Braves get their first Coors Field sweep since ‘03

DENVER – The Braves have scored more runs than any other team in the majors this season, but their pitching had faltered a few too many times lately for anyone to feel entirely comfortable about the way things were headed.

That’s why Brandon Beachy’s performance Sunday made a three-game sweep against the Rockies even more satisfying than it would’ve been if the Braves had won nothing but slugfests and left Coors Field with a weary pitching staff and a red flag potentially poking through the shiny surface of their promising season.

Beachy took a one-hit shutout to the seventh inning and Freddie Freeman continue to plunder Colorado pitching during a 7-2 win that gave the Braves a three-game sweep – their first sweep at Coors Field since 2003.

“A real good outing for Beach and for the pitching staff,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose Braves moved to a season-high seven games above .500 (18-11). “Got to kind of resemble a baseball game instead of the last two nights. We’re leaving here with the bullpen in kind of decent shape. It doesn’t happen very often.”

The Braves overcame a 5-0 first-inning deficit to win 9-8 in 11 innings Friday, and rebounded from a 6-0 deficit after two innings to win 13-9 on Saturday. They had 42 hits and 29 runs in the series, got home runs from Freeman and Dan Uggla on Sunday, and in the series finale they finally controlled a Colorado lineup that’s been the highest-scoring home team in baseball by a wide margin.

“That’s a good team we just came in here and put a beating on,” said catcher David Ross. “Proud of the guys. Now let’s go to Chicago and see what we can do.”

The three-city trip continues with three games against the Cubs at Wrigley Field starting Monday night, and finishes at St. Louis.

The Rockies had averaged 6.8 runs per home game and scored at least five runs in 10 consecutive games at Coors before Sunday. Beachy (2-1) allowed two runs, four hits and three walks in 6-1/3 innings, and reliever Cristhian Martinez pitched 2-2/3 perfect innings for his first save of the season as the Braves won for the 18th time in 25 games.

In his only previous start at Coors Field, Beachy gave up six runs, nine hits and five walks in 4-2/3 innings last season as a rookie.

“We talked after two days of watching the games here,” catcher David Ross said, “about how you’ve got to establish that first-pitch fastball, and he did a great job. I don’t know what his percentage of strikes were on first pitches, but he was pumping the zone pretty good. And when you do that, when you establish your fastball, you’re going to be a good pitcher.”

He threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of the first 19 batters and retired 14 in a row before a leadoff single in the seventh inning.

“That’s one of the things I try to do,” said Beachy, who lowered his ERA to 1.62. “It makes it that much harder for them, like hitting from a hole.”

The right-hander said he approached this start without the dread he had entering his first one at Coors. He didn’t worry this time about his breaking balls not having the same bite or the baseballs being slick or anything else.

“I remembered last year,” he said. “The ball might fly a little farther, but as far as my pitches they worked pretty much the same. I kind of let that get into my head a little bit last year. Now knowing if I just stick to my game plan, if I hit some spots, I’m going to be able to get guys out. I was able to do that for those first six [innings].”

That was more than enough time for the Braves offense to build a lead, led by Colorado nemesis Freeman.

Juan Nicasio (2-1) hit the big first baseman in the ribs with a pitch in the first inning, and then Freeman hit him and Rockies in their figurative gut with a three-run homer in the third inning and a leadoff triple – his first in the majors — in the two-run sixth inning.

Freeman has a .426 career average with a jaw-dropping eight home runs and 18 RBIs in 11 games against the Rockies, including four homers in seven games at Coors Field. He has 20 home runs in 194 games against all other teams.

“I don’t know, I feel like I’m doing the same things against them than I do against the other teams,” he said, smiling. “But I guess I just hit the ball better here.”

A lot of other pitchers besides those from Colorado have felt the 22-year-old slugger’s wrath lately. Freeman has hit .364 with 14 extra-base hits (six homers) and 25 RBIs in his past 19 games.

“Freddie Freeman’s an absolute beast,” Ross said. “I mean, that guy … that guy is amazing. I’d love to be like him one day.”

It didn’t go unnoticed that the Braves won without Chipper Jones and catcher Brian McCann, who had a rest day. Before Sunday, the Braves were 12-2 with Jones in the lineup and 5-9 without.

52 comments Add your comment

Ernest

May 6th, 2012
9:41 pm

Great win by the Braves again! Let’s hope the winning continues to Chicago and St. Louis.

Ryan

May 6th, 2012
9:41 pm

Beachy is a beast and legit front line starter! Making a bid for AS consideration.

cubbies fan

May 6th, 2012
10:04 pm

the rockies have the worst pitching in the NL they are 16th in all categories most any team could sweep them i’ll bet you two to one that the braves don’t sweep the cubbies they have two good pitchers going smardzija and dempster where dempster has the lowest era in the NL go cubbies sweep them braves

Who Me?

May 6th, 2012
10:07 pm

Gotta like smashmouth baseball. Go Bravos, we should be able to pad that league-leading run production a few more games. At this writing, it’s nice to see the Nats getting smacked around by the Phillies. Can’t believe I’m pulling for the Phils tonight but CHOP CHOP….

Who Me?

May 6th, 2012
10:08 pm

This is a “cubbies fan” free zone dude, go find yer own blog LOL….

Bob in SF

May 6th, 2012
10:10 pm

Freddy’s swing is a thing of beauty and as he matures and learns more of the art of hitting he will just get better and better. Excited about him being in a Braves uni.

Runner-

May 6th, 2012
10:32 pm

Freddie is incredible. I just hope he doesn’t rely on pulling the ball too much, his oppo-field power is what makes him great. He will be a 30+ HR and 100+ RBI hitter soon, but our biggest priority this offseason will be resigning Bourn, because without him none of that would happen.

We have an incredible trio to lead games off in Bourn, Prado, and Freddie, and then we have a great clean-up duo in B-Mac and Uggla. Heyward is getting his groove back and Pastornicky is slowly getting better and better.

All we need is for our pitching to return, both starters and bullpen. Huddy will figure things out and I have faith that Tommy will too. Beachy is great and he simply knows how to pitch. Jair had another great outing in Gwinnett today and we hope he’ll be back up here with us soon. Mike is our “crafty” lefty and he will keep on trucking. Our bullpen hasn’t been used that much as of yet so let’s hope they’ll be good down the stretch.

It feels like we’ve waited forever, but it finally feels like the pieces are falling back in place. Well done, Mr. Wren. GO BRAVES!!

CC

May 6th, 2012
11:17 pm

What’s to like about this team that we haven’t had much of in the past: SPEED. Pastornicky especially is a great surprise… when he has a double going or he’s running from first to third on someone else’s hit he M-O-T-O-R-S. And I think JHey is feeling a bit frisky, too.

NCbrave

May 6th, 2012
11:18 pm

Braves will sweep the Cubs.

Todd A.

May 6th, 2012
11:26 pm

Cubbies fan, ever heard of punctuation? May want to try it.

Who Me?

May 6th, 2012
11:40 pm

How about some good news about JJ from today’s G-Braves game?

On the mound: Jair Jurrjens ( 1-0) allowed two runs on five hits and struck out three hitters while walking one en route to his first victory with Gwinnett this season. All the damage off the right-hander occurred in the second inning, and he shut down the Charlotte hitting for the next six frames. Jurrjens finished with 95 pitches, 61 for strikes.

boykin

May 6th, 2012
11:55 pm

Great sweep Braves!

longtimefan

May 7th, 2012
6:24 am

Notice how after a win there aren’t as many comments? Certain people thrive on the negative and can’t bring themselves to post positive comments about the team. Kinda makes you wonder about their motives.

longtimefan

May 7th, 2012
6:34 am

This team, as currently constituted, has a reasonable chance to go to the WS. They have the combination of veteran leadership, maturing young star players and team chemistry. I doubt they will continue to hit like their current start, but neither are their current pitching stats indicative of the staffs potential-either SP nor relievers. Their tremendous SP depth allows them flexibility to find the right combination of effective starters and insurance for injury. Right now it doesn’t look like FW has to trade for that “missing piece of the puzzle”, as the picture looks fairly complete to me.

CRMAC300

May 7th, 2012
7:24 am

Now that Chipper is officially retiring, that frees up the money the Braves need to re-sign Bourne. I was not so impressed with him last year, but he is definitely the offensive engine starter that the Braves have not had for so many years. I hope Wren is working on a long time contract for him right now. Picking up a power hitting, every day, right handed left fielder is the last piece of the puzzle on this team. It will be interesting to see what the Braves can do about that, with all of their pitching depth as trade bait, by the trading deadline. A long time contract for Freeman should be talked about now, too. The Rays locked up Evan Longoria very early and the Braves should do that for Freeman, like they did for BMac. I see Freeman as a possible triple crown contender in his career. Just needs to cut down on the strikeouts.

MikeY

May 7th, 2012
8:00 am

CRMAC300, I agree w/ you. It is interesting to look at 2013, from a money perspective, Chipper and Lowe come off the books, and free agents Bourn, Ross, Hinske, Diaz, Wilson, Hernandez, and Durbin are possibly gone, if the Braves do not re-sign them. That frees up about $38M. BUT we will have a number of arbitration raises: Prado, Jurrjens, and O’Flaherty are all arb-3. Venters, Hanson, Medlin, Beachy, and Heyward are all arb-1. My guess is that raises for all these arb-eligible guys will eat about $15M. So that leaves about $23M in 2013 to either re-sign our FA’s or sign new FA’s. It will be interesting to see how the Jurrjens situation plays out, he is making $5.5M in 2012, if he does not turn it around he could be released in 2013.

I am assuming the Braves accept the 2013 options for McCann ($12M) and Hudson ($9M). With about $23M for free agents in 2013, we could certainly re-sign Bourn, but we will need to replace or re-sign Hinske, Ross, and the other free agents. Some of those replacements might come from our minor league system, but it does not look like there will be a lot of cash to sign BOTH a big RH bat for the outfield and Bourn. Unless Liberty opens up the purse strings or the Braves get sold to an owner that is willing to spend a bit more.

danny

May 7th, 2012
8:35 am

Great series win. The only problem was that we should have drilled one of theRockies hitters yesterday. Prado hit on Sat, Moyer accusing Chip of sign stealing, and freeman getting drilled in the first inning yesterday= a fastball in CarGo or the pitchers back.

Heathcliff Slocum

May 7th, 2012
8:40 am

Mike Y – excellent analysis. As for 2013, unless there is a break down, resigning Ross and Hinske should be priorities. They are two keys to the Brave’s success over the past two plus seasons. Hoping Gilmartin continues to progress and gives us a solid lefty in our rotation for the years ahead.

crackbaby

May 7th, 2012
8:43 am

DOB,

If Beachy allowed 2 ER in 6+ innings, he could not lower his ERA to 1.62, could he? Last I checked ERA is runs per nine innings but maybe I have dimensia (that would explain a lot, actually LOL).

WOW

May 7th, 2012
8:57 am

I read that Jared Weaver may be available this summer. Is this true and could the Braves get him?

WOW

May 7th, 2012
8:58 am

cubbies fan

Uh…….hate to break it to you but you guys don’t have ANY pitching. Your closer is awful and if he comes in to “save” a game he’ll end up giving up runs. How longs it been since you guys were relevant? 1908?

Ralph

May 7th, 2012
9:00 am

DOB – JJ had a great outing yesterday, could you give us some inside information about his performance, we know he only issued 1 base on balls but is his his velosity gotten better and is he getting movement on his fast ball?

WOW

May 7th, 2012
9:00 am

“smardzija and dempster where dempster has the lowest era in the NL”

And neither one has a supporting cast in their bullpen. Their offense, besides Castro, is awful.

Larvell Blanks

May 7th, 2012
9:56 am

No dementia, crackbaby, or even dimensia — he actually raised his ERA to 1.62. And if you have to raise your ERA, that’s the way to do it.

aburtch

May 7th, 2012
10:04 am

So great to see Freddie Freeman stepping it up this season. I hope he continues to develop into a major threat. Props also to Beachy for his 1.62 ERA.

Loon

May 7th, 2012
10:05 am

We won. Big deal.

Most of us prefer defeat so we can whine about it and demand firings! ;-)

DePort

May 7th, 2012
11:18 am

Lets not talk about playoffs or WS. Lets just be happy we are playing at a high level right now and lets hope it continues! Right now we need the Braves to atleast win every seris. The division will handle itself!

Ready Freddie

May 7th, 2012
11:28 am

Freddie Freeman is the real deal!When Chipper retires…………Freddie will be given the torch!I love this kid………….I just love his passion for the game!

Chipper The Man!

May 7th, 2012
11:33 am

Last I looked………………Chipper has more RBi’s than hits…….Not Bad for a 40 year old “Washed Up”(as many Bloggers state!) ballplayer!

Cheez13

May 7th, 2012
12:05 pm

Wow! Cubs fan really showing how smart you are. So, anybody could sweep Rockies?….then why were they 12-12 before they played Braves. How did they ever win 12 games if they are so bad? How many games have Cubs won? And really going out in a limb saying Cubs won’t get swept. If you are so confident, bet that they will take the series or even sweep the Braves. Braves were one of the highest scoring teams before playing in Colorado.

Samantha

May 7th, 2012
12:09 pm

@Cheez13 I agree. Poor Cub fans can not admit that they are in trouble.

WOW

May 7th, 2012
12:29 pm

“Braves were one of the highest scoring teams before playing in Colorado.

They still are. I got in a funny debate with a Cubs fan about Maddux. The Cub fan said that he would go in the HOF as a Cub. Said it was because Maddox loved being a Cub more than a Brave.

I said, well good luck with that.

Geno

May 7th, 2012
12:38 pm

Lol….I didn’t know “Cubs” and “Fan” went together. Maybe that explains why someone would be hiding out in a Braves blog! Unbelievabe!

Brave New World

May 7th, 2012
12:40 pm

cubbies fan May 6th, 2012 10:04 pm the rockies have the worst pitching in the NL they are 16th in all categories most any team could sweep them i’ll bet you two to one that the braves don’t sweep the cubbies

cubbies fan: Must be nice to follow such a beaten down team that you’re willing to bet The Braves don’t sweep ‘em – now that’s high expectations. GO BRAVES!

Samantha

May 7th, 2012
12:46 pm

Maybe Cubs could sign Moyer. That way cub fans could whine and cry together

Brave New World

May 7th, 2012
1:07 pm

Good suggestion Samantha!

CMC

May 7th, 2012
1:30 pm

When the Rockies come to Turner Field in September, Chipper better be ready for that 78 MPH heater under his chin from Moyer. Might be interesting. I guess they replace the radar gun with an hourglass when Moyer pitches.

ohhhhYEAH

May 7th, 2012
1:57 pm

hey cubbies fan,

those two “really good pitchers,” are they the one that helped you to a 7-9 home record? 11-17 overall? the cubs are 25th in runs scored and 18th in average. Not to mention, your pathetic offense gets to go against two pretty good pitchers also. So uh….good luck with that cubbie

jim

May 7th, 2012
2:08 pm

Chipper and Moyer — “Grumpy Old Men, part 3″

jim

May 7th, 2012
2:25 pm

Who gets to cover Samardzija on the down and out? Bourn’s speed or Heyward’s size

Samantha

May 7th, 2012
2:36 pm

@jim…We will Freeman handle that.

Fats OKelly

May 7th, 2012
2:53 pm

Jones always has a blast in Chicago. Hope Bones gets #460 in the Windy City

Frank Wren

May 7th, 2012
3:03 pm

J.S. made me trade Lowe. When I asked why, J.S. said Lowe stunk.

I told him that I was worried our starting pitching would fall apart if we traded our ace, the great Derek Lowe.

Now it has. See I was right.

Samantha

May 7th, 2012
3:05 pm

No you were not.

Frank Wren

May 7th, 2012
3:07 pm

I think it’s time to trade Freeman while he is playing well and his value is high. Why I could probably get 3 or 4 .230 hitters for him.

Felix

May 7th, 2012
3:11 pm

Raise your hand. How many of you bloggers would like to see a boxing match between Chipper and Jamie?

Samantha

May 7th, 2012
3:11 pm

YOU GOT TO BE SERIOUS. They should fire you for even thinking about it. Since you are not Frank Wren they wont.

Samantha

May 7th, 2012
3:13 pm

@ Felix Would not go 1 round. Chipper pops him in the nose and he goes to Tracy crying his eyes out because he did not get his way.

Abnerish

May 7th, 2012
3:37 pm

Freddie is simply hitting it where it’s pitched. Early in April, he was killing teams by going the other way when they pitched him away. Now, they adjusted and are trying to get him out by going inside and he’s pulling those pitches. I’m guessing that opposing teams are scratching their heads about now trying to figure out how to pitch to him.

Samantha

May 7th, 2012
3:40 pm

Walk him. McCann could not hit the broadside of a barn right now.

jim

May 7th, 2012
3:44 pm

I wonder if Fredi will switch Chipper and Prado in the lineup tonight and hit Chipper 2nd again.

Samantha

May 7th, 2012
3:46 pm

@jim… Freddie is not that smart.

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