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Braves return from cold roadtrip with a 4-4 record; Cubs series recap

The first roadtrip of the season was certainly an interesting one for the Atlanta Braves. They played in cold temperatures but maintained their offensive success (not including the games against Scherzer and Strasburg in Washington). They took 2 out of 3 from Colorado, dropped 2 out of 3 to Washington, and took 1 out of the 2 games played in Chicago. Today’s game was postponed until May 14th at 1:20 CST in Chicago before the Cubs head to Atlanta for a 3 game series.

I’ll quickly recap the Chicago series that had lots of good and an embarrassing 8th inning for the bullpen in game 2. Game 1 saw the Braves handle Yu Darvish with relative ease as he only pitched 4 2/3 innings allowing 9 hits and 4 earned runs with 4 strike outs. Darvish also walked 4  batters over the course of those innings as well. It seemed that when he was called for a balk in the top of the 5th inning, the wheels fell off for Darvish. Ozzie Albies scored on a wild pitch later in the inning to put the Braves up 1-0.

Nick Markakis would hit a single and Kurt Suzuki would follow with a double to bring Preston Tucker to the plate. Tucker launched a no doubt homerun to right field to put the Braves up 4-0 and his RBI total to a team leading 12. The Braves offense mustered up 12 total hits in the first game of the series. Anibal Sanchez was absolutely amazing as he earned his first win as a Brave by tossing 6 innings with 3 hits and no earned runs with 6 strike outs. His ERA currently sits at a nice 1.29 on the season.

Game 2 saw Sean Newcomb pitch 5 1/3 quality innings of work. He allowed 6 hits with 2 earned runs and 7 strike outs. However, he also walked 4 batters in a game that would see many walks between the two teams due to very poor weather conditions. The game would start off very well for the Braves as Albies hit a homerun in his first at bat of the game and the offense would score 1o runs in the first 4 innings off of Jose Quintana who went 2 1/3 innings allowing 7 earned runs on 7 hits and 1 strike out. Quintana also walked 4 batters over that frame. Each inning of scoring for the Braves was led by Ozzie Albies who ended the day 3-5 with a homerun and 4 RBIs.

The Braves went into the 8th inning leading the Cubs 10-5. Unfortunately, this inning would see the weather get worse and the Braves bullpen implode. Luke Jackson was the first pitcher to come in and he started off by hitting Jason Heyward with his 4 pitch out of the bullpen. He would strike out Kyle Schwarber and surrender a single to Tommy La Stella before being taken out of the game. Jose Ramirez would take over and strike out Navarro. However, with two outs in the inning the Cubs would end up tying up the game. Contreras reached on an infield single to score a run and load the bases. Ramirez would also walk in a run and then surrender a 3 run double to Javier Baez. The Cubs tied the game up at 10 a piece.

The Braves would go to the bullpen again as Sam Freeman would attempt to get the final out of the inning. Unforuntately, he would walk Jason Heyward to once again load the bases. Freeman would then walk Kyle Schwarber and Tommy La Stella to give the Cubs a 12-10 lead in the most ridiculous fashion. Peter Moylan was the 4th reliever in the inning and his first pitch was a wild pitch that scored the 8th run of the inning for the Cubs. Kurt Suzuki would try to throw out La Stella who was too far off of base but it would sail into the outfield allowing the 9th run of the inning to score. The Cubs scored all 9 runs in the inning on only 3 hits. The Braves bullpen walked 5 batters in the inning and hit two batters. The Cubs won game 2 by a score of 14-10 in a game that saw horrible weather.

There were 18 total walks issued in Game 2 between both teams. 8 walks belonged to the Cubs and 10 walks to the Braves. This certainly won’t be a game that any Braves or Cubs fan will soon forget. We can only hope the bullpen will recover from such a heartbreaking implosion once they arrive back in Atlanta. Game 3 was postponed due to terrible weather conditions and will be made up on May 14th.

Takeaways: 

  • The offense is still on a roll early into the season. The team average is currently .270 with 16 homeruns and 78 RBIs. This has them sitting at 3rd in the league offensively and 1st in the National League. It’s been impressive to see them score so many runs without depending on the long ball. They have hit 37 doubles this season which is the second most in the league behind Boston who has 43 doubles.
  • Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson have been leading the way  for the offense in the past 7 games. Albies has batted .400 with 3 homeruns and 4 RBIs and currently leads the team in homeruns with 4 on the season. Swanson is batting .357 with 1 homerun and 5 RBIs. They have turned out to be one of the best middle infields offensively and defensively in baseball.
  • Not to be outdone, Preston Tucker has continued to come up in big spots this season. He currently leads the team in RBIs with 12 on the season. He also has 3 homeruns on the season so far and sports a .300 average. He has definitely given the Braves the power potential behind Freddie Freeman that many were unsure we would find in the first month of the season.

The Braves young talent has continued to impress me in the early goings of the season. They’ve shown that though the Braves are young they aren’t going to be a team that just gives up in the late innings of games or when the pressure is on. I hope that they continue their hot start and carry the offense through the entire season.

This week is an important one for Atlanta as they are 8-6 and sit at 3rd in the division behind the Phillies and Mets. Tomorrow starts the second homestand of the season as the Phillies come in for a 3 game series and the Mets will come to town for a 4 game series. If the Braves can win each of those series they have the chance to gain ground in the division. I, for one, am hoping that they can compete in a division that seems to be better than it was a year ago.

Master of Arts student in Communication at Liberty University Online. One of the biggest baseball fans you will ever meet. Proudly covering college, MiLB, and Braves baseball for Peachtree Pennant.

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