Three Cuts: Braves extend winning streak to 7 games
Taking three cuts as the Braves finished off their Friday/Saturday weather-delayed series opener vs. the Mets with a 7-5 win at Citi Field.
1. It took nearly 12 hours in all, but the Braves kept their winning streak alive
Whether or not you believe the umpires should have allowed this game to get to the point it needed to be completed a day later, here we were; top of the ninth tied 5-5 as Atlanta played in its first suspended game since April 5, 1997.
The Braves wouldn't disappoint, scoring twice in the 10th to run their streak to seven straight. Though they'd get little time to celebrate, playing the second game of the series just 30 minutes later.
After stranding two runners in the ninth, Brian McCann followed Freddie Freeman's lead-off walk in the 10th with a double, then Dan Uggla, who homered in the seventh inning Friday, sliced an RBI single to left. B.J. Upton would add to that lead, scoring pinch-runner Jordan Schafer on a squeeze play.
Craig Kimbrel would make things interesting, hitting John Buck with a fastball before giving up a single to Ike Davis. But he would induce a game-ending double play for his 15th save.
Of course, the real drama in this one was what got us from a Friday start to a Saturday completion.
To recap: the Braves took the lead Friday night off a two-run, pinch-hit single by Evan Gattis (more on him later) in the eighth inning. Then, with a steady downpour and Anthony Varvaro on the mound in the bottom of the frame, Ruben Tejada singled to center. Then two batters later Daniel Murphy did the same and as the ball glanced off B.J. Upton's glove, John Buck cut it to one. Tejada would move to third on Upton's error and then tie the game as a wild pitch by Varvaro slipped past McCann.
Still, in the end it would a continuation of the Atlanta's mastery of the Mets as they made it 14 wins in 18 games vs. their NL East rivals.
(Two more cuts from Friday night ...)
2. The White Bear hits the Big Apple
Gattis' last trip to New York six years ago has been highly publicized, by both MLB.com's Mark Bowman and in Gattis' interview with our own Tom Hart. But to summarize: he was out of money and begging for food.
But in his return to Gotham, the 26-year-old catcher has become a media darling. Nicknamed El Oso Blanco, he fittingly dressed up as a polar bear, or to translate his nickname, White Bear, in a trip to the MLB Fan Cave. Oh, and did what he just keeps finding a way to do for the Braves, coming up in the clutch yet again.
Coming in with the game tied 3-3 with two outs in the eighth inning and the bases loaded, Gattis hit a pinch-hit, two-run single up the middle off Greg Burke and his submarine delivery. It was his seventh and eighth RBI off the bench and gave him the team lead with 29 in just 122 at-bats.
The rookie is now 5-for-7 (.714) as a pinch-hitter, with four of those hits and six RBI coming after the eighth inning.
Somehow, the best story in baseball keeps getting more and more unbelievable.
3. For Medlen, the wait continues
It's now been a span of eight starts, going back to April 9 against the Marlins, since Kris Medlen won. It's not that he's struggled, posting a 3.43 ERA over that span and overall this year, opponents' batting average on balls in play is less (.257) than it was last season (.261).
Of course, the easiest thing to point to in Medlen's win drought is that he isn't getting anywhere near the run support of his brethren. Coming into Friday night receiving 2.7 runs per game — which is the lowest on Atlanta's staff and a full two runs less than the nearest Braves in Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm (4.7) — and Medlen is getting 1.4 runs less than the league average.
But there are some interesting numbers involving Medlen's makeup this season.
FanGraphs' Pitch Values section, which measures the total runs saved by a particular pitch, shows Medlen's curveball at minus-2.4. A year ago, that number was at 8.7. His fastball has also dropped dramatically going from 11.9 to minus-3.6.
It should come as no surprise then that five of the Mets' hits against Medlen came on fastballs and two curveballs, including Buck's homer and Marlon Byrd's RBI single.
Is it simply a matter of Medlen's location not being where he wants or are opponents simply getting more used to his arsenal and he's having trouble adjusting? The answer is likely somewhere in the middle given that he did deliver another quality start and is showing glimpses of the dominant Medlen of '12, but it's certain that after that historic run, no one would have thought he'd go nine starts and counting between wins.