The season is just slightly more than half over. In 82 games, the Braves have scored an average of 4.58 runs a game and given up an average of 4.28 runs a game. Coming into the game, they were fourth in the league in runs per game and eighth in the league in runs allowed per game. This is an offensive club. It just has an inconsistent offense.
Occasionally, of course, teams that sucked over the summer catch lightning in a bottle and have a terrific October — like, say, the reigning World Champs, who stumbled into the playoffs because the Braves couldn’t wait to give it away. But it’s not exactly the norm. Mediocre teams do not typically turn into World Series winners, just like mediocre 24-year old pitchers do not typically turn into Tom Glavine.
Speaking of someone who will not turn into Tom Glavine, Mike Minor had his best start in nearly a month, as he went 6 1/3 innings and was charged with three runs, two earned, yielding just three hits and two walks against six strikeouts. He wasn’t masterful, managing just 58 strikes in 101 pitches. But he also wasn’t awful. Considering that he had given up 15 runs in his previous 15 1/3 innings, and Chipper Jones literally just said that the team won’t make the playoffs if it doesn’t add another starting pitcher, it felt sort of like a masterpiece.
As has been their wont, the Braves scored virtually all of their runs on homers: twin two- run homers in the first inning by Jason Heyward and Brian McCann put the Braves ahead 4-0, and the Braves tacked on insurance runs when Freddie Freeman hit a solo shot in the third and Juan Francisco hit a solo shot in the 8th. A McCann sac fly accounted for the other run; his 3 RBIs on the day were the most that he’d had since May 30, and his 5 total bases were his highest total since June 15. He’s now batting .230/.297/.395. Dan Uggla, of course, went 0-4 with three strikeouts, and he is now batting .225/.355/.394.
The Braves certainly aren’t going to score seven runs a game, though it doesn’t seem too implausible that they could keep on averaging four and a half. The key will be for their pitchers to hold the other guys under four. For the first time in nearly a month, Mike Minor did so. That’s cause for mild celebration.
UPDATE: I did a little number-crunching in the comments to take a look at just how mediocre the Braves have been over the past month. Enjoy!
In their last last 5 games, the Braves are 2-3, with 23 runs scored and 23 runs allowed.
In their last last 10 games, the Braves are 5-5, with 50 runs scored and 41 runs allowed.
In their last last 15 games, the Braves are 8-7, with 76 runs scored and 67 runs allowed.
In their last last 20 games, the Braves are 9-11, with 84 runs scored and 85 runs allowed.
In their last last 25 games, the Braves are 11-14, with 101 runs scored and 111 runs allowed.
In their last last 30 games, the Braves are 15-15, with 125 runs scored and 118 runs allowed.