I wouldn’t have thought there was much reason for it, but if you were worried the Braves would overlook Washington in a series sandwiched between a couple against St. Louis and the Mets, you apparently didn’t have much room for worry. The Braves obliterated the visiting Nationals on Friday, then found ways to win Saturday and today, sweeping the Nats after a 4-3 win in 12 innings and moving to within just a game-and-a-half of the Mets after New York lost an extra-inning game to Miami this afternoon.
If you didn’t watch today, you may be asking yourself, “Twelve innings? Did MLB decide to get rid of the Manfred Man midseason?” I’m afraid not, dear reader. These two teams really did manage to combine for five straight scoreless half-innings with a runner starting in scoring position in each one of them. We’re the reigning World Series champions and one of the best teams in baseball, but let’s hope MLB higher-ups don’t confab in LA at the All-Star Game and decide to change the playoffs to a Manfred Man shootout.
In the bottom of the 12th though, Austin Riley finally sent everybody home when he ripped a game-winning single down the left-field line to start the frame (after Washington gave Matt Olson a free pass to first as the leadoff hitter) and scored Dansby Swanson as the Manfred Man. Riley was all over this game, in fact, tying the game 3-3 with a leadoff homer in the eighth off of Kyle Finnegan. He also gave Atlanta the initial lead when he drove Dansby home with an RBI single to center in the third. That, combined with an Eddie Rosario sac fly, gave the Braves the early 2-0 lead.
Though it was a small lead, Ian Anderson was pretty much cruising early. It was his best start in awhile, especially for the first five innings. Through five, he’d allowed no runs on two hits and two walks. He finished, however, with two runs and four walks in 5 1/3 innings after he walked a couple early in the sixth and Brian Snitker brought Dylan Lee in to try and get out of the inning. Pinch-hitter Lane Thomas launched a go-ahead, three-run homer to give the visitors a 3-2 lead.
However, Anderson has a lot of good to take out of this game, as does everybody who came out of the bullpen other than perhaps Lee. Tyler Matzek, Jesse Chavez and Collin McHugh were all exceptional pitching from the seventh through the 12th, allowing just one hit and one walk combined over those 5 2/3 innings.
So now, we come to a three-game set against the Mets. Take all three and we’ll have the division lead by this time Wednesday. Let’s do that!
Which Braves made the All-Star team? (Cover your eyes, Jonathan)
As this game was ending, the remainder of the All-Star teams started to be announced. We already knew that Ronald Acuna was starting the game as the highest overall vote-getter in the NL, but no other Braves had been voted in as All-Star starters, so that left us wondering who else might make it as pitchers or position reserves. Well, the answers are as follows:
Travis d’Arnaud and Swanson both made it as reserves and Max Fried made the list of starting pitchers. William Contreras made the list of reserves as well, but with voted DH starter Bryce Harper unable to play, Contreras will start the game as the NL designated hitter after finishing second in the voting for that position.
So we’ll have Acuna and Contreras starting and Dansby and d’Arnaud on the bench, with Fried in the starting pitcher mix. The starting pitchers of the game will be named when everybody gets to LA next Sunday night or Monday morning.
Riley goes down as a snub for now, but with all the players who wind up not playing in the game year after year, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he wound up getting a spot at some point this week. I would actually be a little surprised if he didn’t.
Oh, it appears we also bought Robinson Cano’s contract after this game
I just noticed this after I finished the rest of the recap. It’s being reported that the Braves purchased Robinson Cano’s minor league contract from San Diego (or “acquired him in exchange for cash considerations,” if you prefer the MLB approved wording). The thought among most seems to be that they’ll put him in Gwinnett to start, but if he shows anything at all, he’ll probably quickly be called up.
I’ll leave it to others to break down his numbers and whatnot, but my initial thoughts are that we might as well. Orlando Arcia hasn’t been great since Ozzie Albies went down, and Phil Gosselin can’t provide us with much more than he is right now. Also, we’re pretty thin from the left side at the plate
…very thin, really. Without Albies, it’s basically just Olson. It was pointed out to me in the comments that, like a moron, I forgot about Rosario and Michael Harris, both of whom are now left-handed presences in the lineup. We still could use some left-handed help, but it’s definitely not right to say that we’ve got basically nothing except Olson at this point.
So worst case, we’re basically status quo. Best case, he can maybe be a part of the solution at second base until Ozzie comes back.