Nine wins in a row. Ho-hum.
The Braves took care of business on Saturday, though they didn’t run away with it theÂ way they did against the Rockies. No matter: it’s always nice beating the Phillies. It’sÂ especially nice when such a beating results in a 9-game winning streak.
Philadelphia jumped all over Brandon Beachy early, scoring an unearned run in the 1stÂ after an Evan Gattis throwing error and 2 more in the 2nd on a John Mayberry homeÂ run. But then Beachy settled down. He abandoned his slider, the pitch MayberryÂ destroyed, and leaned more on his curveball and changeup. The results were – and are -Â encouraging: only 2 baserunners (both on walks) over the next 4 innings. Beachy gotÂ into some trouble in the 7th, but we’ll get to that.
Before we do, I should mention that the Braves scored some runs too. Justin Upton tookÂ John Lannan deep in the 3rd inning – he has been destroying lefties all year, and LannanÂ is one of those – cutting the lead to 3-1. Atlanta then took the lead in the 5th inning. ThatÂ frame witnessed Freddie Freeman drive in 2 with a base-loaded single and Evan GattisÂ drive in another on an “excuse me” check swing groundout to 2nd. These shenanigansÂ gave the Braves a 4-3 lead and, to boot, chased Lannan.
But then, hibernation mode. Yeah, there’s a 9-game winning streak going on, so it’sÂ hard to split hairs here… but come on now, fellas: the Phillies bullpen is horrendous.Â Like, -0.6 fWAR horrendous (2nd-worst in the league, behind only Houston). ButÂ crap bullpen or not, the Braves’ bats fell silent. Zach Miner, who hadn’t thrown aÂ major league pitch since 2009, threw 2.2 shutout innings. Luis Garcia, Antonio Bastardo,Â Jonathan Papelbon: all of them also threw scoreless frames.
And that was a problem only because the Phillies managed to tie the game in the 7th inning. FrediÂ let Beachy start the inning, presumably with the desire of stretching him out to 100Â pitches. Beachy, however, gave up a single to Mayberry; Carlos Ruiz promptly sacrificedÂ the latter to 2nd; and Fredi went to the pen anyway. Luis Ayala, who is decent at gettingÂ righties out, got right-handedÂ Kevin Frandsen to groundout, but then he surrendered the game-tying hitÂ to left-handed hitting Jimmy Rollins.
Still, the Braves won the game anyway. I’d be lying if I denied that fortune was
n’t onÂ their side. Twice Philadelphia batters took a Braves pitcher to the back of the warningÂ track, yet sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Those two well-hit balls turned into noisy outs.Â Atlanta meanwhile scored on three walks and an errant throw to 1st in the 12th inning -Â a potential inning-ending GIDP that Paul Janish helped break up at 2nd and Dan UgglaÂ hustled down the line to beat. JUpton scored, Craig Kimbrel shut ’em down in the bottom ofÂ the 12th, and the Braves were finally winners.
The Nats also won, but that hardly matters. The division lead is still 11.5 games. TheÂ Braves have also taken the series from the Phillies, which is a good thing because CliffÂ Lee awaits tomorrow night. Whatever happens in that game, now, Atlanta will take a double-digit lead into Washington. I’d say this is getting boring, but winning never bores me:Â let’s keep doing it.