Man in the Stands

Archive for the tag “National League”

Braves sweep Colorado with relentless offense

Atlanta (64-45) finished off the four-game series with the Colorado Rockies (51-59) with an 11-2 victory on Thursday night.

The fourth installment was nothing short of what the rest of the series proved: There is still life in the bats of the Braves!

Justin Upton appears to be coming back to life after his drought since April. He clubbed 12 home runs in the opening month of the 2013 season. Since the end of April, Upton had hit four HRs until Thursday. Thursday, he added two more. He brought in five runs with those two swings of the bat, his only hits of the night.

Jason Heyward scored three runs and hit a home run in the game. Freddie Freeman added to the contest with two hits of his own and scored two runs.

Chris Johnson drove in two on three hits. Thursday was his seventh straight multi-hit game, bumping his average up to .346, which continues to be the National League best. Johnson trails only Miguel Cabrera, who continues to be out of the Tigers lineup with an abdomen injury, for the MLB best average by just .013.

Only two Braves starters came up without a hit in the game. Leftfielder Evan Gattis was 0-4 and only saw five (5!) pitches in the match-up. Dan Uggla also came up empty with a walk and a strikeout.

Pitcher Julio Teheran (8-5) picked up the win for Atlanta on a solid 5-inning start. Teheran gave up one earned run on five hits. He walked two and struck out 11.

Teheran also got into the party at the plate. He hit an RBI double in the second inning. Teheran also singled in the fourth and scored on the Jason Heyward home run.

Scott Downs, David Carpenter, Luis Avilan, and Anthony Varvaro all saw work from the sixth inning on.

As well as Johnson getting his seventh straight multi-hit game, the Braves picked up their seventh straight win.

The Rockies series showed what Braves fans hope is the aggressive offense that lasts through October! Atlanta outscored Colorado 40-13 over the four games and outhit them 55-36.

Since the seven-game streak has started (or most notably since Waffle House opened up at the Ted), the Braves have outscored their opponent 51-16.

Atlanta carries the momentum of the back-to-back sweeps into a weekend series with the Philadelphia Phillies, which begins on Friday at Citizens Bank Park Stadium.

With Cliff Lee out, Philadelphia announced on Thursday afternoon that they will be calling up right-hander Ethan Martin and making a corresponding roster change before the game on Friday. Martin is a product of Stephens County High School in Toccoa, Ga.

He will be making his MLB debut against Kris Medlen (7-10), and his hometown Braves, at 7:05 ET.

Braves beat Rockies in offensive explosion

The Atlanta Braves exploded for six runs in the fourth inning on their way to an 11-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

After being down 3-1 in the second inning, it looked to be a long night for Alex Wood (1-2), who picked up his first win as a big leaguer.

The Braves (62-45) got one back off an RBI double from Justin Upton in the third to make it a one-run game before blowing it open the next inning.

Dan Uggla opened the bottom of the frame with a double to left field. Two batters later saw Wood ground out to second base, moving Uggla to third. Jason Heyward hit a 2-out single to score Uggla before Upton bounced a ground rule double over the right-field fence.

Freddie Freeman was next up and was intentionally walked to bring Evan Gattis, or EL OSO BLANCO, to the plate. Gattis scored Heyward and Upton with a single and moved Freeman to third and himself to second on the throw.

With runners on second and third, catcher Brian McCann stepped into the box to deliver a three-run home run to right field. McCann finished with just the one hit and the three RBIs.

All six of the runs scored in the inning came with two outs on the board. Even more surprising is that the team was able to manufacture runs in the game. Granted, it was only four of the 11, but, still, that is something that fans, and media alike, have criticized the Braves for.

Atlanta has relied heavily on the long ball this season.  As a matter of fact, the Braves are 52-17 when they have hit at least one homer in the game. When they haven’t hit a bomb, only 10-28. They lead the National League in home runs with 126, followed by Colorado’s 120.

Another surprise for the Braves’ offense on Tuesday was it’s latest Gwinnett call-up, Todd Cunningham. Cunningham was summoned from the Braves Triple-A affiliate after Reed Johnson was placed on the 15-day DL with left Achilles tendinitis.

In his first Major League at-bat, Cunningham faced three pitches and sent the last to left field for a single.

Alex Wood, after a rocky start (no pun intended), threw a rookie-style gem for the home squad. He settled down after giving up three earned runs in 39 pitches over the first two innings of the ballgame. He threw only 60 pitches the next five innings to finish up at 7.0 innings, 6 hits, walk, and 7 strikeouts.

Anthony Varvaro came in for the final two innings, only giving up one hit and capping the game.

Freeman ended his night with four RBIs after hitting a solo shot in the first and a three-run blast in the seventh.

On the offensive front though, the story, for me, has to be Chris Johnson. Johnson was 7-10 against the Cardinals, scoring four runs in the series (three in one game!), and taking over Yadier Molina for the highest batting average in the National League.

Tuesday night, Johnson went 2-4 with a walk raising his average to .341, keeping his #1 spot in the NL and bringing him to 2nd in the Majors behind 2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera (.359). His on-base percentage is up to .381 and he’s slugging .470. Tuesday was also his fifth straight multi-hit game and 34th of the season.

Another story that could be given a lot of attention from the baseball media is how well Jason Heyward has done from the leadoff spot and how well Andrelton Simmons has done since being moved out of it.

Heyward has gone 7-17, scored five runs, driven in four, and walked twice in the four games since making the move.

Simmons has been just as good. He has hit 8-17, scored a run, driven in five, and has not struck out. Simmons has only been struck out twice in the month of July (once VS Philadelphia and once VS Cincinnati) and neither have come after the All-Star break.

Since ending the Cardinals’ four-game winning streak, the Braves have started a five-game streak of their own.

(Special note: The Cardinals have since lost three games to the Pirates, who now lead the NL Central. St. Louis’ new streak is L6.)

Atlanta goes for its sixth-straight victory Wednesday in the third of a four-game series with the Rockies (51-57). Mike Minor (10-5) will battle right-hander Tyler Chatwood (7-3) starting with first pitch at 7:10 p.m. from Turner Field.

Unbelievable year comes to a close

The 2012 Major League Baseball regular season has come to an end and 10 teams, and their fans, look forward to the postseason.

This season saw the first MLB Triple Crown winner in 45 years, an Orioles team come from worst to battling for first in game 162, the Nationals win the division for the first time, and Oakland sweep the Rangers to take the AL West in the last series of the season.

Miguel Cabrera is the king of baseball! The Triple Crown winner drove in more runs (139), went yard  more times (44), and hit for a better average (.330) than anyone in the American League on the way to the AL Central title.

1967 was the last season the award was won and Carl Yastrzemski was the last man to do it. The Red Sox outfielder finished that season with 121 RBIs, 44 home runs, and a .326 batting average.

Baltimore (93-69) skipper Buck Showalter turned the O’s around in just his second year with the club. Last season, the team finished in last place in the AL East with a 69-93 record and 28 games out of first.

Showalter’s squad fought to the last game as they faced the Rays in Tampa. They were in a race with the New York Yankees for the division title but a 4-1 loss and a 14-2 Yankee win made the finish line disappear. The team will be one of the AL’s Wild Card teams for the 2012 postseason, the Orioles’ first postseason since they clinched the division 15 years ago. Baltimore will face the Rangers at 8:30 on Friday, Oct. 6 on TBS.

The Washington Nationals put on a show this season and finished with a 98-64 record, its best since posting an 81-81 (.500) record in 2005. That season was the team’s first season in D.C. Before this season, the city’s last first place baseball team goes all the way back to 1933 with the Washington Senators.

The Oakland Athletics went into the last series of the year down two games to their on-field opponents, the Texas Rangers. With a 4-3 win in game one and a 3-1 victory in game two, the A’s looked to be pulling off the improbable division takeover. A third matchup would prove the improbable to be reality. The Athletics not only beat the Rangers in that game, they thrashed them by 7 runs to become AL West Champions.

The American League was home to most of this drama, leaving the National League to fall into the place it seemed that it would for the past month or so. The Braves gave chase to Washington for first place, sitting three games out with three to play, but lost their steam with a loss to the Pirates in game one of the last series of the year for the two teams.

The Dodgers tried to catch the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot but were unsuccessful.

AL East Champion New York awaits the winner of the Orioles vs. Rangers Wild Card matchup to start its postseason run on Sunday, Oct. 7.

The AL West Champion will face the AL Central Champion on Saturday night at 6:00 p.m.

The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals will face off in a Wild Card game on Friday, Oct. 5 at 5:00 p.m.

The winner of the Wild Card game will face the Nationals on Oct. 7 in the National League Division Series.

The Cincinnati Reds, NL Central champions, will meet the NL West champion San Francisco Giants Oct. 9 at 9:30 p.m.

All games will be held on TBS.

Welcome to the 2012 MLB Postseason, everyone!

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