Atlanta picked up another series win this week as they took 3 of 4 from the Mets at Turner Field. The first three games saw some of the most complete 9 innings the team has put forward this season, capped off by a Tommy Hanson one-hit (7 IP) performance on Wednesday. The Braves were in position for the sweep with Tim Hudson on the mound Thursday, but a 4-2 loss stymied that chance. Huddy was roughed up a bit, surrendering 4 R (3 ER) over 7 IP, but the defense (2 errors) and offense (just 7 hits, 1-3 with RISP) failed to pick-up the traditionally strong pitching staff.
Freddie Freeman made his MLB debut on Friday and while he went 0-3, he had two very well hit balls (the Mets scouted him perfectly) and played a solid 1B when he was tested. With Derrek Lee hitting just .214, 0 HR in 12 games with the Braves, we may see Freeman given increasing opportunities over the next month, especially against RHP.
The other player I have to write about is Melky Cabrera. I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with him this season. He was swinging the bat well in June and July and has had a handful of clutch last at-bat/walk-off displays (though who on the team hasn’t?), but I just can’t stand his defense. He really might be the slowest starting outfielder (especially CF) in the game. His lack of speed turns too many singles into doubles and doubles into triples, as evidenced by Carlos Beltran’s 1st inning triple on Thursday. I understand Rick Ankiel doesn’t bring much to the plate (.232/.323/.341 with ATL), but his defense more than makes up for any advantage Melky brings with his bat. Ankiel covers MUCH more ground and certainly has a better arm (though Melky has made some decent throws). It’s somewhat manageable with Melky in LF and Ankiel in CF, but there’s just no benefit to having Melky in CF (yes, even with Ankiel hitting .181/.281/.200 vs. LHP..Melky’s not overwhelmingly better at .231/.310/.338). Man, I wish Nate McLouth could figure out how to hit again.
Despite the series win, Thursday’s poor performance sends the Braves to Florida for their three-game series against the Marlins on a bit of a low note. Coupled with the Phillies impressive (though annoying) comeback in their make-up game at Colorado, the Braves NL East lead has dropped to 2 games. Atlanta’s historically had a tough time in Florida, so this will likely be a difficult series. The Phillies playing a three-game series against the Brewers in PHI doesn’t help much either. The Braves will send up Kawakami (filling in for an ailing Lowe), Jurrjens and Minor to face Miller, Johnson (ugh) and Sanabia.