Aaron Harang continues to look more like Grover Cleveland Alexander than a pitcher the Indians (whose starters have a combined 5.12 ERA and 4 wins) released during Spring Training this year, Frank Wren continues to look like a genius for picking him up, and big white bears like to eat fish for a mid-afternoon snack. These factors combined to give the Braves the victory in the rubber game of a series with the Marlins that featured a total of 78 strikeouts and 11 runs.
The Braves struck first this game, when Regression reached on an error in the 4th and stole second. A good throw would have had him easily, but Jeff Mathis threw the ball into centerfield. Ryan Doumit then singled to bring him home.
The Marlins got to Harang in the 6th, when Giancarlo Stanton hit a popup into no-man’s-land in shallow left-center. Four Braves tried to get there, but no one could catch it and it scored a run. It left men on second and third with two outs, but Harang got out of the inning with a strikeout.
Harang started the 7th but left with men on first and second without recording an out. Jordan Walden relieved him and struck out the side swinging. Hopefully the Braves’ bullpen has weathered the rough patch they went through during last week’s road trip and we’ll continue to be able to enjoy good performances like we got today.
Most starters would love the outing Aaron Harang had this afternoon: 6 IP, 11 K, 1 BB, 1 ER. For Harang, however, his ERA actually ROSE a full 0.15 points to 0.85. During the game, Jayson Stark tweeted that against the first 106 hitters Harang faced this season he allowed only 10 hits. Cliff Lee, by contrast, is averaging 11 H/9 innings. That’s baseball for you.
The score stayed tied until the 8th, when El Oso Blanco’s pinch-hit double with two outs scored the deciding two runs. His at-bat meant that all three Braves catchers batted that inning. That’s not something you see every day.
Craig Kimbrel, coming off his first blown save of the season, looked more like the guy who struck the last three guys out in that appearance than the guy who blew that save and nearly blew a four-run lead the game before. The Kraken picked up his 6th save of the season while recording two strikeouts in a perfect 9th.
Of note: Freddie Freeman’s eyes have been bothering him since the harsh wind got to them during the first game in New York. He saw the team optometrist (whose name just so happens to be David Ross) about the issue last night. To make matters worse, his contact broke in his eye today before the game. His slump continued this afternoon with a GIDP and 2 Ks.
Despite the fact that the offense has done little to inspire confidence for the first three weeks of the season, this team continues to roll right along. If they keep winning series like they’ve been doing, this season will be as fun to watch as last season was.
The Braves have a scheduled off day tomorrow and then welcome the Reds to town for a weekend series.
Natspo(s) delenda est.
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