I’m late getting the recap up, so I’ll be brief. As Snit might say, our team is really good. Friday’s 11-4 victory over the Cardinals was the 15th win in the last 17 games. And they are playing really well right now. Spencer Strider turned in another really good performance, going six innings, surrendering one run on six its, with seven K’s and one walk.
You know who else is really good? William Contreras, who led the offensive attack with four hits, including the biggest blow of the game, a bases clearing double in the sixth that broke open a tight 2-1 game. We constantly talk about how Strider, Harris (who had two doubles) and Grissom have all turned in totally unexpected performances for the season, but it may be that Billy C is as big a surprise as anyone. After all, he did not make the big league roster out of spring training, and he was supposed to spend the year at AAA refining his game. Turns out his game is really good. His OPS of .879 is second on the team to Riley (not counting Grissom).
Scoring a lot of runs is not unusual for the Braves. They are third in MLB in runs scored. But it was odd for this team to score 11 runs without a home run. Those 11 runs came on 16 hits, four doubles and 12 singles. The lineup is really good, top to bottom. Everyone had a hit but Riley–and he had three walks and improved his OBP.
This win was especially impressive because the Redbirds are really good; they had won 10 of their previous 12 coming in.
It turns out that the Mets are really good also–they are not the Mets of the last decade or two, the team that you could count on folding down the stretch. As a result, we’ve got a really good pennant race on our hands. The Mutts staged yet another comeback , ninth inning win on Friday, so the deficit remains two games.
Our bullpen is really good. When Strider completed his six innings, Snit did what Snit does; with a lead, he will use the best relievers. The plan was to use Minter, Iglesias, Jansen for the 7th, 8th, and 9th, who were all rested and ready. Iglesias pitched a scoreless 7th to preserve a 5-1 lead. Give Snit credit–he used Churches in the 7th against right handed hitters, saving Minter to face predominately lefties in the 8th. Minter also shut them down in the 8th. But by that time, the lead was 8-1. Some might question (indeed, some did!) using him in a blowout. But as someone said in an earlier discussion of this issue, Snit believes in pressing hard when you’ve got the other team down. If Minter had already gotten loose before the runs scored in the 8th, I can see going ahead and trotting him out there. When the Braves scored 3 more in the 9th to make it 11-1, we discovered that Snit’s “stomp them when they are down” plan has some limits. Apparently a ten run lead is sufficiently safe to entrust to your lesser bullpen lights. He didn’t summon Jansen for an Atlanta Save (see the glossary), instead turning to Pepper Sprout to finish this one. Turns out it was not a good night for Stephens; he surrendered four hits and three runs, before being struck in the forehead with a line drive (very scary sight). Matzek had to come in to get the last two outs to close out the win. It appears that Jackson was OK, but he was taken to the hospital to be checked out.
I’m not here to criticize our manager. In fact, I think he is really, really good. As is our team. It’s a great time to be a Braves fan, and we’ve got a terrific September ahead of us.
I’ve got to say it feels really good to beat the Cardinals. I have bitter memories of October 1982 and October 2019. I was there for the infield fly wild card game, and no, I’m not over it. Let’s stomp them while we’ve got them down. Morton goes on Saturday night.. Charlie has been really good lately; let’s make it 16 of 18.