Braves 2, Dodgers 1

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.

196 thoughts on “Braves 2, Dodgers 1”

  1. Either put Beachy in the bullpen or trade Maholm for bullpen help. I don’t like either option honestly, but they make the most sense for the time being.

  2. I don’t like the idea of trading one of our starters, because if anyone goes down, then all we’ll have is Gilmartin. I’d rather put Maholm in the pen, because, like Bethany says, he’s almost certainly our weakest starter. But I doubt the Braves would ever do that, and it’s probably even less likely that they’d push Hudson to the bullpen. They’re more likely to jerk Medlen around, because they’ve done it before.

  3. We should either send Maholm to the pen or go with a 6-man rotation, with one guy always available as a long reliever. If he’s used, he gets skipped.

    What we absolutely should not do is put either Medlen or Beachy in the pen. Come October our ideal rotation lines up Beachy, Minor, Medlen and either Hudson or Teheran. It may turn out that neither Beachy nor Medlen will be what they were last year but the only way to find out is by letting them start.

  4. @7 Agreed, 100%. Putting Medlen in the pen is an insanely stupid thing to do. You can’t defer to the older guys if you’re trying to win a world series. At some point, the two interests will come into conflict.

  5. Another possibility is that if Beachy shows rust in his start on the 18th, we can option him to Gwinnett for a few more turns and only trade Maholm at the deadline, lessening the risk that someone gets injured and we really need him. Also, if someone does get hurt we don’t need to turn to Gilmartin, whose stock has really fallen, when we can give starts to Alex Wood.

  6. So apparently our 11th-round pick, Alex Grosser, was thought to be unsignable and otherwise would have gone higher but we worked something out with him at the last minute.

    BA’s scouting report:

    “Alec Grosser, rhp, Williams HS, Alexandria, Va.
    Grosser has a athletic, projectable frame at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds. He has long arms with a whippy, deceptive, three-quarter arm action. His fastball sits in the 89-91 mph range with good sinking life and he touched 93 mph at the Perfect Game National Showcase last summer. He got under his 74-76 mph slider there, but his build and present velocity are certainly interesting. Grosser is committed to George Mason.”

  7. We have a good thing going with our pitching staff right now, RP and SP alike. However, it’s inevitable that there will be the 2-3 odd men out when Beachy, Ayala, and the Lisp return. It seems like a better idea to start privately shopping players than DFA’ing someone and letting them walk for next to nothing, like what happened with fat Juan. If I were A GM, I’d be shopping the Lisp and Maholm at the least, and looking for a team to dump Dan Uggla on after his next hot streak and go after a real 2nd baseman.

  8. When are Ayala and Lisp coming back? I would guess they replace Carpenter and Gearrin. And whichever starter goes to the pen will replace Wood. Maybe the fact that Maholm is a lefty will make the team want to send him to the pen and not Medlen or Beachy. That’s my hope.

  9. I think Upton was bunting for a hit last night.

    @7 I disagree. I think Beachy should be put in the pen after starting one of the double header games.
    Hopefully the team will have the sense to use whoever gets demoted in a multi-inning role.

  10. 14-No way Upton was bunting for a hit. The Dodgers feed clearly showed his bemused reaction and Scully commented on it.

  11. @18 I share that concern, but we’ve had a rotation of just righties before and done fine. I also think you’re right to worry that Kris will be the one who gets yanked to the pen.

  12. 14, 16–That’s good news. I guess Justin was laughing at his own stupidity rather than Fredi’s.

  13. I’m not a gambling man, but there is a lot of money to be made on betting against the Nationals making the postseason. Right now the Vegas line roughly reflects BP and other projections that are still giving them a 22% chance of making the postseason. Yet the Phillies are only given a 9% chance. Basically the oddsmakers and projections are still assuming that neither Harper nor Stras are likely to miss significant time and that the rest of the offense will perform closer to preseason projections.

  14. There is nothin wrong with having 4 righties in the rotation. I want the best 5 starting pitchers starting games for us. If Beachy is healthy then Maholm is the odd man out.

    That’s also noting that there is zero chance that Hudson would ever get placed in the pen.

  15. Braves last team standing in the majors that have only used 5 starting pitchers.

  16. Another Fun Fact.
    Friday’s loss put Fredi with 165 as a Brave manager, and a tie for 21st on the all-time franchise manager list with Bob Coleman.
    Coleman managed part of ’43, 44 and part of ’45 racking up 165 losses in 295 games. (a .436 pct) while Boston finished 6th each season.

  17. I still say a 6-man rotation is the way to go for now.

    1) It keeps everyone stretched. You stick Maholm in the ‘pen and then a starter goes down 3 weeks later, you can’t really just stick him right back in the rotation; he’ll need to tune up in Gwinnett first.

    2) Related to 1, it makes it less likely you end up needing to give a start to Gilmartin, who does not look ready. (Wood would have been a fine option a couple weeks ago, but at this point I don’t think you could necessarily ask him to step right into a starting role after making only three short appearances since being called up.)

    3) It won’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Distinctly a secondary consideration, but you’d rather not have Julio, Beachy, or Medlen sent to AAA or the ‘pen when each of them has shown he is capable of starting in the bigs.

    4) It fits the Braves’ no-stars, no-scrubs staff. If you’re the Dodgers, with Greinke, Kershaw, and a whole bunch of meh, you need to set things up such that your aces make every fifth start. The Braves’ best starter is Minor and their worst Maholm or Medlen. There’s a clear gap there, but it’s not so stark that you need to make sure the former is soaking up as many innings as possible or hide the latter.

    Re the recap: I wasn’t really surprised about the Uggla HR. Uggla’s sole remaining baseball talent is killing mistakes. Fife threw him a hanger, and Dan punished it.

  18. Does anyone else think that Either, Handley and Gonzalez look like they are older than Chipper?

  19. Can we see Brandon Beachy get people out before we exile anyone to the bullpen or beyond?

    #11
    How’s this for broadcasting candor?

    Because I listened to an inordinate amount of the Mets/Marlins game yesterday, I do recall Howie Rose saying this before Ankiel’s last strikeout: “It’s hard to imagine Rick Ankiel on this roster very much longer.”

  20. If Fredi moves Medley to the pen, then I will pray to the Night Mother and perform the Black Sacrament on him.

  21. @29 – thank you.

    @30 – thank you, too.

    Everyone loves Beachy, but he’s coming back from MAJOR SURGERY.

    And Maholm just pitched another gem.

    Beachy to the pen is the only logical thing to do.

    But, then, putting Oso in the lineup after you’ve scored ONE run in the last TWENTY innings makes sense to me, too, so …

  22. @27, it’s looking like Hyun-Jin Ryu is a lot better than “meh.” He made us look bad, and he’s been doing that to the rest of the league, too.

    I think a six-man rotation might work for a few weeks, except that the Braves couldn’t call it that. It would require a creative use of off days, and skipping the occasional Teheran start. After that probationary period, it would be clear whether Beachy was able to start every fifth day or not, and the Braves would also have saved Julio a few innings — we wouldn’t want to have to shut him down in September before a possible playoff run.

    But a six-man rotation couldn’t be a long term solution. Either someone will get injured and take the decision out of the Braves’ hands, or someone will have to lose his spot in the rotation.

  23. Now’s our chance.

    I heard Vin Scully lauding Uggla’s power right before he hit his homer.

    And the Dodgers’ collection of 2B-men isn’t scaring anybody.

    Make it happen, Wren.

  24. Fredi said the team is still weighing all options in preparation for Beachy’s return. But he said he doesn’t see going to a 6-man rotation— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) June 9, 2013

  25. Scully might be reading from a list of someone else’s ideas, but he’s the most entertaining announcer around. I think he’s 83 years old. Here’s a couple of questions I’d like to know about Vinny. 1) Is there any other team in the majors that has no one doing color for the play by play man. 2) Does he still do part of the game on Dodgers radio?

  26. Fredi said the team is still weighing all options in preparation for Beachy’s return. But he said he doesn’t see going to a 6-man rotation

    Good.

  27. @36 #2: I believe Scully does a few innings from time to time but most of the duties are handled by poolboy Charlie Steiner and Rick Monday.

  28. Scully is 85. He’s turn 86 in November. Scully still interviews players and others, to gather anecdotes for use during the game. Every announcer should have lists of prepared facts — among other things, that’s why every team publishes media notes.

    What Scully does seems simple, but he’s just about the only broadcaster alive who can still pull it off: he describes the game accurately while enhancing viewers’ understanding of the players in it. It ain’t rocket science. He has excellent instincts on balls off the bat — unlike Chip, for example — so he’s able to react appropriately. Even when he’s caught by surprise, he’s always able to react correctly: he can describe what happens, and then his own personal take on it.

  29. Pweeg’s still annoying me.

    And the Dodgers decided to not only bunt, but know what they were doing first!

  30. Mike Minors ERA

    At home – 2.52
    On road – 2.52
    Day games – 2.52
    Night games – 2.52
    Career vs LA – 2.52

    He needs to be more consistent.

  31. Couldn’t score against a guy who couldn’t locate the strike zone with a map and compass, and now this.

  32. 40-By contrast, Chip and Joe spent the entire top half of the inning talking about how Chip couldn’t pronounce Federowicz’s name.

  33. Sending Medlen to the pen would be the wrong decision, in my opinion. He’s been the their second most consistent starter over the last year and has a 2.87 ERA for crying out loud.

    Let’s wait and see how Beachy looks first before we send anybody to the pen. I think some long relief appearances would be the best way to work Beachy back into the majors anyway. Guys aren’t always that sharp the first year back.

    Doesn’t seem like it would be a terrible idea to give Hudson and Teheran some extra rest while they can afford it as well.

  34. Phillies lost again, so our lead is safe. And the Mets are losing much more efficiently today, in only 10 innings.

  35. Gameday showed what looked like a curveball in the dirt that ended up a single to pitcher. What happened? Swinging bunt or did minor misplay the ball?

  36. Good job getting out of that, would even have been zero runs if not for another stupid lucky hit.

  37. @59 Swinging bunt down the third base line. By the time Minor got there he had nowhere to go.

  38. 59- Swinging bunt. Perfectly placed down the third base line, no play anywhere.

  39. Still, bad luck happens. Good job by Minor to limit the damage there. Two years ago no less than three score that inning against Mike.

  40. Thanks (all of you!). Shumaker must still have some evil Cardinals luck in him.

  41. There seemed to be some confusion between Success and Fredi in the dugout after the bunt. Most likely a missed sign.

  42. Eighteen balls, 14 strikes. Pena with his best Uggla impression. And that bunt. Gentlemen, wake up, please.

  43. I mean, clearly, Jordan was trying to drag one for a hit, and do exactly what Punto did. He’s a pretty good bunter and a fast runner, and if he were at the top of the lineup, I wouldn’t really have a problem with it. But doing it as the #8 batter means that either 1) he thought that he’d catch the defense napping, or 2) he forgot that Minor was on deck. Either way, it’s a really stupid idea.

  44. Nice grab by Freeman. Now someone wake up the bats, if they haven’t already been shipped ahead to San Diego.

  45. Hey, there’s no need to swing at balls in the dirt when the pitcher has zero control.

  46. Sac fly. I guess I can live with that. OK, it’s a little disappointing but still.

  47. He just missed that one.

    Edit: The first pitch was right down the middle. That’s what you want sluggers swinging at.

  48. Zero runs Thursday, one Friday, two yesterday, four today. I’m looking forward to the 32 runs we’ll score on Wednesday.

  49. @106 It’s just hard to know what his process was, since we can’t see a counter-factual. If he was looking for that exact pitch in that one spot, then I think his process was right on. He nearly hit it out. If he was going to swing at a wide variety of pitches and locations, then I would agree that’s bad process. But we can’t really know from here. I just don’t like telling sluggers to go up there and give up on the first pitch no matter where it is.

  50. Twelve home runs now for Uggla. How many would you get from Pena if you started him 160 games? Eight, maybe?

  51. I trust Gattis to swing at the pitches he likes. He’s a slugger but he usually has a game plan.

  52. 111- On the other hand, all of those secondary skills can only do so much to make up for a .189 batting average and iron glove.

    Amazing work by Freeman!

  53. At this point Uggla has driven in 71% of the Braves runs in this series. Pretty sure no one would have put money on that.

    Edit: Pretty good stretch there, Freddie.

  54. This is the type of start early last year where Minor would have imploded.

    Awesome stop and stretch there.

  55. Guy walks the pitcher, Simmons then swings at the first pitch – in the dirt. #leadoffhitter

  56. Goddamn, knuckleheads. Minor just took 5 straight pitches for a walk and Simmons swing at the first pitch in the dirt.

  57. Horrible strike one call on Justin.

    Edit: He’s not quite connecting on pitches that he ripped earlier in the season.

  58. Justin’s missing a lot of the same pitches that he was crushing at the beginning of the year.

  59. Justin looks like he’s trying to lift the ball instead of just driving through it

  60. I was about to yell at Freddie for swinging at the first pitch. Good thing the Dodgers are playing without centerfielders.

  61. In the end, through all the consternation, questionable decisions and Simmons PAs, we got seven runs in 3 2/3 off this meatball tosser. That’s what a good team should do. Let’s make this stand up.

  62. Two of those balls to JUpton were really close. If Magill hadn’t been insanely wild all day he probably has that K.

    When the guy has just walked the bases loaded and been dressed down on the mound by his coach, you look dead red heat on the first pitch and crush it in the zone.

    At bats are fluid things. Sometimes you should take the first pitch. Sometimes, the first pitch is the best thing you’ll see to hit all at bat.

  63. Uggla still giving a hoot! (All caps are unnecessary when we’re up by 6 runs.)

  64. I may be in the minority here, but I still like Uggla as a player. He can take a walk and still has home run power.

  65. If we can get six out of Minor, I wouldn’t mind seeing the “three inning save” by Alex Wood.

  66. Justin Upton is 0-2 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored today, Bethany. He’s in a slump. It happens. When you take 2 walks and score 2 while mired in a slump, I don’t worry about you that much.

  67. @159 Justin has something like 2 XBH over the past month, Sam. When you have 2 XBH over a month, I worry about you.

  68. Upton will probably get red hot again, as he was in April. It’s a long season, and Upton is a streaky hitter.

  69. I probably would want to get the back-end bullpen guys some work, even though right now Minor is in a groove.

  70. Chip’s inability to judge fly balls never gets old… by which I mean that it never ceases to get on my nerves.

  71. Depends on what the bullpen coach told me the guys were feeling down there today. Minor’s 25, he can go 115-120 pitches if needed. But he’s up and there’s reason to stretch him out if you’ve got guys down there that are strong and rested. (I like the idea of Alex Wood for a couple of innings to end it.)

  72. I let him go another, save the pen every chance you can (when you have more than a three run margin, anyway.)

    That said, I think Fredi pulls him.

    (I’m only following on At Bat, so forgive me if I missed something obvious on the telecast.)

    On a loosely related note, I’ve been impressed with Carpenter’s recent work, and think he might take some innings away from Gearrin.

  73. No, those 100 pitches haven’t been easy and we have some rested guys in the pen. I’d let Carpenter finish this one for us.

  74. 170- Agreed. No point in stretching Minor when we have what we once called Reitsma Room.

  75. Who do you guys think is the weakest link in the pen? Gearrin’s had some rough outings lately, but he’s also looked brilliant at times. I think his lack of consistency might bite him when the pitching log jam happens.

  76. Chip just gave a subtle homage to his infamous 2010 butchering of the word “Petco”.

  77. Adam, who doesn’t like home runs?

    I was thinking about the “rally killer” silliness, and the way certain announcers/commentators fetishize speed over power. But of course nobody dislikes home runs – except for the pitchers who give them up, I suppose.

  78. @174, I think Gearrin and Carpenter. Carpenter’s been just fine in garbage time, but I’d never trust him in a high leverage situation, and unlike Martinez he hasn’t really shown that he can go multiple innings. Likewise, Gearrin can only be used against righties. I have no problem demoting him or Carpenter whenever the need arises.

    Vin Scully just said that Jonny Venters taught Alex Wood a knuckle-curve. AWESOME.

  79. Am I the only one who finds it hilarious that every Ned Coletti roster always has a couple guys – often starters – like Punto and Schumaker? I know they’ve been hit with some injuries, but this is still a poorly conceived lineup.

  80. Man, I missed the game, and then checked out the highlights. I wish Chip could get good at telling what’s a home run and what’s not. He actually has a very exciting home run call, but it sucks when his home run call is on a fly out to the warning track and he’s boring when it’s a home run.

    I really hope Uggla is getting it together. Another 28 game hitting streak would be nice right about now. As for the first part of the season, that’s about as empty of a 13 first-half home runs as you can get. I mean, how can you be on pace for 33 home runs and have a below league average OPS? Is that even mathematically possible? He figured it out…

  81. Why does that sound like Joe Simpson? I’ll take Freddie Freeman and his opposite field home runs and doubles any day over Andruw Jones’ “use” of all fields.

  82. Gilmartin got annihilated at AAA today: 3.2 IP 10H 9ER

    Elander with his 10HR today and now has a .966 OPS at Rome.

  83. That’s a really interesting list, Alex. Of course Dave Kingman belongs on that list.

    Sammy’s season happened right before his offensive explosion in ’98. Quite a transition.

    Look at Castilla’s slash in ’99: .275/.331/.478. I would sure take that at 3B in 2013. The game has changed considerably.

  84. Keep in mind that Castilla did that at Coors Field pre-humidor, so park effects are a big part of why he grades so poorly. The overall offense level isn’t that much lower than in 1999.

  85. In other baseball news, congrats to my louisville cardinals who took down mighty Vanderbilt for a trip to Omaha. Amazing!

  86. By most measures we have the best pitching in the NL. I wouldn’t have predicted that before the season.

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