Strange homestand. The Braves have been shut out twice and no-hit once over these five games. On Sunday they were an out away from losing 3-2, and two nights ago they were an out away from losing 3-0. And yet they’ve won three times in five.
They’ve done it with two bursts of late-inning lightning, sure, but they’ve also done it with pitching. The Braves’ starting pitchers have managed only one win this homestand — that by Derek Lowe against Colorado on Friday in a game he led 7-0 after two innings — but they’ve kept their team close in every game except Saturday’s, which was the night Kenshin Kawakami worked against no-hit Ubaldo Jimenez.
Throw out that game and the Braves’ starting pitchers have yielded 10 earned runs in four starts against two good-hitting teams this homestand. And that is, I submit, what will have to keep the Braves close if they’re going to make a race of it — pitching.
The Braves are hitting .227 as a team. That’s second-worst in the National League. That will improve over time — it has to improve, does it not? — but this lineup isn’t apt to hit .270 all summer. Too many holes, as we’ve noted a time or two before.
But the lesson of three wins in five games is that pitching is the great equalizer. The Braves haven’t hit much this homestand — 33 hits and 17 runs in five games — but they haven’t let the other guys hit much, either. (The Rockies and Phillies have mustered 35 hits and 17 runs between them.) Tonight Lowe starts against Jamie Moyer, and Lowe is 3-0.
And I’ll be here all night, watching and reporting and typing and chattering away. I’d be obliged if you’d join me, and I should note that the four previous games we’ve done this the home team has prevailed. With two walk-off wins. With three wins in the final at-bat. With Jason Heyward having an RBI in all four games. As Kate Smith was to the Philly Flyers, I am to the 2010 Bravos.