The Braves found out what they were made of this week, facing both the defending world champions Chicago Cubs and the MLB’s best team so far this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But coming off a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks to begin the second half of the season, Braves country was starting to believe anything is possible with this team. Their first game against the Cubs nearly proved that as well.
These Braves have shown they are not afraid of being down late in games, and trailing 4-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth, their powerful lineup came to life against Wade Davis. Davis, who had not blown a save all season, found himself in a peculiar situation after giving up two runs and loading the bases. The Braves rookie sensation, Johan Camargo, was up to bat with two outs. Unfortunately, he was not able to come through as the Braves fell, 4-3.
That would be the only game of the series that was even competitive. The Braves’ quiet bats were a reoccurring theme against Chicago. John Lackey shut Atlanta down in his return from the disabled list, and then Mike Montgomery led a route with a terrific pitching performance and a home-run in the series finale.
Atlanta then headed out west to face one of the hottest teams in baseball history needing at least a couple of wins to keep pace in both the wild card and divisional standings.
Game one began with the Braves offense waking up early, which was much needed after a series versus Chicago in which they only put up six runs. They put up six runs in the first four innings of this one, jumping out to a 6-1 lead against Brandon McCarthy. Mike Foltynewicz did not have his best stuff, but it was good enough to get the win, going 6.1 innings while giving up three earned runs and striking out five. The win improved Folty’s record to 8-5 on the season.
Game Two would feature Jaime Garcia, who was nearly traded the night before and former Brave Alex Wood, who came into the matchup with a sub-two ERA and an 11-0 record. That being said, it would not be the outing he hoped for against his former team.
The Braves jumped on the Dodgers early again, scoring the first two runs in the opening inning. They would add two more in the fourth on an error by Wood, but it would be the fifth inning that proved to be detrimental for Los Angeles. With two outs and the bases loaded, Jaime Garcia, who was also tossing a shut out at the time, crushed a grand slam for his first home run of the season to cap off a five run inning.
Atlanta had a terrific opportunity to take the first three games of the series, with Julio Teheran on the mound versus Rich Hill. But Teheran’s home-run troubles bit him once again in this one. He allowed three runs all off solo shots, leaving the game after 6.1 innings with the Braves trailing 3-2. Neither the bullpen or the bats picked him up either, as Los Angeles knocked in three more while the Braves did not score in their first loss of the series.
Teheran has now given up 23 homers on the season, the fourth most in the majors.
Only Ricky Nolasco (26), Masahiro Tanaka (26) and John Lackey (25) have surrendered more home runs than #Braves Julio Teheran (23) this year
— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) July 23, 2017
The Braves would still have a chance to take three against the Dodgers, but the task would be much tougher against Clayton Kershaw.
Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Kershaw would be pinch hit for in the second inning with back stiffness. It did not stop them from jumping out early though. Austin Barnes’ three-run homer put them up 3-1 and rookie phenomenon Cody Bellinger hit his 27th home run of the season in the eighth, putting the Braves in a tough situation against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen.
Jansen had not blown a save all season, but those kind of records are made to be broken, and Matt Adams was the man to do the job on Sunday. With two men on and two out, Adams hit a long shot down the line that stayed fair to tie the game.
But the celebration would not last long for the Braves. After going 1-2-3 in the top half of the tenth inning, Jim Johnson could not shut down the Dodgers in the bottom half. Logan Forsythe walked the Dodgers off with an RBI single, sending the Braves home with a disappointing series split.