September 27, 2012 at 1:54 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game MVP: Paul Maholm, 70 game score
Least Valuable Brave: Freddie Freeman, -.046
Most Valuable Marlin: Gil Velazquez, .033
Least Valuable Marlin: Bryan Petersen, -.121
1st – (ATL) Martin Prado solo homer for a 1-0 Braves lead, .117
Paul Maholm didn’t need Miami’s ballpark to have a strong outing against the Marlins. In fact, he did even better at home, throwing 6.2 shutout innings with no walks and six strikeouts. Maholm had 11 ground balls to just five fly balls and three line drives in this game. He was very efficient, throwing 72 strikes out of 104 pitches.
According to the AP, Craig Kimbrel became the first Brave to strike out four batters in one inning since Mark Wohlers in 1995.
The Braves reached 90 wins for the second time since the division title streak ended in 2006.
The Nationals beat the Phillies 8-4, meaning Washington remains on top in the NL East by four games with seven to play.
September 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game 2 vs. Marlins
While the Braves clinched a playoff spot Tuesday with a dramatic walk-off home run by Freddie Freeman, by no means are they cruising the rest of the way. They are close to solidifying the home spot in the wild card while sitting four games out in the NL East with eight games to play. While it’s a large number to overcome, we know well that anything is possible over a week’s worth of games.
And so it continues with Josh Johnson on the mound for the Marlins against Paul Maholm. While the Braves didn’t light Johnson up the last time the two faced, they were able to avoid a high strikeout total while scoring three runs in six innings. As was mentioned at the time, the Braves did well to avoid whiffs on the slider and pinpointed other pitches, and expect more of the same tonight.
Maholm took advantage of the spacious Miami park last time out, allowing two runs in 6.2 innings with just one walk and five strikeouts. For a fly ball pitcher like Maholm, outings against a weak offense in a park that big sum up to excellent nights. While Turner Field isn’t Miami, it’s still neutral, and the Marlins offense remains weak.
Braves.com recap for Tuesday’s win.
AJC quotes following Tuesday’s win. Freddie Freeman: “This is the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Chipper Jones: “There was never any doubt. We knew that last year was somewhat of a fluke. We kind of got caught not really knowing what to expect. A lot of these guys they took the attitude of trying to hang on, this year we took the bull by the horns and we were like we were shooting for the stars. We’re still shooting for the division until they close us out. and we’ll let the wild card be a byproduct of finishing second and coming up short. But we’ve still got life.”
Mark Bowman gives 10 reasons why the Braves are in the postseason.
Michael Bourn is expected to return to the lineup today. Bourn has missed the last two games with a jammed left thumb. Also in notes, Fredi Gonzalez and Jeffrey Loria go at it, Paul Janish is expected to undergo surgery in the offseason for his dislocated shoulder, and minor league pitcher Greg Ross is the player to be named later in the Jeff Baker deal. Janish is still hopeful for the NLDS if the Braves reach the series.
The AJC has a slideshow of photos from the celebration last night.
ESPN Stats & Info has some good notes on the game last night. Included: “Freeman is the seventh player in major league history to hit a walk-off home run to clinch a team’s postseason berth.
He is just the second, however, to hit the game-winning homer with his team trailing in the game. The other was Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” for the 1951 New York Giants.”
Matt Klaassen of FanGraphs lists the most valuable games of Jack Wilson’s career as a tribute to his retirement.
September 25, 2012 at 10:03 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game MVP: Donovan Solano, .548
Least Valuable Marlin: Mike Dunn, -.832
Most Valuable Brave: Freddie Freeman, .484
Least Valuable Brave: Andrelton Simmons, -.176
2nd – (MIA) Donovan Solano solo homer for a 1-0 Marlins lead, .123
2nd – (ATL) Dan Uggla RBI single for a 1-1 tie, .114
6th – (ATL) Jason Heyward triple with one out, .127
7th – (MIA) Solano two-run homer for a 3-2 Marlins lead, .453
9th – (ATL) Chipper Jones leadoff double, .243
9th – (ATL) Chipper advanced on a wild pitch, .147
9th – (ATL) Freddie Freeman two-run homer for a 4-3 win, .441
WPA might be in favor of the Marlins in this game, but the result is all that matters, and the result is a walk-off, two-run homer by Freddie Freeman to clinch a playoff spot for the Braves.
The Freeman home run, worth .441 WPA, is the second most valuable play of his career so far, but it’s sure to be the most memorable.
Kris Medlen was again outstanding, allowing three runs on the two Donovan Solano home runs, giving up five hits over seven innings. He didn’t walk any and struck out eight. The Freeman home run pushed the Braves’ winning streak in Medlen starts to 22.
Just another night to remember among a season of great memories.
September 25, 2012 at 1:21 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game 1 vs. Marlins
The Braves begin their final homestand of the regular season, and they’re doing so in the best way possible: a Kris Medlen start.
Medlen pitched eight shutout innings on four hits with one walk and six strikeouts in his last start, an outing in Miami. Medlen’s first start this season was against the Marlins, giving up one run in five innings on July 31.
Nathan Eovaldi’s most recent outing was also against the Braves, throwing eight shutout innings with five strikeouts. As some noted during and after that game, Eovaldi is no scab that some made him out to be in their frustrations. He’s a top 100 prospect who has flashed strong strikeout stuff in the minor leagues and is only 22 years old. He may have had his struggles this year, but what he did against the Braves last time out won’t be a rare occurrence down the road.
The Braves can clinch a playoff berth with a win today or losses by both the Brewers and Dodgers.
Mark Bowman writes on the comparisons between Medlen and Greg Maddux. While both have pinpoint control with similar arsenals, Maddux’s two-seamer and the horizontal movement it received was in a league of its own. The movement on Medlen’s pitches isn’t Maddux-like, and that’s not taking anything away from Medlen at all.
Bowman’s notes include blurbs on Mike Minor’s turnaround in the second half and Freddie Freeman’s struggles at the plate. Also, Michael Bourn is hoping to return today after allowing his thumb to rest an extra day on Monday.
Buster Olney lists one player for each playoff contender that’s important to their chances (ESPN Insider). For the Braves, he lists Bourn.
Baseball America released its Gulf Coast League Top 20 List with two Braves making the grade. Jose Peraza sits at No. 10 and Luis Merejo is No. 13. Follow the link for full scouting reports if you’re a BA member, but the list itself is free. In case you missed it yesterday, Baseball Prospectus had positive things to say about Merejo, calling him “a truly exciting prospect” (sub. required).
September 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game MVP: Tim Hudson, 75 game score
Least Valuable Brave: Jeff Baker, -.102
Most Valuable Phillie: Cliff Lee, 69 game score
Least Valuable Phillie: Juan Pierre, -.149
2nd – (ATL) David Ross solo homer for a 1-0 Braves lead, .121
Two good pitching matchups with the difference being a sac fly RBI off the bat of Dan Uggla in the third inning. Cliff Lee allowed just one earned run, but the go-ahead run became unearned due to his own error. It’s the story of Lee’s season, allowing a home run, recording a lot of strikeouts (11) and managing to lose with no offense.
Tim Hudson didn’t get much more support, but he held the Phillies to the one run thanks to nine ground balls. He threw 59 strikes out of 85 pitches, so his control was on, but his in-zone command remained just a touch off, resulting in a few line drives. He benefited from a .100 BABIP.
The Braves’ magic number is down to two with an off day Monday before their final homestand of the regular season.
September 23, 2012 at 11:59 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Braves lineup: Reed Johnson (CF), Martin Prado (3B), Jason Heyward (RF), Freddie Freeman (1B), Dan Uggla (2B), Jeff Baker (LF), David Ross (C), Andrelton Simmons (SS), Tim Hudson (P).
Phillies lineup: Jimmy Rollins (SS), Juan Pierre (LF), Chase Utley (2B), Ryan Howard (1B), Carlos Ruiz (C), Domonic Brown (RF), John Mayberry (CF), Kevin Frandsen (3B), Cliff Lee (P).
Game 3 vs. Phillies
The Braves won with authority Saturday as Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward combined for six runs driven in against Roy Halladay in one inning alone, and Halladay was knocked out in the second shortest start of his career, evening up the series.
The rubber match features Cliff Lee and Tim Hudson. While the Braves might be getting to Halladay this season, they still have plenty of troubles against Lee. He is approaching 200 innings for the fourth straight full season, recording a 3.27 ERA and 3.12 FIP. His emergence as a high-profile strikeout pitcher in 2010 has continued this year, sporting a 24.1% strikeout rate while maintaining a 3.7% walk rate.
Everything about Lee has remained in line with his four-season trends except home runs allowed, which has been upped to 1.04 HR/9 this year. He owns a career 8.5% HR/FB rate, but it’s at 11.5% this season. The trends say it’s a mini-fluke, and with Lee’s pitch usage staying the same, I would tend to agree. Best bet is his home run total will return closer to his career mark sooner than later.
Hudson has been a bit up and down lately, which could be the result of September fatigue effecting his sinker command. He gave up four runs in five innings last time out, including no walks and no strikeouts, against the Marlins.
Hudson gave up just four home runs through his first 15 starts but has seven allowed in his last 11 outings. As I said, best bet is tiredness with age slowly creeping up in these fatigue months, but Hudson has still had his solid starts over the past couple months.
Braves.com recap for Saturday’s win.
AJC quotes following Saturday’s win. Fredi Gonzalez on Roy Halladay: “He’s not the same Halladay I’ve seen. I don’t know if it’s that scapula or shoulder blade, but he didn’t look the same the last couple of times we’ve faced him. Nevertheless, he’s probably gotten us more than we’ve gotten him.”
In case you missed it yesterday, the Braves aligned their rotation so Kris Medlen can start the wild card game. Medlen will start Tuesday at home against the Marlins, Paul Maholm will be switched to Wednesday and Tommy Hanson should start Thursday.
The Braves felt Andrelton Simmons needed one more day on Saturday, and he is in the lineup today.
Hanson will remain in the rotation. Meanwhile, if Fredi decides to give Hudson extra rest, he could start one of Ben Sheets, Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado down the stretch. One would think Sheets might get that call if it happens, considering Teheran and Delgado haven’t pitched in a game in weeks.
Ken Rosenthal reports the Braves tried to acquire Greg Dobbs from the Marlins at the trade deadline.
Around the NL East
Because of milestones and whatnot, Gio Gonzalez became the first 20-game winner in the majors this season. More importantly, his 200 strikeouts is the highest total for a Washington pitcher since Walter Johnson in 1916.
Bob Brookover’s interpretation of the Phillies’ 2013 plans: “Listen to manager Charlie Manuel, and you can envision a team with Chase Utley at third base, Freddy Galvis at second base, a big-ticket free agent playing center field, and at least one quality free-agent addition to the bullpen.”
Mets reliever Frank Francisco is battling elbow tendinitis.
September 23, 2012 at 1:15 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game MVP: Freddie Freeman, .265
Least Valuable Brave: Jose Constanza, -.019
Most Valuable Phillie: Domonic Brown, .005
Least Valuable Phillie: Roy Halladay, 17 game score
1st – (ATL) Freddie Freeman three-run homer for a 3-0 Braves lead, .275
2nd – (ATL) Jason Heyward three-run double for a 6-0 Braves lead, .125
The Braves bombarded Roy Halladay for seven runs in just 1.2 innings, the second shortest start of his career. His 17 game score ties for his lowest this season with… a start against the Braves on May 2 in which he gave up eight runs in 5.1 innings.
Halladay’s two 17 game scores against the Braves this season ties for third lowest of his career and lowest since 2007.
Mike Minor benefited from a huge lead early by throwing strikes, hitting the zone 59 times out of 91 pitches and walking one. He also benefited from a .077 BABIP on an equal amount of ground balls and fly balls with two line drives.
Minor also struck out six, recording 17 total whiffs over his six innings. His curveball was especially good, receiving nine whiffs, while his changeup and slider had three each.
The top five hitters in the Braves lineup combined for all nine hits and drove in all eight runs. The only player outside the top five that took part in a run was Brian McCann, who scored on Jason Heyward’s double in the second.