Going into this series, there was no reason to believe that the Braves had this type of performance in them, especially considering who the competition was. Even with a somewhat cold Oakland Athletics team coming into Atlanta, the A's still had the best record in baseball and they had the advantage in most facets of the game. However, all of that went out of the window, and the Braves produced 3 of their best games of the season on their way to completing a sweep of the A's.
At first, Friday's result appeared to be a bit of an aberration, even if it was reminiscent of the 2013 season. There were plenty of home runs (they hit 4, including Phil Gosselin's first career homer), there was solid pitching (Alex Wood delivered another strong start for the Braves), and it was a comfortable home victory. However, as we all know by now, this was not an aberration for the series; It was a trend.
On Saturday's Throwback Night, the competition from Oakland figured to be a lot stiffer. It was one thing to beat up on Jason Hammel, who can't seem to adjust to life as an Oakland A. It's another to get the best of Sonny Gray, who was on a pretty good run of starts heading into this one. However, the Braves quickly took the lead by scoring 2 runs in the first inning, and would eventually score 4. Thanks to reliable performance by Julio Teheran and the bullpen closing the door on the A's offense late in the game, those 4 runs ended up being enough for win #2 for the Braves in this series.
That led us to the 3rd game, which many had marked as the most likely candidate for a Braves loss in this series. Jon Lester vs. Mike Minor? If you're a betting person, then you would've probably put a lot of money on Lester coming out on top in that matchup. That didn't happen, as Minor ended up outpitching Lester on the night (you can file that under "Sentences I Did Not Expect To Type In August 2014"). Minor went 7 and left the game with a lead. Meanwhile, the offense continued to come up big at the plate, as 2 home runs ended up being big for Atlanta in this one. Justin Upton hit his 2nd homer of the series early in this game, and Chris Johnson somehow homered off of Lester to give the Braves their 4th run. Again, 4 runs ended up being enough for victory, and the Braves managed to complete the sweep of the A's.
As fantastic and wonderful as this sweep was, the Braves didn't make much headway in the divisional race, since the Washington Nationals swept the Pittsburgh Pirates and are currently in the midst of a 6-game winning streak. However, the Braves did pick up a bit of ground in the Wild Card race, which is increasingly looking like a more viable goal for the Braves as the Nats continue to heat up.
Still, this was a great weekend for Atlanta. Any time you can sweep a team as talented as Oakland (cold or not), it's a huge positive, and this means that the Braves will be heading into their next series against the equally cold Pirates on a high. The Braves may have looked dead in the water as of late, but it's amazing what a good weekend will do for you, and now we'll see if the Braves can keep the good times rolling into their trip to Pittsburgh.