Suddenly, the Atlanta Braves seem like the real deal again in the National League. After a sluggish month of May where the team went 14-14, they have bounced back in a big way throughout the first week of June. They split two games with the division leading Washington Nationals before sweeping three games against the Miami Marlins in Miami. This set up the interleague series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Turner Field.
Had the Braves failed to get the victory on the night they honored one of the greatest players in the history of the franchise, it would have been a shame. Instead, the team paid their future Hall of Famer great respect by gutting out the victory in a way that would have made "Smoltzie" smile.
After his two home run performance in the previous game, Heyward found himself in the fifth spot of the batting order and had another solid game. He went 2-for-5 with his ninth double of the season and 29th RBI. In the tenth inning, Heyward stole third and scored the winning run for the Braves on a throwing error from J.P. Arencibia.
The best pitcher for the Braves all season has been Brandon Beachy, but after lasting just five innings, the Atlanta bullpen had to shoulder the work load and did so with great success. Chad Durbin, Johny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty, Craig Kimbrel and Cristhian Martinez went a combined five innings with just two hits and two walks allowed, while giving up one earned run with five strikeouts. While Venters and O'Flaherty have failed to pitch like they did in 2011, players like Durbin and Martinez have been major pieces to the Atlanta success this season, saving the arms in the back of the bullpen.
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Hobson Lopes has been a life-long Atlanta Braves fan, thanks to TBS, and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.
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