Atlanta Braves blog 

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

Expect B.J. Upton trade talks to be revisited

  • 2:21 pm Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 by David O'Brien

  NEW YORK – The Braves’ B.J. Upton-Edwin Jackson talks from a month ago with the Cubs are still getting a lot of play nationally. When this happens, it’s usually because someone from one or both teams continues to leak info in order keep the story to alive for one or more reasons: To show the fan base they’re trying, for example.

Or as a last-ditch effort to light a fire under a particular player.

Well, in the case of Upton-Jackson, the principles of the deal that was discussed before the July 31 trade deadline would’ve involved the Braves and Cubs swapping [More]

J-Up enters MVP discussion, helps revive Braves offense

  • 2:13 pm Friday, August 22nd, 2014 by David O'Brien
Justin Upton has 18 RBIs during a 12-game hitting streak, and is second in the NL with 84 RBIs for the season. He's entered the MVP discussion with his second-half performance.

  CINCINNATI – His performance in the second half has pushed Justin Upton into legitimate top-five National League MVP consideration. More importantly, it’s recently helped resuscitate the Braves offense and keep them in contention for at least a wild-card spot.

But there’s not much  J-Up or J-Hey or FreddieFree or anyone else in a Braves uniform can do to stop the streaking Nationals from pulling away in the National League East standings, at least not until the Braves face them again Sept. 8-10 in Washington and Sept. 15-17 in Atlanta.

Those are the only six head-to-head matchups left for the Braves, who [More]

One-run losses have been damaging for Braves

  • 2:34 pm Thursday, August 21st, 2014 by David O'Brien
Jason Heyward doubled, walked and scored two runs Wednesday to give the Braves a 2-0 lead, but the Pirates rallied with three in the last two innings for a 3-2 walk-off win. (AP photo)

 

 CINCINNATI – Most players, coaches and managers will tell you that losing by one run is the most painful way to lose, particularly when it’s a game you should have won. Like, for instance, the Braves’ 3-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, when they led 2-0 until the eighth inning.

Next thing you know, after a leadoff walk, a hanging breaking ball on a 0-2 pitch, a wild pitch on a breaking ball in the dirt, and an error in left field … the Braves had squandered a chance to sweep a second consecutive series and extend their winning streak [More]

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]

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