The Braves played the Phillies in a four game set this weekend and it was once again a Sharknado flavored bloodbath. This time though it was the Braves dropping a hammerhead shark on a flailing and bloody Phillies team.
In the first game of the series Dan Uggla actually started a baseball game and it didn’t matter because Julio Teheran is the big joker that trumps all. Teheran allowed two runs in seven innings with nine strikeouts and no walks as the Braves cruised to a 4-2 victory over the Phillies. The Braves were up 3-0 after ten pitches when Freddie Freeman took longtime Braves nemesis Kyle Kendrick deep for a three run homer. Freeman added an rbi double in the second inning and that is all the support Teheran would need as he continued his all-star bid. The only bad news was that Evan Gattis strained a muscle swinging at a pitch and would subsequently miss the rest of the series. Gattis hasn’t been put on the disabled list so he will hopefully be able to return soon.
On Saturday the Braves and Phillies played a doubleheader with the Braves taking both games. The early game saw the Braves matchup with one of those guys that only seems to pitch well against the Braves, Roberto Hernandez. The Braves actually managed to get to Hernandez this time putting four runs on him in seven innings. The game was blown wide open in the eighth inning when the Braves mashed reliever Antonio Batardo for five more runs to make this one a laugher. Ervin Santana got the start and was shaky early allowing two runs in the first inning. After his early struggles, Santana managed to settle down and the Braves won the first game in the doubleheader with relative ease.
For game two the Braves led Jordan Schafer off, gave Heyward a rest for Ryan Doumit to get a chance to play, and gave highly regarded prospect Christian Bethancourt his first career start. Despite all of these handicaps the Braves still managed to win the game 5-1. Bethancourt’s first start was the big story as he has been the long talked of catcher of the future for Atlanta and so it was exciting to see what he could do. Bethancourt isn’t really ready to start every day in the big leagues and his shortcomings were obvious as he struggled to hit the ball with any authority, though he did get his first hit on an infield single. Scouts are primarily high on Bethancourt for his elite tools at the most important defensive position on the field and not for his offense. Defensively though, Bethancourt is still in the process of turning elite tools into elite skills but it was great to give him some experience. Hopefully, Gattis will be back soon because Bethancourt isn’t ready to contribute the kind of value Gattis has added so far this year but I am excited to get a couple of chances to see Bethancourt in the next few days.
On Sunday the Braves sent Aaron Harang to the hill to complete the sweep. Once again Harang struggled with his control, put very hittable pitches across the plate, was constantly in trouble, and still somehow won. This has been the Aaron Harang experience for a while now and even though the win was great my heart doesn’t need that kind of stress. The Braves won the game 3-2 with the first two runs being scored after Harang extended an inning with a single and BJ Upton hit a two run triple. I know. It’s funny to me too. Tommy La Stella and Gerald Laird hit back to back doubles to score the Braves third run and the Braves won the game.
The Braves return today on a four game winning streak and having won 8 of their past 11 games. The team has a half game lead in the division and will be in good position to add to that lead at home against the Mets.
- BJ Upton has a six game hitting streak with three extra base hits since being moved to the leadoff spot. He also has six hits total during that hitting streak but let us take what we can get.
- Tommy La Stella had four extra base hits in this series to more than double his ISO. The turnaround was excellent to see after La Stella’s first extended slump in the big leagues.
- Chris Johnson has a 133 wRC+ over the past two weeks. Johnson’s hot streak after his wretched start to the season has been manna from heaven to a starving and lost Braves lineup.
- The team went through a frustrating stretch but there is no reason the Braves shouldn’t consider themselves co-favorites to win the NL East. These next few weeks will be crucial as the Braves need to make hay against the weak schedule they are in the midst of. This road trip was an example of them doing exactly that.