Since Jason Heyward went down with a broken jaw the Atlanta Braves have been in a slump. Honestly the slump could have started just before that game when they lost the opener in the New York Mets series. Fredi Gonzalez was right in saying that it is the entire line-up that has been slumping, not just because of the loss of one man.
What Heyward was able to do was carry the team when only one or two other players were hitting. The loss of Heyward only highlighted a problem that was already there. Thus the Braves had lost four out of five going back to the game before Heyward’s injury. That skid stopped still when Mike Minor took the mound on Sunday.
Minor took less than a minute seemingly to step up into the ace slot of the pitching staff when Tim Hudson was lost for the season. The job of the ace is also to be the stopper and Minor did that to perfection on Sunday. The Braves have a lot of good pitchers, some even great at times but they only have one stopper and ace. For now, Minor is that pitcher.
Just like previous days in the losing streak the Braves were able to score a couple of runs. This time however the St. Louis Cardinals were not able to answer right back. Minor kept the potent and opportunistic Cardinals offense from scoring for most of the game. The Braves were then able to rely on their back-up offense for the game’s runs and walked away feeling pretty good going into an off day.
Overall, with the way things had gone the previous few days, especially considering the games were on the road, the Braves are in good shape. They still are resting barely in the best record spot for home field advantage heading into a sizable home stand. Dan Uggla can see much better and was already near the top on the team in home runs as it is. Look at the difference in Freddie Freeman from last year to this year if you want proof that eyesight matters in the game of baseball.
Uggla will be a good boost when he returns well rested. The magic number for clinching the National League Eastern division is an incredibly low 20. By the end of the upcoming home stand that number should be well down into the teens. Relax Braves fans, I feel your pain but things are going to be okay. Minor and the reserves are proof of the strength of depth this team has.