Last Week in Atlanta – Week 11

Another cracking week is in the books, and there’s now no doubting the Braves ability to score runs. How can the Braves build on two excellent weeks?

Overall Record: 45-26, 1st place in NL East

Record this week: 5-1

Best moment of the week:

Readers of this column who are also fans of other Georgia sports teams will understand the state’s rich tradition of sporting ineptitude. Though the Braves have been good for years now, and they did – of course – win the World Series in 2021, the Braves won the division for 14 straight years from 1991 to 2005 and still managed to only go 1-4 in World Series appearances. Other sports have historically been worse – neither the Hawks or the Falcons have won any championships, sometimes in heartbreaking fashion (even the thought of Superbowl LI makes me feel sick six years on), and the teams have so often got into commanding positions only to squander a lead, or capitulate against poor teams they should beat handily.

All of this to say that every time an Atlanta team either takes a big lead or goes down big, I fully expect the team to roll over – belief is very hard to come by. And yet, as the Braves went down 5-0 to the Rockies on Sunday evening through just two innings against a flailing Charlie Morton, I had the strangest feeling – confidence. I knew Charlie was going to work out that curveball of his (he did), that the Braves would put some runs on the board (they did) and the Braves would come out on top (they did)! I could get used to that.

Worst moment of the week:

Last week, I christened Jesse Chavez as the player of the week – a richly deserved honour. In the first game on Wednesday, literally minutes after the article was published, he was hit on the knee by a Miguel Cabrera comebacker, landing him on the 15-day injured list. Thankfully, the injury seems to be short term, as he’s getting better every day (a direct quote from him as he joined the broadcasters in the booth on Sunday!) – and it’s also given rise to something fun – the Chavez bullpen mannequin.

Player of the week:

Over the last two weeks, the Braves have boasted two of the hottest hitters in baseball. The first, Orlando Arcia, has been hitting well all year – his average has only dipped under .300 for three days this season, and he has somehow batted .447 over the last two weeks. The second – and our player of the week this week – is Michael Harris II. He’s had the opposite season to Arcia – on the first day of this two-week stretch, he was batting .163 with a slugging percentage lower than his on base percentage – but now, thanks to a two week barrage where he’s collected 22 hits in 50 at-bats, he’s up to .249 on the year. He’s even managed to collect more hits, RBI, and home runs over these two weeks than he had in the rest of the season combined. He’s kept up his fearsome defensive capabilities over that span, and so he’s back to looking like the player that took Rookie of the Year honours over Spencer Strider in 2022.

WTF moment of the week:

Honestly, this is almost impossible to give context. What is happening here? Whatever it is, the Braves are having fun right now.

View from the other side:

The Tigers broadcast did this fun piece about how Miguel Cabrera emulated Ronald Acuña Jr.‘s celebration in the first game of Wednesday’s double header. Miggy is Ronnie’s hero, having both made it to the majors from Venezuela – and with this being the final season of Cabrera’s long and storied career, he’s getting ready to pass the torch.

Optimism tracker:

9/10 – I actually feel confident again. The offensive production is off the charts, having collected 40 runs in a four game series against the Rockies (not even at Coors!), and we’re getting by with two of the team’s – and the league’s – best pitchers on the injured list. If everything comes together by the time October rolls around, this Braves team should be the favourite to take home another ring.

What’s on next week?

The Braves have an off-day on Monday as they travel to the City of Brotherly Love for three against the Phillies, before they visit Elly de la Cruz and the resurgent Cincinnati Reds for another three games. AJ Smith-Shawver had another good outing last week, and he’ll look to build on that in what should be a great matchup against Aaron Nola and the Phillies on Wednesday.

UK friendly games:

Thursday 22 June @ Phillies (6:05pm), Saturday 24 June @ Reds (9:10pm), Sunday 25 June @ Reds (6:40pm)

Featured image of Michael Harris II by ESPN on Twitter.

Charlie Deeks is the Atlanta Braves correspondent on Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @Omashaft!

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