Look at it this way. If all it took for the Atlanta Braves never to lose another game was a new stadium/mixed-use complex, somebody should have coughed up $1.2 billion long ago. You’re up next, Gwinnett taxpayers!
The Braves came home 2-6 after a three-city opening swing. They’re 6-6 after four days in their new digs. Worst-case scenario now is that they go 77-0 the rest of the way at SunTrust Park while going 0-for-the-road. That’d be 83-79. Winning season!
Granted, we might be getting a wee bit ahead of ourselves. The Braves have spent four days beating up on the Padres, which is like all those other teams beating up on the 2016 Braves. San Diego is awful. It took the lead in the eighth inning Monday on an improbable wrong-way home run from Austin Hedges, who entered the game hitting .114, off Arodys Vizcaino, who hadn’t yielded a run this season. It held it for one whole out.
Ryan Buchter, who’d gotten two swing-and-misses from Freddie Freeman — this on a night when Freeman already had two doubles and a home run — threw a fastball down the middle. (Note to hurlers: You don’t get too many swing-and-misses from Freeman on fastballs down the middle.) Freeman drove it over the wall in left-center. Game tied. Basically, though, it was game over.
The Braves won it the bottom of the ninth. Kurt Suzuki, who was 1-for-15 on the year, singled to left. Chase d’Arnaud pinch-ran. Emilio Bonifacio, on the roster only because Matt Kemp isn’t, dropped a ball in front of the diving Allen Cordoba in the left. Second and third, two out. The Padres, having apparently been paying attention this series, walked Ender Inciarte to load the bases.
Up stepped the Face of the Franchise, 7-for-52 (.135) this season. Dansby Swanson took two called strikes from Brandon Maurer. Then Swanson served the same sinking liner into left field that Bonifacio had, with an even better result. Cordoba dove. Cordoba missed. d’Arnaud scored. Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!
Not since July 7, 2015, have the Braves been a .500 team this deep into a season. (Not that 12 games is all that deep, but never mind.) This mightn’t last long, what with the Nationals coming to town and then no more games at STP until May, but still: When you start 1-6, you can’t be better than 6-6. And it bears mentioning that the Braves’ three best position players — Freeman, Inciarte and Swanson — all had big moments in the first series in Cobb County. The guess is that they’ll have more.
Oh, and one last thing: Crossing the county line might just mean the ol’ Bradley Jinx has been broken. (“Might,” I said. My powers are mighty.) I’d written a little something for the print AJC in which I noted the bullpen’s lockdown performance over the past four games. Sure enough, Viz (as he’s known) blew a save. Same as it ever was.
But no! Freeman for the tie! Swanson for the win! Braves undefeated at home! (Counting the Yankees exhibition, they’re 5-0!) Braves at .500! And here I’m stopping with the exclamation points and heading home before I wear out a keyboard key I haven’t used since … oh, July 7, 2015.