Tag Archives: Josh Donaldson

Braves bats pound Pivetta as rookie hurler shuts down the Phillies

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Rookie righty Bryse Wilson largely shut down the Phillies bats

The first-place Atlanta Braves (51-36) used a big six-run 6th inning to pull away from the visiting Philadelphia Phillies (45-41) and register a 9-2 win on Wednesday night at SunTrust Park.

With the win, the Braves pushed their lead in the National League East Division standings back out to 5.5 games (five in the loss column) over the second place Phillies, who are now just a half-game ahead of the third place Washington Nationals. The Phillies have not been lower than second place in the division standings all season.
The two teams were battling in a tough 3-2 game after the first 5 1/2 innings, with all of the runs coming via the long ball. Josh Donaldson ripped his 16th homer of the season in the bottom of the 4th inning, a three-run shot off Phillies starter Nick Pivetta, to open the scoring.
In the top of the 6th, Bryce Harper got the Phillies back within a run by blasting his 16th homer. For the Phillies big free agent signing, it was the 200th home run of his big-league career as well as his 1,000th career hit.

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There was one bright spot tonight. Bryce Harper’s 16th home run of the season was the 200th of his big-league career, as well as career hit 1,000.

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The tight score didn’t last long, as the Braves knocked Pivetta out of the game with their crooked inning in the bottom of the frame. Two more homers, both coming with two outs, did most of the damage. The first came off the bat of rookie left fielder Austin Riley to make it 6-2 and drive Pivetta from the game. It was Riley’s 15th home run in just 44 games since his May 15 promotion from the minors.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler went to his bullpen and brought in Juan Nicasio. The right-hander has been inconsistent all season, and he was just bad in this one. Ozzie Albies and Tyler Flowers greeted him with back-to-back doubles to push the Atlanta lead out to 7-2. Then Matt Joyce, pinch-hitting for starting pitcher Bryse Wilson, drilled a Nicasio four-seam fastball out deep to right field for his third homer of the year to put the final runs on the board.
For Pivetta, this was a disheartening fourth consecutive poor outing. Over 23.1 innings in those four starts, Pivetta has given up 20 runs (19 earned) on 29 hits, including nine home runs. He was reached for at least two home runs in each of those four games.
The two clubs have now split the first two games of this series. If the Phillies want to win a series, they are going to have to find a way to score runs off one of the toughest starting pitchers in the game on Independence Day in Mike Soroka. They put at least five runs on the board in six of seven games coming into tonight. That offense has to show up on Thursday.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

PHILLIES – Pivetta: (Loss 4-3), 5.2 IP, 5 hits, 6 runs (5 earned), 1 walk, 4 strikeouts. 86 pitches, 56 for strikes.
BRAVES – Wilson: (Win 1-0), 6 IP, 5 hits, 2 earned, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts. 86 pitches, 60 for strikes.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: BRYCE WILSON

The home run by Harper was the only real mistake made by the 21-year-old rookie right-hander who was making just his third big-league start. The Phillies beat him up back on March 30 in what was his MLB debut. This time around he showed why he is considered one of the top prospects in one of the most respected organizations in the game.

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Phillies suffer humiliating Father’s Day defeat at hands of the Braves

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Braves mascot stole Harper’s money, players stole Phillies hearts

The host Atlanta Braves (42-30) completely dismantled the Philadelphia Phillies (39-32) by a 15-1 score, treating the fans at SunTrust Park to a real Father’s Day celebration.

With the win, the Braves open up a 2.5 game lead on the Phillies in the National League East Division standings. Atlanta has now won 12 of their last 15 games, and they are 24-10 since manager Brian Snitker installed 2018 NL Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr. as his leadoff man.
The Phillies were never in this one. Manager Gabe Kapler decided to go with Vince Velasquez in an “Opener” role, and it completely backfired. Velasquez (2-4) surrendered three runs in the bottom of the 1st inning to put the club into a hole from which they were never able to climb out.
Velasquez was followed to the hill by Cole Irvin, and the lefty was even worse. Irvin would go 3.2 innings, allowing six earned runs and letting the Braves score in every inning in which he was on the mound.
Next up, Jerad Eickhoff, meaning that Kapler used three pitchers who were in his starting rotation at one point in this season. Eickhoff was even worse than Irvin, if you can believe that, surrendering five earned runs in just one inning on the bump.
The Phillies most effective “pitcher” in this game? Utility man Sean Rodriguez, who tossed a shutout frame in the bottom of the 8th inning that included a strikeout.

Rather than just tick off each of the runs and prolong the agony for you readers, let’s just take a look down the Braves lineup. Acuna had four hits including his 16th home run and scored four runs. Josh Donaldson produced three hits including his 12th homer. Freddie Freeman had two hits, a walk, two RBIs, and two runs scored. Ozzie Albies had three hits, two runs, and two RBIs. Nick Markakis and Austin Riley each had a pair of hits, combining to score two runs and drive in three.

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Here’s a look at Josh Donaldson’s third homer of the series, which pushed Braves lead out to 5-0 in bottom of 3rd inning.

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All-in-all, the Atlanta lineup went 19-40 on the afternoon. That makes for an incredible one-day batting average at the .475 mark. Again, against three pitchers who were in the Phillies starting rotation this season.
The lone Phillies run came in the top of the 5th inning with the club already down by a 7-0 score when an RBI single off the bat of Bryce Harper scored Andrew Knapp. Though Atlanta’s starting pitcher, Mike Foltynewicz (2-5) was wild, walking five and throwing one charged wild pitch (he threw another wild that didn’t hurt him), the Phillies simply couldn’t take advantage.
In his post-game presser, Kapler had little choice but to be matter-of-fact after this kind of defeat: “We’re gonna need to perform really well against teams like the Atlanta Braves. They’re a deep lineup. We’ve obviously played them well overall on the year, but today’s effort wasn’t good enough.
“We turn the page and move on to Washington very quickly. We don’t dwell on this one, we get right on to the next one.” ~ Gabe Kapler
The Phillies have no choice but to forget about this one. They played the red-hot Braves extremely tough over the first two games of the series, losing Friday night on a walkoff and then winning last night with their own 9th inning rally. They now move on to Washington for a four-game set with the Nationals beginning on Monday night in our nation’s capital.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

PHILLIES – Vince Velasquez: 2.1 IP, 4 hits, 4 earned runs, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts. Threw 38 pitches, 26 for strikes.
BRAVES – Mike Foltynewicz: 6 IP, 4 hits, 1 earned run, 5 walks, 6 strikeouts. Threw 100 pitches, 62 for strikes.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: RONALD ACUNA JR

Hard to top a four-hit, four-run game in which you bash a home run. Acuna has been the Braves catalyst for the last 6-7 weeks, and he was that once again today.

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Braves walkoff Phillies in series opener at SunTrust Park

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Brian McCann mobbed at home plate after game-winning hit

The Atlanta Braves (41-29) showed a ton of heart, taking the opening game of a key road series by a 9-8 score on Friday night over the visiting Philadelphia Phillies (38-31) at SunTrust Park.

The Phillies led almost the entire night, and appeared to be on their way to an exhilarating victory. But the Braves never surrendered, battling back every time the Phillies tried to open their lead wider.
In the end, it came down to Atlanta having to overcome a two-run deficit with the Phillies closer on the mound in the bottom of the 9th inning. A closer who was celebrating his 30th birthday, and who hadn’t blown a save opportunity since last May.
The Phillies got on the board first, stringing together three consecutive base hits in the top of the 2nd inning from Jay BruceScott Kingery, and Sean Rodriguez against Atlanta starter Max Fried. But in the bottom of the frame, the Braves got that one right back when Josh Donaldson led off with a solo home run.
The tie didn’t last for long. Bryce Harper ripped his 12th home run of the season, a two-run shot in the top of the 3rd inning, to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead. Kingery made it 4-1 when he led off the top of the 4th with a solo homer, his 8th of the season.

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Harper’s homer is his 12th of the season. He’s an equal opportunity blaster: six vs lefties, six vs righties.

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In the top of the 5th, some wildness from Fried with two outs allowed the Phillies to get another run. After he had retired the first two Phillies batters,the Braves southpaw yielded a base hit to J.T. Realmuto and then walked Rhys Hoskins. Fried then threw two wild pitches, with Realmuto moving to third on the first one and scoring on the second. The run made it a 5-1 lead for the visitors.
Freddie Freeman led off the bottom of the 5th with his 19th homer of the year to make it a 5-2 ball game. But the Braves defense would let them down big-time in the top of the 6th inning. With two outs, second baseman Ozzie Albies‘ error allowed Realmuto to reach base. He was followed by Hoskins, who lined a missile over the dead-center field wall. The 15th home run of the season for the Phillies first baseman pushed the lead back out to a 7-2 margin.
The Braves came right back with two of their own in the home half of the 7th. Brian McCann cranked the third leadoff homer of the night for the hosts to cut their deficit down to 7-3. Then with two outs, Ronald Acuna doubled, Dansby Swanson walked, and that was all for Phillies starter Nick Pivetta.
The right-hander looked strong for much of the night against a tough lineup. He allowed four earned runs, three of those scoring on the leadoff home runs. Pivetta struck out six and walked two in making a career-high 116 pitches.
Gabe Kapler sent to his bullpen for Vince Velasquez, and the recently converted starter immediately surrendered an RBI single to Freeman, cutting the Phillies lead to 7-4. But with the tying run at the plate, Velasquez struck out Donaldson to end the threat.
Kingery led off the top of the 8th with a double for his third hit of the ball game. He was bunted over to third by Rodriguez and then raced home to score on a deep RBI sacrifice fly by Cesar Hernandez, and the Phillies lead was back out to 8-4.
The Braves kept coming in the bottom of the 8th, however. Jose Alvarez walked Nick Markakis to lead off the frame. Markakis moved to second on a soft ground out by McCann, then scored on a base hit by Albies to make it 8-5.

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Ozzie Albies stays hot and drives home Nick Markakis with an RBI single. The @Braves are back within three in the eighth inning.

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Braves skipper Brian Snitker then sent up Charlie Culberson to pinch-hit, and Culberson delivered with a triple to the deep right field corner. Albies raced home, and the relentless Braves had cut the deficit to 8-6.
Kapler went to his closer, Hector Neris in the bottom of the 9th inning to try and close it out. Celebrating his 30th birthday and not having blown a save opportunity since last May 11, Neris gave up a lead single to Swanson. Atlanta would bring the tying run to the plate with their 3-4-5 hitters due up.
Freeman went up 3-0 in the count, but Neris battled back to strike out the Braves most dangerous hitter for the first out. Donaldson then grounded to third for the second out. Neris then walked Markakis on four pitches, and Atlanta had the winning run at the plate in the form of rookie Austin Riley.
Riley laced a line drive double to left to score Swanson and make it an 8-7 ball game. The ball took a wild bounce on Jay Bruce, but the Phillies left fielder made a nice play to keep the tying run at third base.
With runners at second and third and two outs, one of the great Phillies killers of the last decade stepped to the plate in McCann. The Braves catcher would keep that title, dropping a 2-2 base hit into left-center, scoring Markakis with the tying run and Riley with the game-winner.

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Down 2 going to the bottom of the 9th…

The @Braves really wanted that 8th straight win.

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In the end, the bullpen surrendered five runs on six hits over the final 2.1 innings. Neris blew his first save after 17 straight successful conversions. There is no other way to frame it than to call this one an absolutely crushing, deflating, demoralizing loss for the Phillies. They have now dropped nine of their last 14 games while the Braves won their ninth straight to open up a 2.5 game lead in the division.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

PHILLIES – Nick Pivetta: 6.2 IP, 8 hits (3 homers), 4 earned, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts. 116 pitches, 80 for strikes.
BRAVES – Max Fried: 4.2 IP, 7 hits (2 homers), 5 earned, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts. 98 pitches, 61 for strikes.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: BRIAN MCCANN

The Braves backstop went 3-5 with a home run and the game-winning, two-run walkoff single in the bottom of the 9th inning. The homer was his 23rd against the Phillies, more than any other opponent over his 15-year big-league career. The two RBIs on his walkoff base hit gave him exactly 1,000 on his career.

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Phillies visit Braves for a June 2019 first-place showdown series

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Phillies visit SunTrust Park for big series with Braves

The Philadelphia Phillies (38-30) sat alone at the top of the National League East Division standings for seven straight weeks, covering every day from April 25 through last weekend.

Losses in eight of their last 13 games, including three of their four games so far this week, opened the door for the Atlanta Braves (40-29) to make a move.
The Braves took full advantage, winning 10 of their last 12 to surge past the Phillies and into first place in the division. Atlanta is now riding a seven-game winning streak.
The two rivals will meet for the second time this year over the weekend, and the NL East Division lead will be directly on the line. The site will be SunTrust Park in Atlanta this time, after the Phillies swept the Braves out of Citizens Bank Park in the season’s very first series back in late March.
The Braves have performed far better statistically in the 2019 season. Their 5.17 runs-per-game ranks fifth in the National League, while the Phillies 4.87 is the league’s seventh-ranked mark. At the plate, the Braves out-rank the Phillies in OPS (4-9), home runs (5-11), and stolen bases (8-15) in the NL.

On the mound among the 15 NL teams, the Braves out-rank the Phillies in batting average against (7-13) and OPS against (9-13), though Phillies hurlers have a slightly better ERA.
The Phillies just got reliever Edubray Ramos back from the Injured List, and hope to have reliever Pat Neshek and outfielder Roman Quinn back for this series.
This is an early gut-check for the Phillies. Struggling for the last couple of weeks, they now look up in the standings at their weekend hosts. They will have to listen to Braves fans doing the obnoxious ‘Tomahawk Chop’ any time the home team does anything positive. How the Phillies respond to this challenge over the next three days will reveal much about their own collective character.

ATLANTA BRAVES

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Freddie Freeman: The 10-year veteran first baseman is well on his way to a fourth NL All-Star nod, slashing .311/.401/.592 and leading the Braves with 18 homers, 37 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs, and 49 runs scored.
Nick Markakis: 35-year-old, 14-year big-league veteran right fielder is slashing .276/.368/.431 with 35 RBIs. He is second on the club with 43 runs scored.
Ronald Acuna Jr. The 21-year-old center fielder was last year’s NL Rookie of the Year and is not suffering a sophomore slump. He is slashing .285/.365/.493 and is second on the team with 15 homers and 45 RBIs and leads them with nine steals.
Dansby Swanson: 25-year-old shortstop has broken out with 13 homers, 27 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs, 42 runs scored, and six stolen bases.
Ozzie Albies: 22-year-old second baseman has 10 homers, 26 extra-base hits, 41 runs scored, and five steals.
Austin Riley: The NL’s Rookie of the Month for May, the 22-year-old rookie left fielder is hitting .290 with a .617 slugging percentage and has 10 homers and 29 RBIs even though he wasn’t called up until May 15.
Brian McCann: 35-year-old, 15-year big-league veteran catcher is the lefty side of an almost straight platoon. He is hitting .272 with five homers and 24 RBIs in just 134 plate appearances.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Josh Donaldson: A 33-year-old, nine-year big-league veteran third baseman, Donaldson signed a one-year, $23 million contract with the Braves as a free agent back in late November. The 2015 AL MVP while with the Toronto Blue Jays is a 3x American League All-Star and has a pair of Silver Slugger Awards on his mantlepiece.
Donaldson has been a bit of a disappointment with Atlanta, slashing just .236/.349/.419 with nine homers and 27 RBIs. After starring with the Blue Jays, Donaldson suffered through an injury-marred season a year ago and was dealt to the Cleveland Indians, helping the Tribe to the AL Central crown with a solid performance down the stretch.
There is every chance that Donaldson is simply a one-year rental for Atlanta, with Riley taking over at his own more natural position beginning next season. For now, having Donaldson bust out with anything resembling his former Toronto MVP form would be a major boost to the already dangerous Braves lineup.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

FRIDAY – Max Fried (25/L): 7-3, 3.75 ERA, 1.292 WHIP, 74 hits over 72 IP across 15 games (13 starts) with a 66/19 K:BB
SATURDAY – Sean Newcomb (26/L): 1-0, 2.59 ERA, 1.340 WHIP, 32 hits over 31.1 IP across 19 games (3 starts) with a 26/10 K:BB
SUNDAY – Mike Foltynewicz (27/R): 1-5, 6.02 ERA, 1.318 WHIP, 52 hits over 49.1 IP across nine starts with a 42/13 K:BB

KEY BENCH & BULLPEN PIECES

Tyler Flowers: splits the catching duties with McCann as the right-handed hitting half. Flowers has five homers and 11 extra-base hits over just 138 plate appearances.
Johan Camargo: 25-year-old was the Braves starting third baseman a year ago, but has become a utility player this year with the addition of Donaldson. He has been used at five different defensive positions and has 10 extra-base hits over 128 plate appearances.
Matt Joyce: 34-year-old, 12-year big-league veteran is a nice lefty bat off the bench with nine extra-base hits over just 75 plate appearances. He was a 2011 AL All-Star while with Tampa Bay.
Charlie Culberson: Utility man is slashing .354/.396/.625 over just 53 plate appearances with a half-dozen extra-base hits.
Luke Jackson: The 27-year-old righty has taken the Braves closer job and produced 10 saves with a 3.18 ERA and 1.235 WHIP. He has allowed 33 hits over 34 innings with a 49/9 K:BB ratio.
Josh Tomlin: Former starter with the Cleveland Indians, the 34-year-old, 10-year big-league veteran righty has allowed 31 hits over 35 innings across 23 appearances with a 22/3 K:BB.
A.J. Minter: Hard-throwing 25-year-old lefty could one day be the club’s closer. He was just activated earlier this week after spending nearly a month on the IL, and has struck out 18 over 13 innings this season.
Jacob Webb: 25-year-old right-hander has allowed 17 hits over 19.1 innings with a 20/10 K:BB.

THE SKIPPER

Brian Snitker is a 63-year-old who has been in the Braves organization in one role or another for more than four decades, starting as a player and winding through the minor league coaching ranks. He served as the Braves bullpen coach in the late-1980’s, and was their third base coach from 2007-13.
In May 2016, Snitker was named as the interim manager to replace Fredi Gonzalez, who was fired with the club in last place. Five months later he was named the full-time skipper and is now in his third full season at the helm. He guided the club to the NL East crown a year ago, losing in four games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in an NLDS.

THE BALLPARK

This is now the Braves third season playing at the ballpark, which is located in Cumberland, Cobb County, just 10 miles from the downtown Atlanta area. The ballpark is named for the local SunTrust Bank in a 25-year naming rights deal. A merger of that bank with BB&T will result in an eventual name change following this season.
SunTrust is billed as having the highest percentage of seats closer to the field than any ballpark in Major League Baseball. There is also air conditioning piped to every level of the ballpark to help during the hot Atlanta summer days.
There is a Monument Garden area displaying highlights of the franchise history. It is located in the concourse behind home plate, and features a statue of Baseball Hall of Fame living legend Hank Aaron, who played with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves for 21 seasons.
Dimensions down the line are 335 feet to left, 325 feet to right. The power alleys are roughly 375 (RC) and 385 (LC) feet, out to a 400-foot dead-center field wall. In the 2019 season, SunTrust ranks behind only Coors Field in Denver, Colorado and Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio in ESPN’s ‘Park Factors‘ as an offensive-leaning ballpark.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

FRIDAY: sunny and upper-70’s at 7:20 pm first pitch with light winds and almost zero chance of rain
SATURDAY: partly cloudy and low-80’s at 7:20 pm first pitch with light winds and almost zero chance of rain
SUNDAY: mostly sunny and mid-80s at 1:20 pm first pitch with light winds and just a 5% chance of rain
(Forecast supplied via The Weather Channel)

National League East Report 4/22-28

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The Washington Nationals have struggled somewhat thus far

This past week began with the Philadelphia Phillies (16-12) at three games above the .500 mark in first place in the National League East Division standings. They held a one game lead over both the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, with the Washington Nationals just 1.5 behind but also just a game out in the loss column.

The week began in disheartening fashion for the Phillies. They dropped their first two games on Monday and Tuesday by a combined 14-1 to the Mets. However, the Fightin’ Phils lived up to that nickname, roaring back to take four of the last five games.
That stretch lifted them four games over the .500 mark and raised their lead in the division to 1.5 over the Mets, though it remains just a game in the loss column. Atlanta has fallen 2.5 and Washington is now 3 games behind the Phillies, both 2 games out in that all-important loss column.
The Phillies will meet the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday and Wednesday of the current week in what is already their second inter-league series of the season. With a win on Tuesday night, the Phillies would equal their best record in the early weeks of the 2019 season by going to five games above that .500 mark. They were at 7-2 back on April 8.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST DIVISION STANDINGS

EAST DIVISION

    <th aria-label="Win-Loss %" class=" poptip hide_non_quals center" data-filter="1" data-name="Win-Loss %" data-stat="win_loss_perc" data-tip="Win-Loss Percentage
    W / (W + L)
    For players, leaders need one decision for every ten team games.
    For managers, minimum to qualify for leading is 320 games.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>W-L%

    <th aria-label="Games Back" class=" poptip sort_default_asc center" data-stat="games_back" data-tip="Games Back of Division/League Leader
    Computed as games over .500 of leader (W-L) minus games over .500 of team divided by two.
    Typically computed at the end of play for a particular day.
    Blank for 1st game of DH.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>GB

    East Division
    Team W L
    Philadelphia Phillies 17 13 .567
    Atlanta Braves 15 15 .500 2.0
    New York Mets 15 15 .500 2.0
    Washington Nationals 12 17 .414 4.5
    Miami Marlins 9 21 .300 8.0

    ATLANTA BRAVES (2 – 4)

    Summary: The Braves began the week by dropping two of three tight games at Great American Ballpark to the host Cincinnati Reds. Then they came back home to Atlanta and surrendered 24 runs in losing two of three to the visiting Colorado Rockies. They salvaged something by scoring three times in the bottom of the 8th to rally to an 8-7 victory on Sunday.
    Offensively the Braves continue to be led by veteran first baseman Freddie Freeman and budding young superstar outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. Freeman has a .324/.448/.539 slash line. His five homers and 18 RBIs are both tied for second on the club. Acuna, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, is slashing .289/.410/.526 and leads the club with six homers. He also has 18 RBIs on the year.
    Third baseman Josh Donaldson has begun to heat up, slashing .327/.453/.712 over the last 15 games. He also has five homers and leads the Braves with 13 extra-base hits. Veteran outfielder Nick Markakis is slashing .333/.407/.490 with 11 extra-base hits and 18 RBIs. Shortstop Dansby Swanson has a dozen extra-base hits and his 22 RBIs lead the team.
    The Braves two-headed catching combo has produced well for the club. Righty-hitting Tyler Flowers is slashing .367/.426/.592 with three homers in 54 plate appearances. The lefty-hitting Brian McCann is hitting .270 with a .364 OBP and has driven in eight runs over 44 plate appearances.
    For all the good that the offense has produced, the pitching has been letting the Braves down thus far. A bright spot has been 25-year-old lefty Max Fried. The southpaw is 3-1 with a 2.30 ERA and 1.085 WHIP, allowing 27 hits over 31.1 innings while striking out 26 and walking seven.
    Righty reliever Luke Jackson has been strong out of the bullpen for manager Brian Snitker. The 27-year-old has allowed 11 hits over 14 innings across 13 appearances with a 15/6 K:BB ratio.
    Key injuries: That bullpen has lost four key members to the Injured List. Lefties Johnny Venters and Jesse Biddle and right-handers Darren O’Day and Arodys Vizcaino. The latter is done for the season following should surgery.
    Upcoming: Manny Machado and the San Diego Padres come to Atlanta for a four-game series beginning Monday night. The Braves will then hit the road for a 10-game road trip, one of two of that length that they will see this season. It begins next weekend with a visit to Miami for three games, then continues out west to visit the Dodgers and Diamondbacks next week.

    MIAMI MARLINS (2 – 4)

    Summary: The Marlins are the least consequential and yet in some ways the most pivotal team in the division. They are going to finish in last place, barring some sort of major miracle that would need to include any of the other four teams suffering a series of major lengthy injuries.
    However, the Fish have already done some damage, taking two of three from the Nationals last weekend. They have losing records against the Phillies (2-5), Mets (0-3) and Braves (1-2) to this point. If the Marlins can find a way to win frequently against any of those teams it would be a major crippling blow.
    This past week, Miami started solidly enough, capturing two of the first three games. They split a quick two-game trip to Cleveland and won the opener against the Phillies. But then the Phils roared back to sweep the final three of their four-game series this weekend.
    The Marlins have gotten a strong start to the year from catcher Jorge Alfaro, who is slashing .297/.342/.500 and leading the club with five home runs. Veteran left fielder Curtis Granderson leads the team with 11 RBIs and eight extra-base hits.
    And that’s about it for the Miami offense, which has pretty much been putrid on every day of the week other than Saturdays. For some odd reason the Marlins become competitive on that day. They were 4-0 over the first four Saturdays of the season including division wins over the Braves, Phillies and Nationals. The Phils finally put an end to that streak this weekend, but only after watching the Marlins roar back from a 10-1 deficit to make it a 10-9 game at one point.
    The Miami staff has received a strong season thus far from lefty starter Caleb Smith, who is 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA and 0.828 WHIP over his first five starts. He has allowed just 17 hits over 29 innings with a 37/7 K:BB ratio, and has tossed a pair of gems against the Phillies.
    The Marlins bullpen has received mostly strong work from a trio of right-handers in Tayron Guerrero, Nick Anderson and Tyler Kinley. Those three have combined to allow just 27 hits over 38.1 innings with a 57/21 K:BB ratio. Veteran closer Sergio Romo has four saves and was perfect in his last three opportunities.
    Key injuries: Veteran infielder Neil Walker pinch-hit in the final two games against the Phillies this past weekend. He has been battling hamstring tightness but remains available. The Marlins have otherwise been one of the healthiest teams in baseball over the first five weeks of the season.
    Upcoming: The Marlins are home in Marlins Park this week, hosting the Cleveland Indians for a pair on Tuesday and Wednesday after visiting Cleveland last week. Then they welcome in the division-rival Atlanta Braves for a three-game set next weekend.

    NEW YORK METS (3 – 3)

    Summary: The Mets pulled away from the Milwaukee Brewers late on Sunday to salvage the final game of their weekend series and get back above the .500 mark, staying within a game of the Phillies in the standings.
    New York opened the week by taking two of the three from the Phils but then dropped two of three to the Brew Crew. They are in the midst of a 10-game home stand that continues with four this week against the Cincinnati Reds.
    The Mets offense continues to be led by the National League’s leading Rookie of the Year candidate, first baseman Pete Alonso. The 24-year-old is slashing .306/.398/684 and leads the club with nine homers, 24 RBIs, 19 extra-base hits, and 20 runs scored.
    Right fielder Michael Conforto is second on the team with six home runs and 13 extra-base hits. Catcher Wilson Ramos and shortstop Amed Rosario are each second on the club with 16 RBIs. Left fielder Jeff McNeil is hitting .355 with a .434 OBP and nine extra-base hits.
    On the mound, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler have been the surprise leaders of the rotation. The performances of the Noah Syndergaard and Jake deGrom ace duo have been puzzling. Those two have combined to surrender 66 hits over 60 innings including 10 home runs, and they have walked 10 batters apiece.
    Closer Edwin Diaz remains perhaps the best in the game. He has eight saves over a dozen appearances with a 20/2 K:BB ratio over 10.2 innings. Right-hander Seth Lugo has also been solid, but the rest of the Mets bullpen has been a mess.
    Key injuries: Second baseman Robinson Cano was hit on the hand by a pitch from newly signed Milwaukee pitcher Gio Gonzalez on Sunday and had to leave the game early. Initial x-rays reportedly came back negative but he will undergo an MRI today before the club decides how to proceed.
    Infielder Jed Lowrie remains out with a knee injury and hopes to return over the next week or two. Lefty reliever Justin Wilson had soreness in his pitching elbow and an MRI came back clean. He could return later this week. There remains no timetable on outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who could return later this season but could also miss the year entirely.
    Upcoming: After hosing the Cincinnati Reds for four games at Citi Field to open the week, the Mets go on the road for a two-city trip that starts with three games next weekend in Milwaukee against the Brewers and then continues out in San Diego to start next week.

    WASHINGTON NATIONALS (2 – 4)

    Summary: The Nationals dropped two of three to the Rockies at Coors Field to open the week, then returned home and again lost two of three games, this time to the visiting San Diego Padres.
    A big factor this past week for the Nationals was the loss of third baseman Anthony Rendon to an injury that lingered. He was hit on the elbow by a pitch last weekend, sat out a few games, and then tried to return on Friday. After playing that night, the elbow flared up again.
    Bottom line, the club’s top hitter missed most of the action this past week. Rendon has slashed .356/.442/.740 over his first 86 plate appearances. His six homers are tied for the club lead, his 18 RBIs are second, and he leads the Nats with 16 extra-base hits and 21 runs scored.
    The two young outfielders who the club has hoped would step up and ease the transition away from Bryce Harper have been a mixed bag to this point. 20-year-old left fielder Juan Soto, last year’s runner-up to Acuna in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, is hitting .255 with a .376 OBP and is tied for the club lead with six homers while leading the Nats with 22 RBIs.
    22-year-old center fielder Victor Robles is hitting just .265 with four homers and 11 RBIs, though he does have a dozen extra-base hits. He is second on the club in that category and with his 19 runs scored behind only Rendon.
    Howie Kendrick has filled in well as a back-up at both third and second bases. The 35-year-old, 14-year veteran is slashing .333/.421/.667 with four homers, seven extra-base hits and 13 RBIs over 57 plate appearances. The Nationals have called up one of their top prospects, shortstop Carter Kieboom, to try and bridge the gap with the injuries to Turner and Rendon.
    On the mound, the club’s big free agent signings have been a split decision. Lefty Patrick Corbin has been the club’s most consistently strong starting pitcher. He is 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA and 0.918 WHIP, allowing 24 hits over 32.2 innings with a 39/6 K:BB across his first five starts.
    However, Anibal Sanchez (0-3) has allowed 32 hits and walked 16 over his first five starts and 27 innings with the club. His rotation spot could be in jeopardy if he doesn’t straighten out and get better results quickly. Manager Dave Martinez has a number of options waiting for a shot, including Erick Fedde and Joe Ross.
    Veterans workhorses Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg have been dominant at times, but both have also struggled on a couple of occasions as well. Combining with Corbin, they give the Nationals a top three in the rotation that, assuming health, should keep them in the race all year.
    In the bullpen, closer Sean Doolittle has been strong. That’s about it. The rest of the pen group has largely been a mess. Fedde was called up from the minors to help out there, but he could end up in the rotation at some point.
    Key injuries: Getting Rendon straightened out quickly would be a huge plus for a lineup that is already missing star shortstop Trea Turner. However, Rendon may yet require an IL stint. Turner is out still after breaking a finger on a bunt attempt against the Phillies a few weeks ago. He is expected to be out anywhere from four to six more weeks.
    Veteran first baseman Ryan Zimmerman was just placed on the Injured List, presenting the lineup with another setback. He is suffering from plantar fasciatis. Relievers Trevor Rosenthal and Koda Glover are also on the IL with no return ETA.
    Upcoming: The Nats open a four-game home set with the Saint Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park on Monday night. They will then embark on a 10-game road trip beginning with a visit to Citizens Bank Park for next weekend. That tough trip will continue next week with visits to the Brewers and Dodgers.