Passing Through – Braves
I am test driving a concept (called Passing Through, in case you need to tell people about it on the internet). This is the first of it’s kind: A look at a team on a West Coast swing. Sometimes these will appear as previews to an upcoming set of series’ against NL West teams, and sometimes they will appear afterwards, as a recap, if things get interesting unexpectedly. In this case, we check in with the Braves in the midst of their pass through The Far Division.
Fresh off a homestand in which the Braves won three of four against Padres, and then managed only one win in three games against the Dodgers, Atlanta started it’s current road trip by losing two out of three in Washington. If the Braves are to remain within the relative safety of the top Wild Card spot, they need to get back on track after struggling against two good teams (L.A and Washington).
The California portion of Atlanta’s current roadie includes four games in San Francisco and then three in San Diego, to wrap up what has been a National-League-West-heavy stretch.
San Francisco Giants: August 23rd – 26th
I don’t want to perpetuate the myth that we’ve learned something just because two likely playoff teams have played each other in August. What the quality of these teams does add to a series is a high probability that good baseball will be played, as well as the drama of immediate consequence (as it pertains to the pursuit of post-season berths).
As it stands now (Saturday night, all games concluded) The Giants are just two games ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West. The Braves, who remain atop the Wild Card standings, came out ahead on Saturday with a convincing 7-3 win. A 3-run bomb by Jason Heyward, his 23rd, helped the Braves pull away. Atlanta will try to even the series with a win on Sunday, after losing the first two games.
Regarding those first two games: Braves pitching surrendered both 5 runs and 5 walks on back to back nights on Thursday and Friday, though Friday’s game could have been much worse (the Giants amassed 14 hits). However in another way, that game couldn’t have been worse for the Braves. Following his Friday night start Ben Sheets began experiencing shoulder inflammation and has been placed on the DL. For a guy whose medical records are a collection of rich, well preserved, 17th-century tapestries, that is hardly a surprise. Nonetheless, it is disappointing and, unfortunately, not likely to end well for Sheets or the Braves.
San Diego Padres: August 27th – 29th
The Braves play their final regular season game out West on Wednesday against the Padres. It will be the last PST game of Chipper Jones’ 19-year career. I will be there in person to watch what I am hoping will be Jedd Gyorko’s major league debut. There have been no reports that this will happen. But I would, however briefly, get to believe that Chipper’s last game against the NL West coinciding with Gyorko’s MLB debut is an omen of the young third-baseman’s future greatness.
The Braves dispensed with the Padres quite handily in Atlanta earlier this month, with Tim Hudson, Paul Maholm and Kris Medlen combining for 22.1 innings, and allowing just one run between them to take the final three games. However, San Diego has won six games in a row heading into Sunday, so perhaps this series will not be as easily taken for Atlanta.
- Game 1: Paul Maholm v. TBD (Jason Marquis’ spot open due to DL stint for a broken hand)
- Game 2: Kris Medlen v. Andrew Werner (25 year old Rookie, making his 2nd ever MLB appearance after winning in his first start)
- Game 3: TBD (Sheets’ spot) v. Eric Stultz
Here’s to Chipper’s final game in San Diego. So long Chipper, I wish you’d been a Padre.