Wow! This has been an amazing run for the Atlanta Braves. Yes, they got off to a slow start this season, and it seemed like they couldn’t get things going on a consistent basis, but now, they are untouchable. Everything is clicking on all cylinders where and when it needs too! With these eleven wins in a row, they have moved from 10 games out of first to now only 5.5 games out of first, behind the New York Mets.
Some may scoff and say that they have swept three teams who aren’t considered the best, but sometimes it has been hard for Atlanta to win against the “easier” teams. They proved in this series that they are still the World Series-caliber team that they were last year.
There were SO MANY positives that came from these eleven games, here are some that stood out to me:
SOLID STARTING PITCHING:
In order to win ballgames, your starting pitchers need to go deep into them. Some of the Braves starters have struggled with pitching deep into games earlier in the season. However, over the past week and a half, they were looking very sharp. Even Charlie Morton, who still has not gotten back to the Charlie Morton we saw last season, pitched 6 innings on Saturday. He did not get the win, but it was nice to see him pitch deeper than four or five innings; plus he had 12 strikeouts over those 6 innings.
The three starting performances that stood out were:
- Max Fried’s 8 scoreless innings pitched on June 3 against the Colorado Rockies. Everything was going for Fried that night. He was untouchable! In those eight scoreless innings, he only allowed two hits, one walk, and he only had four strikeouts. He was dominant on the mound and got those ground ball outs that he’s known for getting. It was a shame he didn’t get the win. (In this game the Braves and Rockies went into extras with a scoreless tie.)
- Kyle Wright’s 8 innings against the Oakland Athletics on June seventh. In those eight innings, Wright only allowed five hits, two runs, zero walks, and had seven strikeouts. He showed a lot of dominance on the mound and proved that he can pitch late into ballgames and have the same amount of sharpness (if not more) than he started the game with. Kyle Wright is a good young pitcher, and the Braves are lucky to have him.
- Spencer Striders scoreless performance on June tenth against the Pittsburg Pirates. For Spencer Strider to have started the season in the bullpen, he is a great starter. He can throw 101 MPH and make it look easy as can be. He has a great slider and a really good fastball. He has come through huge for the Braves and has made a good impact in the starting rotation. In this start against the Pirates, he pitched 5.2 innings, allowed four hits, zero runs, one walk, and he had eight strikeouts. Overall it was a very good performance.
Alongside the Braves starting pitching, the relief core has been lights-out as well. They have kept us in close ball games and preserved late inning leads when they mattered most. Kenley Jansen, who at first made us all nervous every time he came out to pitch, has finally found his groove and is closing games like we saw him close for the Dodgers. No drama, he just comes in and gets the job done.
Will Smith is the same way. He started off the season very similarly to how he did last year where he got into a lot of high-stress situations. But Today (June 12th), he came into the game against the Pirates in the seventh inning and shut down the side while only throwing nine pitches. Hopefully he, along with everyone else in the bullpen, can keep up the good work.
Getting hits, timely ones at that, was often time hard to come by for the Braves’ hitters early on in the season. But in these past eleven games, it’s been hard to get them out!! Lately, Atlanta has found all kinds of ways to get on base — hit, walk, hit-by-pitch, error, etc. But all that matters is they are getting on base and scoring!
In these eleven games, the Atlanta offense hit 22 home runs. Two of which were grand slams…one was by Braves’ catcher Travis d’Arnaud and the other by second baseman Ozzie Albies. d’Arnaud’s came on Thursday, June 2nd in Colorado when the Braves won 13-6, and Ozzie’s came against the Pirates on Saturday when they won 10-4. In the final game of the series against the Pittsburg Pirates, Adam Duvall, who had been struggling a little at the plate, hit two home runs. One he pulled, and the other he smoked to opposite field in the Chop House. Both were huge, and it was so good to see him hit the ball out of the ballpark again…he definitely needed it!
This Atlanta Braves hitting core has been SO fun to watch! They have been so active on the base-pads, and you can see it in how they play. Their faces show that they are enjoying playing ball just as much- if not more- than us fans who are watching them!
MICHAEL HARRIS JR.:
This kid!!! He has impressed me and the Braves organization on so many levels. For him to have skipped Triple-A and come straight from Double-A to the Majors is remarkable. But, you can see why the Braves brought him up when they did. He is HOT right now. Not to mention Harris Jr. is a very good outfielder! He has made multiple plays in center field that have left me in awe of how he even got to the baseball, let alone make the catch. Harris has definitely bolstered the outfield and the bottom of the lineup. All in all, he has been a great addition to this red-hot Atlanta Braves team.
It has been so enjoyable to finally see all of the Braves’ handwork pay off and for them to start playing like we know they are very capable of doing. Hopefully they can keep it up as they head to Washington D.C. to play the Nationals tomorrow!
Always and forever, GO BRAVES!