Mark Bradley blog 

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Braves have arisen, mostly due to J-Up

  • 10:35 am Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Rounding third and heading for home. (Keith Srakocic/AP)

When the Atlanta Braves lost three of four to the Dodgers last week, I was very close to saying, “That’s all, folks.” (And I’m normally pretty cautious about such proclamations, having been wrong so often.) The Braves had gone 0-8 on the West Coast and had come home to lose four of seven. They’d gone 3-12 at a time when you don’t need to be going 3-12.

They were one game above .500. They were six games behind Washington in the National League East. They’d fallen to fourth in the wild-card pecking order. They had nothing going for them, and they [More]

The Braves remind us that they can play, too

  • 7:45 am Monday, August 18th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Justin Upto, Jason Heyward, Andrelton Simmons, Phil Gosselin

A homestand that might have been the Atlanta Braves’ last stand of 2014 became something rather different. For the first time a long while, they proved they can beat somebody good besides Washington. They reminded us that they can play, too.

They swept the Oakland A’s, who have baseball’s best record no more, after nearly being swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The homestand ended with the home team going 6-4, which mightn’t sound like much until we recall that, as of Friday morning, you’d surely have predicted 4-6 if not 3-7. They even beat two excellent pitchers — the A’s [More]

At the home of the Braves, another flurry of homers

  • 11:49 pm Friday, August 15th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Freeman puts up a three-spot. (David Tulis/AP)

When the ball flies over yonder wall, the Atlanta Braves are a different team. We’ve known that for a while, and we’ve seen it again this homestand. A week ago they hit four home runs off Stephen Strasburg and won. On Friday they hoisted four more — three off starter Jason Hammel, the fourth off former Brave Jesse Chavez — and beat the Oakland A’s, who hold the best record in baseball.

This was the way it worked in 2013, when the Braves led the National League with 181 homers and won 96 games. It hasn’t worked nearly as well this [More]

Free-falling Braves: Closer to fourth place than first

  • 11:13 am Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Missed it by that much. (John Bazemore/AP)

Folks, this isn’t getting better. The Atlanta Braves are 2-3 on this difficult homestand, having fallen five games behind first-place Washington. They haven’t lost an acre of ground in the wild-card chase because most of the other aspirants have likewise been losing, but they’re still 2 1/2 games out of the second WC spot.

Having already depressed the heck out of everyone, we might as well go the full Monty and note: The Miami Marlins, who lost their best pitcher to Tommy John surgery in May, are one game behind the Braves. And the Mets, who haven’t had their best pitcher [More]

The puny Braves suffer a most sobering loss to L.A.

  • 6:46 am Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
One picture, one hundred thousand words. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

I admit it. For a minute or two Monday, my thoughts, such as they are, got ahead of my brain, such as it is. News arrived that the Dodgers had bumped Zack Greinke back a day — meaning the Atlanta Braves would face neither of L.A.’s two great pitchers in this four-game series — collided with the belief that the Braves would have much the better of the pitching matchup in Monday’s Game 1. Which spawned this scenario:

Braves win Monday behind the All-Star Julio Teheran. Braves beat the beatable Dan Haren on Tuesday and the eminently beatable Roberto Hernandez on [More]

The Braves beat the Nats, but what about B.J.?

  • 8:19 am Monday, August 11th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
B.J. Upton after whiffing. (John Bazemore/AP)

A strange series — with the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals, there can be no other kind — ended with both sides feeling they’d done what they needed to do. The Braves won two of three to slow the slide that began on the West Coast and draw a game closer to first place. (Though 3 1/2 games back isn’t all that close.) The Nats didn’t get swept by the team they lead in the standings but rarely beat on the field.

The Braves again trumped the two Nationals pitchers they’ve come to own. Stephen Strasburg yielded four home runs [More]

A really long night ends really badly for the Braves

  • 2:34 am Sunday, August 10th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Ol' Rochy's homer put the Nationals ahead, briefly. (John Bazemore/AP)

The game began at 10:51 p.m. Saturday, after even the West Coast games had commenced. It followed a rain delay of three hours and 41 minutes, which is about the time it takes the Red Sox and Yankees to play three innings. It ended at 2:29 a.m. Sunday, and it ended the way few games between these teams has ended of late.

For only the 10th time in 35 meetings since Aug. 22, 12012, the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves. This came at a galling moment for the home side, given that the Braves entered the series 4 1/2 games [More]

On the bright side, the Braves get to face Strasburg

  • 8:57 am Friday, August 8th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Stephen Strasburg gets a second-inning thumb. (AP photo)

If you’ve lost eight in a row to fall 4 1/2 games out of first place in your division and 3 1/2 games out of the second wild-card spot and you’re about to begin a 10-game homestand over which you’ll meet three of the six division leaders … well, you take your positive signs where you can find them. Here are the only two I see:

1. The Atlanta Braves won’t have to face Clayton Kershaw next week.

2. They do get to face Stephen Strasburg tonight.

Of all the big-name pitchers the Braves see regularly in the National League East — that’s [More]

Pete Van Wieren: The Professor of baseball studies

  • 8:39 am Thursday, August 7th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
The smart one, the nice one and the snarky one. (Marlene Karas/AJC)

Think of them as the three uncles. Ernie Johnson was the essence of avuncular, the nice man who’d shake your hand and ask how you were doing and make you feel welcome. Skip Caray was the sarcastic uncle, the one who’d make fun of your shirt. Pete Van Wieren was the clever uncle, the one who’d show you the ropes of coin collecting or how to use that telescope you’d gotten for Christmas.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Pete, whom Ernie Sr. famously dubbed the Professor and who died Saturday of cancer at age 69, and I’ve realized that little [More]

Silver lining: Nats aren’t exactly seizing the moment

  • 8:51 am Wednesday, August 6th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Out at home: The Nats' Jayson Werth is thwarted. (Nick Wass/AP)

The Atlanta Braves have lost seven in a row, the latest coming on a night when they actually scored off Felix Hernandez, albeit on a broken-bat single, but were undone when Tommy La Stella dropped a pop-up. (At least he didn’t lose a grounder in the lights, as Chipper Jones managed to do against the Marlins in the Epic Collapse of 2011.)

The Braves remain three games behind Washington in the National League East. That’s not great, but it could and probably should be much worse. The Nats have lost eight of their past 13 games and six of the past [More]