Ho-hum. Another series, another series win for the Bravos. This one was even duller than the others. Really, hardly anything of note happened--just the same old same old. I'm so sick of all these 7-run innings, no-hitters, and walk-off hits. But hey, better to win a dull series than lose an interesting one, right Braves fans?
Seriously, though. That was one heck of a series between two excellent and evenly-matched teams. Here's a quick recap of each game:
Game 1: Braves Win 9-5
On Friday, the Braves' bats took Rockies starter Jason Hammel to the woodshed much as they did Carlos Zambrano, knocking him out in the 2nd inning. The highlight of the day was the 7-run, 7-hit, 12-batter 2nd inning. Derek Lowe (who else) was the beneficiary of all of those runs. Lowe pitched fairly well for the first 4 innings but ran into trouble in the 5th and didn't make it through the 6th. He gave up 4 runs (3 earned) in 5.1 IP, striking out 5 and "earning" the win. Every Braves' starter but Lowe had at least 1 hit and scored at least 1 run.
(Recaps, Fun Facts, and Awards after the jump...)
Game 2: Rockies win 4-0
On Saturday, the Rockies' Ubaldo Jimenez was spectacular (and spectacularly wild), throwing a no-hitter despite 6 walks. Jimenez also drove in a run with a single, completing his amazing day. Carlos Gonzalez added two doubles, including one that drove in 2 runs. Kenshin Kawakami pitched for the Braves but was no match for Jimenez, giving up 4 ER in 5 IP. The lone bright spot for the Braves was the excellent debut of reliever Jonny Venters, who threw 3 shutout innings and looked dominant.
Game 3: Braves win 4-3
On Sunday, the Braves appeared to be headed for a dispiriting defeat. They had consistently gotten on base all afternoon (game totals: 8 hits and 11 walks), but had managed only 2 runs off Rockies starter Greg Smith and a trio of relievers. Jair Jurrjens pitched very well overall, striking out 9 and pitching 8 full innings (the most for any Braves starter this year), but was hurt by two solo homers by Ian Stewart and Carlos Gonzalez. JJ left trailing 3-2.
In the ninth, Rockies' fill-in closer Franklin Morales got into trouble early, giving up a hit to Martin Prado, and then became discomposed when a couple umpiring calls went against his team (a balk and a call at first). Morales walked the bases loaded with 2 outs, setting up Jason Heyward to do what he does best--astonish everyone. Heyward (who also had a bases-loaded walk earlier in the game) drove in the tying and winning runs with a line single to left. The 20-year-old finally showed some emotion after his hit, jumping around like the kid he is until his teammates dogpiled him. It was a great win, and a fantastic finish to a very interesting series.
Series Fun Facts
- The Braves walked 23 times in the series, including 11 times in the finale. The Braves have matched that walk total in only 5 other games since 2001.
- Bobby Cox did not use Peter Moylan, Takashi Saito, or Billy Wagner in any of the three games, despite each game being decided by 4 runs or fewer. Who would have imagined that could happen?
- After 12 games of the season, the Braves have still scored more runs in Derek Lowe's 3 starts (32) than in all other games combined (28). This could be a running stat all year long (I hope not, though).
- Jason Heyward now leads the league in WPA (1.67) and shaving cream pies to the face (2).
Best Pitching Performance: ¡Ubaldo! -- 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 6 BB, 7 K, 1 BK, 0.320 WPA
Best Hitting Performance: Heyward-- 3/10, 3 BB, R, 3 RBI, 1.059 WPA
Worst Pitching Performance: (tie) Hammel-- 1.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, -0.344 WPA; and Morales-- 0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 BK, -0.820 WPA.
Best Defensive Play: Dexter Fowler's diving catch to save Jimenez's no-hitter
Clutch Play: Heyward's walk-off single, 0.741 WPA