November 3, 2018 at 9:06 am #17043
On the morning of June 18 two years ago [url=http://authenticlosangeleschargers.com/cheap-kyzir-white-jersey]Kyzir White Color Rush Jersey[/url] , the Atlanta Braves were 21-46. Now they’re atop the NL East.
Atlanta has turned its stocked farm system into a major league contender faster than expected, and after Sunday’s 4-1 win over San Diego, the Braves lead second-place Washington by 3 1/2 games. At 42-29, they’re even with Milwaukee for the National League’s best record and look poised to be a factor in what should be an entertaining race for that league’s five postseason spots.
After three straight seasons with at least 90 losses, Atlanta is making a jump similar to what Minnesota did a season ago, when the Twins improved from 59 wins to 85 and earned a wild card.
If you’re worried Atlanta is a fluke, there aren’t many obvious red flags. The Braves have a run differential of plus-67, the second-best mark in the NL. They’ve been fortunate at times (11-4 in one-run games) and unfortunate at times (1-6 in extra innings).
The Braves are second in the NL in OPS after finishing 11th a year ago. Their ERA has improved from 12th to fifth. They have an MVP candidate in slugger Freddie Freeman, and 21-year-old second baseman Ozzie Albies has 16 home runs. Outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. is on the disabled list after a knee injury, but he’s been considered one of the game’s top prospects. Shortstop Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft, has improved his OPS from .636 a season ago to .737.
That formula – Freeman surrounded by young standouts – could serve the Braves well for a while, and Atlanta has also received a lift from some older contributors. Nick Markakis is hitting .327, and Anibal Sanchez is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA for the Braves after signing a minor league contract before the season.
In November, Atlanta was hit with major penalties for circumventing international signing rules. That might hurt the Braves in the future, but it doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect on their ability to compete in 2018.
Other developments from around the majors:
The Dodgers are 11-3 in June and have recovered from their poor start. They now trail Arizona by just 1 1/2 games atop the NL West.
Los Angeles can hope this season is following a similar trajectory to 2017, when the Dodgers went 21-7 in June on their way to 104 wins.
If you’re concerned about pace of play in baseball, you probably weren’t crazy about Joe Maddon’s maneuvering Wednesday. Maddon began the bottom of the eighth by bringing Steve Cishek in to pitch for the Cubs. After a single, Brian Duensing came on to pitch [url=http://www.authenticsmiamidolphins.com/cheap-kalen-ballage-jersey]Kalen Ballage Color Rush Jersey[/url] , but Cishek stayed in the game in left field. That enabled Cishek to go back to the mound one out later, with Duensing taking over in left. Duensing eventually went back to pitch and finished out the inning.
It was a clever way for Maddon to keep both pitchers available throughout the inning, but Chicago still lost 1-0 to Milwaukee.
LINE OF THE WEEK
San Diego’s Freddy Galvis went 5 for 5, including a three-run homer, in a 9-3 win over Atlanta on Friday night. Galvis drove in four runs in the game.
Lance McCullers pitched seven strong innings, Jake Marisnick homered and the Houston Astros beat the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 on Thursday night to tie a franchise record with their 11th straight road win.
McCullers (9-3) gave up three hits while striking out seven. The Astros have won his last six starts and have won 18 of 21 overall. Their 11th straight road win matched the club record set last May 14-June 5 on the way to winning the franchise’s first World Series title.
The Rays, who had won five straight overall and eight straight at home, had runners on first and third with none out in the eighth against reliever Chris Devenski, but Matt Duffy lined into a double play and Jake Bauers grounded out.
Hector Rondon pitched the ninth for his fifth save in seven opportunities.
Marisnick’s homer in the fifth came off Ryan Yarbrough (7-4) and was his seventh of the season. It ended the Rays’ streak of 26 scoreless innings, the second-longest in franchise history.
RED SOX 4, ANGELS 2
BOSTON (AP) – Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-run homer and Rafael Devers had a solo shot to help Boston beat Los Angeles.
Boston completed a season sweep of the Angels for the first time since they joined the American League as an expansion club in 1961.
The Red Sox have won four straight and six of seven as they head to New York to open three-game series between the rivals on Friday night with first place in the AL East on the line.
Hector Velazquez (6-0) pitched two scoreless innings of relief. Craig Kimbrel earned his 24th save with a scoreless ninth inning.
Andrelton Simmons hit a solo homer and Albert Pujols had an RBI single for the Angels, who have lost six straight. Los Angeles was up 1-0 until Devers led off the fifth with his 13th homer, to center off of Jamie Barria (5-4).
DODGERS 11, CUBS 5
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Anthony Rizzo’s three-run double and Addison Russell’s two-run homer highlighted a seven-run seventh inning as Chicago broke loose after Los Angeles starter Clayton Kershaw exited.
The Cubs pounded out 15 hits, including four by Rizzo. Russell drove in four runs in the final regular-season meeting between the teams that played each other in the NL Championship Series the last two years.
They met seven times in 10 days, with the Cubs winning four games over the two series.
The Dodgers staked Kershaw to a 3-1 lead before he departed after five innings because of a pitch limit.
The Cubs jumped on reliever Walker Buehler (4-2), who arrived earlier in the morning from Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he had been set for a rehab assignment. Albert Almora Jr. homered on Buehler’s second pitch and Russell’s sacrifice fly tied it at 3 in the sixth.
Steve Cishek (2-0) got the win with 1 2/3 innings of relief.
ROCKIES 9, GIANTS 8
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – DJ LeMahieu hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning and set a career best with five RBIs [url=http://www.authenticsmiamidolphins.com/cheap-durham-smythe-jersey]Durham Smythe Color Rush Jersey[/url] , rallying Colorado past San Francisco.
Nolan Arenado hit his 19th home run, tying him for the NL lead with Washington’s Bryce Harper. Trevor Story added three hits for Colorado, which had lost four straight at San Francisco.
The Rockies blew leads of 5-2 and 7-5 and were down 8-7 before scoring twice off closer Sam Dyson (2-2) to avoid a series sweep.
Adam Ottavino (4-1) gave up two runs but retired three batters to win. Wade Davis pitched the ninth for his 22nd save.
DIAMONDBACKS 4, MARLINS 0
MIAMI (AP) – Zack Greinke pitched seven innings and was an offensive dynamo, too, helping Arizona beat Miami.
Greinke singled twice, drove in a run, stole a base and scored. He leads Arizona pitchers this year with four RBIs and four runs, raised his season average to .300, and is now 7 for 7 lifetime in steal attempts.
As for pitching, Greinke (8-5) won for the fifth time in his past six starts.
Paul Goldschmidt continued his recent tear with three hits, and Nick Ahmed added two hits. Each scored and drove in a run.
Trevor Richards (2-5) allowed three runs in four innings. Miami rookie Brian Anderson went 0 for 4 to end his 24-game on-base streak, which had been the longest active string in the National League.
PHILLIES 4, NATIONALS 3
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Aaron Nola pitched into the eighth inning to win his 10th game of the season, Rhys Hoskins homered again and Philadelphia started a pivotal division series by beating Washington.
Hoskins hit a two-run shot in the seventh inning for his 13th home run of the year and a 4-1 lead that propelled the Phillies within two games of idle Atlanta for first place the NL East. Both the Phillies and Nationals entered this four-game set within striking distance of the Braves.
Nola (10-2) struck out eight and walked only two over 114 pitches and 7 2/3 innings. He has won seven straight decisions at home dating to last season.
Tommy Hunter allowed two runs in the ninth before Seranthony Dominguez got the final two outs for his sixth save.
Tanner Roark (3-9) struck out five over seven innings for the Nationals, who fell to 4-12 since June 9.
BREWERS 6, REDS 4
CINCINNATI (AP) – Eric Thames hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning and Milwaukee slowed Cincinnati’s best surge of the season.
The game included a benches-clearing incident in the third inning as Cincinnati’s Joey Votto exchanged words with Brewers catcher Erik Kratz.
Thames gave the Brewers a 5-4 lead when he homered in the seventh inning off reliever Amir Garrett (0-1).
Eric Sogard added a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Junior Guerra (4-5) gave up Jose Peraza’s second career leadoff homer and Jesse Winker’s two-run shot while
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