It all clicked for the Braves today. They got great pitching Kris Medlen. Even better, they got great hitting from the start, making Twins starter Kevin Slowey--a good pitcher--look like a minor-league journeyman. The Braves got 16 hits in all, and limited the Twins to only 4 hits.
The Braves wasted no time getting on the board. In the first inning, Brooks Conrad laced a 1-out single to right. Jason Heyward followed with a broken-bat double that carried nearly to the warning track (the kid is strong!). After a Brian McCann walk, Troy Glaus followed with an RBI single to make it 2-0. Eric Hinske then roped a double off the high right-field wall (it would've been a homer in some parks), scoring McCann. When the throw back to the infield got away from the Twins, Glaus scampered home to make it 4-0.
After that, the Braves basically cruised. They picked up runs on 3 solo homers--by Prado in the 2nd, by Glaus in the 5th, and by Glaus again in the 7th. Slowey was pulled after Glaus' first bomb, and ended with a line of 4.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R (5 ER), 2 HR, 6 K, 1 BB, and a -0.305 WPA.
Medlen did not allow a hit until the 5th inning--a 1-hit double by Jason Kubel--and took a 1-out shutout into the 7th. With the Braves up comfortably all day, he simply pounded the strike zone. On the day, he had exactly 3 times as many strikes as balls--69 strikes, 23 balls. The only blemish was a 3-run homer by Delmon Young in the 7th. To his credit, though, Meds went out and pitched a perfect 8th after the homer. His final line was 8 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 HR, 5 K, 1 BB, and a 0.190 WPA.
Jonny Venters pitched around a leadoff walk in the 9th to close out the game in a non-save situation.
This was a very impressive game and series for the Braves. They looked a bit disjointed at times during the D'backs series but played extremely well in this one. Were it not for a couple infield hits against Tim Hudson, we might have even swept. Winning a road series at the end of an 11-game trip with no off-days is good enough, but doing it against a 1st-place AL team is even more impressive.
Another tough test awaits starting Tuesday, as the best-in-MLB Rays come to Atlanta. Luckily, we get a day off before that series to regroup and rest our many nagging injuries.
Awards after the jump.
Medlen (stat line above)
Glaus-- 4/5, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 0.130 WPA
Hinske-- 2/5, 2 2B, RBI, K, 0.122 WPA
Martin Prado-- 3/4, BB, HR, R, RBI, 0.045 WPA
Heyward-- 2/5, 2B, R, RBI, CS, 2 K, 0.074 WPA
Slowey (stat line above)
MVP in a Losing Effort
Delmon Young, I guess-- 1/3, HR, R, 3 RBI, 0.006 WPA. No Twin had a WPA higher than 0.025 today.
Hinske's RBI double / Punto error on the throw (0.135 WPA)
None, really. Big early leads means not much opportunity for low WPA. The worst was only -0.030, for Yunel Escobar failing to get a runner home from 3B with one out in the 1st.