I came into tonight not knowing what to expect out of Gavin Floyd. Despite a lack of offensive output, Floyd was able to keep the Braves in the ballgame through seven quality innings and help lead the Braves to their first victory in eight games. While his permanent role is still to be determined, putting together that kind of performance in a debut against what should be a solid offense will get him on Fredi Gonzalez's good side quickly.
David Carpenter and Craig Kimbrel were crucial in the victory as well, with Carpenter picking up his second win and Kimbrel gathering his ninth save of the season. Both relievers threw perfect innings with two strikeouts a piece. Carpenter came in during the eighth inning and the Braves were able to rally against Randy Choate and Pat Neshek to score the go ahead run.
The Cardinals brought in Choate due to the Braves having Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Freddie Freeman starting the inning. Mike Matheny figured, as many have, that they could throw a lefty for the full inning and hope for the best against the right-hander splitting Heyward and Freeman. If the Braves are going to be successful late in games at the top of the lineup, the right-hander between the two lefties, whomever it may be, needs to come through as Upton did tonight.
Upton singled after Choate struck Heyward out. Freddie Freeman followed Upton with an infield single that he blasted off of the pitcher. Chris Johnson, back in the cleanup spot for the first time in a number of weeks, came through with an RBI single to put the Braves ahead for good. The inning wasn't without some additional managerial drama, however, as Fredi Gonzalez decided to squeeze (why?) with number five (why?) Gerald Laird at the plate and Freeman at third. The issues I have with that play are tantamount. First, why is he batting fifth if you are going to squeeze with him? Second, why would you do it with one of the slowest players on the team on third? Third, the team has been awful at bunting all year, and in a tight game that could have used an additional insurance run why call it there?
Anyway, the play did not come back to haunt them. The Braves scored their initial run on a monster Upton home run against starter Tyler Lyons. The Braves bats were quiet again, name Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward. Uggla came up with B.J. Upton on second base after a lead off double in the seventh inning and was not able to advance him over. Upton was eventually stranded, and you have to start wondering how long the Braves will be playing Uggla going forward. He may already be in a platoon with Ramiro Pena.
Again, despite a poor showing by the offense yet again, Floyd came through in his debut and mowed down Cardinals with regularity to put the Braves in a great position to win the game. It will be interesting to see what the subsequent moves will be.