Two weeks ago, the Braves had a golden opportunity against some weak NL East opponents to gain some ground on the rest of the National League. They were unable to do so though, losing five of their eight games versus the Phillies and Mets.
This past week’s opponents were much tougher, as they began the week in a place where they had not captured a series win since early April of 2014. Washington has had the Braves number over the last several years, but the good guys got their bats going after a silent weekend. They scored 29 runs in the series, winning the rubber match in blowout fashion, 13-2.
Things did not get much easier either, as the Braves headed back home to face the scorching hot Miami Marlins, winners of 13 of their last 19, without Matt Kemp, who left the series finale with the Nationals due to hamstring tightness. His presence was dearly missed in game one too. Dan Straily pitched seven scoreless on the way to a shutout over the Braves while allowing just four hits.
The Braves looked to be well on their way to bouncing back in game two, but a five run fifth inning erased a 2-0 lead and ended Jaime Garcia’s night earlier than he would have liked. The fish increased their lead to 7-2, before the Braves started to chip away in the bottom of the sixth. A Nick Markakis double brought home Brandon Phillips for the game-tying run in the bottom of the 9th. Phillips then finished the Marlins off with a walk off single in the bottom of the 10th.
Saturday’s thriller was followed up by another nail biter on Sunday afternoon. Once again it took a while for the Braves to get the bats going, but a four run seventh inning catapulted the Braves in front, 4-2. Although, it only lasted until Marcell Ozuna blasted his 18th home run to knot the game at four in the top of the 8th. The Braves were given a chance to win it in walk-off fashion, and Brandon Phillips came through once again. With two on in the bottom of the ninth, Phillips walked the Braves off with a single.
The Braves open up their week with a four-game set against the struggling San Francisco Giants. R.A Dickey took the mound Monday night against Johnny Cueto. Not exactly a dream pitching matchup for the Braves, but it was actually Dickey that looked more like the ace in the matchup. In Matt Kemp’s return to the starting lineup, the Braves were able to push just enough across against Cueto to earn Dickey the victory. The knuckleballer was spectacular, continuing his trend of up-and-down preformances, pitching seven scoreless. Once Cueto was pulled, the Braves exploded for a seven run bottom of the eighth on their way to a 9-0 win to start the week.
Player of the Week
No Freeman, No Kemp, No Problem! The Braves looked to be in deep trouble when Freddie Freeman went to the disabled list, but Adams has been able to unbelievably duplicate Freeman’s production. He continued his hot June this past week, hitting .435 with 8 RBIs and added two home-runs, bringing his total to eight for the month. The hammering lefty first-baseman has been a wonderful addition, but with Freeman’s return inching closer, the Braves are going to have a tough decision to make. Adams’s hot bat could bring in a nice return on the trade market, but it will be limited because he is in the last year of his deal. Atlanta could try and play Adams somewhere else in the field, but the Cardinals attempted that and it did not work out so well. One thing is for sure: Adams is too good of a hitter to be sitting on the bench. Whether in a Braves uniform or elsewhere, he will be starting for somebody.
Following their series against the Giants, the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers come to town for a weekend set. The Braves, currently five games under .500, will look to continue their winning ways heading into the trade deadline. As of now, the Braves would be selling, but with only five teams posting a record above .500 in the National League, things could change quickly. Teheran looks to extend the Braves winning streak to four tomorrow night against the Giants.