The bats have been struggling. Well, that’s probably a bit of an understatement. The bats have been downright awful. Early on this season, Justin Upton carried the team when no one was doing anything. And because of Evan Gattis and later Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman, there were often other guys around that were doing something. Upton’s been petering off since mid-May, and now he’s out of the lineup. Freeman and Mac have kept on pluggin along, and it actually looked like Jason Heyward was joining BJ Upton in the realm of the no-longer-dead. But not these past couple weeks. Nothing’s worked. The pitching’s been fine (often great), but the Braves have consistently found a way to score just enough runs to lose.
The first inning started well with the Braves loading the bases, and just as Joe and Chip were ready to jump on the “See? No clutch hitting…” bandwagon, McCann went oppo for the slam. Oh, how great it was. And the Braves didn’t stop there. Chris Johnson (whom many were writing off as “regressing”) lead off the 8th with another opposite field job, and the Braves were really in business. Jordan Schafer joined the party in the 4th, hooking a ball around the foul pole in Left, and Dan Uggla capped the day with a single (to the opposite field, fulfilling Joe Simpson’s most erotic fantasy) that scored BJ. And it’s a good thing they continued to score, because Paul Maholm had a mediocre day at the office. Things were looking good through four, but that’s what you’d expect against this depleted Brewers roster. But Pauly began to struggle, giving up meatballs to the few guys in the Brewers lineup you don’t want to give meatballs to. The result were a double and a HR and four runs in for the Brewers. Maholm got pulled, and the combination of Luis Avilan, Anthony Varvaro, Cory Gearrin, and Jordan Walden was good enough to get through the next 3 innings with only one run allowed. Special thanks to Walden, who managed to clean up Gearrin’s mess (0IP, 2BB) in the 8th without a single Grybo. Then Craig Kimbrel came in with a 3-run lead and did Kimbrel things to salvage a single game in this Wisconsin debacle.
Couple of notes:
-It was clear that Fredi REALLY wanted a win here. I thought he would’ve stuck with Maholm in most other circumstances.
-Gearrin’s mediocrity is getting out of hand lately. I’m not sure if the solution is to let him try to work it out or send him down to AAA. Is there anyone down there at this point worth bringing up?
-Success! continues to excel. I’m not sure how sustainable it is, and I still wouldn’t trust him against a lefty, but he’s doing good things for the Braves this year.