I will preface this by admitting that I wasn’t able to watch the last few innings. Lucky me, I guess, but all’s well that end’s well. And it ended very well for our Braves, as they parlayed their first three-game winning streak (first three-game streak of any type actually, as JonathanF has been chronicling), into their first series sweep of the season and a five-game winning streak. It’s the franchise’s first-ever four-game sweep at Coors Field and only their second of the Rockies in Denver, the other coming in the first-ever meeting between the two teams May 6-9, 1993, at old Mile High Stadium. More importantly for our purposes, it vaulted the Braves over .500 for the first time since the first weekend of the season against Cincinnati.
After a couple weird pitcher’s duels over the past couple nights (the teams combined for two runs in regulation play over those two games), today was back to traditional service as far as baseball in Denver goes. The Braves jumped out 3-0 in the top of the first, as Austin Riley scored Ronald Acuna on a single to left and Ozzie Albies followed with a two-out, two-run single. However, Charlie Morton didn’t have it early, and nearly didn’t make it out of the first inning. He allowed three runs of his own on 40 pitches and seemed to be one more baserunner away from getting pulled. However, he got a pair of strikeouts to strand a pair of Rockies and keep it 3-3 going to the second.
The Braves immediately took control of the game back in the second, as Matt Olson hammered a three-run homer into the forest in straightaway center to give the Braves their three-run advantage back. And the Braves held that arm’s-length advantage for most of the rest of the game. Morton settled in nicely after his 40-pitch first and actually made it through five, much to Chip’s delight. The Braves added a run off a wild pitch in the fifth and another off an Acuna homer in the eighth. The Rockies answered with a Brendan Rodgers solo homer in the fifth, but the Braves led 8-4 going to the bottom of the eighth…and then, as I said, I assume everything went swimmingly on the way to a comfortable victory.
On that, and bear with me here, I know everyone hates it when the bullpen does anything but record a series of immaculate innings, but I feel like we’re starting to reach the point where folks are “done” with basically every member of the ‘pen for one reason or another. I hate to inform you, but we’re probably going to be bringing one or more of the members of our bullpen out of the bullpen to pitch in relief on a nightly basis. It would be a neat trick to bring in a bunch of ringers, but I’m afraid it doesn’t work that way.
And on Will Smith more specifically, I really wish folks would lay off just a bit. Trust me, I know, he hasn’t looked great in the last month. But this is one of the heroes of our World Series run last year and it took him all of one bad outing for folks to start to crap all over him again like last October never happened. It did happen, though, and it should earn him a large amount of rope in my opinion.
Or maybe I stumbled upon the solution today. Just don’t watch the late innings.
With that out of the way, let’s take stock of the week. At this time last week, I said a 4-3 trip was an absolute must and that 5-2 should really be the goal. If you’d told me we’d have gone 5-2 after losing the first two game in Arizona, I’d have found it unlikely. But here we are. We gained a couple games on the Mets since midweek, and are now 8.5 back. That’s still a lot, but remember that there are now three wild card spots. And if you’re wondering, we’re now only two games back of San Francisco for the final one of those.
We finished this stretch of 17 straight games without a day off at 11-6, which isn’t bad, and we now head into a six-game homestand against the likes of Oakland and Pittsburgh. Oakland’s terrible, and Pittsburgh’s been playing OK but isn’t great, so let’s go at least 4-2 in this stretch…with 5-1 certainly on the table.