I try not to hold grudges, but I still have a lot of bitterness toward the Atlanta Braves left over from the 1990s. First they knock the Pirates out of the NLCS in 1991 and 1992, and then they turn around and beat the Indians in the 1995 World Series. The tomahawk chop still gives me nightmares, and when I traveled to Turner Field in 2010, the pictures all over the park of them celebrating against both the Indians and Pirates made my hands subconsciously clench into fists. It’s been 18 years, but I still haven’t managed to let this go, even though this is a completely different group of players. Even Bobby Cox is finally gone. So while I hoped the Indians would be able to exact some revenge against them tonight, I must give credit where credit is due – this is a very good baseball team. As I mentioned in the open thread, they currently have the best record in baseball and some of the best pitching in the majors. This game really went about how I expected – minimal opportunities for both clubs, and the Braves happened to cash in where the Indians were unable to do so.
Danny Salazar, again on a limited pitch count, pitched a pretty solid game. With runners on first and third, Drew Stubbs wasn’t able to come up with a long fly ball up against the wall and both runners scored. It would have been a pretty darn good catch if he’d made it; I’m not too critical of his missing this at an away park. Unfortunately with their pitching staff, it’s all the Braves needed to defeat the Indians (who actually outhit the Braves). Mark Rzepczynski, Matt Albers, and Carlos Carrasco combined for four perfect innings, as the three runs and two hits were all credited to Salazar.
With the offense, the Indians weren’t able to string together the big hit when they had runners in scoring position. Asdrubal Cabrera went 3 for 4, which is a good sign and hopefully means that he’s breaking out of his prolonged slump. Alex Wood walked four, and Luis Ayala walked one, but the Indians were unable to take advantage. Michael Bourn, Michael Brantley, and Jason Kipnis were the only other players to get hits.
Justin Masterson takes the mound tomorrow night for the Indians, and Paul Maholm for the Braves. Maholm is probably the Achilles heel of the Braves’ rotation, so the Indians need to take advantage of him. He’s given up four or more earned runs in his last four starts, so the Tribe needs to hit him hard and hit him early.