The Principality

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Braves Break Out Brooms Over Diamondbacks

The 2011 Braves have yet to suffer a three-game sweep, but did drop a two game series in Phoenix to the Diamondbacks in May as the only occasion this year where they have failed to win at least one game in a series. On Sunday, they gained a pinch of revenge for that small blemish on their season, by completing a three-game sweep of their own over the NL West-leading Diamondbacks with a 1-0 win at Turner Field.

 

With him fast becoming the most reliable member of the rotation, Atlanta sent veteran Tim Hudson to the mound, charged with the task of finishing the work started by Derek Lowe and Brandon Beachy in the first two games. Hudson was once again stellar, pitching seven shutout innings, allowing three hits and three walks, whilst striking out seven. He now leads the team in wins with 13. No matter how well Hudson pitched though, the day belonged to Freddie Freeman.

 

The Braves rookie further underlined his awesome credentials by completing an amazing double-play to end the sixth inning. With a runner on third and one out, Hudson got Chris Young to pop-up to shallow right. Retreating at pace, Freeman made an over-the-shoulder grab and fired a strike to Brian McCann at home plate, who completed the double-play on Kelly Johnson as the former Brave tried to tag and score.

 

"That was the key to the ballgame," said Hudson. "It was a great play by Freddie. He's been great all year. He's been playing some Gold Glove first base." He went on. "It's just been an unbelievable year defensively for us, especially when there's a sinkerballer out there pitching. I think they understand we're going to get them some action early and often, and they're on top of it."

 

Diamondbacks starter, Josh Collmenter, took the hard-luck loss after an equally as impressive display. In his seven innings, he gave up just four hits and three walks, striking out four. Unfortunately for Collmenter, one of the four hits was a looping fly-ball from Alex Gonzalez that landed in the left-field seats for his 11th home run of the season – and second in a 1-0 game after he accomplished the same feat against the Marlins on June 7th.

 

"Changeup down, he was out in front, but able to hook it," Collmenter said. "One of those things where he's just hanging out over the plate and gets it. Unfortunately it cost us the game, but sometimes that's how it happens."

 

With Hudson’s day done, the game was handed over to the Dynamic Duo of Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel. Though Kimbrel put runners on the corners with one out in the ninth inning, he struck out Paul Goldschmidt and Sean Burroughs to earn save number 39 of the year and move within one of the Major League record for a rookie, set last year by the Rangers’ Neftali Feliz.

 

On the back of this series, the Braves have now gone 13-6 in August, following a slow resumption after the All-Star break. The gap to the NL East leaders, Philadelphia, has been cut to 6.5 games but catching the reigning division champs remains unlikely with just over a month to play. However, the Braves’ lead in the NL Wild Card standings is now at 8 games and a postseason berth seems a safe bet. Atlanta now heads to Chicago for a four-game set with the Cubs.

 

Andrew Bracegirdle

21 August 2011