Braves 16 (73-51), Cubs 5 (51-74)
WP: Minor (2-0)
LP: Wells (5-12)
This was Lou Piniella's last game as Cubs manager. And quite frankly...his Cubs got their asses kicked on both sides of the ball. Lets start with pitching. The story of the early part of the day was Mike Minor and the utter filth that was coming out of his hand. He struck out 8 Cubs in the first 3 innings..and allowed 4 hits, 3 runs, and his one walk of the day in those 3 innings. His final 3 innings, things calmed down a little. Minor only struck out 4, allowed 3 hits, and no runs. Regardless: the rookie strikes out 12 and walks 1 and posts his third quality start in as many tries. He got an astounding 23 swinging strikes of the 71 he threw. Just nasty. He's totally come into his own as a pitcher this season, and I think he's got a spot in the rotation locked up for 2011. The Braves couldn't have expected this from him when he was drafted just 14 months ago...but here we are. I'll have a more detailed look at Minor's season up tomorrow. The bullpen...could have been better, but whatever. Jonny Venters and Cristhian Martinez sandwiched scoreless innings around a rough appearance for Peter Moylan. The big Aussie allowed 2 earned on 3 hits in his rough 8th inning, but with the lead the Braves had...it didn't matter.
Offense. Oh, sweet, sweet offense...the top 2 hitters in the Braves order, Omar Infante and Jason Heyward, combined to go 8/10 with 8 RBI, 8 R, 4 HR, and 2 BB. Heyward went 4/4, while Infante went 4/6...each had 4 R, 4 RBI, and 2 HR, while both walks belonged to Heyward. Infante is now hitting .349 on the year. Who woulda thunk it? They plated the team's first 2 runs in the early innings with solo homers for each, while Infante gave the team a lead it wouldn't relinquish in the 4th with a 3 run jack. Heyward singled in a run in the 5 run 8th, and hit a 2 run homer in the 9th to put the cherry on top of the sundae. Every other Braves starter reached base, with Martin Prado, Derrek Lee, and Melky Cabrera all reaching twice. Lee got his first hit as a Brave with a 3-run double in the 8th down the left field line, and Alex Gonzalez had a sexy 3-run single in the 7th after a diving attempt by Alfonso Soriano resulted in the ball meeting the grass rather than the glove.
I really can't complain about today, aside from the usage of Venters yet again...but he only threw 6 pitches, so its whatever in the long run. I find it interesting that Moylan has fallen down the bullpen totem pole to a middle of the pack guy after being the primary 7th inning man for most of his time in Atlanta. Still a great pitcher, just getting caught up in the numbers game.
Divisional news: Philly is up 4-0, and their game is in a rain delay in the 7th inning...so it doesn't look like any ground will be picked up today. Lead in the East will remain 2.5.
The Braves will venture to Denver tomorrow to take on the Rockies...just what the doctor ordered for these bats! Tim Hudson is on the hill, which should be a great time if he's got that sinker going. Starting for the Rockies is the always solid yet never talked about Jason Hammel. Gametime is 8:40...but I'll have a recap up post-game, just because I love you guys.
Other stuff will be up before the game tomorrow...HOT or NOT, Weekly Prospect Report, maybe some other, non-format junk. The hamster wheel in my mind is slowly churning.