Every so often, an April series comes up that is deemed a little extra special. Such was the case with the Braves-Giants series over the weekend, as it was the first meeting since the Giants had eliminated the Braves from the playoffs last October.
Tommy Hanson got the Braves off on the right track Friday night, throwing 7 innings of one run, three hit ball. The Braves took game one of the three game series 4-1, scoring all four runs in the third, with Chipper Jones providing the big blow with a two run double.
Saturday, Tim Hudson scattered 9 hits over 8 2/3, while Martin Prado drove in three runs, as the Braves beat Tim Lincecum 5-2. The Braves chased Lincecum (who walked six batters on the day) in the 7th, when they pushed across three runs. Nate McLouth drew two of those walks and scored three runs.
As Braves great, and now Braves announcer Tom Glavine said a week ago Sunday when the Braves were attempting to sweep the Mets, “It’s hard to sweep any team.” Well, the Braves took a 5-2 lead into the 7th inning on Sunday, thanks to a long 3 run homer from Jason Heyward that broke a 2-2 tie. They also got more solid starting pitching, this time from Brandon Beachy, who went 6 innings and allowed 3 hits while striking out 7.
The lead was entrusted to Jairo Asenio, the 26 year old Dominican, who was recently called up to fill in for the injured Peter Moylan. Asencio had thrown 5 shutout innings earlier on the road trip in Los Angeles. However, the Giants quickly got to him for 4 runs in 2/3 of an inning, to retake the lead at 6-5.
Dan Uggla, still struggling to find his stroke, managed to tie it again at 6-6 with a leadoff homer in the 8th. It remained tied until the 10th, when the Braves loaded the bases off Giants closer Brain Wilson. He was a strike away from getting out of the jam, when Nate McLouth hit a 3-2 pitch back up the middle for a two run single. That sent Wilson to the showers. Then Brian McCann hit Dan Runzler’s 0-2 pitch into centerfield, and the Braves had a 9-6 lead. Jonny Venters came on to get the save and Braves had a very sweet sweep.
In the Divisional Playoff Series last October, besides being without closer Billy Wagner (now retired), the Braves were also without Chipper Jones and Martin Prado, both of whom were also injured. So this sweep had to be particularly gratifying for them and they both had a good series. Prado went 2 for 10 with 4 walks, 4 runs scored and 3 RBI’s. Chipper sat out Saturday’s game due to pain in his knee, not the knee he had the surgery on. But on Friday, he was 1 for 4 with 2 RBI’s. On Sunday, celebrating his 39th birthday, he went 2 for 3, with another 2 RBI’s, 2 walks, and a run scored. He also is now approaching another milestone as he has 499 career doubles.
So the Braves are now 4-3 on the 10 game road trip as they head to San Diego on Monday for the first of a three game series. Derek Lowe faces Dustin Mosely.