Cinco de Mayo turned into Sweep-o de Mayo at Turner Field on Thursday night, with yours truly in attendance. That ends my 0-3 jinx I was carrying with me to the Ted so far this season. It was another day at the beach for young stud Brandon Beachy who delivered 6 innings, with a whopping 9 strikeouts, scattering 4 hits and only yielding 1 unearned run, but unfortunately was saddled with yet another no decision. Brewers starter Shaun Marcum was just as sharp, but the Braves would get just enough offense with solo homers from Eric Hinske (starting at 1B giving Freeman a breather after playing all 18 innings of Wednesday’s double header due to Tuesday’s rain) and Martin Prado. Craig Kimbrel was lights out in the 9th for his 7th save in 8 chances. Thursday’s win polished off a 4 game sweep of the Brewers and the Braves did indeed exact some revenge after dropping 3 of 4 in Milwaukee in the second series of the season. Too bad Roy Halladay and the Phillies were busy polishing off a sweep of their own against the Gnats, so just like when the Braves swept the Giants 2 weeks ago, Atlanta couldn’t pick up any ground in the standings. In fact, the red hot Braves are 7-3 over their last 10 games…the Phillies? Yup you guessed it, 7-3. Even without Chase Utley and Jason Werth, and with Raul Ibanez struggling mightily, the Phillies pitching is just too good right now. But I wouldn’t sneeze at the Braves starting rotation – that was the story behind this sweep of the Brewers. Check out these lines the last 4 games:
Jair Jurrjens: 7.2 IP, 7 hits, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks
Tommy Hanson: 6 IP, 3 hits, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks
Tim Hudson: CG (complete game) 1 hit shutout, 1 BB, 6 Ks
Brandon Beachy: 6 IP, 4 hits, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 9 Ks
Forget salary and pedigree, D-Lowe (2-3, 3.72 ERA, minimal run support so far) is basically our 5th starter now in my opinion, and he’s coming off an undefeated September last season and isn’t off too a bad start this year, other than stunt racing his Porsche into midtown last week like Paul Walker. I have it 1-Hudson 2-Hanson 3-Jurrjens 4-Beachy 5-Lowe right now. You could do worse than Derek Lowe being your 5th most effective starter, a lot worse. And as for my key to success in beating Milwaukee by not letting Braun and Fielder beat you? The two young hot hitting sluggers were a combined 3-30 in the series with the only real damage being a solo shot Fielder golfed out to right off Hanson (even that was a pretty good pitch). They didn’t even have to pitch around them, they went right after ‘em and got them out. These guys are attacking hitters and letting the defense work behind them, and as a result are piling up strikeouts while limiting the walks. No free passes. That’s what makes guys like Lee and Halladay so tough – you have to earn your way on base against their best stuff.
Should be a fun series in Philadelphia this weekend with both teams playing well right now. The Phils come in at 21-9, best mark in the NL and tied for the best in all of baseball. After the Braves just ripped off 5 straight home wins, they have surged to 18-15. As for the marquee pitching matchups, well the rain on Tuesday messed things up a little bit. Hanson was in line to get the Sunday Night Baseball start on ESPN, but now it looks to be either Huddy on short rest or a minor league call up for a spot start (possibly lefty Mike Minor). It’ll be Lowe vs. Lee tonight, Jurrjens vs. Oswalt on Saturday, and Hamels vs. TBD on Sunday. Runs should be at a premium. But hey, at least we miss Cy Young Halladay again!
The Good: Other than the sensational starting pitching? Some timely hitting in the Brewers series. Brian McCann is still tops in the league hitting with runners in scoring position (over .500)…The beleaguered Nate McLouth was a perfect 5-5 with 3 walks in the 2 games of Wednesday’s double header (8-3 and 8-0 wins). When his speed is on base, good things happen…The offensive catalyst, Martin Prado, has his average up to .270. In the Braves 18 wins he’s hitting over .300, in the 15 losses he’s hitting around .150…And a shout-out to one of the most creative ballpark organists in the league, Matthew Kaminski (pictured upper left). Next time you’re at Turner Field, listen out for the at-bat music he plays for opposing players and try to figure out the correlation to their names. Some examples from last night: Brown-Eyed Girl for Ryan Braun and the theme from 80s TV sitcom “Night Court” for Brewers SS Yuniesky Betancourt. The 3 most ingenious ones I can remember from last season: the theme from “The Office” for Ryan Howard (same name of the office temp), the Indiana Jones theme for Rockies OF Ryan Spilborghs (get it, “Spielberg”) and a Black Eyed Peas song for Nationals OF Josh Willingham (an homage to the Peas front man Will.I.Am). I may be a trivia dork, but let’s face it, 9 inning baseball games can get a little restless so it’s a fun little treat at the stadium (well, that and dip-n-dots).
The Bad: Who’s complaining about anything after a 5 game winning streak and a 4 game sweep capped off on Cince de Mayo??
The Ugly: Nada
And Let’s go Hawks!!!!
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!