Atlanta Braves blog 

Atlanta Braves blog by David O'Brien, baseball writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

J-Up’s hot again, and this time getting plenty of help

  • 3:01 pm Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by David O'Brien
Justin Upton rounds the bases after his three-run homer Tuesday. He drove in five runs and hit the fourth homer of his 10-game hitting streak. (AP photo)

PITTSBURGH – He’s on one of those rolls again, and this time Justin Upton is getting plenty of help from others in the Braves lineup.

In his two seasons with the Braves, J-Up has been the streakiest of the elite hitters I’ve covered in 20 years as a major league beat writer. But when the man is surging, it’s something to behold. And right now, he’s surging. Not as scorching as we’ve seen him – remember, he hit five homers in his first five games as a Brave last season and 12 in April – but plenty hot.

Upton hit his 24th [More]

Braves’ Heyward provides a jolt at leadoff

  • 2:11 pm Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 by David O'Brien
Jason Heyward led off Monday's win at Pittsburgh with a homer, the third time he's done that this season.

PITTSBURGH – Given his druthers, Jason Heyward sounds as if he clearly would’ve preferred to stay in the fifth spot in the batting order instead of moving back to leadoff. But the Braves haven’t come up with a better leadoff option than their big guy, who started Monday’s 7-3 win against the Pirates with a home run, the third time he’s done that in a game this season.

He still feels like he can do more to influence a game from the middle of the order, even though he had a very big influence from atop the order Monday with three [More]

Braves can significantly improve playoff outlook this week

  • 2:55 pm Monday, August 18th, 2014 by David O'Brien
Justin Upton hit this homer in the series opener against Oakland on Friday, part of his torrid homestand. The Braves need him to keep it going on the 10-game road trip that starts Monday at Pittsburgh.

 PITTSBURGH – When I opined in Friday’s blog that it was a good time for the Braves to be facing the A’s, who had batted .228 while losing eight of their previous 15 games, a whole lot of folks figured that was the kiss of death. Or, they just assumed the Braves would continue to sputter against another West team after losing three of four to the Dodgers.

The Braves proceeded to sweep the A’s, who’ve now lost five in a row. While a 6-4 homestand isn’t quite as good as the Braves had hoped for, all things considered, taking six [More]

If you’ve got to face A’s, now’s not a bad time

  • 2:36 pm Friday, August 15th, 2014 by David O'Brien
The Braves turn to surging lefty Alex Wood on Friday to get them off to a good start in their weekend series against Oakland, which has baseball's best record.

With the Dodgers (finally) out of town and the Athletics arriving, it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire for the Braves, right? Well, hold on a second.

Yes, Oakland has baseball’s best record (73-47) and is the sport’s only 70-game winner entering Friday. However, the A’s are a modest 13-12 with a 3.59 ERA in their past 25 games, including 7-8 with a 3.61 ERA in their past 15. They’ve dropped four of five entering tonight’s series opener at Turner Field. In those past four losses, they had no homers and totaled six runs.

Before coming to Atlanta, they [More]

Not time to panic? How about heightened concern?

  • 2:01 pm Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 by David O'Brien
2014 Braves: Too many strikeouts.

Does it seem like a long time ago when the Braves won nine in a row? It was less than a month-and-a-half ago when they finished that run, going 9-0 with a 2.22 ERA from June 27 through July 5. They hit .277 and scored 50 runs in that stretch, despite just three homers. They were 5-0 in games decided by one or two runs during that winning streak.

So, how have things gone so wrong for this Braves team? Let us count the ways.

Since that streak ended the Braves have gone 11-21 with a 3.90  ERA and .244 batting average, [More]

After strong start, mostly mediocrity (or worse) from Braves

  • 2:19 pm Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 by David O'Brien
It was that kind of night. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez shows his frustration during an ugly eighth inning as the Dodgers build a 6-1 lead Monday.

If it feels like it’s been quite a tedious stretch of mediocrity from the Braves this season, well, there’s a reason. After their 17-7 start, when a patched-together pitching staff performed at an otherworldly level, the Braves have since gone 43-51 with a 3.77 ERA, .244 batting average and only 350 runs and 65 homers in their past 94 games, an average of 3.7 runs per game.

In their past 31 home games, the Braves are 15-16 with a 3.54 ERA. They’ve scored two or fewer runs in 10 of their past 24 home games.

Yep, that’s mediocrity. Or worse. In the [More]

Braves’ Heyward becoming player we expected

  • 2:36 pm Monday, August 11th, 2014 by David O'Brien
Jason Heyward is having one of the best extended hitting periods of his career, and says he's learned a lot and is beginning to figure out how to apply it all.  He just turned 25 on Saturday.

Jason Heyward turned 25 on Saturday, and lately the right fielder has been hitting like the player most of us expected him to be by this point in his career. Well, not with as much power as we anticipated, but otherwise, like that line-driving-hitting, aggressive-on-the-bases offensive force we envisioned but had seen only in spurts of a few weeks here and there since the spectacular first half of his rookie season in 2010.

Defensively, the strong-armed, speedy right fielder is as good or better than anyone in the game at his position. But offensively, Heyward is the first to admit he’s [More]

Since it’s Nats in lead, Braves have a shot

  • 2:19 pm Saturday, August 9th, 2014 by David O'Brien
Freddie Freeman homered Friday to continue his torrid hitting against the Nationals and make him 10-for-22 (.455) with three homers, nine RBIs, six walks and a .533 OBP and .909 slugging percentage against Stephen Strasburg.

If it had been any other team that moved 4 ½ games of the Braves after Atlanta’s dispiriting, abysmal 0-8 West Coast road trip, then maybe the situation would have been as dire as some observers indicated. After all, the Braves had given little reason for hope and shown mostly signs of a team headed in the wrong direction at the worst time, with August here and playoff races starting to heat up.

Ah, but it was the Nationals who had that 4 ½-game lead over the Braves. And as much as some Braves skeptics and Nationals loyalists might not believe [More]

Braves look to end skid, tough task vs. ‘King’

  • 5:22 pm Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 by David O'Brien
To the surprise of no one who watches baseball, Andrelton Simmons was rated the NL's best defensive shortstop in Baseball America's  survey.

  SEATTLE – The Braves have hit .230 and totaled 53 runs and seven homers over their past 16 games, including two or fewer runs in nine of those games. And now they bring a six-game losing skid and offensive ills with them to Safeco Field to face a Mariners team with a majors-best 3.05 ERA.

Oh, and tonight they face “King” Felix Hernandez, who is at least the American League’s best pitcher and the only MLB pitcher who’s on a current roll as impressive as the one that Clayton Kershaw brought into his matchup against the Braves last week in [More]

Sad day as Braves lose another iconic broadcaster

  • 2:14 pm Saturday, August 2nd, 2014 by David O'Brien
Pete "The Professor" Van Wieren

SAN DIEGO – Such a sad day. Pete Van Wieren, who died early this morning, was truly one of the good guys, in addition to being a damn fine broadcaster and perfect partner for the irreverent Skip Caray. Wonderful tandem, and before that a wonderful trio with Ernie Johnson.

Now they’re all gone.

They lived hard, they worked hard, they made days and nights a lot better for a long time for Braves fans, and for many of us baseball fans who didn’t live in major cities with baseball teams and only had [More]