. Yeah, I’m not sure which I’d rather do at this point. Continue to watch this cluster or be able to watch TBS, where John Smoltz is apparently stabbing us in the back to improve his national TV cred.

  25. @45, The worst thing about it is that Joe and Chip are woeful interviewers. Conversations lapse and awkward silences settle into the booth. Meanwhile, a game is happening.

    @48, Agreed. Very sweet.

  26. I think the announcers are given their talking points. As a former Barve, Smoltz needs to do anything but talk them up.

  27. Justin tried to deprive Freddie of his heroics but didn’t. Good on everybody this inning.

  28. Nice! How important were Heyward’s hard slide and Upton’s hussle? Might have decided the game.

    EDIT: Man, the ball is jumping today.

  29. If I remember correctly, Smoltz was one of the many who picked the Nats to blitz the NL East BTW, so he’s probably just desperately trying to hang onto his preseason prediction just in case it comes true and makes him look like he actually knows what he’s talking about.

  30. yes john, the braves suck and there’s no need to fear their speed or power, since we’ll never get a hit in the playoffs.

  31. I like our chances with our pitching and a 6.5 game lead. Braves keep winning and it wont even matter.

  32. Out of curiosity, has this been a game-long monologue on his part that he won’t drop or did he just spend a couple minutes on it and they’ve moved on now?

  33. Wow, Cody Ross looked as safe there as Justin looked last inning. I guess Freddie got back to the bag in time. I’ll take it.

  34. Well, I’m sure this isn’t the best series they’ve played all year. I could see someone catching them with a great second half, though.

  35. What frightens me is that Fredi’s likely to listen to these guys saying the Braves need to create “havoc on the basepaths.” We’ve been trying all year, with disastrous results.

  36. What was Smoltz’ preseason prediction? Were the Nats going to win the East by more than 7 games? Because to win the division by a half game, the Nats have to be 7 games better than the Braves over the second half.

  37. 75 — Paul Goldschmidt and Gerardo Parra are really their only good hitters this season (Miguel Montero has been in the past but not this season.)

    Edit: Eric Chavez has been good, too, but he is liable to break any second.

    Patrick Corbin is the only starting pitcher who has been worth a damn for them.

  38. @80

    The problem is that nobody else in that division has been at all worthwhile. The team with the best chance of going on a big run is the Dodgers, and they’re in last place and are five games back, so it would have to be a really great second half for them. I suppose the Giants could cobble something together again, but I kind of hope this is the year they turn into a pumpkin.

  39. FWIW, if the season ended today the Braves would open at home against Arizona in the NLDS.

  40. The satellite Uggla hit with that ball should be falling onto the field any second now.

  41. I wish we could play like this on the road. This series has been really fun to watch.

  42. I will note that Cahill batted for himself, then proceeded to retire one more batter.

  43. Incidentally, sending Cahill back out for this inning was a brilliant choice on Kirk Gibson’s part.

    EDIT: Or what he said.

  44. The D-Backs have exhibited some hilariously bad defense in this series.

    Incidentally, I think Maholm should get his sac bunt for that. He clearly induced it.

  45. Bethany, have you considered sending your Halfliners to the Braves broadcasters? It might get you some air mention.

  46. By the way, Andrelton’s OPS is a juicy .608, which is just a few points higher than BJ.

    EDIT @102 I think it would be great to get them in the hands of broadcasters, but I have no idea how I’d go about doing it.

  47. Freeman and Simmons have to be one of the best combos to turn a 3-6-3 in baseball.

  48. I’m not much of a salesman!

    The only people who are “natural” salesmen are sociopaths. Sales and marketing is a skill you build by doing it over and over again, until you stop feeling like an idiot about it. It’s sort of like approaching people in bars. You feel stupid about it and self-conscious, but the absolute worst that can happen is they say no.

  49. More fun from Scout: “Paul Maholm has thrown 83 pitches but has plenty left in the tank, with his fastball sitting at 86 over the past 10 pitches.”

  50. Has anybody mentioned that Will is the brother of Melvin Nieves, central piece from the Braves in the trade for McGriff?

  51. On the heels of Hinske and Jeffy being DFAed, Jurrjens was DFAed today. Tough weekend for former Braves.

  52. Somewhere there’s a D’backs fan site going apeshit about not getting runs in there.

  53. I’m curious, how many people here are not from Atlanta/Georgia and became Braves’ fans because of TBS? I know that’s what hooked me.

  54. @124 – In a roundabout way, yes. Hooked my dad in the 80s. My dad got me hooked. Of course, they were still the nearest team to me geographically then.

  55. Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention? I’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. And I need all of you to stop what you’re doing and listen: the Pirates have the best record in baseball. That is all.

  56. Nope, it’s Carpenter. Not that I’m complaining (because God knows I think Gearrin sucks), but if Fredi is this done with Gearrin, we should probably send him to AAA and bring Rasmus back up or something.

  57. 124- Me too. In my case, I grew up in Arkansas, which was then Cardinals territory.

  58. Yeah if this isn’t a spot for the very last man in your bullpen, you need to swap out the last man in your bullpen.

  59. I was a Dodger fan until the Braves moved to Atlanta. My grandfather took me to the Georgia-Florida League Thomasville Dodgers in the late ’40s – early ’50s. The move to Atlanta switched my allegiance.

  60. Actually for me and some friends in Charlotte, before tbs there was wret. Ted (whose initials are RET) started airing ATL games there about 76. And it wasn’t cable back then. Just some fuzzy image on uhf. That was all the mlb there was on a daily basis. But that and ernies voice on the radio got me hooked.

  61. @124 same here grew up in Caribbean was either WGN-Cubs or TBS-Braves. Guess I made the right choice.

  62. Ernie certainly was the best. PVW was pretty good (good to see him have a prime roll Friday) and sometimes I think vin scully is good. Never cared for skip. Used to turn him off.

  63. I like what Carpenter is bringing to the team. He didn’t look good when I saw him in spring training. But he’s throwing strikes at 95 and looking good.

  64. Sweep for the good guys. Carpenter continues to look pretty competent for what would be the bottom of the bullpen order.

  65. I’m gonna start calling David Carpenter “Chad Durbin” just to tweak you guys. At some point you have to start having a little faith in the Braves ability to yank a guy off the scrap heap and turn him into a functional middle reliever.

  66. 150 — I have tremendous faith in the Braves on that point, I’m just pleasantly surprised every time they succeed. And surprised no one else (with the horrid bullpens around on some teams) really had use for Carpenter.

  67. I think Roger McDowell is a good pitching coach. And I think Wren and his minions have a good sense about who to bring into the bullpen. So far, that’s been a great combination.

  68. Yeah well, there’s a difference between Chad Durbin and David Carpenter, and its that Durbin was paid 3 times what Carpenter is.

    If you’re really so good at turning junk in to fungible relievers, that’s all the more reason to avoid $1.5m reclamation projects.

  69. Heyward hit to the tune of .312/.370/.495 in June. If he could continue along those lines that would be pretty magnificent.

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