Former Braves Return to Atlanta for Three Game Series

Former Braves coach Ned Yost and former Braves players Bruce Chen, Kyle Davies, Kyle Farnsworth, and Wilson Betemit returned to Atlanta for a three game series at Turner Field.

Yost, now the manager of the Kansas City Royals, served on the Braves coaching staff from 1991 to 1998 as the bullpen coach and from 1999 to 2002 as the first base coach.

Chen spent most of his first three seasons in the majors with the Braves from 1998 to 2000. While in Atlanta, Chen appeared in 44 games (11 starts) and went 8-2 with a 4.13 ERA.

Kyle Davies was a product of the Braves farm system and pitched in Atlanta from 2005 to 2007. In two plus seasons with the Braves, Davies started 45 games and compiled a record of 13-22 before being traded to Kansas City in July of 2007.

After spending his first six seasons with the Cubs, reliever Kyle Farnsworth split the 2005 season between the Tigers and Braves. In Atlanta, Farnsworth went 0-0 and registered 10 saves in 26 games with a 1.98 ERA. His strikeout/walk ratio was 4.57 and he had an impressive .805 WHIP.

Because Betemit plays third base, his playing time was sporadic because the Braves already had a full-time third baseman in Chipper Jones. From 2001 to 2006, Betemit appeared in 233 games with Atlanta. He hit .281 in 495 at-bats, scored 69 runs, hit 13 home runs, and had 52 RBI before being traded to the Dodgers in 2006.

It was nice to see these familiar faces back at Turner Field even though they were now sporting Royal blue. I’m sure it was nice for them to return and reunite with some of their old Atlanta teammates as well.

Then they started to play baseball.


Game One

In the first game of the series, the Braves beat Kansas City 6-4 behind a quality start from Derek Lowe, who also helped himself out with the bat by driving in two runs.

Struggling Chipper Jones had a hit, a walk, and drove in two runs. Melky Cabrera went 3-4, scored two runs, and drove in another.

Jose Guillen of the Royals recorded a hit to extend his hitting-streak to 13 games. Billy Butler, who idolized Chipper Jones growing up, hit his seventh home run of the season off of Lowe in the fourth inning.


Game Two

The Braves won the second game of the series 5-4 on a Troy Glaus walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Braves’ Kris Medlen battled stumbling Royals ace Zack Greinke pitch-for-pitch, and he left the game in the sixth inning with a chance to earn the win. However, the bullpen would blow the lead and Medlen would have to settle for a no-decision.

After the Royals tied the game in the seventh, Venters pitched a perfect eighth inning. Billy Wagner would follow with a perfect top of the ninth become the pitcher of record and earn the win. He improved his record to 5-0 with a 1.27 ERA in addition to his 14 saves.

The Royals’ Scott Podsednik and Jason Kendell each had two RBI, Mike Aviles and Yunieski Betancourt each scored twice, and Jose Guillen extended his hitting streak to 14 games.

Zack Greinke went seven innings, gave up four runs (three earned), and struck out five Braves in a no-decision.

Last year’s A.L. Cy Young winner is just 2-8 with a 3.94 ERA through 15 starts this season.


Game Three

Former Brave Kyle Davies took the mound for the Royals as they tried to avoid a sweep. However he struggled with his control and lasted only 4.1 innings. He gave up four runs on four hits, walked seven batters, and struck out six.

Strangely, Davies fared better than Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami who lasted only two innings. He gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits and only struck out one Royal.

However, the Braves bullpen pitched seven innings of shut-out baseball, and the Braves offense was able to come through again to earn the 8-5 victory and a series sweep.

Chipper Jones went 2-3 with two doubles and three RBI. He also raised his batting average to .250 in the process. Jones is on a small five game hitting streak with five runs, seven RBI, and a .471 batting average in that stretch.

Jose Guillen extended his hitting-streak to a career best 15 games in the losing effort as he recorded two hits, two runs, and one RBI in five plate appearances.


Thoughts on the series

This was certainly not the result Ned Yost and company had hoped for. The Royals are now 29-41 on the season and are 11.5 games behind Minnesota in the A.L. Central. They’ll try to rebound as they travel to Washington, D.C. to take on the Nationals on Monday.

On the positive side for Kansas City, they were able to score an average of more than four runs per game, and they’re not swinging the bats all that poorly.

With the sweep, Atlanta has now won five straight and have increased their lead in the division to 2.5 games.

This marks the 13th consecutive series the Braves have won this season. Bobby Cox has preached the importance of winning series for the last 20 years, and the Braves are doing just that.

The Braves are winning games with their hitting and pitching, and they’re firing on all cylinders.

Troy Glaus continues to swing a hot bat, Martin Prado already has 101 hits this season, and Chipper Jones looks like he may be heating up.

Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe are anchoring the starting rotation and Billy Wagner has been outstanding as the Braves closer this season. The Braves reemphasis on pitching seems to be paying dividends.

It’s always good to see former Braves come back to Turner Field, and it’s even better to be on the winning end.

Does anyone think Ned Yost might make another return to Turner Field as Braves Manager in 2011 replacing Bobby Cox?

It could happen.

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