Atlanta Braves blog 

Atlanta Braves blog by David O'Brien, baseball writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Braves lack offensive fundamentals & leadership

  • 2:36 pm Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 by David O'Brien
The Nationals celebrated winning the NL East title Tuesday night at Turner Field, the latest indignation for the skidding Braves.

Many have asked how the Braves could have gone so far off the rails this season, just one year after winning the NL East with a 96-66 record. They fell to 75-76 with Tuesday night’s loss to Washington, then saw the Nationals celebrate at Turner Field, as that game clinched the division title for Atlanta’s chief rivals.

It was not surprising that Washington clinched at Turner Field, where visiting teams have celebrated after winning postseason series, wild-card games or playoff berths on a regular basis since the joint opened for baseball 1997. That’s one bit of history the Braves will be [More]

Braves must take advantage against free-falling Rangers

  • 2:35 pm Friday, September 12th, 2014 by David O'Brien
B.J. Upton has a .333 career average with 16 extra-base hits (four homers) and a .579 slugging percentage in 31 games at Texas, all while he was with Tampa Bay.

  DALLAS – The Braves are back at Arlington, Texas, for the first time since 2008. Back when many Braves were still in high school and the Rangers had Josh Hamilton piling up 32 homers, 130 RBIs and a .901 OPS in his first full season in the majors. Oh, and veteran Gerald Laird mentoring and sharing time with second-year catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had come over from Atlanta as part of the big Mark Teixeira trade the previous year (Andrus, Feliz, Harrison, etc.)

How time flies, huh?

Given the way these two teams have played lately, there might not be 15 [More]

Good time for Braves to face Strasburg (?)

  • 11:59 am Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 by David O'Brien
Stephen Strasburg is 0-2 with an 8.33 ERA in three starts vs. Braves this season entering Wednesday's series finale.

WASHINGTON – While plenty of other teams dread facing Stephen Strasburg, the Braves have thrived against the Nationals pitcher, whom they face today in a series finale at Nationals Park that the slumping Braves really need to win.

A matchup with Strasburg couldn’t come at a better time for a Braves team that’s 2-6 with – brace yourselves — a .166 batting average and 4.83 ERA in its past eight games. The only time the Braves had more than seven hits in that span was in a 10-inning win against the Marlins, their only win in a three-game series against a [More]

Some Braves having similar seasons as ’13; mostly not the right ones

  • 2:37 pm Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 by David O'Brien
It was probably a stretch to expect repeat performances from some Braves after career-best years  in 2013, including Chris Johnson.

  WASHINGTON – They got career-best seasons in 2013 from Freddie Freeman (.319 average, 109 RBIs, .897 OPS) and Chris Johnson (.321 average, 46 extra-base hits, .816 OPS), plus 50 extra-base hits including 17 homers from Andrelton Simmons, and stunning seasons from relievers David Carpenter (1.78 ERA in 56 appearances) and Luis Avilan (1.52 ERA in 75 appearances).

They got career-worst seasons in 2014 from B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla, and had to do without Jason Heyward for two months because of surgeries on his appendix and broken jaw.

So, perhaps the expectations were a bit too high when many of us [More]

Can Braves keep beating Nats? Wild-card hopes could rest on it

  • 2:39 pm Monday, September 8th, 2014 by David O'Brien
Freddie Freeman follows through on one of the nine home runs he's hit against the Nationals.

  WASHINGTON – The Braves have won nine of 13 games against the Nationals this season including four of seven in D.C., and they need to keep that upper hand in the three-game series that starts tonight if they’re to avoid losing ground in the wild-card standings and also if they hope to chip away whatsoever at Washington’s commanding lead in the NL East.

The Braves, after losing two of three at Miami to start this nine-game trip, find themselves a half-game behind Pittsburgh for the second and final NL wild card with 19 games to go, and a whopping seven [More]

In spite of struggles, Braves in tie for 2nd wild card spot

  • 2:43 pm Friday, September 5th, 2014 by David O'Brien

  MIAMI – Just when so many people start saying the Braves’ chances of making the postseason are heading toward slim-and-none territory, after they’d gone 25 innings without scoring a run and pushed across just one run in four games through Wednesday, look what happens.

They scored seven runs in a Wednesday win against the Phillies, travel to Miami on the off day Thursday, and wake up this morning in a tie with free-falling Milwaukee for the second and final NL wild card spot, with skidding Pittsburgh 1 ½ games back.

As bad as the Braves played – or to be accurate, [More]

No-hitter another product of Braves’ erratic offense

  • 2:25 pm Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 by David O'Brien
Braves starter Julio Teheran reacts after giving up a three-run triple to Ben Revere on Monday. (Curtis Compton photo/AJC)

It wasn’t the strangest no-hitter of the five I’ve covered as a beat writer, but that’s only because I witnessed A.J. Burnett’s nine-walk, one-hit-batter no-hitter for the Marlins at San Diego on May 12, 2001, when A.J. threw 59 of his 129 pitches from the stretch.

Otherwise, watching Cole Hamels and three Phillies relievers toss a no-no against the Braves on Monday, after Hamels walked the first two batters in the first inning, hit the first batter in the second inning and walk the leadoff batter again in the third inning, would have to rank as the most unusual no-hitter that I’ve seen.

And [More]

Braves slip, slide, surge to .500 mark in August

  • 12:32 pm Monday, September 1st, 2014 by David O'Brien
Jason Heyward was one of the trio of Braves, along with Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman, who carried the bulk of the offensive load in August. (Curtis Compton photo/AJC)

They lurched, they slid, they soared a bit. August was quite a month for the Braves, topsy-turvy at times and utterly impossible to figure out from one week to the next.

In other words, it was a month much like their season as a whole.

And that’s why they are six games behind Washington in the NL East with 25 games to play. They are still very much in the playoff picture, just 1 ½ games behind for the second wild-card spot. Of course, the Braves did not come into the season aiming for a wild-card berth and the prospect of playing [More]

Simmons shows again why he’s the best afield

  • 2:26 pm Thursday, August 28th, 2014 by David O'Brien
When it comes to defense, there is none better than Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who demonstrated that again Wednesday.

NEW YORK – It’s not often that a visiting shortstop can do something that leaves New Yorker fans and media slack-jawed in awe these days, not when they’ve spent the year watching, listening, reading about and bidding farewell to Derek Jeter.

O Captain! My Captain! We dare say you never made a play quite like the one that Andrelton Simmons made Wednesday.

The Braves shortstop and Platinum Glove winner has made more sensational, highlight-reel plays in three seasons than many great shortstops will make in a career.

But even by Simmons’ standards, the running, leaping, twisting play and one-hop throw he made from [More]

Braves offense a roller coaster for all concerned

  • 2:18 pm Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 by David O'Brien
Zack Wheeler of Paulding County is 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA in his past 10 starts entering Wednesday's matchup with Julio Teheran and the Braves. (AP photo)

 

  NEW YORK – Chatting with Greg Walker over a week ago at Pittsburgh, early in this three-city road trip, back when the Braves were four games into a five-game winning streak, the Atlanta hitting coach was pointing out how many young players this team has and folks tend to forget since guys like Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward have been around for years.

The subject came up because I’d asked him how tough this rollercoaster ride of a Braves season must be for the hitting coach.

He made that comment about how young many of the Braves’ key players were and said [More]

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