As the Braves unwind at the All-Star break and cheer on ace Shelby Miller in the All-Star game, let's take a look back at the highlights – and lowlights – of the first half of the season, from Miller's near no-hitter to Freddie Freeman's DL stint.
High: Peterson makes first career HR a grand one (5/16)
Jace Peterson has had a big impact on the Braves in his first year with the club. While his influence has come mostly on defense at second base, Peterson had the largest impact one could possibly have when he hit his first major-league home run in May. With the bases loaded in the middle of a Braves' rally in the top of the second against the Marlins, Peterson ripped a ball to right field that cleared the fence for a grand slam. His first career home run proved vital to the team that game, as the Braves won by a 5-3 margin.
Getty ImagesMike Ehrmann
Low: Freeman's costly error, hot start quickly fizzles out (4/24)
After winning a series in Toronto, the Braves were on a sizzling 8-4 start to the season. That hot start proved to not last very long, though. After being swept by the Mets in New York, Atlanta headed to Philadelphia to face a struggling Phillies team. In a scoreless game in the bottom of the ninth with a runner on third, Phillies outfielder Ben Revere hit a ball to Freddie Freeman that the first baseman mishandled, allowing the winning run to score. Freeman's error was the Braves' fourth of the game, and the loss was the club's fourth in a row, lowering their record to 8-8. Atlanta has crossed the .500 threshold only once since then (6/1: 26-25).
Getty ImagesMitchell Leff
High: Miller's near no-no (5/17)
Shelby Miller has proved himself to be a spectacular acquisition for the Braves. He's been nearly unhittable on the mound in his first season with his new team, and has had many solid outings, but he had a career day against the Marlins on May 17. Miller was on fire to start the game, not allowing a ball to leave the infield until the sixth inning. The 24-year-old righty's dominance continued throughout the game, and he found himself one out away from a no-hitter. Only, with two outs in the ninth, Justin Bour singled to center and broke up Miller's no-no. Miller gave up another hit on the ensuing at-bat, but topped off a complete game with a mere 94 pitches.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsSteve Mitchell
Low: Uggla haunts Braves in return with game-winning HR (4/28)
Dan Uggla didn't exactly leave Atlanta as a hero, but he certainly returned to the city as one – just not for the Braves. Getting a rare start for his new team, the second baseman helped the Nationals overcome an early 9-1 deficit by driving in five runs. It was no ordinary game for Uggla, though. In the top of the ninth, with the Braves winning, 12-10, Uggla crushed a three-run home run that proved to be the game-winning home run for the Nats, capping off a tremendous comeback against his former club.
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
High: Bethancourt's first career HR is a walk-off (6/6)
Braves catcher Christian Bethancourt picked the perfect moment to hit his first career home run. After the Pirates scored two runs in the top of the eighth, the score was tied heading into the bottom of the ninth, 4-4. Leading off the inning, Bethancourt ripped a line drive home run off the first pitch he saw from Pirates closer Vance Worley. Major-league players always cherish their first home run, but Bethancourt's will be one he will relish for the rest of his life.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY SportsBrett Davis
Low: Freeman injures wrist, forced to end MLB-leading streak (6/18)
Freddie Freeman is determined to take the field every day for the Braves, so when he injured his wrist in June, he was vastly disappointed. The injury, which has kept him off the field since June 27, forced Freeman to end his major-league-high consecutive games played streak at 234 games. The Braves are hopeful that their power-hitting first baseman will be able to return to action after the All-Star break
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY SporJayne Kamin-Oncea
High: Four fantastic debuts from starters
The Braves' young pitching staff has shown heaps of potential for the future in the first half of the season. Four Braves rookies have dazzled in their first major-league start, beginning with righty Mike Foltynewicz on May 1 and most recently extending to lefty Manny Banuelos on July 2. In their debut starts, Braves rookies tallied a 2-0 record with a 1.52 ERA with 18 strikeouts and three walks, two of which belonged to Foltynewicz. While Foltynewicz has since been relegated to the bullpen and righty Williams Perez is currently on the disabled list, Matt Wisler has sparkled in five starts and Banuelos has fans excited to see what he'll do next after outdueling Nationals' ace Max Scherzer in his debut.
Keeping an even keel
Although the Braves' franchise is in a transitional phase, the product on the field hasn't suffered miserably this season as it typically does with rebuilding franchises. Atlanta held a 40-41 at the mathematical midway point of the season, and hasn't strayed far from the .500 mark. The Braves' highest win and losing streak of the season have been five games, and the club has not dropped to more than five games under .500 (7/12: 42-47). Its highest margin above .500? You guessed it: five games (4/11: 5-0).