Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pitching , Timely Offense and Defense Helps the Braves take Two of Three from the Reds

While the Braves offense continues to be inconsistent, there are constants that keeps them in games; including their pitching staff and defense. At this point in the season, one can make the argument that they have the best pitching staff in baseball. After exciting games on Friday and Saturday night, the decisive game three was highly anticipated. The Sunday Night Baseball crew was in Atlanta as the game was broadcast nationally over ESPN.

The Baseball Tonight set was at Turner Field Sunday.

The Braves sent their best pitcher this year to the mound, Jair Jurrjens. Jurrjens came into the game with the league's lowest ERA, that number would only improve by nights end. Jurrjens was opposed by an impressive young pitcher for the Reds Johnny Cueto. As first pitch approached, the stadium had a playoff atmosphere to it.

Jurrjens and David Ross walk from the bullpen to the dugout
before Sunday Night's game against the Reds

The Reds jumped out to an early 1-0 lead with a Jay Bruce homerun in the second inning. Both pitchers settled into a groove and the pitchers duel continued on to the sixth inning. After a Jordan Schafer leadoff walk Martin Prado stepped up to the plate. I cannot think of another player for the Braves who has come up with more key situational hits to win games in 2011. Prado did it again as he blasted a two-run homerun off Cueto to give the Braves a two run lead after six innings.

Two of the past three game I have been to
Martin Prado has hit a game winning homerun.

After putting his team ahead in the bottom of the sixth inning, Prado saved the game in the top of the eighth. With two outs and the tying run at second Brandon Phillips hit a single to Prado in left field. Prado fielded the ball cleanly and threw a one hop frozen rope to home plate. Paul Janish, who had picked off at first by David Ross earlier in the game, attempted to slide under Ross's tag but was called out. The stadium was in an uproar and the Braves were only three outs from taking the series from the Reds.

Martin Prado is greeted in the dugout by his teammates
after his game saving play in the eighth inning.

After walking the first batter in the bottom of the ninth, Craig Kimbrell struck out two out of the next three batters to preserve the win for the Braves.
At only 21, Kimbrell has established himself
as the Braves closer for the future.

An impressive team performance was delivered Sunday night. Eight excellent innings by the League's best pitcher, and a timely homerun and amazing defensive play from Martin Prado. li.

We could be talking about a Cy Young in a few months for Jair; the numbers do not lie.