The Braves simply have the Nationals number as of late. After a strong showing on offense (13 hits) and another solid outing by Alex Wood, the NL East defending division champs have now won 17 of their last 24 against a banged up Washington club. Freddie Freeman had a big day at the plate with three hits to raise his average to .425 (4th NL) and also hit his third home run of the season. The Upton brothers did quite a bit of damage from the plate in a good way, as they combined to go 5-for-9 in only seeing a total of 20 pitches. Chris Johnson was really the only one in the lineup that struggled. For the second night this week he's pulled the Golden Sombrero, meaning he's struck out four times in one game. Johnson knows he can rebound from off-nights like this one. Nonetheless, a win is a win and the Braves are currently 7-4 on the season, tied for first, and looking for the sweep of their rivals this Sunday afternoon.
Craig Kimbrel may have a super long ways to go to break Mariano Rivera's all-time saves record of 652, but the Braves fearsome closer is only 11 saves away from establishing himself above any other closer in the history of the franchise. The best closer in all of baseball already has five saves on the season, which leads the league, and has struck out 12 batters in 5 2/3 innings.
Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 13, 2014
Wood's Emergence (Video)
Alex Wood has been the Braves best starter through three starts this season and has two wins to show for his superb pitching. For the second time in his first three starts he gave up a leadoff home run to start the game to Anthony Rendon. It is unusual that he has given up three home runs since he only allowed that many in close to 80 innings last year. The 6-foot-3 southpaw only gave up one run in five innings and struck out eight, a season high for himself. He is only one of a dozen pitchers left in the National League that has an ERA (1.98) under two. Wood is in the rotation to stay for good. After the first inning this year the former UGA Bulldog has pitched 16 innings of nine hit one-run baseball. Pure dominance.
One of the biggest pleasant surprises of the season so far has been how well Aaron Harang has pitched on the mound this season. He will be given the ball today for the 1:35 p.m. first pitch at Turner Field as he looks to shut down the Nats and help the Braves make a statement by sweeping them. Harang struck out nine batters in his last game, which is a single game high for any pitcher so far this season. He will go up against Gio Gonzalez in what will be a matchup of two pitchers that have been dealing so far to start the season.
LEAGUE WIDE NEWS
Brian McCann finally broke out as a Yankee and hit two bombs courteous of the short porch at Yankee Stadium. He carried New York to a 7-4 win over Boston in a game in which they hit five home runs.
Left and right the Nationals are going down against the Braves. Alex Wood's dirty pick-off move to second caught Ryan Zimmerman sleeping, but in the process of diving back late he landed on his hand wrong and will now be out for 4-6 weeks. His career has been sidelined at times because of injuries.
Raul Ibanez reached 2,000 hits in his career and did so in extraordinary fashion. With two outs and two on against the Mets and down by three he proceeded to bring his playoff heroics into the regular season as he hit a game tying home run to send it to extra innings. The Mets would end up winning.
Justin Verlander had two hits against the San DIego Padres for the first two of his career in a winning effort. He apparently made the opposing pitcher mad too when he asked for him to throw throw the dugout his first base hit baseball.
They have only lost to the Braves this season and their offense is showing no signs of slowing down whatsoever.
Happy Masters Sunday Folks!