After streaks and droughts, Braves where they want to be

Only one team in baseball has more wins than the Braves (34) entering today’s games, which seems rather remarkable to me considering some of the slumps the team has endured and especially given a lot of the comments I read on a daily basis both on my blog and on Twitter.

Chipper Jones is off the DL and back in the lineup today as the Braves try to win their seventh in a row.

Chipper Jones is off the DL and back in the lineup today as the Braves try to win their seventh in a row.

It really has been a crazy first third of the season for these Bravos, who’ve been as hot as any team in baseball at times, and the coldest team in baseball at others. That is the nature of a 162-game season, it’s just that these Braves have been a bit more extreme in both the highs and lows than we typically in a two-month span in most seasons.

But the criticism. I mean, it’s off the charts at times, for a team that’s one game out of first place in the toughest division in the National League and arguably the toughest in baseball.

I mean, if you didn’t know better and read some of the stuff said about this team just two weeks ago during its eight-game losing skid, you’d have sworn it was a hopeless case and that the manager, pitching coach and perhaps both hitting coaches should be fired, that at least four of the lineup regulars were overrated and would be lucky to start for most teams, and that the pitching staff was full of washed-up No. 5 starters and one-hit wonder relievers, with the exception of Craig Kimbrel.

Granted, the epic September collapse understandably left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths, but are we as a baseball market ever going to get past the, for lack of a better term, football mentality by which so many of us (fans and media) judge a team by one series or one bad (or great) week, and sometimes even by one bad game?

Because it really is sort of pointless to make all these black-or-white declarations after a game or three games in a 162-game season, folks. Which most of you understand, but the at least a very vocal portion of the audience does not, judging from the never-ending diatribes and missives we get condemning the team, its players, even the people who cover it, apparently for not forcing our will upon team decision-makers and demanding that someone, anyone, be held accountable after the team starts out 0-4 or goes through an eight-game losing skid.

It won’t change, I realize that. But figured it was worth pointing out. There are a lot of people among us (fans and media) who genuinely think they know more about baseball than the guys being paid a lot of money to manage or assemble the team, which always strikes me as a rather bold attitude (I would say arrogant or absurd, but that’s a bit harsh on Sunday morning) to have about an endeavor that most of us played only at an amateur level.

But anyway, I’ll leave it at that. What made me think about it was the suggestion by someone on Twitter yesterday, after Hanson gave up a two-run homer to Jose Bautista in the sixth inning, that Fredi Gonzalez was an idiot for leaving Tommy Hanson in to pitch the sixth, even though Hanson was throwing a two-hit shutout through five innings.

The person told me it didn’t matter, that Hanson should have come out after five because Hanson had become a five-inning pitcher and his command always deteriorated after that, which was apparent if I’d check his past 20 starts. Nevermind that Hanson had pitched seven innings innings in his previous start, and given up no runs in the last six of those seven innings.

Gonzalez left him in Saturday, and after Hanson gave up three straight hits in the sixth including a homer to Bautista – who has 17 of them – he retired the last seven batters he faced in a career-high eight-inning outing that saved a weary bullpen. Hanson gave up five hits and two runs in eight innings.

Of course, there was never an “I was wrong” follow-up Tweet from the person who’d argued with me on the point.

But anyway….

• Rollercoaster ride: Anyway, as to our original point about the streaky nature of this team so far this season….

Since their 0-4 start, the Braves have gone 34-21. The only major league team with more than 34 wins this season is the Dodgers, who are 38-22.

But within that 34-21 period of games, check out some of the extreme hot and cold stretches.

After the 0-4 start, the Braves went 10-1 with a .293 average and 3.27 ERA in their next 11 games through April 21.

Blue Jays Braves Baseball

Dan Uggla hugs rookie Andrelton Simmons, who hit the first homer of his career on Saturday. Uggla added a three-run homer in the Braves' sixth straight win.

Then they went 5-6 with a .260 average and 5.09 ERA in their next 11.

Then then won 11 of their next 16 while batting .281 with a 3.51 ERA and 83 runs (more than five per game).

That 11-5 stretch was followed by the eight-game skid May 21-May 28, during which the Braves hit a pitiful .173 and totaled 20 runs while posting a 5.66 ERA.

Many in Braves Nation figured the September Collapse mentality was back and the end was at hand.

Well, since then the Braves have won eight of nine games while batting .271 with 48 runs (5.3 per game) and posting a sparkling 2.33 ERA, getting strong performances night after night from starters and relievers, many of whom had struggled mightily during May.

Go figure.

Better yet, don’t. As the Braves themselves are doing, better to keep an even keel. That’s something that Fredi Gonzalez and many of the current Braves learned under Bobby Cox.

“One thing’s for sure in this game, you just never know,” Gonzalez said after Saturday’s win. “You’ve got to ride out the good ones, and you feel like when you’re winning these games, you feel like you’re never going to lose. And when you’ve got a 5, 6, 7, 8-game losing streak you feel like you’re never going to win a game. Enjoy it. and hopefully tomorrow [Julio] Teheran will give us a good outing with a fresh bullpen and for us to keep swinging the bats.”

They looked awful during their eight-game skid. Looked like a team with little chance of competing for a playoff berth, even with the extra wild card added beginning this year. But in winning eight of nine including the past six in a row, the Braves have looked like a team capable of winning the best division in the NL.

“We’re right back where we were,” said Dan Uggla, who hit a three-run homer Saturday and has six homers, 17 RBIs and a .460 OBP and 1.199 OPS in his past 15 games, with more walks (16) than strikeouts (14) in that span.

“You’re going to go through stretches like that [slump] throughout the season. You’ve just got to battle and try to get them over as quickly as possible. Obviously that one lasted a lot longer than we wanted it to, but we’ve played an put ourselves back in the position we wanted to be in.”

Said Hanson: “On every team I’ve ever been on, you have your ups and downs. You can’t ride the rollercoaster. You can’t get too high, you can’t get too low. We didn’t do that. We know we’ve got a good team. Sometimes the ball’s going to bounce your way, sometimes it’s not. You’ve just got to keep working hard and grinding, and hopefully it goes your way more than not.”

It’s 162, folks. Not 16. A six-month grind. Strap in, because we’ve still got 103 games to go.

Love baseball. It’s epic. Not for those with short attention spans, either in its pace within a game or over the length of a season.

Even more reason to love it.

Potent duo: Uggla has moved up to fifth in the NL with 41 RBIs, and much of the reason is the continued surges by the Braves’ dynamic 1-2 duo at the top of the order, Michael Bourn and Martin Prado.

They’ve batted 1-2 in 53 of the Braves’ 59 games and lead NL 1-2 hitters with a combined .320 average and .376 on-base percentage.

Bourn has reeled off three consecutive three-hit games entering today’s series finale against the Blue Jays, going 9-for-13 with three doubles, a homer and four RBIs in that stretch, with one walk and no strikeouts.

Bourn has hit .338 with a .386 OBP and .882 OPS in his past 53 games, with 20 RBIs, 40 runs and 15 stolen bases in that span. During the Braves’ 8-1 tear, he’s gone 16-for-38 (.421) with six extra-base hits, nine runs and five RBIs.

As for Prado, his bat hasn’t cooled for any significant stretches since he heated up in the third week of April. He’s hit .333 with a .401 OBP and .898 OPS in his past 47 games, with 23 RBIs and 32 runs in that period.

In his past 29 games, Prado has hit .371 with a .421 OBP, .552 slugging percentage and 15 extra-base hits.

What’s been especially encouraging for the Braves is that they’ve won eight of nine while Chipper Jones has been on the disabled list. Until this stretch the Braves had been 7-19 without him in the lineup, and 19-5 with him.

Chipper’s been activated for today’s game after a two-day rehab stint at Class-A Rome, and he’s in the lineup batting third.

“I never like being away but the guys are playing some good baseball,” he said this morning. “We are getting good pitching. Uggla and [Heyward] are carrying us offensively. Those two are teaming up to give us a lot of offense. Mike Bourn has gotten back in the swing again. Whenever Mike is doing what he is doing, that’s when our offense takes off. When he was going through that little bit of a slide in between hot streaks, our offense struggled. It’s no secret what our secret to success is – Mike Bourn setting the table, good starting pitching, good defense. That’s been the right formula for the last week.”

BRAVES LINEUP

  1. Bourn CF
  2. Prado LF
  3. Jones 3B
  4. Uggla 2B
  5. Diaz RF
  6. Freeman 1B
  7. Ross C
  8. Simmons SS
  9. Teheran P

• Rainy Sunday: OK, let’s get this posted before first pitch. You might have plenty of time to come back and finish it if you only skimmed over it now, because we could have some rain delays today. The Braves and Blue Jays really want to get the game in, though, because these teams don’t meet again this season and it’d be a pain to have to reschedule it on an off day.

Hanson pitched a career-high eight innings  in Saturday's win as the Braves continued their pitching resurgence.

Hanson pitched a career-high eight innings in Saturday's win as the Braves continued their pitching resurgence.

We’re all interested to see what Braves prospect  Teheran will do today in his spot start in place of Tim Hudson, who’s got bone spurs in his left ankle but is expected to be back to start Wednesday in the series finale against the Yankees.

Most of you know Teheran, 21, is generally rated among the top five prospects in baseball. He lost a spring-training competition with Randall Delgado for the final spot in the rotation when Hudson opened the season on the disabled list recovering from back surgery.

And when Jair Jurrjens went 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA in his first four starts for the Braves and got demoted to Triple-A Gwinnett, Delgado was the replacement, not Teheran.

Jurrjens has gone 3-3 with a 5.26 ERA in eight starts at Gwinnett, and the Braves want him to continue working on things and get more consistent before they bring him back to the majors.

Teheran was 5-2 with a 3.15 ERA in 11 starts at Gwinnett, with 43 strikeouts and 21 walks in 54-1/3 innings. He’s been inconsistent but is coming off his best start of the season, a seven-hit complete game at Charlotte on Sunday, when he allowed one run on a homer and had no walks with six strikeouts.

Teheran got his first big-league experience last season, going 1-1 with a 5.03 ERA in five games (three starts) for the Braves.

By the way, Heyward is getting a rest day against a tough lefty, Ricky Romero. Matt Diaz is in right field.

• We’ll close with a great tune done so well by Bobby Bare, which you can hear by clicking here.

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“WHAT AM I GONNA DO” by Bobby Bare (C. King, T. Stern)

What am I gonna do girl what am I gonna do I love you so much what am I gonna do
What am I gonna do girl what am I gonna do I love you so much what am I gonna do

Sittin’ here and thinkin’ bout you so far away
Wondering what you’re thinkin’ wondering what you’d say
If you were sittin’ here beside me here alone beside me
Used to be so good with you baby baby
What am I gonna do what am I gonna do I love you so much what am I gonna do

You left me here alone said it all takes time
I should keep the place together keep everything in line
Why aren’t you sittin’ here beside me here alone beside me
Till you come back to me baby baby
What am I gonna do

– David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

1,290 comments Add your comment

MIBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
1:39 pm

BFChris27

June 10th, 2012
1:39 pm

Thanks 4 new blog!!!!!!!!

nolie

June 10th, 2012
1:40 pm

so you got the big-head, Va?? ;)

keylargo

June 10th, 2012
1:41 pm

Teheran K’s first hitter “with a change up?” He is learning stuff in AAA!

Woody Woodward

June 10th, 2012
1:41 pm

I’ll ask again for the new blog, if this ones rained out, when do they make it up?

VaBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
1:42 pm

nolie

I guess lol

BFChris27

June 10th, 2012
1:43 pm

Julio!!!!!!!!!!

TNScott

June 10th, 2012
1:43 pm

Nice K, Julio

VaBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
1:43 pm

Strikes Jose out with a curve looking.

Doofus(Goober and Gomer's Smart Brother)

June 10th, 2012
1:43 pm

Six minutes late, DOB, your pay will be docked accordingly. That would be about $5 right?

cabravesfan

June 10th, 2012
1:44 pm

Woody-

VJ & I were talking about that this morning- It may end up being one of those “only if it impacts either playoff picture” make ups at the end of the season (which I don’t really like, but sometimes it is the only way)- but with the new play-off format, even that might be tricky…

MIBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
1:44 pm

Great 1st inning Julio!!

Brava

June 10th, 2012
1:44 pm

Nice work, JT.

Woody Woodward

June 10th, 2012
1:44 pm

Sheeyit! That musta looked like it was gonna hit him. What a bender!

Brava

June 10th, 2012
1:45 pm

Thank you, DOB.

Woody Woodward

June 10th, 2012
1:45 pm

Thanks, cab. I was thinking the same. Every game might matter.

Kat

June 10th, 2012
1:45 pm

Three batters up and out. Nice way to start the game. Thanks for the new DOB blog David.

Tomahawk Mafia

June 10th, 2012
1:46 pm

That inning represented the best Teheran has looked at the Major League level thus far. He looked excellent with his velocity and command.

VaBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
1:46 pm

Bourn being too aggressive to start the game. 2-0 count gotta taking next pitch…

McFann :Ô: :Ô:

June 10th, 2012
1:47 pm

Sopheee

Oh! Did they interview those guys about BMac’s dance? Boo! Sorry I missed that…bet it was hilarious!…

nolie

June 10th, 2012
1:47 pm

Bobby Bare, one of my all time faves. thanx David

iTiSi

June 10th, 2012
1:49 pm

Here’s FG’s asinine reasoning why Heyward is not in the lineup today. “He’s just too hot, we need to set him down and let him cool off a bit”!

Bravefaninok

June 10th, 2012
1:49 pm

Thanks DOB…a great read as usual.

Duke

June 10th, 2012
1:49 pm

Did JJ pitch last night?

Jerry

June 10th, 2012
1:51 pm

Well, I expect there will be rain delays today, so I have prepared myself. I have about 9 episodes of this season’s Game of Thrones downloaded and ready to dive into.

nolie

June 10th, 2012
1:51 pm

very pleased with BMFT’s last few starts.

Bravefaninok

June 10th, 2012
1:51 pm

Woody Woodward

June 10th, 2012
1:41 pm

I’ll ask again for the new blog, if this ones rained out, when do they make it up?

Very hard to do as they would need a mutual off day and the travel would be brutal.

Kat

June 10th, 2012
1:52 pm

Duke @ 1:49 pm

Did JJ pitch last night?
————-

Lugo, Vavaro and Gearrin pitched on Saturday.

brian

June 10th, 2012
1:52 pm

Teheran looked great in the 1st inning. Hope he keeps it up

VaBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
1:52 pm

I do hate the call by Fredi… Finally get Chipper back in the lineup so what’s the 1st thing he does? Bench Heyward…. I don’t care if there is a lefty on the mound or not. Just let the kid play.

Woody Woodward

June 10th, 2012
1:53 pm

JJ ” has gone 3-3 with a 5.26 ERA in eight starts at Gwinnett, and the Braves want him to continue working on things and get more consistent before they bring him back to the majors.”

DOB–have you heard more optimism about his return?

brian

June 10th, 2012
1:53 pm

Braves need to get ahead early in this one. The umps will do all they can to get it through 5 so they can call it if they have to. No easy way to make this one up

MP

June 10th, 2012
1:53 pm

online radio feed anyone?

JC Brave

June 10th, 2012
1:53 pm

Fudge!

I wanted a perfect game!

brian

June 10th, 2012
1:55 pm

love seeing the mix of low fastballs, offspeed pitches and then the high fastball

VaBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
1:57 pm

I hate games like this when there’s a chance it could get rained out and nothing counts. I believe Chipper has 3 home runs total in games that don’t count cause of rain ending the game before the 5th inning.

Jerry

June 10th, 2012
1:57 pm

With Diaz in right today, that was my first “holding my breath” moment.

Kat

June 10th, 2012
1:58 pm

MP… some of these may work however it may depend on your IP address/location http://tunein.com/radio/stations/Atlanta-Braves-Radio-Stations-a37913/

brian

June 10th, 2012
1:58 pm

very strong 2nd inning as well. Keep it up Julio!!

nolie

June 10th, 2012
1:58 pm

you can breath again now Jerry

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

June 10th, 2012
1:58 pm

It won’t change, I realize that. But figured it was worth pointing out. There are a lot of people among us (fans and media) who genuinely think they know more about baseball than the guys being paid a lot of money to manage or assemble the team, which always strikes me as a rather bold attitude (I would say arrogant or absurd, but that’s a bit harsh on Sunday morning) to have about an endeavor that most of us played only at an amateur level…..David O’Brien.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

More like ignorant and extremely lacking of true baseball educate. Which is why I no longer read most comments,, nor do I bother to comment much when this team is going bad.

That said, the 162 game marathon is unique among all sports. The grind wears down both bad teams and organizations. So I must point out the obvious, How many losing seasons have our Braves endured during the past twenty years versus winning campaigns? 18-2 is the answer which is why this 2012 team is winning and will continue too do so for the foreseeable future.

brian

June 10th, 2012
1:58 pm

VaBravesFan – don’t they now just pick games up where they left off instead of starting over?

MIBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
1:59 pm

Nice play by Chipper, and another good inning of work by Julio

MP

June 10th, 2012
2:01 pm

thank you kat

keylargo

June 10th, 2012
2:01 pm

Sid Bream interview on

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

June 10th, 2012
2:01 pm

BFChris27

June 10th, 2012
2:03 pm

Matty D!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bravefaninok

June 10th, 2012
2:03 pm

Matteeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

nolie

June 10th, 2012
2:03 pm

brian

June 10th, 2012
2:03 pm

that is why Matt Diaz plays against lefties.

It always amazes me how bad he can look against righties at time and then destroy lefties

MIBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
2:04 pm

Way to go, Matt!!

JC Brave

June 10th, 2012
2:04 pm

There we go!!

Bring ‘em in!!!

VaBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
2:04 pm

Still sucks Heyward has to sit.

Bravefaninok

June 10th, 2012
2:04 pm

Just need a sac fly Freddie

bravesgrl4life

June 10th, 2012
2:04 pm

iTiSi

June 10th, 2012
2:05 pm

I hate it when Matt Diaz makes me look like an idiot!!!

brian

June 10th, 2012
2:05 pm

what was that???

bravesgrl4life

June 10th, 2012
2:05 pm

cabravesfan

June 10th, 2012
2:05 pm

That was…odd. But we’ll take it

Bravefaninok

June 10th, 2012
2:05 pm

Well that will work…..I guess

cabravesfan

June 10th, 2012
2:05 pm

Ball slipped out of his hand…

B_F 52

June 10th, 2012
2:06 pm

Freddie put a wang on that

nolie

June 10th, 2012
2:06 pm

Toronto has helped us a good bit this series

BFChris27

June 10th, 2012
2:06 pm

Rossy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

brian

June 10th, 2012
2:06 pm

great hit by David Ross – the error really helped there by getting the infield in

Bravefaninok

June 10th, 2012
2:06 pm

Rossy nice job!

MIBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
2:06 pm

All gifts greatly appreciated! Thanks you Colby!

D.A. Nuggla

June 10th, 2012
2:06 pm

Doesn’t Rasmus have a brother who’s a pitcher, or is that not a relative?

VaBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
2:07 pm

Why is Freeman not credited with an RBI? It would have been a sac fly right? I’m watching on gameday so not sure.

MIBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
2:07 pm

Well done, Ross!

cabravesfan

June 10th, 2012
2:07 pm

VaBravesFan-

It was (correctly) ruled an error. Ball dropped while he was trying to throw it, Uggla was not running on the play…

Abandon33

June 10th, 2012
2:08 pm

talk about irony…Sid Bream lives in Pittsburgh….too cool

Kat

June 10th, 2012
2:08 pm

VaBravesFan .. Uggla wasn’t running after it was caught..must have thought it was caught too close to the infield to make it home.

iTiSi

June 10th, 2012
2:08 pm

Just to make myself feel better, I am going to assume that double by Diaz would have been a triple or homer by JH. Yeh, that’s it.

VaBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
2:08 pm

Jerry

June 10th, 2012
2:09 pm

Simmons hung in there pretty good. And he is all about making contact.

VaBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
2:10 pm

A Heyward and Diaz platoon would be very very good right now, but the long term it would hurt Heyward. He needs to be playing everyday with his skill set.

D.A. Nuggla

June 10th, 2012
2:11 pm

If Rasmus dropped it while trying to throw, I have seen umps call that a catch many times before. I think the rulebook says “the transfer has to be made for it to be a catch” but have seen it called before.

VaBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
2:12 pm

Simmons might be the best contact hitter on the roster.

Bravefaninok

June 10th, 2012
2:13 pm

D.A. Nuggla

June 10th, 2012
2:06 pm

Doesn’t Rasmus have a brother who’s a pitcher, or is that not a relative?

He does and he is a Brave….http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?pos=P&sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=474284

iTiSi

June 10th, 2012
2:13 pm

How many times have we seen FG “the robot” sit a player down when he is red hot this year? I DO NOT understand that. That righty-lefty thing is “for the birds”!

nolie

June 10th, 2012
2:13 pm

yeah he has a brother in our system Cory

Tomahawk Mafia

June 10th, 2012
2:13 pm

I wish Freeman had a better approach at the plate.

CaptMudd

June 10th, 2012
2:14 pm

Split that 8-game dumper last month and apply it to today’s win total for this season and, we got one really great Bravos squad here. Even the non-fictional results are impressive…..the silver-lining, in MLB is always there….hard concept….I know we are all humans.

Jerry

June 10th, 2012
2:14 pm

Second string guys are paying dividends today. Now if Francisco can get run over by a truck, that would make my day.

CaptMudd

June 10th, 2012
2:15 pm

That last pitch was a real beauty

brian

June 10th, 2012
2:15 pm

if he can get that breaking ball down pat, he will be tough

nolie

June 10th, 2012
2:15 pm

good looking slider. his secondary pitches are looking better today

Bravefaninok

June 10th, 2012
2:15 pm

mississippi braves….http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cory_Rasmus#Cory_Rasmus

Steve

June 10th, 2012
2:15 pm

Thanks DOB! I love how you called out those “fans” who overreact over the smallest things. After the 0-4 start it cracked me up to see people posting things like “the season is over.” During the 8 game losing streak I guess those “fans” forgot the Braves were missing 2-4 starters over that time.

TNScott

June 10th, 2012
2:15 pm

Another nice K, Julio!!!!

Jerry

June 10th, 2012
2:15 pm

That was the first ground ball today, wasn’t it?

Woody Woodward

June 10th, 2012
2:15 pm

Man, that curve is something

MIBravesFan

June 10th, 2012
2:16 pm

Great pitch!

brian

June 10th, 2012
2:17 pm

agree that Heyward needs to be playing everyday for his long term development. When he does get a day off to rest though, it should be against a tough lefty

also agree that Rasmus did catch that ball. That was clearly a catch and dropped on transfer to throw. Didn’t think there was much debate on that one

Woody Woodward

June 10th, 2012
2:17 pm

Guys in the booth have called it a slider and a curve, nolie. Was that the same patch he got Bautista with?

Bravefaninok

June 10th, 2012
2:17 pm

The kid is looking sharp today…..

Doofus(Goober and Gomer's Smart Brother)

June 10th, 2012
2:17 pm

“Jerry” if Francisco got run over by a truck there would be tremendous damage to the truck!

brian

June 10th, 2012
2:18 pm

that breaking pitch is nice but Julio still needs to work off his fastball

brian

June 10th, 2012
2:19 pm

Woody – that is why I am calling it a breaking ball – can’t tell if it is a slider or not. Looks more like a slow curve to me

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