If you were to tell Fredi Gonzalez going into the season that 14 games in his team would be 12-2, I guarantee you he, or any other manager in the league would take it. The two game home stand for the Atlanta Braves ended in their second loss of the season on Wednesday afternoon. The final score was a whopping 1 – 0. So, the famed winning streak ends at ten games and I for one could not be happier.
Each and every game was about the winning streak. It was just way too soon for the team to hear questions about how great they were or how great they would be the rest of the way. This loss to the Kansas City Royals should stop some of those questions though the loss wasn’t exactly an embarrassing one. It came in the exact same way the previous loss to the Philadelphia Phillies came in the third game of the season. A great pitching performance can defeat even the best offense and it has happened to the Braves twice.
In the process Mike Minor proved once again how good his stuff is this year. The bullpen looked great, especially Cory Gearrin getting the hot Jeff Francoeur to ground into an inning ending double play in the top of the ninth. Speaking of Francoeur, the Braves must have figured they owed it to the rest of the American League to prove once again how good this guy can be. He was the bright spot of the two games by far for the Royals, other than the great pitching performance of Wade Davis.
As for the Braves, they move on now to a long road trip that tightens quite a bit as it goes. First up is the Pittsburgh Pirates who recently started the Cincinnati Reds slump. After that they will face the surprisingly good Colorado Rockies team that always gives the Braves a tough game. As if those two series weren’t tough enough on the road, they will then head to Detroit to face the AL champion Detroit Tigers.
The Braves still have the best team in the big leagues right now and will be tough for anyone to beat. Having said that and looking at the coming road trip, they might as well have gotten this streak over with now because they won’t be winning the next ten games in a row. That’s cool though. Just go win the series of each and still be the best team in the majors.
One final note concerning the next couple of weeks for the Braves: Brian McCann will be headed back home to behind the plate soon. Freddie Freeman will be back soon as well. Freeman is all fine and dandy but McCann’s return will bring the toughest decision of the season for Gonzalez. Evan Gattis not only is hitting a ton but has proven again today with a sharp laser throw to nail a runner at third base, that he can also play some pretty stinking good defense.
What exactly the options will be at that time I don’t know but I do know this. If I had to look at this team and move two guys to make room for McCann and Freeman, I would need to lie down for a while. So, once again, it is a good thing this winning streak thing is over and done because the next few weeks will be challenging both on the field and off for the Braves. Gonzalez is about to earn his pay even more than he has so far.