To say things are very uncertain with baseball (and the world itself) right now would be the understatement to end all understatements. Things are anything but normal at the moment, so that leaves us baseball fans in a bit of a pickle. What are we supposed to do without the distraction of sports, which has been such a welcome distraction during previous tumultuous times? A lot of us are turning to other things, but sometimes you just want to stick to what you know. I know that I like to watch and write about Braves games, so that’s what I’m going to do.
Every now and then, I’m going to pick a random game from the Braves’ history in Atlanta and do a bit of a retrospective on it. I figure that just talking about games from the past would be a cool thing to do since this is what we’d be doing if things were normal and there wasn’t a pandemic going on. By the very nature of the selection process that I’m doing with these games, not all of theme are going to be classics and they probably won’t even be all that memorable. However, I think we’re realizing now that we really shouldn’t even take boring games in the middle of the season for granted, since it can all go away in the blink of an eye.
So before I get into the first game, I’m going to lay out the selection process. It’s very complicated and I had to really rack my brain in order to come up with this highly scientific process, so if I lose you at any point then I understand since I lost myself at certain points. Here’s how I pick these games:
Step One: Pick a number from 1 to 54, with 54 being the number of seasons that the Braves have played so far in Atlanta.
Step Two: Pick a number from 1 to 162, with 162 being the number of games in any given season. If the season was shortened, then continue to roll until there’s a number that fits into that particular season.
Is everybody okay? I know that was a lot of information to digest, so I’m glad we all made it out of there together. Anyways, when I say ‘roll,’ I’m referring to using a Random Number Generator on Google. The RNG gods will guide me on this quest through Braves history, from the miraculous to the mundane. So with the introduction now out of the way, let’s figure out which game we’re going to cover today:
The Braves’ 48th season was 2013 and their 87th game of that season fell on July 6. They were in Philadelphia that Saturday night to take on the Phillies. It was nationally televised on FOX, and the main reason why I know this is because of the fact that you can go back and watch this game (and a metric ton of other baseball games) right now on YouTube. You don’t need to pay a dime to watch it, either — it’s on YouTube for free. Seriously, just give this link a click and you can watch the game and come back here to yell at me if I missed anything big from this game.
Anyways, the Braves were really feeling themselves going into this game. They had lost three games in a row coming into this one, but they were feeling themselves. If you’re 49-37 and five games ahead of your nearest rival in the division with the All-Star game in sight, you have pretty good reason to be feeling yourselves at the moment. Freddie Freeman sure was feeling himself. You know that gif of him doing some delightfully goofy dancing in the dugout? This is the game where that came from.
Freddie Freeman ended up going 1-for-5 with a walk on that day, but he was the exception instead of the rule when it came to the Braves offense on that particular day. Atlanta scored early and often, with the emphasis being on “early” there as Andrelton Simmons led off the game by fouling off a few pitches before sending one into the left field seats to set the tone for the rest of the game. It’s actually funny to listen to the commentators talk about how the Braves were a weird team because they hit a lot of home runs and struck out a lot, yet were still successful and scored a lot of runs. This was a controversial approach for any offense to take even in 2013, but now it’s normal. It’s funny how time changes things!
Anyways, this was a typical 2013 Braves game where if they won the game, they bludgeoned their opponent into submission. The Braves hit three homers in this one, with the second dinger coming in the very next inning after Simmons went deep. That was when Dan Uggla cashed in a leadoff single from Brian McCann and deposited a pitch from Kyle Kendrick just over the fence in left field to make it 3-0 Braves. Now, let’s talk about that leadoff single: I’d argue that it was an error since McCann was only able to reach base due to Laynce Nix haphazardly rushing a throw to Kendrick without realizing that the baserunner was Brian McCann. Either way, it was a mistake that proved costly for Philadelphia at that point.
The seventh inning was when the Braves cracked the game wide open. Before that fateful inning, the Braves hit the homers that ended up raining down pain upon that mediocre Phillies squad and got out to a comfortable 7-1 lead. Atlanta ended up scoring six runs off of Kyle Kendrick, with five of them being earned runs. The finishing blow ended up coming at the expense of Joe Savery, who may have felt a bit down on his luck after giving up zero earned runs but four runs crossed the plate under his watch, nonetheless. This included Jason Heyward sending a line drive over the big fence in right field and into the seats for a three-run shot to effectively turn the game into a rout at 10-1 at that point.
It eventually ended 13-4 in favor of the Braves. Andrelton Simmons added on a triple to his power surge of a night and the Phillies didn’t really come alive until Tim Hudson left the game. Speaking of Tim Hudson, this was one of his better starts in what was an up-and-down season for the veteran pitcher before it came to an extremely unfortunate end later on in July. He tossed seven innings while only giving up one run over five hits and no walks. It wasn’t a spectacular start by any means, but it was enough to keep the opposition at bay on this particular night.
The Braves improved to 50-37 and ended up winning 46 more games to win their first divisional title since the final days of the divisional dynasty in 2005. The season ultimately ended in a divisional series exit at the hands of the Dodgers, which was the fifth of what is currently nine consecutive playoff appearances where the Braves were eliminated in the first round of their playoff run. So while the season eventually ended on a bummer, July 6 was a great night for the Braves. It was also a prime example of what that 2013 team was all about — hitting homers and winning games.