There’s nothing like playing a struggling Phillies team to cure whatever ails you, especially when they start Tyler Cloyd. The Braves scored 7 runs off of Cloyd and knocked him out of the game after he had only recorded three outs. The good guys then coasted to the win. Really, if you want to nitpick, you could focus on how they should have scored more than 7 runs this game, especially considering that they had men on second and third with no outs when Cloyd left the game and then failed to get those guys in. And then they failed to do anything else offensively for the rest of the game. I will, however, focus on the good stuff because I am in a happy mood.
Jason Heyward. Boy, did he have a night. He homered on the first pitch he saw out of the leadoff spot and set the tone of the game. He then picked up three doubles, two of the hustle variety, by the fifth inning. For good measure, he added an infield single in the 7th to become the first Brave to go 5-for-5 since Chipper did it in June last year against the Cubs. Someone in the Braves marketing department must have anticipated this, because the “mystery giveaway” that the Braves hyped up for fan appreciation week turned out to be posters from Chipper’s retirement ceremony. I am sure that everyone who received one was just thrilled.
David Hale. He was not quite as dominant as he was in his first start, but he deserves plenty of accolades for his evening. After allowing the first two batters of the game to reach on an error and bloop single, he managed to wiggle out of trouble and end the inning having thrown only 9 pitches. To do that without getting a double play is pretty amazing. He gave up some hard hit balls that were fortunately right at his defenders and ended the evening with a respectable 6IP 7H 1R 5K line. His reward for his work was his first big league win and a bunch of celebratory Bud Lights dumped on him in the clubhouse.
Alex Wood. He picked off John Mayberry in his inning of relief work and then retired the next two batters he faced with ease. I think I am going to like having this kid available out of the bullpen in the playoffs.
Andrelton Simmons. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. In the 9th, Andrelton not only got to a ball that by all rights should have been a single, but managed to throw the runner out at first with ease. It was beauty on a baseball field.
I do have to throw in one caveat from the not-so-good department: Brian McCann left after the top of the second inning with a right adductor strain and is day-to-day. Right now it does not sound like it is a big deal (like BJ’s was in July). Let’s hope it stays that way. Other injury updates to report on: Brandon Beachy had surgery today to get his elbow scooped and the team thinks he will be ready by spring training. The Braves are also hoping to have Reed Johnson back to his normal self by the playoffs, and are considering sending him to a few Instructional League games next week to get him into shape.
An additional storyline from the evening was Tom Hart completely befuddling Chip and Joe with sabermetric stats all throughout the game tonight. He’s the only sideline reporter they have who could possibly handle that, and it was his last game of the season, so I guess someone thought it would be a good idea to let him have at it. To his credit, he did not laugh at Joe Simpson’s incredulity a single time…at least, not into a live mic.
Overall it was a great night for the 2013 Eastern Division Champs. They batted around in the 1st to plate 5 runs, and hit like they were supposed to hit against bad pitchers. It is unfortunate that we will not be seeing any Tyler Cloyds in the playoffs.
The team is tied with St. Louis for the best record in the NL, which means homefield advantage is still ours to lose. Fredi says he’s playing his regulars for the rest of this weekend, and so we need to hope that the Cubs rise to the challenge of playing their hated rival and play the Cards tough and pick up a couple of wins.