Auburn’s 2019 season has been filled with thrilling wins and heartbreaking losses and this team and university has had their faith tested. Many times in the past teams have gone to Omaha under unlikely circumstances, but this trip? There’s only one word to describe it…incredible. Honestly, I’ve never seen a team rally around each other like the Auburn Baseball team has done the last few weeks. They’ve faced adversity and have never backed down from a fight. The same was true Monday afternoon as the Tigers used a 13-run first inning and ran through the North Carolina Tar Heel bullpen rapidly, as they used four pitchers before the first inning was over and Auburn sent 17 to the plate in the top-half of the first, an inning that lasted nearly 50 minutes, 49 to be exact. The Tigers continued to grit their teeth at run fearlessly toward Omaha in a 14-7 win over North Carolina Monday afternoon. This is Auburn’s fifth trip to Omaha in program history and first since 1997, when David Ross sent Auburn to Omaha with a win over Florida State in the Super Regional. The 22-year drought is over and there’s a party at Toomer’s Corner.
What’s Next for Auburn?
The Tigers will tangle with the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sunday, June 16, 2019 at 6:30pm CT on ESPN2.
Coming into this 10-game, three-city road trip, the Braves were at (15-16) and in third place in the National League East and the Marlins were sitting at an MLB-worst (9-21). Atlanta had been struggling to say the least and the series in Miami would be the perfect way for them to get motivation back and get back on track. Sunday, the Braves had already won the series but were competing for the three-game sweep of the Fish. Julio Teheran looked masterful on Sunday, as he tossed six innings of two hit, shutout baseball. Once Teheran exited, the ball was handed over to Dan Winkler, part of a Braves bullpen that seems to be on their way to getting back to form. Winkler pitched one inning without giving up a run. Jerry Blevins then came on for the Braves and tossed a third of an inning without giving up a run. Josh Tomlin allowed one run over an inning and two-thirds tying the ballgame at one. Nick Markakis previously homered to give the Braves a lead late. After Tomlin’s appearance, Luke Jackson came on and slammed the door on the Fish and the series. Will Holland got the win and improved to (1-0), Tayron Guerrero was slapped with a loss and fell to (1-1) and Luke Jackson was credited with the save, his second save of the season.
Atlanta is now (18-16) on the year and in second place in the NL East. Miami fell to (9-24) and remains in the cellar of the NL East.
Up next: The 10-game road trip continues with three games at Dodger Stadium tonight at 9:10pm CT. Kevin Gausman (1-2, 4.83) will take the hill for the Braves against LA’s Walker Buehler (3-0, 5.22).
Many people weren’t expecting the Braves to be as strong in 2019 as they were in 2018, as much as i wish those people were wrong, early indications seem to be proving those critics right. Atlanta started off on the wrong foot when they got swept in a three-game series in Philadelphia against a loaded Phillies club. When they opened the gates to SunTrust Park for the first time in the season, things started to look up for the 2019 Braves as in some ways, they echoed the success of the 2018 team when they went on to win seven of their next eight contests. You can’t help but think that they caught the Cubs and Rockies when both teams’ Opening Day jitters seemed to be lingering around for several weeks at the beginning of the season. Atlanta swept both Chicago and Colorado on the road, with the latter being shortened by a blizzard in Denver, Colorado area. Atlanta opened the home slate by sweeping the Cubs and beating the Marlins 2-1 in a three-game series. But things looked like they might be going by the wayside when the Arizona Diamondbacks came calling and swept the Braves at home in that same home stand that included a four-game series split with the Mets. After the Braves and Mets went their separate ways, Atlanta went on a six-game, two city road-trip which included paying visits to Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio, respectively. Atlanta beat Cleveland 2-1 in three games and lost to Cincinnati 2-1 in a three-game series. The Braves then returned home only for a rude welcome from the Colorado Rockies losing to them 2-1. Atlanta is currently in the middle of a four-game series with San Diego in Atlanta, that series is tied at a game apiece thus far.
What Needs to Change in May?
With the exception of newcomer Jacob Webb and Luke Jackson, our best bet is to call up some dependable bullpen arms so we don’t have to keep relying on our starters to go six-plus innings every night.
Whether anything changes or not, I’ll never give up on the Braves.
If you had told me back in 2016, when Dansby Swanson, known for his time playing shortstop at Vanderbilt University, joined the Braves after being drafted as the number 1 overall pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, I would’ve called you insane. As he had career lows in home runs with three and RBI with 17. But his numbers have improved exponentially since his rookie 2016 season. In 2017, he finished with a .232 average, 6 home runs and 51 RBI. In my opinion, 2017 was his breakout season in Atlanta but I’m no expert so we’ll see what the future holds. In 2018, his third season in Atlanta, he wrapped the season up with a .238 average, 14 home runs and 59 RBI on his way to helping the Braves win the 2018 National League East title. So far in 2019, Dansby has a .346 average, 3 home runs and 9 RBI. It’s early in the season but that doesn’t change the fact that he leads the team in home runs and delivered when his team needed him in a series clinching 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins. Look for these numbers to rise if he can stay healthy. He’s just heating up. After all, he did work with Chipper Jones on his plate approach this past offseason. .
Recently, the Braves have been on a three-game season-opening road trip to Philadelphia where they squared off against the Philadelphia Phillies. In the offseason, much of the talk around baseball was the Phillies signing of National League sensation, Bryce Harper, to a 13-year $330 million contract. Some might ask why I am talking about Bryce Harper since I am a Braves fan so I’m going to cut to the chase. Philadelphia didn’t treat the Braves as nicely as I hoped but in the back of my mind I knew that it would be this way. Harper is 2-for-12 in a Philadelphia uniform. That doesn’t sound good, I know but his two hits are home runs one of which traveled 465-feet on Saturday against Atlanta in game two of the series. Not to mention that Phillies have multiple former all-stars on their roster, two of those being Bryce Harper, who was acquired from Washington in the offseason and the other? Andrew McCutchen, who was acquired from San Francisco, also during the offseason. The Braves (0-3) left “The City of Brotherly Love” without a win. But, tonight they open the gates of SunTrust Park for the first time in 2019 at 6:10p.m. Central Time against Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and the 2016 World Champion, Chicago Cubs. Excitement has been brewing in the air of Atlanta as we have patiently awaited this day. Earlier today, I read that the Cubs bullpen was struggling as has been the Braves so hopefully we can turn things around at home and give these fans what they’ve waited all offseason for. Here’s to SunTrust Park and hoping the Cubs treat the Braves to their first win of 2019.