Man in the Stands

Archive for the tag “Philadelphia Phillies”

Johnson, Braves continue streak

Atlanta third-baseman Chris Johnson picked up two hits against the Phillies to tie a Braves record in a 6-4 road win.

Johnson hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to put the Braves up 5-2 for his first hit of the night. The record-tying double came in the seventh inning off of Phillies reliever Jacob Diekman.

To be on any kind of record list in the Atlanta Braves organization is one thing. To tie Braves legend and Home Run King* Hank Aaron is another.

You read that right. With one swing of the bat in the seventh inning, 28-year-old Chris Johnson tied Hammerin’ Hank’s eight consecutive multi-hit game streak. Aaron completed the feat in 1959 and is the last Braves player to do so.

As for the game, the win brought the Braves up to eight-straight in their streak as well.

Brian McCann also hit a fifth inning home run, good for two RBIs. Joey Terdoslavich and Justin Upton added RBIs in the inning as well.

All six runs were earned and credited to Phillies right-hander Ethan Martin (0-1). Martin was called up on Thursday afternoon to his MLB debut in place of the injured Cliff Lee.

Martin was born in Athens, Ga, but attended Stephens County High School in Toccoa, Ga.

Martin’s official line in his debut: 4.1 inn, 8 hits, 6 earned, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts.

Kris Medlen improved to 8-10 with a lackluster start. He gave up six hits in his six innings of work. All four of the Phillies runs were earned and credited to Medlen. He did strikeout eight in his time on the mound.

Craig Kimbrel threw a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts for his 32nd save of the season.

Pitchers David Carpenter and Jordan Walden both threw perfect innings in the seventh and eighth, respectively. Carpenter struckout the side and Walden picked up two K’s in his inning of work as well.

*Still disputed among some sports talk circles, but, come on, we’re in Atlanta for crying out loud!

The winning streak:

The Braves’ winning streak could easily be attributed to the offensive firepower that has shown itself in the last eight games. During the streak, Atlanta has outscored its opponents 57-20 and outhit them 94-56.

If your team has scored more runs than your opponents have hits over the same span of time, you’re doing something right. Right now, the Braves are on a ball smashing streak and nobody wants to see it come to an end, except maybe the Phillies… and the Nationals… and the Mets… and the Marlins.

The streak has spanned across a three-game series against the Cardinals, who came into Atlanta riding a four-game winning streak, a four-game series against the Rockies and the opening of a three-game road series against the Phillies.

When the streak started, the Braves lead the Nationals and Philadelphia by eight games. The Mets were 10 games back and the Marlins were 18 games off-pace.

After beating Philadelphia Friday night, the Braves lead the Washington by 11.5 games, Philly and New York by 14.5, and Miami by an astounding 21 games.

Atlanta is also still the only team with a winning record in the National League East and one of only six in the entire NL. Washington is within 1.5 games of being at the .500 mark.

CJ 2.0:

Chipper Jones has the Twitter handle of @TheRealCJ10. Chris Johnson, who has taken over for Jones at third base, has quickly made a name for himself at the hot corner and has been deemed by some fans “CJ 2.0.”

In the last few months, Johnson’s batting average has continued to be as high as it was when he was splitting time with Juan Francisco in the lineup. Though, until just recently, it didn’t matter.

Johnson finally reached the number of at-bats to qualify for the batting title when the Cardinals came into Atlanta on July 26. After he crossed the threshold, his name popped up in the slot for the second-highest batting average in the National League behind one Yadier Molina.

Molina, the Cardinals catcher, was a firsthand witness as Johnson went 7-10 in the weekend series and took the number one spot on the list.

After going 9-19 in the four-game series with the Rockies and 2-4 Friday night against the Phillies, Johnson still sits atop the list with a .347 average.

It is throughout these eight games that Johnson has been able to tie a Braves franchise record eight straight multi-hit games.

With 52 games left, it’s hard to talk batting titles, but it’s oh so much fun!

Chris Johnson told, in a recent article,

“We got two months of baseball left. If I start worrying about getting more hits that him (Molina), it’s just going to go downhill.”

The last Brave to win a batting title: Chipper Jones, 2008. Jones won it over Albert Pujols of the Cardinals with a .364 average. Jones was also a runner-up for the title in 2007 with a .337 average.

The similarities between the two are fun to look at. Is it coincidence that Jones was the last Atlanta player to win the award? Maybe. Is it coincidence that it happened to be over a Cardinals player? Yes. Is it coincidence that they both carry the same initials and play the same position for the same team? Only you can answer that one.

One thing that’s for sure: Chris Johnson is well on his way to earning, and living up to, the nickname CJ 2.0. Tying Hank Aaron for any kind of record in a Braves uniform while chasing a batting title is one hell of a way to start.


Braves: The Final 53

With the calendar flipping to August and the Colorado series coming to an end with an awesome offensive showing, the Braves are just 10 games away from being in the final quarter of the regular season.

We’ve seen first year Braves kill it, old Braves come back, a nickname become a legend, brothers collide, brothers tie and walk-off, fans unite to #VoteFreddie, a veteran pitcher go down for the count, and a part-time player become an everyday player and take aim at a batting title.

The first 109 games have been, believe it or not, fun. The final 53 games are looking to be just as good.

Now with the last two months coming to a head, fans wonder: “What team will we see down the stretch?”

That is a legitimate question to ask as a Braves fan. Myself, I grew up with the Braves being champions. I was born in ‘91 and so was the 14 consecutive division champion streak. When I was old enough to actually follow the team, the players, their stats, like, say, at the age 15 in 2006, it was the start of something almost upsetting.

It wasn’t until 2010 that Atlanta reached the postseason again, only to get beat by San Francisco in four games.

In the final 53 games of the 2010 season, Atlanta went 29-24. The team was strong. Offensively, the Braves outscored their opponents 243-214. It wasn’t good enough to take the division, but it was good enough to win the Wild Card by one game over San Diego.

Then 2011 rolls around. The Braves are seven games behind Philadelphia in the NL East but up three games for the Wild Card over Arizona, seven games over St. Louis. Going into the last three games of the season, the WC race is down to Atlanta and the Cardinals.

With a one-game lead, the Braves headed into a three-game home series with the NL East leading Phillies and the Cardinals headed to Houston to face the Astros. Atlanta needed just two home wins to clinch the Wild Card and go to the postseason.

St. Louis took 2-of-3 from the Astros and the Braves were swept by the Phillies to lose the Wild Card spot by one game. The Cardinals went on to beat the Rangers in the World Series.

Last season, seemed like destiny. Chipper Jones’ 19-year career as a Brave was coming to an end and the Braves were making a push for the postseason once again.

With 53 games left, Atlanta was one-game ahead of the 2nd Wild Card team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and three games ahead of the Cardinals.

Down the stretch the Braves went into battle mode and came out with 31 wins and 22 losses. They had a run differential of +33 over their opponents in that time.

The MLB had a newly developed schedule that allowed for a second Wild Card team, which the Cardinals clinched over Pittsburgh. Because Atlanta had the better record, the two teams met at Turner Field.

The game now has been more infamous for a call rather than the result. The infield fly rule was questionably applied in the eighth inning, Braves fans showered the field with trash, and the rest of the game was played under protest by the home team.

The protest was later denied by the MLB front office and the Cardinals won the game 6-3 to advance to the NLDS. St. Louis beat the Nationals before losing to the, would be, World Series Champion Giants in the NLCS.

Here we are again, looking at what is forthcoming in the final 53 games of the 2013 season, and the picture is much different from the previous three years.

Atlanta is 12 games ahead of the Washington Nationals and is the only team above the .500 mark in the National League East.

Here are the final match-ups of the regular season and the results from the previous three seasons when playing the same teams in the last 53 games of the season:

  • Philadelphia (50-58): Braves have 13 games left in 2013 against the Phillies. The Phils have beaten up on Atlanta the last three seasons inside of the 53 game mark, winning 15-of-20 games and outscoring the Braves 105-66. This season the series is split with each team winning three games.
  • Washington (52-56): Nine games are left against the Nationals on the regular season docket. The two have split the 24 games played in the final stretch of the season from 2010-2012. The Braves are 7-3 in 2013 against D.C.’s team.
  • New York (48-58): The Mets and the Braves have played 25 games within the final 53 games in the last three seasons. Atlanta owns that series 18-7 with a +28 run differential. The clubs are even through the 14-game series this year.
  • St. Louis (63-44): Only seven games have been played between these two this late in any season since 2010. The Cardinals have taken five of those games. In 2013, St. Louis is on the schedule twice and the only series played so far belongs to Atlanta in a three-game sweep.
  • Miami (42-65): Atlanta is 6-3 against the Marlins this season and has control of the previous three season’s series’ as well with 17-of-24 wins.
  • Chicago (49-59): Only nine match-ups in the latter part of the season after 2010 have been played between the two. The Braves are one game up in that time and three games to none so far this year.
  • Cleveland (60-48): The last time the Braves played the Indians was in the 2007 season when Atlanta took two games of the three in Cleveland. The two teams have not yet met this season.
  • San Diego (50-59): Last year, the two teams met for seven games in the final 53 games of the Braves regular season. Atlanta won four of the games.
  • Milwaukee (46-62): Last season was also the only season of the past three that Atlanta met Milwaukee in the last stretch of the year. The Brewers outscored the Braves 17-3 and swept the series.

The Braves have an excellent chance of winning 35-to-40 of the last 53 games that they will play in the 2013 regular season.

They have 28 home games left and hold the best home record (38-15) in Major League Baseball. Six of those are against the Miami Marlins, which is 21 games back in the NL East, and seven are against Philadelphia. The Nationals, Indians, Mets, Padres and Brewers each have three games to play at Turner Field.

The shortest home-stand for the Braves will be the three game series with the Padres. No other time at the Ted is shorter than seven games, the length of their longest away trip.

Atlanta has to visit Philly and Washington for six games at each stop. The Braves will be in, both, St. Louis and Miami for four-game series’. Wrigley Field and Citi Field are also stops along the way.

Nothing about the left-over home schedule screams difficulty. The Indians are the only team that is coming into Atlanta with a record of .500 or better at this point. Maybe the hardest thing will be concentrating and staying focused with, what is currently, a double-digit lead in the division.

The toughest away stint will easily be the seven games between the four-game series with the Cardinals and the three-games against the Phillies. The Cardinals are the only team left to play on the road with a .500 or better record right now.

The Phillies match-up, looking at it right now, isn’t a tough one, but after battling with the Cardinals, it will be. Honestly, it might be the most important series to watch. It could tell us what kind of team we’re looking at for the postseason. Is it one who will fight series after series or one wear down after a tough series?

That’s the question that every team is asking, or will be soon, going into the last bit of the schedule. Only time will tell, and it starts with the final 53.

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.

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