1) Kelly Johnson's back to his old self and then some. In his last ten games, exactly the number he has appeared in since his recent return to the majors, he has posted the following numbers:
23 AB, 6 R, 8 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 SB
Although these at-bats alone are not nearly sufficient enough to make the above claims, he was performing even better during his AAA rehab stint, which is what really makes me believe he's returned to form. With an injury prone third baseman, it is always good to have a back-up infielder who can rake.
2) In this game, I did not think it was Kawakami's stuff preventing the Dodger hitters from getting hits. Instead, it was his variety of pitches and ability to locate that was stifling them, especially his curve and fastball. Everytime he threw his slow breaking ball or located his fastball down and away, the batters eyes grew big, but could never make good wood on them. As long as he doesn't start walking batters, his major crux, he could easily become our poor man's Vazquez.
3) Back when Kris Medlen was in minors earlier this year, I was thrilled by the thought he might be moved into our rotation. Once called up, he would display flashes of greatness there, but was never quite what we'd hope for out of him. Last night working from the pen, he chose a good time to bring back his stuff. If it wasn't for his two good innings of work, then we would not only had little chance of winning that game, but today's game, as well; his appearance allowed the Braves to give a night off to Moylan and Gonzalez. Honestly, the three strikeouts versus their 3-4-5 hitters, Ethier, Ramirez, and Kemp, were simply nasty. It was the first time in this series I saw Ethier, a guy who has been destroying us all season, being overmatched. I can't wait for that Medlen to gain better control, because he has the stuff to last in this league.
My only real concern from this game was our ineptitude versus another power lefty, which has been a problem all season. In that way, picking up LaRoche has made us worse; Kershaw made him look silly at the plate, ending one at-bat with LaRoche swinging at a fastball up at his eyes. And with that, on to the daily game breakdown:
Braves 2 - Dodgers 1
MVP: Kelly Johnson. His two-run homer in the 10th landed in nearly the exact same spot as Church's liner home run on Friday. Both of those balls left the park in a hurry.
LVP: Matt Diaz, who was 0 for 4 for the night. It is worth noting that he didn't strikeout once and was doing a good job driving the ball the opposite way, something he hasn't been able to do in his current slump.
MIP: Let me think... The homer gave the Braves .492 WPA. If the game had just started, he essentially would have made the chances of the Atlanta ball club winning be .992. Another nominee for most important play is the last play of the game: Yunel's diving stop and bullet throw. Kemp hit a screamer up the middle, but Yunel came up with a fantastic play. Considering the leverage index for that play was 6.39 (i.e. the play was 6.39 times more important than an average play), I would have to say it comes in at a close second.
UotG: Our pitchers. Although Soriano got knocked around a little, it was a great effort by all of the Bravos pitchers, spinning a near-shutout in another extra inning game.
Vazquez will be taking the mound to try to take the series. Last I checked, the Phillies are already losing (but not by as much as they should be given Moyer's efforts), so let's, once again, capitalize and conquer.