The Atlanta Braves seemed shell-shocked after starting right fielder Jason Heyward suffered a broken jaw due to being hit in the face by a fastball from New York Mets starting pitcher Jonathon Niese on Wednesday. They scored just five combined runs in three straight losses to the St. Louis Cardinals from Thursday-Saturday.
The Braves turned it around on Sunday by beating the Cardinals 5-2 and were able to scrap out a 2-0 win over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday thanks to a two-run single by second baseman Elliot Johnson in the bottom of the second inning, despite the fact that they finished with just three hits.
Having received solid pitching from two of its southpaw starters in those victories, with Mike Minor winning on Sunday and Alex Wood taking the win on Tuesday, Atlanta will turn to another left-hander when Paul Maholm takes the hill in the second game of a three-game home series against the Indians on Wednesday. Maholm was pitching well in Thursday’s start against the Cardinals until he surrendered three runs in the bottom of the fifth and one in the bottom of the sixth, ultimately losing 6-2 to drop his record to 9-10.
Nevertheless, the 31-year-old did okay in his first game since being activated from the disabled list, but made a few bad pitches that ultimately led to the defeat.
Maholm needs to be better on Wednesday, as Indians ace Justin Masterson, who has won a career-high 14 games while posting a 3.50 ERA this season, will oppose him. Masterson himself hasn’t been very sharp in August, but he is still capable of throwing up zero after zero and striking out batter after batter — he has 182 strikeouts in 27 starts.
How things turn out remains to be seen, with it all depending on which of these really good teams is at the top of its game on Wednesday.