Pedro Alvarez and the Pirates had to feel good about taking two of four games from a hot Braves squad over the wraparound series this weekend.
This weekend's wraparound four game series seemed like one that the Braves could come out of with three wins. That wasn't what went down though, as the teams split the series two games apiece. The Pirates' pitching staff finally gave up more than five runs on Friday when the Braves iced a 2-1 game with four runs in the seventh inning. Dan Uggla and Chipper both drove in two runs in the inning to give the Braves their ultimate 6-1 advantage. Tommy Hanson looked good in a start of six innings, six hits, and just one earned run. Kris Medlen did some tremendous pitching in three hitless innigs but also got a hit for himself and looked like a solid pinch running option by preventing a double play during the outing.
Saturday night the Braves weren't able to extend their three game winning streak and went down to the Bucs 4-2. Randall Delgado got the start and wasn't really able to locate much of his off-speed stuff. He was only able to go four innings and a third giving up eight hits, four runs, and three walks during the start. Heyward stole another base that night, which was his eighth on the season. Last season, he stole his eighth base on September 10th. He has yet to be caught stealing this season, and I absolutely love this new aspect of his game.
The story Sunday was obviously the return of Tim Hudson. He wasn't "dominant," but pitched like the veteran that he is and led the team to a 4-3 victory. He dealt with at least one baserunner in each of the five innings that he pitched, but only gave up two runs. Huddy even scored one of the Braves four runs after reaching base on a "not-top-ten" worthy play in center field by Andrew McCutchen. Kimbrel gave up the final run on a strange play at the plate, but was able to close out the Bucs to save the Braves' second win of the series.
Monday was all about Mike Minor's lack of command. After more than 22 innings without a walk, that at the time led active streaks, Minor walked three batters on his way to an ERA-raising loss. The Braves got walloped by a score of 9-3. He missed his spots later in the start that came back to bite him and allowed the Pirates to score their season high in runs by far. Eric Hinske got the opportunity to start in right field for the ailing Jason Heyward and delivered with four hits.
While the officiating didn't have a major impact on the series, I would love not to see this crew for a while. Doug Eddings had the (bravado) to come out and start hollering at Tim Hudson in his first outing after just pedestrian body language from the starter following a questionable call. Paul Nauert's strike zone on Monday was absolutely miserable. Once it became clear that he was calling strikes that were inside and calling balls that caught the outside corner, that all changed and his strike zone became inconsistent. The other questionable calls could happen with any crew, but I found this quartet to be absolutely obnoxious.
Despite only splitting the series, there were some positives to take from the series. Tyler Pastornicky hit safely in all four games to extend his hitting streak to six games. He went 5-for-14 in the series to continue his improvement upon a slow start. Michael Bourn stayed hot in returning home with 8-for-18 hitting over the long weekend series and has now gotten aboard in eight of his last ten first inning at-bats. Next up for the Braves are those Phillies that we know all too well. Great chance for the club to further improve their standing in the division while at the Ted.