Braves 6, Nationals 2
MVP: Adam LaRoche, .297 WPA. Two go-ahead homers in one game (two solo shots, one in the second and one in the seventh) is usually enough for an MVP nod, but he even added a lead-extending bases loaded walk in the ninth. What a huge pick-up LaRoche has been.
LVP: Ryan Church, -.099 WPA. Not a lot of hitters in the positive on the WPA ledger; even though the team scored six runs, almost all the offense came from three players (LaRoche, Garret Anderson, and Martin Prado). Church's 0-for-5 day was the worst of the lot.
MIP: LaRoche's seventh-inning solo shot to put the Braves up 3-2.
UotG: Starting pitcher, but barely (by just .003 WPA). Lowe gave us seven solid innings, and that's nothing to complain about, but the balance (.181 WPA for the starter, .178 for the offense, and .141 for the bullpen) is actually the most positive thing about this game, as it means everybody just went out and did his job.
Gwinnett: After a lame offensive day Wednesday that saw only a 2-for-3 game from Barbaro Canizares for excitement value, the bats came to play Thursday, with Brandon Jones, Canizares, Brooks Conrad and Diory Hernandez all on base three times in five PAs (all had two hits and a walk). On the pitching side, both days were all about the rehab: Jo-Jo Reyes tossed six shutout innings with two walks and five K's on Wednesday before Tim Hudson took the mound on Thursday, allowing two runs on five hits in four frames, walking one and whiffing three. All the reports say his velocity was at his normal 90-93 MPH range, and it sure looks like he'll be back on schedule. Only black mark is Luis Valdez allowing six earned runs while recording just two outs in relief of Huddy.
Mississippi: Starting what seems to be an organizational trend, the M-Braves plated just three runs combined on Wednesday and Thursday; only Willie Cabrera had a multi-hit game, though he did go 2-for-4 in both contests. Ryne Reynoso was solid but not great as usual on Wednesday, allowing three earned runs in six innings with unimpressive peripherals, and Deunte Heath finished the game with two perfect innings that featured three K's. Thursday's pitching was more impressive, with Scott Diamond shutting out the Montgomery Biscuits for 6 2/3 innings while striking out seven and walking none. Craig Kimbrel made the ninth inning exciting with two walks but also punched out two to avert damage.
Myrtle Beach: On Wednesday, Cole Miles went 3-for-3. Everybody else went 3-for-26. Ouch. This was one of those "bullpen starts," and it looks like pretty much the entire bullpen (especially Benino Pruneda and Rudy Darrow) got shelled. At least Cory Gearrin pitched around two hits for a scoreless ninth ...?
On Thursday, Michael Fisher went 2-for-4. Everybody else went 1-for-29. Ouch. Richard Sullivan got shelled instead of the bullpen, as he allowed seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, but the relief corps at least stopped the bleeding. Michael Broadway, who has struggled most of the year but has posted a 2.12 ERA in his last 17 innings across ten relief appearances, struck out four in 2 2/3 scoreless innings, and ex-Georgia Tech lefty Lee Hyde tossed a perfect ninth as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery.
Rome: Man, some unexciting games here. The only offense for the R-Braves in the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader came on a homer from center fielder Calvin Culver. Fortunately for the anemic offense, Julio Teheran is amazing and shut down the opposition for seven frames, surrendering only a run on four hits and no walks (though only two strikeouts is a tad disappointing). David Francis got his second save with a perfect ninth inning; he seems to be trying to do John Smoltz's whole starter-to-closer-to-starter career path, only he's doing it all in one season. Adam Milligan went 2-for-4 in Game 2, and nobody else had more than one hit or even an extra-base hit. Nobody interesting pitched in this game either.
All the offense came from the top of the order in Thursday's 14-inning marathon: shortstop Shayne Moody went 3-for-7, Luis Sumoza (the booty from last year's waiver wire Mark Kotsay trade) went 3-for-6 to perhaps provide some hope for a turnaround in his somewhat disappointing campaign, and Adam Milligan (yeah, him again) smacked a homer and a triple among four hits in seven tries. Randall Delgado threw lots of pitches because he was striking everyone out (nine K's), so he lasted just five innings, in which he allowed one run. Both Milligan and Delgado have been getting some attention from Baseball Prospectus' prospect expert Kevin Goldstein; he likes their potential.
Danville: Only Mycal Jones really showed up for Danville on Wednesday, going 2-for-4 while the rest of the squad managed just four hits. Fortunately for the anemic offense, Brett Oberholtzer is amazing and shut down the opposition for seven frames, surrendering only two runs on eight hits and no walks while striking out four.
Mycal Jones came to play again on Thursday, with another 2-for-4 day, though this time he added an extra base to both his knocks to make a pair of doubles. Robby Hefflinger added two more hits including a homer. More good pitching too, as Chris Masters whittled his ERA to 1.68 with seven innings of three-hit ball, allowing just an unearned run and no walks while punching out eight. He's a bit old for the Appy League, so it would be nice to see him try his hand at full-season ball.
GCL: More from the anemic offense department: a whopping three hits for the GCL Braves in Wednesday's game; the only pitcher worth watching is 23rd-round pick Lucas LaPoint. He's a talented high school arm who fell because of signability concerns, and, as the Braves so often do, they got their man signed. He went three innings, walking two, striking out four and allowing one run: not bad for a raw 18-year-old.Hey, look, a little offense! Three-hit days for Kyle Rose and Alberto Odreman on Thursday, but three pitchers ruined all the fun by coughing up 13 earned runs between them. Twenty-second rounder Ryan Weber struck out the side in his scoreless inning of work though; as another talented guy who fell because of bonus demands, he'll be interesting to follow.