Behind another stellar start by Varsity Fried and a four hit night by Dansby Swanson, the Braves cruised over the Redlegs 9-1. There is no established definition of an “ace,” but however you define it, we can all agree that Fried has become one. Pontifex Maximus wasn’t infallible, but he went seven innings, surrendering only one run on five hits, all singles, with 5 K’s and no walks.
Mike Minor took the hill for the Reds, and I didn’t recognize him at first—he doesn’t look like the kid who pitched for the Braves in 2011-13. He also hasn’t been pitching like that kid; his ERA coming into this game was 7.71. Austin Riley got things started with a two run shot to center in the top of the 1st . At that point I figured this game would be a laugher. It did ultimately turn into a rout, but it took a while. Minor was surprisingly effective after the first, shutting the Braves out over the next five innings. Fried allowed three singles and a run in the 3rd. After that, though, Max only allowed one more baserunner through 7.
Fortunately, the Reds’ bullpen wasn’t as effective as Minor (understatement of the year). Lt. Dans hit a big three run homer with two outs in the top of the 7th, to break open what had been a tight 2-1 game. Dansby had two doubles and a single to go with the homer. After a frustrating series in Philly, Swanson made it clear that he’s still on his hot streak. Our guys went on to score 3 more in the 8th and another in the 9th. Collin McHugh and Crash Oblivion (or was it Silvino Bracho—I can’t tell the difference) tossed goose eggs in the 8th and 9th (h/t to JonathanF for the anagram). It wasn’t really eggs—that would be a big mess– but they did shut them out. Who is Bracho? He’s the guy who took the roster spot of Jesus (Keep Me Near the) Cruz.
Just as in June, our Hammers have won the first game of the month. I’m not predicting that they will win the first 14 of this month, but I can state with certainty that if they do they will be in first place come July 14 (having just swept the Mets on July 11-13). And here’s another prediction: if the Braves win 21 games in each of the next three months, as they did in June, we will all be happy with their final record.
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JonathanF started a discussion of the all star game. As many said, interleague play and so many games on TV have made it a very different experience than it was decades ago. Like many of the oldsters on here, I have no interest in the game—haven’t watched one this millennium. But as a kid, I loved the ASG. I remember the 1966 game like it was yesterday. Here are the first four hitters in the NL lineup: 1. Mays CF; 2. Clemente LF; 3. Aaron, LF; 4. McCovey 1B. The battery was Koufax on the mound, Torre behind the plate. If those guys somehow came back, I’d be glued to the set.
There has also been more discussion of a certain Dodgers first baseman and his agents. I really don’t care about any of the Dodgers, and I sure don’t have anything new or interesting to add to that saga.
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Michael Harris II didn’t have a hit in tonight’s game, but he did something even better. He walked and scored in front of Swanson’s 7th inning homer. The one weakness in his game has been plate discipline. If he can learn to take more of those pitches out of the zone, the sky’s the limit. On Saturday afternoon, Harris’s principal competition for Rookie of the Year, Spencer Strider, makes the start. I’m pulling for both of them to make the ROY race a close one down to the wire.