Well that was interesting.
The Braves eeked out a win on a night in which Justin Upton laid down a sac bunt, Clayton Kershaw pinch ran for Hanley Ramirez, and Kris Medlen hit the ultimate game-winning home run. Basically, just how they drew it up.
A win is a win, but this one was as frustrating as they come. All night the Atlanta hitters were getting on base with nothing to show for it. Consider: in the first, Andrelton Simmons and Jason Heyward each reached before Stephen Fife recorded an out; in the third, Simmons reached with one out; in the 4th, Freddie Freeman reached with one out; in the 5th, both Simmons and Heyward singled with one out; in the 6th, Chris Johnson doubled with 2 outs; in both the 7th and 8th, the brothers Upton – BJ in the 7th, Justin in the 8th – reached to lead off the inning; and in the 9th, BJ again reached, this time with 1 out. Yet none of those guys scored. The Braves went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Fredi, meanwhile – in a clear response to the offensive futility of the previous 2 nights – was being “aggressive,” which means bunting and stealing against all sound reason. And Andrelton Simmons made like 15 outs on the base baths.
Luckily, this team can score a little when nobody is in scoring position (or as the case may be, on base at all). We Braves fans dig home runs – who doesn’t, really? actually, don’t answer that – and tonight the Braves hit two. The first came off the bat of Dan Uggla, which is sort of surprising, because Dan Uggla largely sucks. But the second was even more surprising: Kris Medlen took Fife deep to right for his first ever home run, and damn if the kid was too excited to know what to do while rounding second base.
The Braves won the game because Kris Medlen made those two runs hold up. Although not yet as efficient as he was a year ago, Medlen is slowly but surely rounding into form. His SwStr% is rising, his BB% is falling, and lately he has been keeping the ball in the park. Overall, Medlen went 6.2 innings, scattering 5 hits while striking out 6 Dodgers. He also walked Adrian Gonzalez, but Gonzalez is one of only two good hitters in that lineup, so it makes some sense.
Medlen has now thrown 13.2 scoreless innings in June, but that merely matches the good work of his fellow starters. Did you know the Atlanta rotation has posted a 0.98 ERA so far this month? Maybe they know Brandon Beachy is coming back. Maybe they know that that’s what it takes to win with the lineup giving away so many outs. Or maybe they’re just really good, and starting to pitch like a bunch of aces.
Either way, the Braves will go for the series tie today. They’ve only scored 3 runs in 3 games, so evening up the series would be awesome. Plus, it’s always fun to beat the Dodgers. Mike Minor takes the hill.