That’s right, Braves fans. Step away from the ledge. The Braves, who were 10-16 during one stretch, of the season, have now reeled off eight wins in a row. They have a commanding 5 1/2 game lead of the Washington Nationals and are tied with the fifth best record in the MLB. This streak has been extremely exciting for a baseball fan.
The Braves haven’t been running away with all of their victories. In five of those eight games, the Braves had to battle from behind to beat their opposition. The Dodgers held the lead in the 6th inning of Game 1, the eighth inning of Game 2, and the eighth inning of Game 3, before the Dodger bullpen could no longer silence the Braves bats. The Twins were a lesser opponent, but the Braves had to battle back in the second game to win it. An Evan Gattis homer in the ninth tied the game, and a Freddie Freeman single in the tenth won it. Even the Mets first game was intense. The Braves got an early lead, but the weather was so bad that it played tricks with the defense all night, before the Braves won the suspended game on Saturday during the tenth inning.
It’s no surprise to Braves Country that Evan Gattis has played a significant role during this. He hit the go-ahead home run against the Dodgers, the game-tying home run against the Twins, and a go-ahead single against the Mets. During these seven games, Evan Gattis is 4-10 (.400), with three home runs, and nine RBI’s. He has been as clutch as a guy can be for a major league team this year. During this run, he is 3-4 (.750) with two home runs, and five RBI’s, off the bench.
Another great thing about this run has been watching the rookies. First, Julio Teheran through eight great innings against the Minnesota Twins. Teheran’s early struggles at the beginning of the season are becoming a distant memory, due to his great pitching performance of late. He nearly had his first career shutout on this night. One rookie did accomplish a first, and, again, that was Evan Gattis. During the Twins series finale on Wednesday, Evan Gattis hit his first career grand slam. He and Teheran have been fun to watch for different reasons. Gattis has been an instant success, which was greatly welcomed by Braves fans. Teheran has been fun to watch, because you see the kid develop after every game.
The pitching has been phenominal during this run. Every pitcher has made a quality start for the Braves during this span. Maholm and Minor have been particularly good during this stretch, and that’s not a knock to the rest of the pitching staff. The starter’s have gone 4-0 with a 1.70 ERA during this stretch. At a time where there are some black holes in the lineup and with a lack of bullpen depth, this has been a major pickup for the Braves.
Unfortunately, some of those black holes are not hitting. Dan Uggla had a good game during the series opener against the Mets, but has done much else. BJ Upton will look fantastic one game and then completely abysmal the next. Those two need to get going so the Braves will be a force on a night when the pitching can’t hold the opposition.
The most important part of the success has been the Braves bench. We’ve already spoken of Gattis’ heroics, but Ramiro Pena has started numerous rallies during this stretch and has been one of the Braves MVP’s up to this point. Gerald Laird had a key single to give the Braves a lead against the Dodgers during the third game. Jordan Schafer and Reed Johnson have been able to give the Braves a break from BJ Upton’s abysmal offense and provide quality at bats off the bench. In the past, the Braves bench has been very weak, but they may have the best backup team in baseball.
The bullpen has been extremely shaky. Avilan and Gearrin have less the one season of big league experience, and they find themselves as the primary relievers to bridge to Kimbrel. Rasmus is a rookie, while Carpenter and Varvarro have track records that raise question marks. The bullpen has blown two leads during this stretch, and they could blow more.
Overall the team, as a whole, is playing well. The Braves are right back at it tomorrow night on ESPN at 8:05 to play the Mets. The Braves will look to Julio Teheran to continue their streak to nine consecutive wins, and three series sweeps.
Tweet of the Night:
This comes from the Braves twitter feed in response to a Kent Hrbek jersey in Tuner Field.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) May 22, 2013
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