Are they gone? Are the Braves finally gone?
Good. It's only been three games, but I'm already super tired of them. The Phillies don't face the Braves again until mid-June, so I don't have to worry about seeing Dan Uggla and his unattractively tight uniform for two whole months. Yay for no more projectile vomiting. Yay, I say! Yay!
After last night's 1-0 heartbreaker, the Phillies bounced back today and beat the Braves 1-0. Well, "bounced back" isn't the right turn of phrase. "Bounced back" implies buoyancy. The game was actually scoreless until the eighth inning, causing many people to wonder if, after two games and sixteen whole innings of not scoring, the Phillies had simply forgotten how to do it. But no, they hadn't! They managed eight hits today, and thankfully one of them brought in a run.
Domonic Brown singled to start the bottom of the eighth, and Wil Nieves laid down a nice bunt (if a bunt could ever really be considered nice) to move him over to second base. After Jayson Nix struck out, pinch-hitter Ryan Howard (who had the day off) walked. Again. He walked again. No, I don't know why or what's happening, but let's just keep going and not talk about it and maybe it'll continue. After Howard was wisely lifted for pinch-runner Cody Asche, Ben Revere came to the plate and knocked a single, scoring Domonic Brown and the only run of the game. I love watching Ben Revere play baseball. He can be derpy in the field sometimes, but he tries harder than anyone and I love it. He never looks happier than when he's covered in dirt and standing on base -- those two giant black lines on each cheek just make his smiles seem wider.
But today's win also wouldn't have been possible without AJ Burnett's brilliant outing. Burnett, hernia and all, pitched seven strong innings, surrendering only three hits (all singles) and two walks. He even managed five strikeouts. This was a tremendous improvement over his previous three starts, especially in the walk department. Listening to the broadcast at work, it was mentioned that Burnett had shortened his stride by six inches, and was pitching more mindfully overall. If these are the results, then bravo to AJ for making those adjustments. I've never had any feelings, good or bad, about AJ Burnett. But he's starting to grow on me.
The bullpen did its job today as well. Antonio Bastardo surrendered one hit, a double, but made it through the eighth inning otherwise unscathed. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a clean ninth with two strikeouts and got the save, preventing him from feeling my wrath for another day.
Credit should also be given to Alex Wood, who pitched quite well for the Braves. Eight hits over eight innings, one run and seven strikeouts. Do the Braves have some kind of tree where they grow these guys? They have at least thirty-six young pitchers on the DL with arm and elbow and shoulder issues, yet their pitching is still insane. I hate them so much.
The Phillies leave Philadelphia behind now and travel to Colorado to visit the Rockies for a three game set, before spending most of next week in LA facing the Dodgers. I have no idea what will happen and I have no predictions to make, so your guess is as good as mine. Will their pitching devolve into a Three Stooges-esque mess while their offense returns? Or will their pitching continue to stay strong while their offense sputters and dies like my piece-of-shit car? Who knows. But like I've been saying -- at least these Phillies are interesting. I can't ask for much more than that. Well, I can, but I won't.
Fangraph of "SUCK IT BRAVES WE CAN BEAT YOU 1-0 TOO".