What’s wrong with 7: The Braves won their seventh straight, and everyone is skipping along eating Waffle House like we’ll never lose again. Well… the Braves head to face their Kryptonite: the road. While the Braves 11.5-game lead is equivalent to every other division lead in baseball combined, and their record is 1.5-games from being the best in baseball, their road record is under .500. Yep, the Braves are 26-30 on the road (and an amazing 38-15 at home). We all have to hope that whatever has gotten into them on this home stand (waffles) is something that they can take with them to Philly and Washington.
Up: Justing Upton matched (17), then surpassed (18) his home run total from last year (17) in last night’s game. He did so in 49 fewer games. Of course, he’s also 10 strikeouts away from matching last year’s total. While there were 21 games in between his 14th and 15th homers and it took him another 21 games to get from his 15th homer to his 16th homer, during which time he hit around .200, it only took 15 games for him to get from his 16th homer to the two he hit last night. In those 15 games he hit .288… he’s coming around (slowly).
Up: B.J. Upton took another step closer to returning yesterday with a good game in Gwinnett: 3-for-4 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI. After the game he said this:
“See ball, hit ball,” said Upton. “It’s been a while since I had some at-bats and I definitely showed some progression.”
We’ll see after today’s game if he really is ready to rejoin Atlanta on Sunday, as has been speculated by the media.
And a Hey: It’s only 6 games, but Jason Heyward seems to be enjoying the lead-off spot. Since moving their early this week he’s hitting .333/.448/.583. He’s been on base in every game and is even driving in runs (7) from the lead-off spot. I must admit that I thought Andrelton Simmons could handle leading off this year, and maybe one day he can, but for now (and for what ever reason) he seems much more comfortable hitting lower in the order. Some guys aren’t affected by where they hit in the lineup, other guys let their lineup position dictate how they approach plate appearances, or dictate how much pressure they put on themselves. As Simmons grows, he’ll learn to get past the lead-off jitters, but for now we’ll stick with the 6-foot-5 tower-of-power Heyward hitting first.
Good Hale: Gwinnett won. I already talked about BJ’s good night, but just about every batter in the Gwinnett lineup was hitting last night. David Hale was pitching, and had another good start: 6IP, 8H, 3R, 1BB, 3SO.
Ian-sanity: Mississippi won. Starter Ian Thomas had a terrific start, giving up only 3 hits: 7IP, 3H, 2R, 1ER, 0BB, 6SO. I seem to gush over him every time he pitches, but the dude has been legit since he moved to the rotation. Kudos to the Braves scouts for finding Thomas in the Independent Leagues, and kudos to the Braves development folks for bringing him along so well. And ‘dos to Ian for doing his thang.
Hin-sanity: Lynchburg won. Another LHP Independent League find by the Braves scouts is Ryan Hinson, signed last month out of Wichita. He had a dominant start last night: 6IP, 3H, 0R, 3BB, 5SO. He’s been more of a pitch-to-contact ground ball machine in his earlier starts this year, and last night he let his defense gobble everything up. All four starts he’s made since joining Lynchburg have been quality starts.
Rome lost: Not much offense for Rome, and Mauricio Cabrera once again battled his control: 6.2IP, 6H, 3R, 1ER, 3BB, 5SO, 1WP, 1HBP. He also battled his control in the field, committing a critical error on a throw to first. Eric Pfisterer pitched two-thirds of a scoreless inning with a K.
Good Ubbie: Danville lost. One of the top young pitching prospects at Danville, Andry Ubiera, had a good start last night: 6IP, 5H, 2R, 1ER, 2BB, 8SO, 1HBP. He’s had a great season at Danville, with only one bad start (and his defense let him down in that game). We still need to see him at a higher level to know what the Braves have, but the early returns are good. He’s still not a prospect on the order of Mauricio Cabrera, but he’s only a slight rung below that (which should still be pretty good).