Braves 8 (42-28), Royals 5 (29-41)
WP: Kimbrel (2-0)
LP: Wood (0-1)
SV: Wagner (14)
I love this team. I really, really do. Kenshin Kawakami started today, and got the hell blasted out of him. He was gone after not being able to record an out in the third inning, and blowing a 4 run lead. The Braves were put into a 5-4 deficit. The bullpen came into play right off the reel, and what did they do? 7 scoreless innings, with 5 hits, 3 walks, and 7 strikeouts, including a balls to the wall performance by Craig Kimbrel, loading the bases with none out and getting out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts and a pop up. The big story in my mind today was Cristhian Martinez, who threw 3 scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts. He managed to stabilize the team after the mess that Kawakami left for him, and really kept the Braves in a position to win. Despite me crapping all over him during the game today on Twitter, I'll admit...Martinez pitched really well today after his first couple batters, and should probably keep his roster spot when Takashi Saito comes off the DL on Tuesday. Speaking of Saito, he threw a scoreless inning of rehab for Gwinnett today. Can't wait to have him back.
Back to Kawakami for a minute. I don't think he's going to keep his rotation spot after Jair Jurrjens' final rehab start is completed. He got absolutely hammered today, and showed no feel for the strike zone either. Part of me is thinking that the Braves will find some phantom injury for him like the Mets did with Oliver Perez, and just banish him to the DL. He doesn't have the stuff of a good reliever, and there's no way he'd go to the minors. Its a tough situation, and it would be really hard to trade him with his contract. Plus, trading him would likely piss Saito off, and thats not something the team needs to do at this point. Really tricky situation...it will be interesting to see what the team does when Jurrjens is ready.
Lets talk offense. The Braves pounded out 9 hits, walked 11 times, and scored 8 runs today. Those are some otherworldly numbers. The LOBs were an issue again, as 11 men were stranded. But man, this team's offense is scary. As of this moment, the Braves have the most runs scored in the National League. Remember when the offense was such a huge issue, and the Braves needed to make some trades, and Troy Glaus was the antichrist, and Chipper Jones was washed up, and so on and so forth? How a couple of months can change things...Glaus walked 4 times today and scored a pair, while Chipper had a couple hits, a couple walks, 3 RBI, and a couple runs. The Braves scoring was rather clustered today, with 4 in the first, 1 in the sixth, and the final 3 in the 8th. The big blow in the 8th inning to complete the comeback was a huge 2 run double by Eric Hinske to drive in Chipper and Glaus, who both walked. The Braves also explored a little used dimension of the team today: base stealing. Jason Heyward, Jones, and Martin Prado all swiped bags off former Brave Brayan Pena today. I don't mind a stolen base if the situation for success is ripe for the taking, and today, it was. But yeah, going back to hitting...all starters reached base. In addition to the aforementioned Jones and Glaus, Prado reached twice, Heyward reached 3 times, and Hinske, Melky Cabrera, and Omar Infante all reached twice. Job well done all around from the offense today.
With the win today, coupled with losses by the Phillies and Mets, the Braves lead in the NL East is increased a little more. The Mets are now 2.5 back, while the Phillies are a shocking 5.5 back. So much for that Roy Halladay acquisition making them the team to beat...in a look at each team's first series of next week, the Braves get the Chicago White Sox, while the Phillies will duel with the Cleveland Indians, and the Mets draw the Detroit Tigers. Another ripe opportunity to pick up some ground on the Mets. I love it.
Tomorrow is an offday, and as I just mentioned, the Braves will return Tuesday evening to take on the White Sox, with a pitching matchup of John Danks and Tommy Hanson. Thats a good one.
As for BravesHeart updates...I don't believe that the WPR will be up tonight, due to Myrtle Beach's game starting at 6 PM, and the lack of DSL boxes. It will be up tomorrow, along with HOT or NOT (thats a promise I'll keep this time), and hopefully I'll get back into the grind and write up a season preview. For those of you who haven't heard, I've reupped with Fanball and will be keeping control of his fantastic blog for another year. Thanks to all of my editors, the Fanball management, and my fellow writers for the support. Here's hoping the second year is better than the first, with more updates (if that's even possible) and more in depth content.