Braves Playing Like Champions..
The Atlanta Braves are having a good dose of both hitting and pitching thus far in the season. Hoping it will last the entire season. Don’t forget to catch my blog at http://kirkleysportswriting.blogspot.com/ and follow me on twitter @makirkley.
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Could there be more of a relaxing afternoon than it is today. Relaxing at home with both my girls, wife and daughter, watching Atlanta Braves baseball. The Braves are playing like true champions so for this season. Though the season still early, who would have thought the Braves (17-11) would be chasing the Washington Nationals (18-9) for 1st place in the NL East. And if it’s hard to believe that the Nats are in first, how about the Philadelphia Phillies (13-15) bringing up the rear in the division. But again, the season is still young, and there is only 5.5 games separating the Nats from the Phils.
|Braves pitcher Brandon Beachy pitches a gem in 6.1 inning, 4 hits, 2 ER, 5 SO to improve his record 3-1 with 2.84 ERA: Photo/ Justin Edmonds/Getty Images|
In years past, the Braves have always had above average to great pitching, but slumping in the hitting department. And that would always mean a shutdown of the pitching at the end of the season. But so far this year, both hitting and pitching have been on top of each of their game. In two games so far in Colorado, the Braves have scored 24 runs. And in both games they had to play from behind. Friday night the Braves were down 0-5 after the fifth, and came back to win 9-8. Last night in a rain delayed ball game, the Rockies were up 6-0, and the Braves kept chopping away and ended up winning late 13-9. And so far in Sunday’s game in the seventh inning stretch, Braves up six to nil. Now you might ask, that’s only three games? But they have been doing this all season. The last game of the home series against the Phillies, the Braves were down 0-8, the pitching finally ended strong and Braves offense woke up and won 15-13.
So far in 2012, the Braves are ranked third in all of baseball with a .271 average, only behind the Texas Rangers (.288) and St. Louis Cardinals (.282). And of course, that would mean the Braves were second in the NL behind the Cardinals. The pitching staff have held their own. Coming into today’s game, they are 25th of 30 teams in the major leagues with a 4.50 ERA. I remember the days of Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz, when the entire pitching staff’s ERA wouldn’t get above 3.20. The staff this year has held there own, and is still doing pretty good. But it’s been the hitting that has helped the pitching out of jams.
|Braves 1B Freddie Freeman celebrates with Chipper Jones after belting his 6th homer of the season: Photo/ Justin Edmonds/Getty Images|
One reason the Braves have been pretty good so far is leadoff and center fielder Michael Bourn is number one in hitting (.333). But the biggest category that really stands out to me is he is number one in on base percentage at .398. He’s getting on base and letting his teammates bring him home.
So this is why we chop, and this is why we watch. And here’s hoping we win the last 20 out of 30 games of the season this year, and not lose the last 20 out of 30 like last year.
And by the way, from the voice of the late Skip Carey, BRAVES WIN, BRAVES WIN!!! The Braves just bettered their record to 18-11 with a 7-2 win and a sweep of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
Remember to follow me on twitter @makirkley
|Mark A. Kirkley: twitter @makirkley|