Category Archives: Atlanta Braves

Bryce Harper hits a monster home run off Craig Kimbrel

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Bryce Harper’s power has fully returned. As evidenced by this swing against his greatest nemesis, he might still have holes in his swing; but Craig Kimbrel found a part of the zone where such a hole does not exist.

The Nationals lost the game 6-2, and this came in the bottom of the ninth in a non-save situation. But Harper has taken some impressive pitcher’s deep this season, with the last two being Kimbrel and Clayton Kershaw.

It’s the classic power vs. power match-up that people always want to see at the park. Possibly the most-feared right-handed closer in the game against the young phenom made famous from his pre-highschool YouTube home runs. He was previously 1 for 7 with five strikeouts against Kimbrel, and it looked like he was headed for a sixth.

The home run was the 12th of Harper’s 2014 season and 54th in his career.

Atlanta’s panties in a bind over Bryce Harper’s gamesmanship

The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals locked up in a late night game that didn’t get underway until almost 11 PM on the east coast due to a lengthy rain delay. The Nationals won the game 4-1 in 11 innings, but as it often happens when two rivals get together, the final score was the secondary story.

I didn’t notice this while watching the game live, but saw a tweet from David O’Brien that alerted me about it. Bryce Harper appeared to scuff the Braves ‘A’ behind home plate before stepping into the batters box every time up.

Of course, this sent Braves fans into an uproar. Saying that Harper didn’t respect their logo (he doesn’t need to), and generally leading them to say that the kid lacks all kinds of respect and whatnot.

I think it’s great. For all the unbecoming things Harper has accomplished this season – hitting .250, getting hurt a lot, base-running blunders what seems like every other night – this is what’s great about the kid. He isn’t stupid and is simply stirring up the rivalry. Of course he probably has programmed himself to hate playing Atlanta, especially in Atlanta; a team that has been the Nationals very own House of Horrors.

At the end of the day, baseball is entertainment. Some argue that it’s not entertaining enough. They’re nuts, of course. But that’s what people say. When something like this goes down, it should make the public crave more of these two getting together. Like, what the Hell is going to happen tonight when they face off on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN after they’ve had a night to sleep on Harper scuffing their prize logo?

Good for Harper.

Mike Trout is making Father’s Day weekend all his

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Last night – another big Saturday night in Mike Trout’s illustrious young career – turned out to be possibly his monster game on the young season. Sure, there was the grand-slam game against Chris Sale a week ago. There was the Saturday afternoon in the Bronx where he made the jungle his playground. But last night he really looked smooth and helped the Anaheim Angels earn a signature win 11-6 in 13 innings down in Atlanta over a first-place club.

Probably the easiest way to do the Trout highlight pack from last night is just straightforward, so here goes:

  1. He hit his 13th homer of the season, a no doubt blast to left field.
  2. Steals a bag – he still hasn’t been caught stealing this year – this will keep the Rotoworld forum nerds happy!
  3. Hit a two-run double in extra innings. I had actually fallen asleep during this.

Then I see here on the game today that he’s already crushed home run number 14 into the left field seats again on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN (that video to come when it’s available), added a single and was robbed of extra bases in deep right field by Jason Heyward.

As I’m wrapping up this post, John Kruk asks when people are going ‘drop the argument that he’s the best player in baseball and just go with it’. I have to say, Kruk is right. It looks as if Trout has overcame the worst slump of his young career and the numbers are returning to career norms (.300/.400/.500 with a .900+ OPS).

My first quasi-father’s day belongs to Mike Trout. He showcased every skill he has this weekend in Atlanta, and it looks like it will give the upstart Angels the series victory.

UPDATE MONDAY: Here is the highlight of Trout’s homer on Sunday Night baseball, and here is a post by Dave Cameron over at FanGraphs about why it’s a bad idea to pitch Mike Trout down and in at all.

Julio Teheran signs long-term extension with Atlanta

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The Braves are doing their part to lock up their core and create a window to compete. They already signed Freddie Freeman to the long-term extension, making him the face of the franchise. They extended Jason Heyward two years – though this doesn’t really count as a long-term deal because Heyward was under team control for those years anyways with arbitration.

Today, they agreed to a six-year pact with pitcher Julio Teheran. Teheran is reportedly guaranteed $32.4 million in the deal.

I’m personally very impressed with Teheran and think he’s got a future ahead of him with All-Star appearances, and competing for Cy Young Awards. As a 22-year old he posted a flashy 3.20 ERA to go along with sparkling control that allowed him a 170 to 45 K to BB ratio.

And the best part of this deal? We’re probably going to get six more years of Bryce Harper-Julio Teheran duels. That figures to be must see television another 75 or so times it occurs.

 

Were the Braves drawing a line in the sand with Heyward & Freeman extensions?

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Earlier in the week the Atlanta Braves made waves in the baseball world by signing Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward to contract extensions. Instead of just reporting the news that hundreds of other sites beat us to, we’ll try to react to something interesting and developing that is just now a footnote of this story.

FOX’s Jon Paul Morosi states that the Braves were signaling to the world their choice between Freeman and Heyward.

You could have described this as the Braves committing multiyear contracts to a pair of 24-year-old stars who already have earned their first All-Star selections. But the chasm of more than $120 million tells you what this really was: a choice between the two.

Interesting.

At first my intuition said to me that the Heyward deal was a simple two-year bridge to a longer term contract. It would allow the Braves time to see what happens with Heyward before guys like Dan Uggla come off the books – and rightfully so. As high as we once were on Heyward, he remains one of baseball’s great enigmas. He has lost a little luster on his once flawless diamond.

But Morosi just might be right. This is really going to follow one of two possible paths. Neither of which look like the long-term future of Heyward is a certainty in Atlanta. We see Heyward putting together the best full year of his career this season in Atlanta, and then in 2015 in his contract year he has a MONSTROUS season and plays himself into a contract the Braves now probably can’t afford. The other path would be if Heyward simply remains a solid player. At that point he’ll probably still ask for too much we assume, and Atlanta would allow him to seek a contract they don’t see him worthy of in another city.

By committing the big dollars to Freeman, Frank Wren has gone with the safer option. And the Freeman contract is unlikely to end badly. Even if his ceiling might be a bit lower than Heyward’s, his floor looks to be higher at this point. He has a future that should be full of All Star appearances, even if he never wins an MVP. If Heyward ever puts it all together, he’ll bring home that award. But he’s been puzzling at best during his short career.

Over the next few years it will be interesting to see how Atlanta attempts to manage this situation with Heyward.

Juan Uribe hits a legendary home run to win the Dodgers an unbelievable game

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[ESPN Los Angeles]

They don’t get much bigger then the two-run shot that Juan Uribe hit in Los Angeles to send the Braves home and send the Dodgers to a 4-3 victory and the NLCS. I’ve seen enough. It’s the Dodgers year.

It wasn’t like they drew it up. Freddie Garcia matched Clayton Kershaw for six innings. The Dodgers gave up the lead in the 7th inning, and trailed by that score until the bottom of the 8th when Yasiel Puig came to face David Carpenter. Carpenter got a couple great pitches by Puig for strikes and in a two-strike count, Puig energized the Dodgers as he’s done time and again this year.

Freddie Freeman was not guarding the foul line in a no-doubles defense, and Puig laced a double down the line that was cut off by Jordan Schafer – and Puig’s incredible speed was evidenced by legging out the double. Uribe failed to get down a couple of bunts and reminded the world that he could be the worst bunter among regulars in the big leagues.

A few seconds later, Uribe caught a letter-high fastball from Carpenter that landed in the Dodgers bullpen. If you’ve been watching baseball for any amount of time, you knew that was a crushing blow. The Braves were broken with that moment.

Kenley Jansen came on in the ninth, blew away Schafer, Heyward, and Justin Upton and the Braves season was over.

There is a magic surrounding the Dodgers. Carl Crawford hit two home runs in this game to put the Dodgers ahead 2-0 early, but the Braves battled back opportunistically when the Dodgers made mistakes in the field, namely by Adrian Gonzalez.

This loss is not an indictment of the Braves honey bear manager, Fredi Gonzalez. He’s definitely horrific, and it’s not surprising that his teams seem to always face this collapsing fate. But the Braves and Gonzalez couldn’t have managed this much differently. Carpenter was throwing gas. Sometimes, Juan Uribe just homers.

The Dodgers await the opponent they will devour, either the Cardinals or the Pirates. Whoever it is will be next to be fed to the monster that is the LA Dodgers.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers are The Real Deal

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[Box Score]

The Dodgers proved that they’re the team to beat in the National League last night, by overcoming an early 2-0 deficit to the Atlanta Braves and a rocky start by Hyun-Jin Ryu in his playoff debut to win 13-6 in the first Dodger Stadium playoff game of 2013.

Observations:

  • Julio Teheran came out throwing hard, but was leaving balls down the middle of the plate. The Dodgers did exactly what they needed to do in facing him by having quality at-bats and not panicking when they fell behind early. Teheran worked himself into a high-stress inning in the bottom of the 2nd, and with the bases loaded Ryu hit a line drive that almost got over the head of Justin Upton. The poke by the pitcher got the Dodgers on the board, and they never looked back. The next hitter up (Carl Crawford) hit a three-run home run into the right field bullpen, Dodgers lead 4-2.
  • The Braves proved to be nothing if not resilient. Ryu made a few blusters to let them back in it. He missed first base on what should have been a double play and errantly threw home on a tapper back to him. The Braves tied the game at 4-4, and then the Dodgers bats continued the outpour.
  • Yasiel Puig had three hits, line drives to left-center, center, and right field. He scored three times and drove in three runs. Here’s one of those rapier shots. In true Yasiel Puig fashion, he has six hits in his first three postseason games.
  • Hanley Ramirez is absolutely on fire. The Dodgers heart of the order is laying waste to the Atlanta pitching staff; factor in that Juan Uribe also hit a home run and that’s a pretty terrifying four bats in the middle of the Dodgers order.
  • The Dodgers really got into the Atlanta bullpen. Jordan Walden had to throw an extended workload and Alex Wood was in long-relief. That should give the Dodgers an edge today if things are close in a late situation. Conversely, the Dodgers had to use Kenley Jansen to close out the game because Atlanta mounted a min-rally in the ninth.
  • The game didn’t seem the same without Vin Scully calling it. It just didn’t feel right watching a baseball game at Dodger Stadium of such magnitude without Vincent narrating it.

The Dodgers go with Ricky Nolasco tonight and the Braves counter with Freddy Garcia. Freddy Garcia was throwing in the big leagues the year I got my driver’s license. I don’t see how Atlanta could win this game with the way the Dodgers have been swinging it, unless of course the game of baseball decides to rear it’s ugly head and they beat themselves. I bet on the over 7.5 in this one tonight at 9:30 at Chavez Ravine. It’s going to be another late night.

Big Game in Los Angeles Tonight

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The Dodger Dogs will be flowing.

HUGE game going down in a few hours in SoCal.

Dodger Stadium plays host to game three of the NLDS between the Braves and the Dodgers. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Julio Teheran oppose one another. The loser of this game is in huge trouble. I haven’t been able to watch this series like I’ve wanted – but that’s going to change tonight.

Football takes a back seat, and October baseball is going on the tube in the family room come 8:00 PM ET. This is going to be a great game.

Yasiel Puig is on the board in the MLB Playoffs

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[Game One]
[Game Two]

The Los Angeles Dodgers are my playoff horse for a couple of reasons. I’ve been saying they’re going to the World Series since June, and they’ve got the most electric player in the game in their lineup. For these reasons, and so I can maintain interest in my favorite sport with my team eliminated; we’ll follow Los Angeles’ journey through the playoffs.

Yasiel Puig opened his playoff career by going 2 for 4 in Los Angeles’ 6-1 win in Atlanta. Tonight he went 1 for 4 in Atlanta’s 4-3 win.

Sunday night will serve as the big break even game at Chavez Ravine.

They’ve played two games, nothing has been decided, and now it’s a best of three series to decide whose season ends. The Dodgers are going to get this done.

<3 Tommy

Bryce Harper Destroys Julio Teheran (Again) – and Gets Plunked for It (Benches Clear)

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This was one of Harper’s more impressive home runs of the season, his 17th of the year. This one will be much more memorable then the first one he hit off Teheran this year for a couple of reasons.

And that, led to this:

I’m all for playing the game the right way, but no one did anything to Justin Upton or his teammates after he slow-walked his home run the previous night.

Have to commend Harper for not charging the mound here – his worthless team needs him right now. And I cannot believe the Nationals didn’t have the stones to retaliate. That’s honestly as big of a sign that exists that the game has passed old Davey Johnson by.

And then there’s this:

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Nothing like a few Official team twitter accounts throwing barbs at eachother; most likely a couple of college interns who will be relieved of their duties soon. Would love to ask the Braves teen that is running the control deck on twitter what Harper is supposed to do differently there?

Olney: “Scouts think Justin Upton is just an average Major Leaguer”

Yesterday on the ESPN Fantasy Focus Nate Ravitz was talking to Buster Olney about Justin Upton among other things. You probably missed this if you have a life, but we didn’t. Take a listen for yourself (12:00 mark).

Olney says that the book is out on Upton and Major League teams absolutely know how to pitch him to get him out. Scouts say you can consistently beat him on the inner half of the strike zone with fastballs, and when he attempts to adjust to that they start throwing breaking balls away.

Olney remarked that it surprised him the way Upton was cast, but those are the reports that scouts are filing to their teams.

As full of shit as a lot of scouts are, I agree with this. Upton isn’t ever going to take off and have that huge Ken Griffey Jr. type year that many thought he would when he was drafted (an example of scouts being wrong).

But if you think Upton is bad…… my goodness spend a week watching every Jason Heyward at-bat.

Atlanta is a paper lion I say; and they can still be caught because their outfield just isn’t hitting enough.

Rank Relief: A rare visit from Craig Kimbrel

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The Reds have been a hot and cold team, sweeping one series, getting swept another.  The Braves have one of the best records in baseball – although now they are only a half game better than the Reds.  In any case, the Reds look like the were on their way to dropping the first 2 games of the series.  Kris Medlen had pitched a decent game to give the Braves a 4-2 lead.  The Reds grabbed one run back in the 8th and then the Braves brought in the best closer (last year) in the game.  Craig Kimbrel was untouchable last year, but faltered in the WBC and has seemed human since.  Well tonight the Reds teed off.

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Kimbrel made quick work of the first two batters, but then gave up back to back dingers.  This was about as dramatic as any early season 9 inning game could be.  The final damage:  2 outs, 2 home runs, ballgame.  We don’t expect to see Kimbrel much here this season.  If you’re a Braves hater, enjoy it while you can.

Bryce Harper’s Opposite Field Gun-Shot off Julio Teheran

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If Julio Teheran ends up being what he’s supposed to be–you figure that these two will face each other a solid 75 or so times in the big leagues. Here’s how the first match-up went. Edge: Harper.

Harper’s missile to the opposite field put the Nationals up 2-0 in the first inning of the MLB Network showcase game. This is a rivalry that we thought would be a classic for the entire season, and the first game of it lived up to the billing.

The Braves tied the game in the bottom of the 9th inning on Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing error, and then won the game 6-4 in the 10th on a home run.

Harper put on a clinic even in an off night. After the his fifth home run of the year, he drew a walk in an 11-pitch at-bat and stole second. He had a nice at bat against Craig Kimbrel, whom no one stands a chance.

But he can hang his hat on this:

https://twitter.com/NationalsPR/status/322853100308291585