Great pitching, solid defense and a couple of monster home runs propelled the Braves to a 3-1 victory on Monday night.
Brandon Beachy was phenomenal once again and allowed just one run over six innings. He struck out nine Mariners and walked just one batter. His fastball was sitting in the mid-90's all night and his changeup had batters looking silly, including Ichiro Suzuki, who struck out twice. Erik Bedard started for Seattle and was excellent as well. He would take back two fastballs if he could, but outside of a few mistakes he had the Braves hitters fooled all night.
Brian McCann got the Braves on the scoreboard in the first inning with a solo-home run to center field that went about fifteen rows deep. The homer was his fourteenth of the season and eighth in the last eighteen games. That'll work. Adam Kennedy tied the game up in the fourth after getting ahold of a 3-1 fastball and sent it over the right field wall to make the score 1-1.
A pitchers duel ensued after the early home runs. Beachy and Bedard would occasionally get themselves into a jam, but they would escape unscathed until the seventh inning. Brian McCann singled to center for his third hit of the game, and after a Chipper Jones popup, Freddie Freeman mashed a 2-run homer to center field. The ball went at least 410 feet, though it wouldn't surprise me if it passed the 420 or 430 mark. He tomahawked a high fastball and the thousands of Braves fans in attendance went nuts.
Atlanta's bullpen was great once again and worked the final three innings. George Sherrill gave up two hits to lead off the seventh inning, but he recorded the first out and Scott Linebrink came in and got Franklin Gutierrez to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. Eric O'Flaherty surrendered a 2-out walk, but struck out Adam Kennedy to close out the eighth.
Craig Kimbrel came in the ninth and embarrassed Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Miguel Olivo. He threw twelve pitches, ten of them strikes. The Mariners swung at seven of those pitches and made contact with one, which Olivo fouled off. That's dominance.
Braves win 3-1 and pick up a half game on the Phillies in the NL East.
The series will continue Tuesday evening in beautiful Seattle. The pitching matchup is a doozy; Tommy Hanson returns from the DL and will face Michael Pineda, who is likely the AL's Rookie of the Year. First pitch is at 10:10EDT. Don't miss it.