Braves’ current record: 84-63 (2nd in NL East, 5.5 games behind Washington Nationals)
September 10: Lost 4-1 at Milwaukee Brewers
September 11: Lost 5-0 at Milwaukee Brewers
September 12: Lost 8-2 at Milwaukee Brewers
September 14: Won 2-1 vs. Washington Nationals
September 15: Won 5-4 vs. Washington Nationals
September 16: Won 5-1 vs. Washington Nationals
The Braves deserve a lot of credit for finally showing up on Sunday Night Baseball, chasing 19-game winner Gio Gonzalez from the game and sweeping the Nationals when they could have packed it in and been happy with a series win. In the process, they might have exposed Gonzalez — if you work the count against him, you can run up his pitch count quickly and wear him down. Gonzalez threw 83 pitches in the first three innings of Sunday night’s game, and after a couple of breaks went their way, the Braves cracked the Nats’ ace and earned a huge sweep.
But it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine; The Braves struggled mightily at the plate in Milwaukee, losing all three games at Miller Park to start the week. They are still leaving a small army of runners on base, which will be a liability if it’s still happening in the postseason. It’s also the difference between the Braves scoring three runs per game (putting the pressure on the pitching staff to be flawless in order to get a win) and scoring 10 runs and winning comfortably.
It was strange to see the pitching staff allow four runs or more in 66 percent of their games this week — that’s been a rarity this season. They usually allow three runs or less in a majority of a week’s worth of games, but the Brewers came to play early in the week and blitzed the pitching staff to earn the sweep. On the other hand, the staff deserves credit for recovering on the off-day and coming back strong against the Nationals.
Washington has a solid lineup that can score in a hurry. The Braves holding them to six runs in three games is impressive, and it should give the fans confidence for a potential playoff series against Washington. With the loss of Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals don’t have as deep of a starting rotation as the Braves, and that’s a big deal in the postseason.
The Braves made six more errors this week, which shouldn’t alarm anyone, in my opinion. Manager Fredi Gonzalez is trying to rest tired players, so the eight position players on the field are different every night. Guys are playing positions they’re not used to, and bench players are filling in regularly. So, yes, more errors will be committed down the stretch. It’s frustrating, but errors are better than injuries.
The week ahead:
Monday: at Miami Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
Tuesday: at Miami Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
Wednesday: at Miami Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
Friday: at Philadelphia Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: at Philadelphia Phillies, 4:05 p.m.
Sunday: at Philadelphia Phillies, 1:35 p.m.