Tom Glavine called it perfectly in the Atlanta Braves television broadcast booth, it was nice to see the Braves get a win in the same come-from-behind fashion that the Cardinals had used to steal the first 2 games of this series in Atlanta. Brooks Conrad, the utility man forced into the starting lineup for the playoffs last season with injuries to Chipper Jones and Martin Prado and the goat from the playoff series loss to the San Francisco Giants with 4 costly errors in the first 3 games, served a pinch hit game-winning RBI single to short right field in the bottom of the ninth to cap off the Braves’ 6-5 victory, showing he still has some flair for the dramatic after belting two pinch-hit grandslams and 12 pinch-hit RBI total in 2010. Good for Brooks, has to be an incredible feeling after the roller coaster ride of hero to villain in the eyes of Braves fans last season. He continued to work his butt off in the off-season and made the club again. Not every player could’ve come back from that, and he still has some value on this team. After being let down by the bullpen in the first 2 games, spoiling effective starts from Tim Hudson and Brandon Beachy, the Braves salvaged one win in the 3 game set against the Cardinals over the weekend and avoided the confidence killing home sweep. The really frustrating thing is the Braves pitchers and defense kept All-World 1B Albert Pujols in check for the majority of the series, but LF Matt Holliday (along with some of the lesser known Cardinal players) picked up the slack in late game situations.
Now the Braves (15-16, 5-7 at home) finish off their homestand with a 4 game series with the Milwaukee Brewers. Jair Jurrjens who has been spectacular in his first 3 starts coming off the DL gets the rock for the Braves and my fantasy team in game 1 tonight against Yovani Gallardo, who almost no-hit the Bravos up in Milwaukee earlier this season. Ryan Braun brings a big stick down to Atlanta, leading the NL in homers with 10, and you always have to be wary of big swinging Prince Fielder. Don’t let those 2 guys beat you. Let’s keep those bats cranked up and get some revenge on the Brew Crew who took 3 out of 4 in that early series, and get that record above .500 before heading up to Philly this weekend for another division clash.
The Good: Congrats to reserve INF Brandon Hicks who got his first major league hit in Sunday’s game against the Cards – and it was timely, a solid RBI single in the 5th to cut the Cardinals lead t0 4-3. Brandon Beachy continues to show why he caught skipper Fredi Gonzalez’s eye in spring training when he beat out lefty Mike Minor for the 5th spot in the rotation, as he fired 7 more strong innings on Saturday and is piling up the strikeouts. Alex Gonzalez continues his dazzling play in the field at SS and clutch hitting against the Cardinals- after hitting a walk-off HR against St. Louis at the Ted last September in the middle of the playoff chase, his 2-run shot in the 5th woke up a slumbering Braves offense on Sunday and got the Braves on the board.
The Bad: I’d say middle relief is still the biggest concern for this team while Peter Moylan is on the shelf as the bullpen coughed up 2 more leads in the first 2 games of this series. Of greater concern is young closer Craig Kimbrel’s control problems, he’s walking lead-off batters in tight games (a recipe for disaster), and he’s missing inside with the heater and getting hurt, big league hitters aren’t gonna be missing those mistake pitches very often. The team batting average needs to rise with the temperatures in May, the Braves offense got off to a slow start last year in April too (as did slugger Dan Uggla in Florida) but May is when the bats started to heated up (for Uggla as well).
The UGG-ly: I wont pick on Dan’s sub-.200 average again seeing as how he is still popping some clutch homers and is a notoriously slow starter. SP Derek Lowe, however, had no excuse for being so inspired by the Fast and the Furious sequel opening to be drag racing in his sports car on Peachtree Street at 10pm on the Braves off day last Thursday, and getting arrested for DUI, reckless driving, and improper lane change, then proceeding to go to the bump on Sunday afternoon and promptly giving up a 3 spot in the top of the 1st and 4 runs total. Luckily the Braves offense had his back, and Derek apologized for the bad judgment and the distraction. Pitching coach Roger McDowell has been suspended by MLB for 2 weeks for improper language and gestures towards fans in San Francisco during the Giants series. Ummm, yeahhh. I’m a fan of Fredi G, and I’m not going to go down the “this kind of stuff never happened under Bobby’s nose” road yet, but let’s tighten things up just a tad in there Fredi.
About the Author
Written by Marcus Young
"A lotta room in right-center, if he hits one there we can dance in the streets. The 2-1. Swung, line drive left field! One run is in! Here comes Bream! Here's the throw to the plate! He is...SAFE! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!...Braves win!" The late great Skip Caray with my favorite sports call of all time as a lumbering Sid Bream was able to beat Barry Bonds' three-hopper to the plate by an eyelash in the old Atlanta Fulton County Stadium to secure the Atlanta Braves' miraculous back-to-back World Series trips in 1991 and 1992. I grew up in Atlanta, I am still a die hard Braves, Falcons, and Hawks fan and am hungry for another championship to put alongside that lonely 1995 World Series trophy! I graduated from Wake Forest University in 2002 and am back living in Hot-lanta now. Go Deacs and Go Dawgs! My favorite athletes are John Smoltz, Magic Johnson, and Brett Favre. Braves are on a mission in 2011 in the 20th anniversary of that magical 1991 season!