If you were a believer in the Atlanta Braves before the season, you likely believed that their mighty lineup would bash a lot of home runs, more than enough to make up for a higher than average number of strikeouts. Their power-hitting ways would stake their terrifying bullpen to plenty of leads, said leads would be protected successfully more often than not, and the Braves would win a lot of baseball games.
That is precisely the formula the Braves executed in game one today against the Colorado Rockies. This game happened to take place in 25 degree weather, but that did not stop the Braves from doing what they do. Justin Upton, Dan Uggla, and Evan Gattis all bashed home runs for Atlanta. The Rockies were able to touch up Mike Minor for three runs but then failed to mount a rally against the aforementioned bullpen. Luis Avilan, Eric O’Flaherty, and Craig Kimbrel all worked clean innings, although the Rockies did make Kimbrel sweat the tying run reaching base in the 9th.
If he was sweating it, he probably went from being nervous to being amused when Wilin Rosario was caught stealing to end the game. But hey, it was either that or let Nelson take some hacks and hope Kimbrel threw something into his swing. For my part I would opt for the latter, but neither is exactly appealing. Here is my approximation of the win probabilities for each team at the moment Nelson strode to the plate in the 9th inning to face the best closer in the game with his husky catcher standing at first base.
So the Braves beat the Rockies. The Braves are good and they won the way they are supposed to win. The Rockies hung tough. I’m really OK with that.
Injury notes: Jason Heyward was placed on the DL by Atlanta after an emergency appendectomy Monday night. This led Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus to ask the question on everyone’s minds: should MLB players opt for prophylactic appendectomies? That mostly leaves me jealous that somebody else used the word “prophylactic” in a totally serious and legitimate baseball conversation before I could. Cross that off of my list of lifelong goals as a writer…
Todd Helton, hanging around with his sore left forearm, will have to argue his way into the lineup for game two tonight, according to the Denver Post. He is inclined to try, apparently, because he fears that a string of missed games will result in a trip to the disabled list (by default or something like that). Walt Weiss is hesitant in this cold weather, and rightfully so. No need to run Helton out there for a frigid game in April and have something go awry. Such is supposed to be the depth of this team anyhow. I expect to see Michael Cuddyer at first base and Eric Young Jr. in the outfield for the second half of this split doubleheader.