The Braves came into this week's 4 game series with high hopes, but in the end could only manage a split against the team with the worst record in baseball. The Braves offense was very hit or miss during the series, scoring totals of 1, 10, 1, and 7 runs across the 4 games.
Game 1 saw Atlanta completely shut out by Cubs righty Jeff Samardzija who whiffed 11 Braves on the evening. It was the Braves' 15th loss in a row on Monday according to Elias, and their 11th in as many tries during the 2012 campaign. Atlanta only managed 6 hits in the series opener, with 2 going to Mike Bourn, whose double set up the Braves only run of the game. Tommy Hanson pitched well, but was left in too long and crumbled in the 7th, giving up a 3 RBI double to Luis Valbuena that would be the game-winner.
Game 2 saw the Braves bats explode off of Chris Volstad, hammering him late and winning handily 10-3. Jair Jurrjens pitched a very solid game, allowing 3 runs (none earned), but the story of game two was Chipper Jones. Chipper had a perfect 5-5 day at the plate with 2 doubles and 4 RBI the day he found out he would be an All-Star. Chipper became the 5th player over 40 in the last 25 years to record a 5 hit game. Michael Bourn, the Braves other Final Vote candidate, had himself another good game, punctuated by a go-ahead 3 RBI triple in the 5th.
In Game 3, the Cubs trotted out the Braves' kryptonite: a soft-tossing lefty. Paul Maholm shut down the Bravos over 6 innings, allowing only 1 run on a Martin Prado RBI single, driving in - who else? - Mike Bourn. Randall Delgado pitched well for the Braves, posting a quality start, but Jonny Venters couldn't clean up his 7th inning mess. Venters' allowed Delgado's inherited runners to score, then gave up a long home run to Jeff Baker (who?) before getting pulled. Venters would be mercifully sent to the disabled list after the game, and Luis Avilan was recalled to serve as a lefty specialist.
Game 4 saw the Braves match up against potential trade candidate Matt Garza, and batter him early and often. A pair or 2 run homers by Jason Heyward and Brian McCann made it 4-0 after the first inning. Freddie Freeman added a solo shot in the third, effectively ending Garza's night. Mike Minor pitched well until he tired in the 7th (which was something of a theme for Braves starters this series). Juan Francisco set a record for the most pitches seen in a single at bat this year when he saw 16 off of Matt Garza in the first inning.
The Braves finish the longest homestand of the year at 5-5, and now head to Philadelphia, where they need to start winning series if they want a shot at catching the Nationals.
Jason Heyward: 4-16, 2 HR, 3 RBI, SB
Michael Bourn: 6-14, 4 R, 3 RBI, SB
Chipper Jones: 8-13, 4 RBI, SB