Starting pitching really struggled in this short 3 game home stand in Atlanta. The San Francisco Giants came in to town playing about as well as the Braves have been. They won 7 of their last 10 games coming into this series. The Braves starting staff struggled to get through the early innings even after the offense scored in the first inning of each game. San Francisco would score multiple runs early on and put pressure on the Braves offense to play catch-up in each game. Even though the Braves offense did all they could, starting pitching just couldn’t settle in for a sold out SunTrust Park crowd.
The Braves would lose Game 1 by a score of 9-4 due to Mike Foltynewicz’s poor performance on the mound. Folty went 5 innings allowing 6 earned runs (all in 2nd inning) on 9 hits with 2 walks and 4 strike outs. The main thing that seemed to be causing Mike some trouble was his fastball command. He didn’t look as poised on the mound as he had been in prior starts. The Braves offense would try their best to get back in the game but the Giants just kept on hitting. A positive from this game was Nick Markakis continuing his great work at the plate as he went 2-4 with a home run.
Unfortunately, the Braves would drop Game 2 (11-2) behind a poor pitching performance from Brandon McCarthy (3 1/3 innings, 12 H, 8 ER, 1 BB, 2 K). Brandon had a hard time keeping a lot of his pitches down in the zone and the Giants hit through some defensive shifts as the Giants scored 6 runs between the 2nd and 3rd innings. The Braves started off with a 1 run lead but, after the 1st inning, it was all Giants as they would finish the game with 11 runs and 18 hits. However, Nick Markakis turned in another great performance for the Braves going 3-4 including a RBI double.
The Braves would turn to rookie pitching phenom Mike Soroka to hopefully salvage 1 of their 3 games against San Francisco. However, Soroka would struggle just like his counterparts in Games 1 and 2. He only made it through 4 innings allowing 4 earned runs on 7 hits with 3 walks and 3 strike outs. All 4 earned runs came in the third inning. The bullpen would keep the Giants at bay (no pun intended) over the last 6 innings. They would only allow 3 hits and strike out 2 batters.
The Braves mounted a come back in the bottom of the 9th thanks to Kurt Suzuki and Ender Inciarte driving in a couple of runs. However, with a runner on third, Albies would fly out on a check swing to end the game. Atlanta fell in Game 3 by a final score of 4-3.
The Braves will try to get back in the win column as they head out on the road to take on Tampa Bay in a 2-game set and Miami in a 4-game set. They’ll travel to Chicago for one game with the Cubs (rain out from April) and then head back to Atlanta to face the Cubs for 3 games and Miami for another 3-game series.
- As I mentioned above, Nick Markakis continues to stay hot for Atlanta in the clean-up spot. Markakis continues to sport the best batting average in the National League as he went 5 for 12 in the series with 1 HR and 2 RBIs. He currently leads the NL (6th in MLB) with a .344 average on the season with 6 HR and 25 RBI over 33 games played. It seems Nick is feeling the best he’s ever felt in a Braves uniform and performing well above expectations.
- José Bautista had a good debut for the Braves at third base. While he isn’t a superstar at third, he proved that he could hold his own and get by defensively. Offensively he looked very good as he went 3 for 10 in the series with 2 strike outs and 2 walks. It’s a very encouraging sign to see Bautista check in to the line up and not struggle out of the gate. He will be a nice addition as the Braves head into Tampa Bay for inter-league play as he can DH or play third.
- Kurt Suzuki continues to impress me this season as he is in the top 10 in batting average among all catchers in the NL and MLB. He currently sports a .310/.375/.548 slash line and has 5 HR with 15 RBIs across 84 at bats this season. He started a come back in the final game of the series and continues to thrive in clutch situations for Atlanta. If he keeps playing this way, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Braves look to sign him again in the off season. He’s a valuable asset to this team that I’m thankful to have.
- Believe it or not, the Braves still lead all of the NL and MLB in offense. The team slash line is at .274/.341/.446 and they have 325 hits (1st in NL, 2nd in MLB) on the season with 39 HR and 172 RBIs (1st in NL, 3rd in MLB) and 181 total runs scored (1st in NL, 2nd in MLB). They are also first in the NL in doubles with 77 of them (2nd in MLB) and have only struck out 259 times this season (2nd fewest K in NL, 5th fewest in MLB). I don’t think we should expect this offense to slow down anytime soon.