Thursday, May 4, 2017

Atlanta Braves reel off five straight wins against Mets and Brewers

The Atlanta Braves had what was arguably their best week of the season last week as they reeled off five straight wins, including two against division rival, New York Mets.

The Braves had an off day on Monday of last week and were supposed to play the Mets on Tuesday of last week, but bad weather in Flushing, New York caused that game to be postponed to Sept. 25.

That unexpected day off seems to have helped the Braves as they proceeded to beat the Mets on Wednesday of last week and last Thursday, 8-2 and 7-5, respectively. These wins not only snapped a six-game losing streak, but also gave the Braves two much-needed division wins.

After their two games in New York, the Braves hopped on a plane and flew to Miller Park in Milwaukee where they swept a three-game series against the Brewers. They won Friday, 10-8; on Saturday, 11-3; and again on Sunday, 11-3.

Going into Monday night’s game against the Mets in Atlanta, the Braves were riding a five-game winning streak, matching their longest such streak of the season so far. They were also 11-12 overall, a shade under .500, but still in last place in their division.

Even though we’re just one month into the season, it’s looking like the Braves are in the same division with perhaps the best team in all of baseball, the Washington Nationals. As of Monday, the Nats had a 4-1/2 game lead over the second-place Phillies with the Marlins, the Mets and the Braves bringing up the rear. There is much baseball left to be played, but if the Braves hope to catch Washington, they’re going to have to put together several more five-game winning streaks.

Atlanta’s offensive lineup made big strides during the past week, and they currently have five players with batting averages over .300 – Tyler Flowers, Freddie Freeman, Chase D’Arnaud, Matt Kemp and Brandon Phillips. Flowers is leading the pace with a .380 average, followed closely by Freeman, who is hitting .379. Freeman’s continuing to swing his big stick with a team-leading nine home runs as of Monday. Kemp’s next with six to his credit, and he’s leading the team in RBI with a team-high 16.

Three Atlanta pitchers are tied for pitching wins with two wins each to their credit – R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Julio Teheran. Reliever Jose Ramirez, who has appeared in 12 of the team’s 23 games so far, has the team’s lowest ERA at 1.50.

Teheran, who has pitched in a team-high 35-1/3 innings so far this season, is leading the team in strikeouts with 27 overall. Bartolo Colon and Mike Foltynewicz are next in the strikeout category with 23 each. Teheran and Colon would do well to turn it up a notch. As of Monday, their ERAs were 4.33 and 5.59, respectively.

This coming week, the Braves will enjoy a seven-game home stand with four games against the Mets beginning Monday and three games against the St. Louis Cardinals, starting tomorrow (Friday). Needless to say, a streak of seven wins over these two teams would be a big shot in the arm for the Braves.

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