Remember how earlier in the year, every time Justin Upton stepped to the plate, you thought he was going to hit it out? I remember marveling at how strong and compact his swing was. It blew me away how much power he could generate with so little followthrough. Since April, he hasn’t really been the same. He was striking out back then, but it seems like he’s swinging through fastballs a lot more now. And when he does make contact, he’s not hitting with any sort of authority at all. It’s not regression; it’s like watching a different guy. What I’m saying is, I miss April JUpton.
Now, all of that was kinda moot this weekend. Coming into Armed Forces day (which I want to make fun of because of the parade of bad interviews but refuse to make fun of because, as bad as those interviews were, I was glad that the people being interviewed were doing the things they were being interviewed about, and those topics are important), the Braves had taken the first two from the Diamondbacks. They made it a sweep on the back of good pitching combined with good runner-stranding from Paul Maholm and an offense that got a few hits when they needed to. Let’s start with the pitching. For five innings, Maholm was both efficient and effective, surrendering only one run after the first two batter he faced singled and the third hit into a double play. The scenario repeated itself in the 6th inning, but at that point, the Braves had a lead and you felt pretty good. Because RBIs are weird, you don’t get one when you hit into a double play, which explains why the Diamond Backs were able to score two runs without any RBIs or errors on Atlanta’s part. (Wait, do you get an RBI after an error? I dunno. And I also only got three out of four right on this quiz.) Anyways, things got dicey in the 7th, as Maholm increasingly struggled to get guys to ground out (he had about 60 ground ball outs on the day but struck out only three Ks) and the bases ended up loaded with one out. Maholm struck out Jason Kubel and gave way to Anthony Varvaro, who got out of the inning. Dave Carpenter pitched the 8th and 9th giving up only a single walk.
The reason Fredi was able to go with Carpenter was that the offense had managed to do something. They had 10 hits on the day, 6 of them going for extra bases, including 3 HRs. This is good news since, as I mentioned earlier, Justin Upton isn’t really doing that any more. Freddie Freeman is hitting like a beast these days, Brian McCann is back, and Jason Heyward has had a terrific month. All of this lefty hitting is great, but one it’d be nice if a righty would step things up, too. It feels like the current Braves lineup is a bit too easy to take advantage of late game with a LOOGY, but I guess that’s a better weak spot than, “over half the lineup is hitting below .200” which is where we were 3 weeks ago. Still, it feels (despite Dan Uggla’s solo HR) that Chris Johnson is the only righty in the lineup hitting. He continues to postpone regression by reaching base twice in 4 ABs and by OPS, he’s been the 4th most productive guy on the team so far. And even with all the grounders Maholm was generating, he managed to avoid booting any. So I’m just sayin, let’s remember the (many!) days when he contributes positively when some time in the future we face-palm in disgust at his
miss-play of a short-hop.
Good win. Good sweep. Day off tomorrow, Marlines come to town on Tuesday.