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Jeff Schultz

Short takes: Braves lose but trip a success

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Braves pitcher Alex Wood faced 19 straight batters without allowing a hit until Ian Desmond's homer in the seventh.

Alex Wood retired 18 of 19 batters until Ian Desmond’s homer in the seventh.

I’ll post a column soon on the Braves-Nationals series finale on MyAJC.com (all blogs and columns linked here). Until then, here are my three “short takes” on the game.

1. Disaster? Not quite: The Braves lost to Washington 2-1 Sunday. But they went into this season-opening six-game road trip amid concerns about the youth and inexperience of the pitching rotation and emerged with a 4-2 record, winning series over Milwaukee and Washington. Braves pitchers — led by starters Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Aaron Harang and David Hale — have allowed only nine runs in 53 innings for a cumulative staff ERA of 1.53. The offense hasn’t been great but manager Fredi Gonzalez said, “If I had a choice, I’d rather have it this way and have great pitching and let the hitting come later.”

2. Pitching resilience: Probably the most impressive aspect of the Braves’ starters so far this season has been their ability bounce back after early hiccups. There was Teheran allowing a two-run homer in the first inning to Adam LaRoche Saturday night, then not giving up another run over his next six innings. On Sunday, Wood allowed three straight singles to open the game (although two were infield hits) and the Nationals took an early 1-0 lead. But Wood didn’t give up another hit until Ian Desmond led off the seventh with a homer, following a span of 18 outs and one batter, Sandy Leon, reaching base on Chris Johnson’s throwing error in the fifth.

3. Who goes to bullpen? Don’t ask: Manager Fredi Gonzalez is a little gun-shy about projecting his starting rotation two weeks. Can’t say I blame him. With Ervin Santana making his Braves debut Wednesday against New York, the team will go from a four- to a five-man rotation, dropping David Hale down a spot. With everybody pitching well and Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd expected back in two weeks, I mentioned to Gonzalez that he suddenly was faced with having too many starters. He laughed and looked at me like I had three heads. “Something will happen — you know how it is,” he said. “I think I’ve learned, just get ‘em back because something is going to happen.” That said, if we play the dangerous game and assume the good pitching continues and all stay healthy (I know. I know.), the Braves’ rotation likely becomes (in no particular order) Teheran-Santana-Minor-Wood-Floyd, with Harang going to the bullpen — which sounds funny for a guy who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his first start.

Some recent ramblings, on demand . . .
– MyAJC: For second-best, Braves look pretty good
– MyAJC: ‘Depleted’ Braves staff has been majors’ best so far
– Blog: Short takes on Braves’ win: Pitching, replay and Uptons
– MyAJC ($): Nationals assumed too much in 2013 — but not now
– Blog: As Freeman powers Braves, Upton still searching for…anything
– MyAJC ($): B.J. Upton is under fire — and he knows it
– Blog: Tiger Woods out and Masters will take a hit
– MyAJC ($): Teheran does his part but Braves lose anyway
– Blog: Short take on Braves’ loss to Milwaukee
– MyAJC ($): Strong opener by Teheran would ease some Braves’ concerns
– MyAJC ($): Injuries means Braves have little margin for error
– MyAJC ($): NCAA needs to take the hint, start paying players
– Blog: Mike Mills’ song pushes Dale Murphy for Hall of Fame
– MyAJC ($): Did Dimitroff lose benefit of doubt after bad season?
– Blog: Dimitroff on Falcons, failure, his draft board and Umenyiora
– Blog: Mercer (Georgia’s shining light) stuns Duke
– MyAJC ($): SEC needs to go to nine-game schedule, eliminate cupcakes
– Blog: SEC needs to expand conference schedule (column preview)
– MyAJC ($): Richt has been tough, even if some haven’t noticed
– Blog: More arrests at UGA, and Herbstreit jumps Richt
– MyAJC ($):Georgia loses but Fox goes down swinging at NCAA

 

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