When writing up a game pitched by Sean Newcomb, you think you’ll inevitably have to address his walks. In 100 IP last year, he struggled with a 5.13 BB/9. His entire minor league career is similar to that. “Sean Newcomb” and “walks”, sadly, go hand-in-hand. Not tonight. A day after Mike Soroka pitched a very efficient and effective game, Newcomb went and did the same. Jacob deGrom had to leave early, so it wasn’t quite the pitcher’s duel it could have been, but Newcomb held up his end of the bargain. His line for his night was his best ever: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. A seven-inning performance is what we like to call an Atlanta Complete Game. Make no mistake about it: this is a very encouraging sign for Sean. His BB/9 is down over a full walk to 3.9, the best mark at any stop of his professional career.
The blowout final score is a little misleading as the Braves went scoreless through the first five innings. deGrom was pitching well, and after he left to injury, Paul Sewald kept them scoreless for another inning. But Ender Inciarte, who is waking up from his slow start to a .282 BA and his discipline and power trending upward, had a double and Freddie Freeman knocked a 2-out flare to break the scoreless tie. The floodgates would open as Ender, Johan Camargo, and Ryan Flaherty would all go deep in the 7th and 8th innings. The result was the second consecutive double-digit hit parade, and the rout was on. Freddie and Markakis had 3 hits, and Ender had his 2.
It’s May 2nd, and the Braves are now a first-place team. This team is compared to the 1991 Braves, and by their 29th game of that year, that team was starting to hit its stride. That team began 8-10, but they then went on a 17-9 run. But beware: after that point, their next 29 games saw them go 12-17. This young team could easily fall into a slump so my advice is to enjoy the moment. Enjoy Ronald Acuna‘s development. Enjoy Nick Markakis‘ resurgence. Enjoy Sean Newcomb finding the strike zone. Enjoy a rebound outing by Sam Freeman. Just enjoy it. We haven’t had it as bad as other franchises, but no one likes 3 years of losing. But this could be a year of a lot of winning, and who knows where this team will be at the end of the year, so do your best to just enjoy it.