First-place Braves have played fewest home games in majors

MINNEAPOLIS — After they wrap up their three-game series against the Twins today, the Braves are headed to … what’s that? Home? What a concept.

Or, as Bobby Cox put it this morning: “Where we headed? I don’t know, where’s home anymore?”

"Dirt" Conrad is becoming a poster boy for this Braves team.

"Dirt" Conrad is becoming a poster boy for this Braves team.

That’d be Atlanta, where the Braves will get to sleep in their own beds tonight and spend a day off at home tomorrow before opening a three-game series with Tampa Bay on Tuesday, the start of a six-game homestand.

What’s made the Braves’ recent run more impressive is the fact that they’ve played on the road more than any other team in the majors, including their season-long 11-game trip that ends this afternoon.

After today they’ll have played 39 of their 64 games on the road, and after today the Braves will still be in first place regardless of the outcome of the outcome of this series finale against the Twins.

Then they’ll head home, where their .760 home winning percentage (19-6) is the best in baseball. That’s fewest home games, best home winning percentage.

Anyone can see where that’d be reason for optimism, since having the fewest home games today means the Braves have the most home games the rest of the way.

They are 14-2 in their past 16 home games and take a nine-game home winning streak into Tuesday’s game against the Rays, when Kenshin Kawakami will try again to get his first win.

By the way, I bet you all can guess who Kawakami faces on Tuesday, right? Of course it’s David Price, the lefty with the 9-2 record and 2.23 ERA.

Kawakami will face Rays ace David Price on Tuesday.

Kawakami will face Rays ace David Price on Tuesday.

The rest of the matchups for that series: Tommy Hanson (6-3) against righty Wade Davis (5-6, 4.91) on Wednesday, and Tim Hudson (6-2) against righty James Shields (5-5, 4.55) on Thursday.

Wrapping it up today: If I eat Mexican good today, I will have had it for 12 consecutive days on this trip (I went out to L.A. the day before the road-trip opener). For the sake of continuity, I might have to do it, though it’s a little easier to find great Mexican food in L.A. and Phoenix than in Minneapolis.

As for the Braves, if they win today they’ll have a winning trip (6-5) and extend their streak of series without a loss to 11. The Braves haven’t lost a series since dropping two of three against Philly at Turner Field May 7-9.

After that, the last-place Braves trailed first-place Philly by six games. As you know, the two teams have gone in opposite directions since.

The Braves are 23-9 since that series, while the Phillies are 12-17 and have been overtaken by the Mets, who are 17-14 in that same period.

The Mets have won eight of 10 and are only 1-1/2 games behind the Braves entering Sunday’s games.

“They can’t lose,” Cox said of the Mets. “They’ve got a lot better team [than given credit for]. In New York they [media, fans] like to rip, rip, rip.”

The Braves are certainly a lot better than most of us thought in late April, when they were in a nine-game skid and the bandwagon was emptying quickly.

They’re playing now the way quite a few people predicted in the spring. Remember, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale picked them to win the World Series.

“This is the Braves’ year,” Bob said before Opening Day. “They have all of the ingredients to make this a special season, and come trade deadline, will do everything possible to make sure Bobby Cox’s final season is one that he’ll never forget.”

Well, I don’t know about winning the World Series or how much the Braves will do at the trade deadline. I do know they’re playing as well as any team in baseball, and have the feel of a special team, with players who believe in one another, pull for one another, and refuse to point fingers after a loss.

They’ve got good pitching, an excellent bullpen, the best bench they’ve had in many years, and a few hitters who tend to produce best with games on the line.

All ingredients that can turn a good team into a championship team.

Among NL teams, the Braves have the second-best average and best OBP in close-and-late situations (.273, .385). With runners in scoring position, they rank fourth in average (.277) and first in OBP (.390).

The rank fourth in bullpen ERA (3.29) and have the fifth-lowest opponents’ average in close-and-late situations (.232).

When you hit .273 to your oppoents’ .232 in the late innings of close games, you’re obviously going to win a lot of them.

One more thing: The Braves have turned it around on the road, where their futility in the early season was epic.

The Braves were 5-14 in their first 19 road games, with a .217 batting average, eight homers and a 5.02 ERA. In 19 since, they are 12-7 with a .275 average, 15 homers and a 3.11 ERA.

Chipper’s finger: In recent years, the situation with Chipper Jones’ finger would be a huge story and major impediment to the Braves’ plans.

Not this season.

Chipper says Braves are just as confident when he's not in the lineup, due to the performances of fill-ins Infante and Conrad.

Chipper says Braves are just as confident when he's not in the lineup, due to the performances of fill-ins Infante and Conrad.

The veteran third baseman was scratched from the lineup Saturday and won’t play today, making it seven games he missed on the 11-game trip because of soreness in his right ring finger.

The Brave are 2-2 in the games he’s played on the trip, and 3-3 in the games he hasn’t (before today).

Chipper said this morning that they’ll see how he feels after another couple of days rest today and the off day, then might need to do an MRI or something else if he’s not better.

He took a cortisone injection June 5 that brought relief for a couple of days in the middle series in Arizona, but soon it was painful again.

“It’s acting up again. Not much else to say. The guys are stepping up, you know, in my absence. Doing a great job. So hopefully Omar’s OK and it’ll just be a couple of days for him. His foot’s pretty messed up right now, but it doesn’t look like something that’ll keep him out of the lineup for too very long.”

The Braves played extremely short-handed Saturday and will today, since utility man Omar Infante (foot) and Chipper are not available to play, and Brandon Hicks is with the team primarily in case they need a backup shortstop, not to hit unless they have to use him.

They do have, however, the not-so-secret weapon. The man who’s become this team’s Mark Lemke, with more pop.  Yes, we speak of budding cult hero, Brooks “Dirt” Conrad.

He was a hero again Saturday with his RBI double and his well-executed squeeze bunt to bring home the last run in the Braves’ 3-2 win.

Here’s what Conrad has done in 20 games and a mere 30 at-bats since May 11: Hit .367 (11-for-30) with three doubles, three homers and 12 RBIs. He’s got a .767 slugging percentage in that stretch.

Conrad is filling in for Chipper today for the second day in a row. He found out less than an hour before yesterday’s first pitch that Jones was scratched and he’d be starting.

No worries, Conrad said. Then he came up big, with two hits, two RBIs and two sensational defensive plays.

“I don’t think that anybody in here has any less confidence with those other guys in the lineup than they do with me,” Jones said. “I think they’ve proven themselves more than worthy of stepping in and compensating for my absence.”

♣ OK, I had some other stuff but going to have to cut it off, since the game’s starting.

We’ll close with another classic from a mighty Minneapolis band, Husker Du. Damn, they really were great. And check out this video to the song.

1

“THESE IMPORTANT YEARS” by Husker Du

Well, you get up every morning

And you see, it’s still the same

All the floors and all the walls

And all the rest remains

Nothing changes fast enough

The hurry, worry days

It makes you want to give it up

And drift into a haze

Revelations seems to be another way

To make the days go faster anyways

We’re all exchanging pleasantries

No matter how we feel

And no one knows the difference

‘Cause it all seems so unreal

You’d better grab a hold of something

Simple but it’s true

If you don’t stop to smell the roses now

They might end up on you

Expectations only mean you really think you know

What’s coming next, and you don’t

Yearbooks with their autographs

From friends you might have had

These are your important years

You’d better make them last

Falling in and out of love just like…

These are your important years, your life

Once you’ve seen the light, you finally

Realize it might end up all right

It might end up all right now

2,423 comments Add your comment

BravesFanChris25

June 13th, 2010
2:28 pm

New blog right?

Jeremiah

June 13th, 2010
2:33 pm

Jeremiah

June 13th, 2010
2:34 pm

I mean, Second! Go Braves! :-)

Brave4life-1995 all over again

June 13th, 2010
2:34 pm

Jeremiah

June 13th, 2010
2:34 pm

Nice first inning, Medlin is looking good so far too!

Brave4life-1995 all over again

June 13th, 2010
2:34 pm

Rob from SC

June 13th, 2010
2:34 pm

DOB

Has there been any talk about changing Escobar’s stance. He is so closed off. If he open’s up he could be a really good power hitter.

JC from DR!

June 13th, 2010
2:34 pm

Let’s go Meds!

CaptainMudderland

June 13th, 2010
2:34 pm

Way to go Eric–finally off that wall and smoking the ball like the #1 unsung hero of the NL…I, personally love the way this guy gives us consistent at-bats…making the opposing pitcher work and showing that it really means alot to play the game with emotion and grit–love you Eric, keep it up!

BravesFanChris25

June 13th, 2010
2:35 pm

Let’s go Meds!!!!

Steve from OH

June 13th, 2010
2:35 pm

Greg Norton has a tremendous mustache. Good song, DOB.

BravesFanChris25

June 13th, 2010
2:35 pm

Mauer is pesky.

Brave4life-1995 all over again

June 13th, 2010
2:36 pm

throw a change up

Jeremiah

June 13th, 2010
2:36 pm

I assume you are referring to Hinske Cap? Agreed, He rocks!

Wes

June 13th, 2010
2:36 pm

DOB stole my Lemke reference. I was royalties

Jeremiah

June 13th, 2010
2:36 pm

Good job Meds!

BravesFanChris25

June 13th, 2010
2:36 pm

Way to go Meds and Blanco!

Brave4life-1995 all over again

June 13th, 2010
2:36 pm

good AB by Mauer,

JC from DR!

June 13th, 2010
2:37 pm

Rob from SC – Hey Rob I have though about that before. I have even used he’s stance just to know how it feels, and IMO, it’s really hard to hit for power with that batting stance…

JC from DR!

June 13th, 2010
2:37 pm

Good inning Meds!

Brave4life-1995 all over again

June 13th, 2010
2:37 pm

Phils winning 3-1, damn

Trey

June 13th, 2010
2:38 pm

Braves have a great game going :) even though it is just the top of the second!

Mr. Turnip-Green Jeans

June 13th, 2010
2:38 pm

Twins haven’t seen Medlin’s change-up. Gonna be rough going for them today.

Tomahawkin

June 13th, 2010
2:39 pm

I’m just gald we didn’t get Clowned in Minnesota, and survived a Death Roadtrip…

McFann :Ô: :Ô:

June 13th, 2010
2:39 pm

Thanks for the new Blog, Chief

Tommeeeeee O’ I owe you a “hello”. Wait a minute …. it’s coming … Hello, McFann!

:lol: Hello to you, too! (I owed you as well! ;) )

Jake W.

June 13th, 2010
2:40 pm

I know the mets are winning at get CLE next but they have actually been pretty good of late. Although a bad team themselves, they should present a bigger challenge than the O’s.

Wes

June 13th, 2010
2:40 pm

on pace to win 36-0

Nova Scotia Steve

June 13th, 2010
2:40 pm

Hey Folks!

Friggin’ missed the first inning. But am pretty pumped to see this score. Phillies and Mets are both winning as well.

If we can hold on here…head home with a winning record….a day off tomorrow…and a long home stand coming up….things would look a lot more positive.

Gotta say this has been a hellish road trip…and the only thing i’ve done during this trip has been sit behind a computer – bitch and drink beer.

JC from DR!

June 13th, 2010
2:40 pm

Brave4life-1995 all over again – Make that 4-1, fudges!

Trey

June 13th, 2010
2:40 pm

Tomahakin – You and I both, brother.

Playoffs!!!!

June 13th, 2010
2:40 pm

Escobar also ‘wraps” his bat over his head which makes it harder to get around on a good fastball

Brave4life-1995 all over again

June 13th, 2010
2:40 pm

So, every team in the NL East is winning right now

Jeremiah

June 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

Twins have a really good team this year, as do the Dodegers, we hold on today, and this has been very impressive road trip…Tough luck with the collision in AZ, Even still, what a road trip.

Jeremiah

June 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

Greg in TN

June 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

One thing I like about our interleague games this year is that with the quality bats on the bench, our DH has more punch than we’ve had in past years.

bravesgrl4lifeeeee

June 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

Let’s go, Marteen!

N8

June 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

Amazing to me how many people still spell Medlen with an “i” instead of an “e”.

Dude has pitched well enough now for Braves to know how to spell his name. Reminds me of Andrew Jones or Greg Maddox.

Nova Scotia Steve

June 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

Trey

June 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

Wes

June 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

BravesFanChris25

June 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

Prado!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Brave4life-1995 all over again

June 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

cabravesfan

June 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

Jeremiah

June 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

Greg in TN

June 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

Marteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen

bravesgrl4lifeeeee

June 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

MARTEEEEEEEEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tomahawkin

June 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

MMMMPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP

Salty Dawg

June 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

MAR-TEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!

Trey

June 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

MARTIN PRADO!

Jeremiah

June 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

All Star!!!!!

Nova Scotia Steve

June 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

Bartholomeeeew (Bat) Masterson

June 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

Way to go Prado……………..

David O'Brien

June 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

Crushed.

Second deck shot for Prado, who hits ‘em like that in BP all the time.

BravesFanChris25

June 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

I like what Joe just said….

“Vote Now….Vote Often”

Change Turner Field to Aaron Stadium

June 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

Prado = baseball player

CT in AL

June 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

let me be the 9th or 10th to say it: Marteeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!!!!

Tomahawkin

June 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

That had to be a 410 footer!

This Is How We Do It!

cabravesfan

June 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

MARTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!

Trey

June 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

I think we can hold this lead (knock on wood)

Jake W.

June 13th, 2010
2:43 pm

In that ballpark, thats doing something.

Jeremiah

June 13th, 2010
2:43 pm

*Medlen (For the annoyingly anal and lifeless)

bravesgrl4lifeeeee

June 13th, 2010
2:43 pm

Let’s get some more, here Brooks :smile:

JC from DR!

June 13th, 2010
2:43 pm

Marteeeeeen!

Nova Scotia Steve

June 13th, 2010
2:43 pm

N8: Dude has pitched well enough now for Braves to know how to spell his name.

I agree. But some can’t even spell Jurrjens correctly yet…so they may need some more time.

Tomahawkin

June 13th, 2010
2:43 pm

Chip Caray That Is When You Jump up and Get Crunk on The Mike!

Wes

June 13th, 2010
2:43 pm

well, evidently Brooks IS human lol

N Nine

June 13th, 2010
2:43 pm

Marteeeen’s hand is doing better!!!

N8

June 13th, 2010
2:43 pm

You know what was the BEST part of that HR by Prado?

The way he simply glanced at it, put his head down and ran to 1B.

No show-boating, no jogging around the paths. Simply acted like he’s done it before, and will do it again.

As much as Heyward will be the “face” of this franchise, this is slowly becoming Prado’s team, and I for one, am A-OK with that.

Love that guy.

Sopheeee

June 13th, 2010
2:44 pm

I’ll add another e to my name.

Wes

June 13th, 2010
2:44 pm

WTF are you lookin at, Chipper? Eyes to yourself ya creepy bastard

Nova Scotia Steve

June 13th, 2010
2:45 pm

Tomahawkin

How ya doing brother??? I was actually pleasantly surprised with the Bobby Cox line-up today….thought we were going to have half of the Gwinnett Braves in this line-up today.

This would be a HUGE series win if we can hold on here today…

Jeremiah

June 13th, 2010
2:45 pm

Well said N8.

bravesgrl4lifeeeee

June 13th, 2010
2:45 pm

Well, at least Atlanta area fans can get at least $5 off an oil change tomorrow now. How ’bout our boys score about 5 more. Then, that oil change will be really cheap.

Dutchieeeeeeeee

June 13th, 2010
2:45 pm

Germany score and a couple of schwalbe’s allready….

Nice inning for Medlen. Let’s keep this guy throwing some pitches.

And a MARTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!

He absolutely sent that one long, high and óut of there!

N8

June 13th, 2010
2:45 pm

“*Medlen (For the annoyingly anal and lifeless)” Gerimya

Not annoyingly anal or lifeless at all. Just don’t think it’s that tough to remember how to spell the name of guys on the team I follow. You weren’t the only one. It’s been mis-spelled by about 4 or 5 people so far today.

Lighten up Francis.

JC from DR!

June 13th, 2010
2:46 pm

He strikes out… surprise!

That Marteen has some serious pop! I definitely can see him as a 20HR hitter.

FEEEEEAR

June 13th, 2010
2:46 pm

whatta shot by martin!! He’s on my fantasy team!! go vote!!!!

Brave4life-1995 all over again

June 13th, 2010
2:46 pm

It would be nice if we could pick up 1 game on at least 1 NL east team

Greg in TN

June 13th, 2010
2:46 pm

I agree whole-heartedly N8, act like you’ve been there. Heyward doesn’t take his time going around the bases after a homer either. I remember seeing #1 off Zambrano and observing his circle of the bases was more of a sprint than a jog.

Jeremiah

June 13th, 2010
2:47 pm

Bobby Cox is awesome! What a call last night with that squeeze! He gets all the hate consistently, that I gotta give him some love!

Change Turner Field to Aaron Stadium

June 13th, 2010
2:47 pm

So far it’s looking like a NL East sweep today of AL teams.

Tomahawkin

June 13th, 2010
2:47 pm

NSS

Whats Up Partnah! I’m enjoying this Slapping of Kevin Slowey…

I want another Braves Twins WS…!

Jake W.

June 13th, 2010
2:47 pm

I missed the game last night but I see Melky hit one out. I have yet to see one of his homers live this year. Hopefully he’s got some more in him.

N8

June 13th, 2010
2:47 pm

I’m just giving you crap btw, Jerimiah. Forgot to add the little smiley face at the end of the last post.

But I’ll assume that by me mispelling your name, you already figured it out. LOL

Tommeeeee O'

June 13th, 2010
2:47 pm

I’m glad I had my e’s on

Wes

June 13th, 2010
2:47 pm

N8 is absolutely right. If you can’t spell a player’s name (especially a popular one) don’t type it.

bravesgrl4lifeeeee

June 13th, 2010
2:48 pm

Meds is looking really, really good. When JJ comes back, it really should be KK sent to the pen. I mean, part of his problem is that he’s just not getting run support, but Kris really is pitching better, too.

Wes

June 13th, 2010
2:48 pm

Twins are lifeless today. No complaints from me

Nova Scotia Steve

June 13th, 2010
2:48 pm

Tomahawkin: “The Slapping of Kevin Slowey”

Coming to a theater near you!!!! 8O

FEEEEEAR

June 13th, 2010
2:48 pm

but the freaking Mutts are winning. 6-3……..and so are the phils 4-1…….damn

RunHeeeeapRun

June 13th, 2010
2:49 pm

how bout a good old fashioned sunday afternoon boat race.

Sopheeee

June 13th, 2010
2:49 pm

See, Tom(eeeee) – the e’s do make a difference.

Tomahawkin

June 13th, 2010
2:49 pm

MEDS IS Dealin!

Trey

June 13th, 2010
2:49 pm

Great catch!

Wes

June 13th, 2010
2:49 pm

love the hustle, melk man

BravesFanChris25

June 13th, 2010
2:49 pm

Melky with the GLOVE!!!!!!!!!!!

RunHeeeeapRun

June 13th, 2010
2:49 pm

Melk dud says what?

bravesgrl4lifeeeee

June 13th, 2010
2:49 pm

Melky! Nice catch there, dude :)

Salty Dawg

June 13th, 2010
2:49 pm

Nice hustle by Melky there.

Sopheeee

June 13th, 2010
2:50 pm

Hotdamn, Melky covered some ground.

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