Atlanta Braves blog 

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

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]

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