The Braves somehow managed to take two-of-three against the Astros in Houston, despite blowing two late inning leads. In fact, the Braves won both games in which they blew the leads, thanks to some big hits from Brooks Conrad and Omar Infante. It would have been nice to come away with a sweep against the Astros, but winning a series on the road is a step in the right direction.
What we liked:
Mike Minor, Jair Jurrjens, and Tommy Hanson: All three pitchers threw the ball well this weekend, with Hanson and Jair dominating their games. The trio of young Braves starters will be in this rotation for a long time, and Minor certainly looked the part in his debut. The confidence and poise seen from Minor on the mound was great to see, and is one of his best attributes as a pitcher. They combined to throw 20.1 innings with a 1.77 ERA and 12 strikeouts to 4 walks.
Brian McCann: McCann went 2-7 with two walks and two homers in the series. His pinch-hit grand slam in the final game of the series put the game away for good. With the two homers this series, McCann now has 17 for the season and would end up with 25 if he stayed on his current pace. His 4.2 WAR already matches last season's total.
Troy Glaus: Glaus went hitless in the final game, but he did hit a ball extremely hard into centerfield. In the other two games, he went 3-8 with a home run and an RBI single both coming in game two. It was far from a monster series, but it was just good to see some production out of Glaus.
Brooks Conrad: Brooks' two-run homer in the ninth inning of game two was one of the many clutch at bats he has put together this season. Conrad has been a godsend in late innings, seemingly always hitting a deep fly when the game is on the line.
What we didn't like:
Chipper Jones: Chipper's production at the plate was great in the first two games, going 3-6, but his injury will sideline him for the rest of the year and seriously hurts the Braves offense. There are a bunch of different options and avenues the Braves can go from here, but losing Chipper and his league high walk rate will hurt the middle of this lineup.
Billy Wagner: Wagner saved one game but blew another. He only allowed one hard hit in the second game, but he isn't missing bats as often as he was before his recent rough stretch. Since his blown save against the Padres on July 21, he is striking out 9.29 batters per nine, spanning 10 innings. In contrast, he struck out 13.5 in his 40 innings before that.
Alex Gonzalez: Gonzalez swung the bat decently, but his defense proved costly in the first two games. He was charged with two errors, but it could have easily have been three. Omar Infante was charged with a catching error after Gonzalez threw a bad ball to him on a double play attempt. He is known to have good defense, and hopefully from here on out he starts playing more consistently in the field.
Number of the Series: 48
This is the number of games the Braves have left. They will have to get to the playoffs without Chipper Jones, which is a much more difficult task. For now, the onus is on Brooks Conrad to fill the void. When Martin Prado comes back, Infante and Prado will likely be the close to every day options at second and third. 48 is also Tommy Hanson's number, the pitcher with a 1.76 ERA over his last 51 innings.