A year ago, the Atlanta Braves were in the early stages of a really strange aberration on their schedule.
They didn’t win a single Monday ballgame until July 30.
The problems were deeper than that with the 2012 ballclub. In the opening game of their first 12 series, the Braves had a 5-7 record. They weren’t setting the tone in Game 1, and as a result, they sat in second place in the NL East in mid-May.
2013 has been a different story. Through 12 series, the Braves are 10-2 in the first game, with six of those victories coming on the road. Instead of being half a game behind the Washington Nationals on May 10, they’re a game and a half ahead.
It might seem like a small improvement, but it’s a big deal when Mondays are no longer a liability. They’ve been their best on that day so far this season — a perfect 4-0. How sweet is that, Braves fans?
Here’s why it’s a big deal: if the team wins Game 1 of a three-game series, they’re one win away from clinching a series win. If they win Game 2, manager Fredi Gonzalez can rest players in Game 3 and keep his stars fresh for longer. They’re less likely to have a 2011-esque meltdown in September that way!
Along those same lines, winning teams generally use less bullpen pitchers in a game than the losing team. Being able to keep those arms off the field will be a huge asset later in the season.
Again, it’s a small uptick in the grand scheme of a baseball season, but it’s going to pay off in the long run if the Braves can continue this positive trend.