Braves 7 (11-14), Astros 1 (8-16)
WP: Lowe (4-2)
LP: Norris (1-3)
Hey look, a 3 game sweep! WOOHOO! The Braves offense showed up yet again, and today, Derek Lowe had probably his finest outing of this young season, allowing only 1 run on 6 hits in 5 innings, while walking only 1 and striking out 3. It was only Lowe's second quality start of the year, and the 4th straight in which he didn't get through 6 innings. However, he only threw 84 pitches, so its not as if he was laboring and needed to get pulled to stop the bleeding...it was a rest thing. Lowe's sinker was working fantastically today, as he got 9 ground ball outs compared to only 3 fly balls...this is something that is an absolute key for Lowe during the remainder of the year. If the ball is sinking properly, he'll be tough to beat. Kris Medlen, Takashi Saito, and Billy Wagner threw 4 scoreless innings in relief of Lowe, combining to allow 3 hits and no walks while striking out 4. It was announced by Wagner yesterday that this will indeed be his final season, which makes the option the Braves hold on him essentially irrelevant. YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS...Craig Kimbrel will be closing out games in all likelihood in 2011. Braves fans are thrilled at the prospect of this happening.
Enough about the pitching, lets talk offense...or lack thereof more appropriately from the top of the order. The top 3 hitters for the Braves today, Nate McLouth, Martin Prado and Chipper Jones, went 0 for 11 with a walk. McLouth and Chipper continues to struggle, while Prado continues to float back to earth, with an OPS that is now below .900 for the first time all year. Chipper Jones and Nate McLouth on the other hand, just can't get the bats going...in all fairness, both men will improve sooner rather than later, due to BABIPs that are hilariously low. Braves fans shouldn't panic about either one quite yet. The bottom of the order did the damage for the Braves today, as the 5 through 8 hitters each had a pair of hits...those being Troy Glaus, Jason Heyward, Melky Cabrera, and Omar Infante. Heyward was the big star, driving in 3 runs and scoring another 2, while Cabrera also had 3 RBI for the Braves. As Glaus and Cabrera begin to awaken from their April slumbers, the focus for Braves fans should be able to shift away from those two, and onto the struggles of the 2 men I mentioned earlier, McLouth and Jones. As I said, they WILL improve...the question just becomes WHEN will they improve. Its something to keep an eye on in the coming days, as McLouth is the only Braves starter with a batting average under .200, with Chipper hovering slightly above.
The Braves are off tomorrow, and travel to Washington to begin a 3 game series to kick off a long 9 game road trip. Preview for that series will be up tomorrow. Coming tonight will be the latest edition of the weekly prospect report, so keep your eyes out for that. As mentioned yesterday, HOT or NOT will also be up on Monday.