This weekend's series against the Cardinals wasn't a playoff barometer. It wasn't a must-win series or anything of the like. However, it was further validation for those that still needed it that the Braves are a very good baseball team.
Atlanta took care of business on Sunday, getting a decent start from Kris Medlen and a strong offensive performance from Jason Heyward en route to a 5-2 win that clinched a series sweep over the best team in the National League.
Andrelton Simmons continued his stellar July at the plate by getting the scoring going in the second inning. With two outs, Chris Johnson lined a single to right field that Carlos Beltran made a mess of, allowing Johnson to come all the way around to third. Simmons followed with a single to center off Cardinals starter Shelby Miller that brought home Johnson and made it a 1-0 game.
Heyward celebrated his second straight night in the leadoff spot by launching a third inning home run to right center to up Atlanta's advantage to 2-0. Like Braves pitchers are prone to do, Medlen allowed the lead to slip away in the top of the fifth. Back-to-back doubles from Pete Kozma and Miller made it a 2-1 game with one out. Two batters later, Evan Gattis' shaky defense in left field struck again as Carlos Beltran's pop-up dropped down in front of him, plating Miller and tying things at two.
Miller left in the bottom of the sixth inning after allowing a two-out single to Johnson, and was replaced by Seth Maness. Maness allowed a single to Simmons and a RBI single from pinch hitter Joey Terdoslavich that made it a 3-2 game. Heyward added another RBI single, this time off of left-handed reliever Kevin Siegrist to increase the lead to 4-2.
Miller finished with a line of 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.
Atlanta added another run in the eighth inning, as Chris Johnson tallied his third hit of the night and scored on a infield single by Reed Johnson. Luis Avilan, Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel combined to throw three scoreless innings to close things out. Kimbrel recorded his 31st save of the season in the ninth.
In what was another chance for Medlen to prove he should keep his rotation spot, Medlen was hittable but got some help from the Braves' infield defense on some double-play balls. He only walked one batter though, which is encouraging. His final line read: 6 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. Medlen's changeup was a monster pitch tonight as he threw it 23 times, accumulating eight whiffs. He had nine in total, getting one on his curveball.
Win expectancy chart
<iframe src="http://www.fangraphs.com/graphframe.aspx?config=0&static=0&type=livewins&num=0&h=450&w=450&date=2013-07-28&team=Braves&dh=0" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" height="450" width = "450" style="border:1px solid black;"></iframe><br /><span style="font-size:9pt;">Source: <a href="http://www.fangraphs.com/livewins.aspx?date=2013-07-28&team=Braves&dh=0&season=2013">FanGraphs</a></span>
The Braves welcome the Colorado Rockies to Turner Field for a four-game set that starts tomorrow night at 7:10 PM ET.