With help from Jason Heyward’s late inning heroics (again) on Tuesday night, the Braves won to earn a share of first place in the NL East. Yes, it was an exciting win and yes it was even better to see Heyward prove why he is going to be a star, but the reason it was a huge win is that it came against the Phillies. Last year in April, the Braves don’t win this game. In fact, they don’t even score a run. This year’s team has a different mission; win a World Series for Bobby Cox.
Sure, they Braves have looked ugly in a few games—I don’t think any of us care to think about Jair Jurrjens’ awful start in San Diego, or Ubaldo Jiménez no-hitting the Braves on Saturday (I can’t be too upset about it—gotta give the guy credit), but for the most part they have looked like a playoff team. They win, and they win late—a sign of a true winning team.
They are also doing this without the offensive production we all expected. Before the season, Chipper Jones boasted that this year’s lineup had no holes 1-8, unlike a year ago. They do seem to have some holes because a few players expected to have hot starts have underachieved in the first few weeks of the season. I won’t name names but it rhymes with Roy Laus. I’ve yelled more than my share of horrible profanity at Mr. Glaus as he has lumbered, stumbled, bumbled and looked generally uncoordinated. He is like an enormous telephone pole wearing a baseball uniform.
Nate McLouth, despite his walk-off home run on Tuesday, is hitting just a paltry .176 1HR 2RBI. Matt Diaz, who has provided a spark in the leadoff spot, is hitting just .194 0HR 2RBI. Melky Cabrera has not shown his New York form batting .119 0HR 2RBI. Yunel Escobar, who I feel is going to have an All-Star caliber year is hitting only .121 0HR 3 RBI after his 5RBI performance on opening Day. Finally, Chipper Jones and Troy Glaus have been better than the previous players, but are each barely hitting over .200.
That said—with Heyward, Martin Prado and Brian McCann as the only consistent hitters thus far, when the rest of the lineup comes around (and they will), the Braves are going to give the Phillies one hell of a fight all season.
New York State of Mind—this weekend the Braves will be traveling to my neck of the woods to take on the Mets at iti Field… oops sorry, I guess it’s Citi Field again now that they put the “C” back up. I will be there Saturday to see Jair Jurrjens take on Jon Niese, or as the Mets fans call him “One of The Four Guys That is Not Johan.” I always tell myself that I won’t be going down there. It’s too much hassle and I have a better view of the game on TV. But…to avoid having to listen to Keith Hernandez, I’ll put up with the traffic and Mets fans (if their team is still in contention by Saturday). I will be Tweeting during the game as long as I don’t get eaten by a Yeti in a Mets jersey.
Follow me on Twitter @ BRAVEinNY.
Until Next time…Go Braves!