If you saw this coming, raise your hand. If you're reading this with a hand raised, then congratulations on being
a liar one of the most optimistic Braves fans on the planet, because this was a bit of a shocker. A power surge went through the Braves lineup, as 4 homers were enough to give the Braves 7 runs and a 5-run victory over the Oakland Athletics.
Atlanta's big offensive night started early, as Justin Upton and Evan Gattis both played long ball with Jason Hammel in the 2nd inning. Justin led off the 2nd inning by hitting the 2nd pitch he saw into the seats in left field for his 22nd home run of the season. After Chris Johnson grounded out, Evan Gattis smacked a 2-0 pitch a bit further to the right but still in the left field bleachers, doubling Atlanta's lead. Although they were done with hitting dingers at that point, the power would continue into the next inning.
In that fateful 3rd inning, the game was blown wide open. After Alex Wood led off the inning by striking out, Jason Heyward and Phil Gosselin both hit singles to put a couple of ducks on the pond for Freddie Freeman. Hammel eventually threw Freddie a slider, and Freeman skied it towards center field. Judging by the slow trot Coco made as he tried to get under the ball, it appeared for a moment that he was going to make the catch. However, the ball kept flying and Coco kept running. Eventually the ball eluded the glove of Coco Crisp and made it over the center field fence for a big 3-run homer, putting the Braves lead at 5 and my happiness meter at 100.
That meter took a tumble in the next frame, because that's when the A's woke up. Derek Norris led off the inning with a double, and 87 wRC+ hitter Nate Freiman became the latest random dude to ding the Braves, as he went yard on Alex Wood for a 2-run shot, cutting the Braves lead to 3. Surely the Braves couldn't blow a 5-run lead, even against a team with as much firepower as the A's, right?
As you know by now, they didn't blow the lead. In fact, they added onto it and eventually put it back to 5, thanks to an extremely unexpected show of power in the 6th inning from Phil Gosselin, of all people in the lineup. The only reason why Goose even made the start tonight was because Andrelton Simmons had to make a visit to the dentist and couldn't be at the ballpark in time to start the game. Gosselin made the most of his start, and capped off a good night at the plate with his first career home run. That made it 7-2, and that's how the game ended.
The Braves' pitching staff had an excellent night. Other than that 4th inning, Alex Wood was in complete control (including a pickoff way back in the 1st inning). Wood, David Carpenter, Jordan Walden, and James Russell all combined to retire 17 straight A's in order, a streak that lasted from that 4th inning until the end of the game when the Braves were all exchanging handshakes and high-fives in the infield.
As good as the Braves pitching was, that's how bad the A's pitching was. To sum it all up, Jason Hammel's night ended in bottom of the 4th after he walked the first batter he faced. The batter was B.J. Upton. That's all that needs to be said.
The expectations for the Braves in this game were on the floor. Even a decent game would have been a pleasing result and performance. Instead, we got a stellar performance in all facets of the game, and it was an extremely pleasant game to watch, even more so when it came against a very good team. If the rest of the weekend continues like this, this could be a pretty big weekend for the Braves.
<iframe src="http://www.fangraphs.com/graphframe.aspx?config=0&static=948853&type=livewins&num=0&h=450&w=450&date=2014-08-15&team=Braves&dh=0" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" height="450" width = "450" style="border:1px solid black;"></iframe><br /><span style="font-size:9pt;">Source: <a href="http://www.fangraphs.com/livewins.aspx?date=2014-08-15&team=Braves&dh=0&season=2014">FanGraphs</a></span>