Today’s game had some of the same attributes as yesterday’s game, but a much better result.
In yesterday’s game, the Braves starter held the Milwaukee offense in check with a bit of luck and a bit of skill. Alex Wood was better today than Julio Teheran was yesterday, as the Brewers only managed four hits off him after Carlos Gomez hit a leadoff home run, but he still walked three men, so the Brewers had men on in nearly every inning. (You’ll take that every time from your starter, but if the Brewers had sequenced their hits better, they could have wound up with another run or two, just as they did yesterday.)
And just as the Braves didn’t have much offense yesterday other than a couple of near-home runs that went inches foul, for much of the game, the Braves didn’t have much offense today beyond a couple of huge blasts that fortunately stayed fair. Then they piled on a bit more, and it became a much more enjoyable affair.
Through the first four innings, it looked like a redux of Opening Day, as Gomez hit a leadoff home run (fortunately, this time he sprinted around the bases) and Kyle Lohse held the Braves scoreless. Part of the reason the Braves were scoreless was that, after a Freddie Freeman single, new third base coach Doug Dascenzo tried to send Freddie home from first on a two-out double by Dan Uggla. Even with Freddie running on contact, Freeman is a big hulking guy who could no sooner score from first on a double than grow wings and fly. He got thrown out by about five yards.
Jason Heyward gave the Braves their first runs of the season with a bomb in the fifth inning, and Freddie Freeman piled on with solo shots in the 6th and 8th. The final run came on an Andrelton Simmons sacrifice fly in the 9th, allowing the Kraken to strike out the side with a three-run lead.
(Kimbrel couldn’t locate his slider at all and couldn’t locate his fastball much either, going to a 3-2 count on each of the first two batters he faced before striking them out on a 96-mile an hour fastball somewhere in the vicinity of the middle of the plate. The good thing about having unhittable stuff is it’s unhittable even when you don’t know where it’s going.)
Dan Uggla’s two doubles were wonderful to see, and the Braves are going to win a lot of games when Heyward and Freeman go 5-8 with three homers. But B.J. Upton is still oh for the season. It seems clear that Fredi is batting him second to try to help B.J. get into a good groove and help the team without feeling too much pressure.
He still looks lost at the plate. His first two at-bats were strikeouts, one looking and one swinging; his last two at-bats came on the first pitch of the at-bat. It’s a long season and it’s just two games. But B.J. is in midseason form, and that’s worrisome. The rest of the team looked pretty good tonight, though, even Evan Gattis, who got his first hit of the year on a hanging slow curveball that he banged to the opposite field for a single.
The rubber match is tomorrow at 1:10 pm, so this will be the game thread. God, I’m glad that baseball is back.