As this series shifted to Atlanta for two games, the starting pitchers treated fans to strong pitching performances. Alex Wood, starting for the home nine, went 6 innings, giving up 5 hits and 2 runs (1 earned) while recording 7 punchouts. His opponent, Joe Kelly looked like a different pitcher from what he has been, holding the Braves to one run on four hits through the first five innings. He was lifted in the sixth after he allowed a walk and a single, and one of his inherited runners came around to score and make his final line look a little less impressive.
The game was scoreless until the 4th inning, when Wood got two outs before walking Blake Swihart to load the bases. He then fell behind 3-0 to Joe Kelly, the opposing pitcher, battled back to make the count full, then gave up an infield single right to Jace Peterson for the first run of the game. Kelly was busting it down the line, but it was still a play Jace should have made.
The Braves did not wait long to even the score. In the bottom of the inning, Juan Uribe scored from second when Pedro Ciriaco blooped a hit into right field. Dustin Pedroia kicked it away from everyone and Ciriaco got credit for a double (following the initial scoring of a single and error).
The scored remained tied until Mike Napoli took Wood deep with one out in the 6th, but once again the Braves came right back in the bottom of the inning. Ciriaco picked up his third hit of the game (and fifth consecutive—raise your hand if you saw that coming) to score Nick Markakis.
In a different turn of events, the Braves continued to beat up on the opposing team’s bullpen while their own bullpen kept the opposing team scoreless. You don’t see that every day. In the 7th the Braves picked up their third and fourth runs to take the lead. Daniel Castro picked up his first big-league hit in the frame and an RBI single by Markakis and bases-loaded walk to A.J. Pierzynski made the score 4-2. In the 8th Jonny Gomes walked, went to second on sac bunt, and scored on a Cameron Maybin single to push the lead to 5-2.
The Braves singles offense put up 10 more hits tonight and continues to defy logic on how they are keeping this offensive pace up. The team did, however, get some help from the officiating crew. The Red Sox lost their replay challenge in the first, and therefore had no way to appeal two blown calls that later went against them. Some questionable balls and strikes calls were more than John Farrell could handle, and he was ejected in the bottom of the seventh. He ran out onto the field and got his money’s worth, animatedly getting into the crew chief’s face and staying there for awhile. In this age of instant replay, the scene was a blast from baseball’s storied past.
One major concerning development from this game was Freddie Freeman, who went 0-for-3 before being removed from the game in the 7th inning. The Braves have announced he left with a right wrist sprain and is day-to-day. It looks like his consecutive games-played streak is over.
Next Wednesday I will be on the road and I’m not certain that I will have an available Internet connection. To ensure there is no interruption to your regularly scheduled Braves Journal programming, would someone be willing to pinch hit for me and pick up the recap?