Brandon Beachy pitched incredibly tonight and earned a well-deserved win in just his second game back from the disabled list. His fastball was great, which set up some effective changeups and a few nasty curveballs as well. As a result, Beachy fanned nine batters on the night, including a fellow named Ichiro twice, who had only struck out 26 times on the year coming into tonight. Beachy threw an impressive 74 of 104 pitches for strikes. He allowed just one walk and three hits in six innings of work. One of these was a fourth inning homer to Adam Kennedy on a high-outside fastball that was all the scoring the Mariners could muster against the Braves' hurlers tonight.
Erik Bedard also pitched well, but the two starters could not have looked any more different on the mound. Beachy showed a confidence and focus on the mound that was really encouraging. Meanwhile, Bedard looked like a little leaguer in the middle of summer that just wanted for the game to end so that he could go to the pool. He worked very slowly and didn't seem focused at all. Like I said, he pitched great tonight even though he earned a loss, but I've never really watched Bedard pitch and this was just so peculiar to me that I had to make note.
Nothing new on the offensive front for the Braves. B-Mac provided a deep solo shot in the first that gave the Braves a 1-0 lead and served as the only hit for the Braves until he came to the plate for the second time. He singled to Ichiro in the fourth for just the second Braves hit until...wait for it....McCann came to the plate for the third time. His third hit on the night was followed up later in the seventh by a longball by Freeman to straightaway center in one of MLB's biggest parks and gave the Braves a 3-1 lead that would hold.
The bottom half of the seventh was an eventful one as the Mariners threatened the Braves' newly discovered lead. George Sherrill came on to pitch and gave up a single to former Tar Heel Dustin Ackley to lead off the inning. Miguel Olivo then hit what looked like a double to left-center field that Nate McLouth robbed with about as good of a defensive play as he is capable of making. He traveled about 100 feet before making a tremendous sliding grab that you can catch on ESPN tomorrow if they bother to show any Braves highlights. Scott Linebrink got out of the inning with a 6-4-3 double play. Craig Kimbrel had one of his best outings of the year in the ninth in my own personal opinion. He threw his heater for strikes and set down all three batters he faced on strikes to close the door on the Mariners.