Sweeps against the Reds and the Royals leave the Braves atop the National League – It’s been a pretty good week in Atlanta! Here are our picks of the highs and lows of the week.
Overall Record: 12-4, 1st place in NL East
Record this week: 6-0!
Best moment of the week:
It would be disingenuous to mark out the whole week as the best moment, so instead, it’s the late rally to overcome the Royals on Sunday. After a Vinnie Pasquantino homer to tie things up in the seventh, an Ozzie Albies double and a Vaughn Grissom RBI single pushed the Braves ahead in the ninth, and A.J. Minter came in to close out the game. After a late-inning setback like that, the Braves of yore have capitulated and failed to perform – but seeing them come back and close out the game confidently is emblematic of this team’s resilience and fire.
Worst moment of the week:
In a week with not many bad moments, the Braves were once again bitten by the injury bug, as last week’s player of the week and unexpected standout Orlando Arcia suffered a microfracture in his left wrist after being hit by a Hunter Greene 98mph fastball (ouch). Thankfully, it looks like Arcia might not be on the IL for long – maybe two to three weeks, according to Braves beat writer Mark Bowman – and the Braves are lucky to have Vaughn Grissom to call on, who will now fill in in Arcia’s absence. After his spring training demotion, all eyes will be on Grissom’s defence over the next couple of weeks.
Player of the week:
Sean Murphy has had an absolutely silly week with the bat. He’s had nine hits this week, consisting of six doubles and three home runs, with four walks and a HBP alongside. Among everyday players this week, he’s leading the major leagues in doubles and is second in OPS, only trailing Jarred Kelenic. Hopefully, Travis d’Arnaud will be back soon from his concussion, and the Braves will have the luxury of playing both in the lineup most days.
WTF moment of the week:
More of a good WTF than bad, happily – it’s the emergence of the big home run hat. Reportedly the result of a fan’s gift to A.J. Minter, it’s become the go-to celebration in the dugout. Usually, teams go for something pretty cool, like the Angels’ Kabuto helmet – but instead, we’re treated to gems like these from the Braves’ Twitter account.
View from the other side:
Gav, Bat Flips & Nerds’ fairweather Reds fan opines, “It comes to something when getting swept in a three-game series feels like a good result as all of the games were lost by just a single run. In fact, Cincinnati outhit Atlanta in the opening game of the rubber and even took the lead in extras. Unfortunately, the Reds have too many weaknesses, and the Braves ruthlessly exploited these. When Hunter Greene was on fire, the bullpen was a joke, and when Cincinnati’s bats came alive, their starters forgot how to locate. All in all, anything less than 0-3 to the Braves would not have been a fair reflection on the series.”
Oh, we are BACK at 10/10. The Braves are 12-4 despite injuries to Michael Harris II, Max Fried, Travis d’Arnaud, Raisel Iglesias and Orlando Arcia, and they are playing with a confidence similar to at the end of last year in the race for the division title. The one knock is that both series wins were against relatively weak opposition, and the real tests are yet to come (sorry, Gav).
What’s on next week?
Speaking of real tests, the Braves face a three-game set against the Padres in San Diego, take a day off on Thursday and then head back to Atlanta to square off against the Astros in a 2021 World Series rematch. My pick of the games this week is the Sunday game against Houston, as Max Fried will match up against Cristian Javier, who wields one of the game’s most impressive fastballs.
UK friendly games:
Wednesday 19 April @ Padres (9:10pm), Sunday 23 April @ Royals (6:30pm)
Charlie Deeks is the Atlanta Braves correspondent on Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @Omashaft!