The Braves came into this 2-game series with the Rays hoping to get back in the win column after being swept by the Giants. They matched up against a Rays team that had been playing fairly well so far this season. The Braves would end up winning this series behind great pitching and have won 7 consecutive games on the road. It’s nice to see the team get back on track after a rough series at home.
Game 1 of this series saw a great match up between two young starting pitchers. Sean Newcomb took the field for Atlanta and faced Rays pitcher Blake Snell. Newcomb was fantastic as he went 6 innings with 0 earned runs on 2 hits with 3 walks and 6 strike outs. Sean had great fastball command and his change-up looked very good the entire game. His change-up allowed him to be more successful with his fastball and he’s shown the ability to come back when he finds himself behind in the count. A couple of the walks issued by Newcomb were on borderline calls that could have easily been called strike 3. Ronald Acuña Jr. gave Sean his third win of the season after hitting a 434 ft home run to left field. If you didn’t get a chance to see and hear how the ball jumped off of his bat, I encourage you to find a highlight and watch it. I was in complete awe of the bat speed and power that kid possesses. However, that would be the only run the Braves could get as Blake Snell was absolutely impressive. Snell went 6 1/3 innings allowing 1 earned run on 4 hits with 2 walks and 5 strike outs. The Braves took game 1 by a final score of 1-0.
Game 2 saw Julio Teheran turn in another great outing as he seems to have found his stride. Teheran tossed 6 magnificent innings allowing 0 earned runs on 4 hits with 0 walks and 7 strike outs. Julio was able to mix his pitches and speeds very well. His fastball looked much better and has started exploding on hitters even though it sits in the high 80s to low 90s. The Braves offense backed Julio up with 5 runs on 6 hits including a 3-run home run off of the bat of, who else, Nick Markakis. Markakis has been on fire for Atlanta this season and over his last 7 games he has a .464 average with 13 hits including 3 home runs and 9 RBIs. His on base and slugging percentages over that span are .483 and .893 respectively. Atlanta would win game 2 and the series with a final score of 5-2. The 2 runs scored by the Rays ended the Braves streak of 34 consecutive scoreless innings pitched on the road.
The Braves (21-14) head down to Miami to take on the last place Marlins (13-23) in a 4-game series and attempt to increase their lead in the NL East. They’ll then travel to Chicago for a make-up game against the Cubs (19-15) next Monday (May 14th) before heading home to take on the Cubs (May 15th-17th) and Marlins (May 18th-20th) at SunTrust Park. Here’s to hoping that Atlanta will be able to increase their lead on the Phillies who only sit at 1/2 a game back from first place in the East.
- Julio Teheran is starting to pitch with a lot of confidence and looks to be the Julio we all expect him to be each season. Over 8 starts this year, Julio has posted a 3.14 ERA across 43 innings pitched with 42 strike outs and 18 walks. He’s been able to mix his pitch location, get ahead in the count, and his fastball has been exploding on hitters. It’s encouraging to see Teheran pitching so well after he got off to a rocky start early this season.
- The Braves offense continues to lead the National League at a team .268 average. They have great on base (.335) and slugging (.437) percentages which also has them at first in the National League. Atlanta also leads in OPS (.772), runs (187), and RBIs (178). Atlanta continues to have success against left handed pitching as they have a MLB best .284 average and .807 OPS against all left handed pitching. Ender Inciarte continues to lead the majors in stolen bases with 15 of them on the season. As a team, the Braves are 3rd in stolen bases across all of MLB with 27 of them. They’ve kept their promise to stay aggressive on the base paths this season.
- Dan Winkler is one of the bright spots of a bullpen that has struggled this season. Winkler has limited opposing batters to a .115 average over 15 2/3 innings pitched. He currently sports a 1.15 ERA and has dominated against right handed batters since allowing 2 earned runs against the Cubs in April. Right handed batters are currently 1 for 15 against him with 10 strike outs. It’s nice to see Daniel having success after spending the last 3 seasons on the disabled list.