Tribe Continues Season-Opening Five-City Road Trip with Trip to Calera

The 2019 season has begun in an unusual fashion, as it has taken the Wetumpka Indians (1-1) from Central Alabama to Southern Alabama to Southeastern Alabama and Wetumpka will continue to follow the warpath up north to Calera, Alabama in week three of the season. From there, the warpath will take them over to Eastern Alabama to Opelika in week four and then lead them back up north to Jacksonville, Alabama, before leading them back home to Central Alabama and the friendly confines of Hohenberg Field in week six. But for this week, we will focus on Wetumpka’s first trip to Northern Alabama in 2019 against the Calera Eagles.

Glancing At the Opponent:

Through the first two weeks of the 2019 season, the Calera Eagles (1-1) have split their first two contests. Outlasting the Pelham Panthers (0-2) 27-20, in week one. Last week, the Eagles fell victim to the Pell City Panthers (1-1) 27-21. Calera is led by first-year head coach, Trey Simpson. Simpson is in his first year in the Eagles’ Nest and is also in the first year of his career. Through his first two games as head coach his team is (1-1) and is being outscored 48-47. So far in 2019, Calera is scoring an average of 24 points per game, while the Indians are averaging 38 points per game.

Gridiron History Between the Programs:

Calera has faced Wetumpka once just before, that meeting came on September 7th, 2018, in Wetumpka, where the Indians raced past the Eagles by a final score of 34-14.

The Weeks Leading Up:

In the weeks leading to this matchup, the Eagles went (1-1) defeating Pelham in Week 1 (27-20) and falling to Pell City (27-21) a week ago.

As for Wetumpka, the Indians defeated Fairhope in Week 1 (35-24) and fell to newly-combined Dothan High (54-41) last week.

Kickoff is set for Friday, September 6th, 2019, at 7 p.m. in Ricky M. Cairns Memorial Stadium in Calera, Alabama.

What’s at Stake in Washington, DC?

We all know that the Braves have had some struggles this year, very few of them, but they’ve still had them. Particularly with the Washington Nationals, who Atlanta will visit for three games beginning Monday night at 6:05pm CT. You might ask ‘What are we going to do with the absence of Dansby Swanson and Nick Markakis?” I might have your answer. Granted it was a small sample-size during the weekend series in Philadelphia, Ender Inciarte and Adam Duvall could play huge roles in the absence of these two stars. Your next question might be ‘How in the world did we avoid Scherzer for two series?’ Mad Max, as he is known is dealing with a mid-back strain and wasn’t healthy enough for his Tuesday start as of Sunday. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be back until then. His status for Tuesday is a toss-up. A lot of you have been asking me this: “What would a series sweep over Washington mean for the Braves?” It’s simple. Granted the Braves split their most recent series with Washington in Atlanta, the Nationals didn’t game any ground in the standings. Which is a good thing in the case of the Braves. Sweeping Washington would mean seven straight games against the Nationals gaining any ground in the standings, which would be both a big boost for the Braves and a big blow for Washington.

June: The Month of the Braves

June was in fact a month for the ages. During the month of June the Atlanta Braves (50-35) compiled a record of (20-8) after Sunday night’s 8-5 loss to the New York Mets. In the 28 games last month, the Braves clubbed a franchise-record 56 homers over the course of the calendar month. That surpassed the previous record of 55, set by the 2003 Braves in May of that year by one. The previous record stood for 16 seasons. Also in the sixth month of 2019, the Braves tabbed Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Mike Soroka as 2019 National League All-Stars. Soroka and Acuña made Major League Baseball history when they were named to the team. As they are the first pair of players younger than 22-years-old, to be named to the same All-Star team in the same season. But that’s not all Acuña did in June. He will also be the eighth-youngest Brave to ever play in the Midsummer Classic at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio on July 9th. Acuña launched the record-breaking 56th home run in June 437 feet into the orange Flushing, New York skyline. Ronald will also participate in the 2019 MLB Home Run Derby. It’s only fitting that he hit the record-breaking homer. A few weeks back I received a text from a family member asking who I thought would break the franchise-record. My response? Ronald Acuña Jr on June 30th. They seemed to disagree as they thought Vanderbilt alum Dansby Swanson would club the historic homer. I responded to them with “I don’t care who hits it, but I’ve got a feeling it’ll be Ronald Acuña Jr., but either way we’re breaking it.” Little did I know that my prediction would be absolutely spot-on. What a month June was. If June was a prelude into July, then what should we expect in the seventh month of 2019? The next Braves game is Tuesday, July 2, 2019 vs. Philadelphia at 7:20pm ET. The Phillies haven’t named a starter as of right now. Dallas Keuchel makes his third start in a Braves uniform on Tuesday.

Atlanta Boasts Best June Record in Majors

We’re almost done with the month of June, as we have now reached the 26th day of the sixth month of 2019. The month of June has been a very, very productive one for the Atlanta Braves. In fact, they have a record of (17-6) this month, which ranks as the best June 2019 record in the entire league. Through 23 games in 26 days, not including tonight’s game at Chicago, the Braves offense has been absolutely deadly, launching 48 baseballs into stands all across the country. According to 680 AM The Fan’s Kevin McAlpin, the last time the Braves hit more long balls in a month came in July 2006 when they launched 50 homers. According to him, the franchise record for home runs in a calendar month is 55 which was set back in May of 2003. Who knows, with four more days left in the month of June and five more June games left to play including tonight’s game, Atlanta is just 7 homers away from tying the franchise record for home runs in a calendar month and 8 away from setting a new franchise record for homers in a calendar month. There’s still time to set a new record. Even though June is winding down, it can be done. I’ve seen crazier things happen. Tonight’s game at Chicago will feature Dallas Keuchel on the hill for Atlanta and Yu Darvish will get the call for the Chicago Cubs. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05pm ET.

Picture: Atlanta Braves Twitter.

Josh Donaldson Isn’t Called the Bringer of Rain For Nothing

Coming into the Braves’ most recent 10-game home-stand, Josh Donaldson, an Auburn alum, was seeming to have the veteran plate presence that he so often put on display during his time in the American League with the Toronto Blue Jays. Over the 10-game home stand, the Braves went 8-2 on the 10-game home stand. This is the first 8-2 home stand since 2012 when they went 8-2 against Philadelphia, Miami and Houston in August of that year. Donaldson, a former American League MVP, played a huge role in Atlanta’s most successful 10-game home stand since 2012. He found multiple ways to get to pitchers over those 10 games. His biggest impact came when he belted a two-run homer against the New York Mets. His homer was a key factor in the win and his bat was key all week long. He’s reassuring Braves fans that he is still the power source that he was in Toronto and he’s doing it in big ways. He isn’t called the “Bringer of Rain” for nothing and he proved that during this lengthy home stand. The Braves have Thursday off and will travel to Washington, D.C. to tangle with the Washington Nationals starting Friday, June 21, 2019. Dallas Keuchel will more than likely make his much-anticipated Braves debut on Friday while Washington will counter with Stephen Strasburg.

Atlanta Continues Recent Power Surge, Defeat Pirates In Rain-Shortened Game

Tuesday, June 11, 2019, is a date that will forever be etched into the Braves history books. The Pittsburgh Pirates (30-36) got the game’s first two runs courtesy of a Josh Bell two-RBI single to center field but that was all that they would be able to muster in the top of the first inning. In the bottom of the second inning, Atlanta found the scoreboard in a big way. As they had two pairs of back-to-back homers within a span of five batters. As Josh Donaldson and Nick Markakis went deep, Austin Riley struck out and then Brian McCann and Ozzie Albies went back-to-back. According to Braves beat writer, Mark Bowman, last night marked the first time the Braves hit four homers in an inning since May 28, 2003. Rafael Furcal, Mark DeRosa and Gary Sheffield began the first inning with back-to-back-to-back homers. Javy Lopez added a two-out shot off the Reds’ Joey Hamilton.

It was also the first time since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966 that the Braves had two pairs of back-to-back homers in the same inning from four out of five batters since June 8,1965 when Joe Torre, Felipe Alou, Hank Aaron and Gene Oliver accomplished the same feat in the same five batter span in the 10th inning against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Needless to say, last night was one for the ages. Atlanta went on to win the game 7-5 and improve to (38-29) on the year. The Braves remain tied for first place in the National League East division with the Philadelphia Phillies. With last night’s win, Atlanta has now won five consecutive games. Brian McCann homered twice in last night’s win.

Picture source: Atlanta Braves Twitter.

A Legend Turns 78

For many years, Bobby Cox has been referred to as one of the game’s most influential figures to ever manage a baseball club. Cox was born May 21, 1941 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He began his major league career as a player in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization as a minor leaguer after signing with them out of free agency in 1959, although he never played a game in a Dodgers uniform. Bobby was traded from the Los Angeles organization to the Atlanta Braves in 1966, the first year the Braves were known as the Atlanta Braves after spending time in Boston and Milwaukee. He never played a game in an Atlanta uniform, he was then acquired by the New York Yankees following the 1967 season and played in The Bronx from 1968-1969. However, he would become one of the most highly-respected managers the game has ever seen. At just 30-years-old, Cox began his managerial career at the minor league level in 1971 with Yankees’ farmhand, Fort Lauderdale of the Florida State League. In 1978, Bobby Cox was hired as the manager of the Atlanta Braves, even though the Braves didn’t want to hire him due to his lack of major league managerial experience. He led the Atlanta club from 1978-1981 and then was hired as the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, where he stayed from 1982-1985. In 1990 however, he was called on by Braves executives to manage the team one again. This is where Bobby Cox found a home and stayed from 1990-2010. During that span, Cox led the Braves to an unprecedented 14 consecutive division titles from 1991-2005. Well-respected by players, managers, executives and fans all across the sport, Cox made sure he earned respect of umpires by getting ejected from a Major League record, 158 games. In his managerial career, Bobby Cox coached in 4,508 games with a record of 2,504-2,001 and a winning percentage of .556. Before his retirement in 2010, he was immortalized in Braves history as his number 6 was retired by the club. In 2017, when the Braves opened SunTrust Park, the team honored him with a bronze statue that depicts him standing on the top step of the dugout with one arm on the rail. In April 2019, Cox suffered a stroke a day after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of Atlanta’s home opener vs. the Cubs but has since been released from an Atlanta-area hospital and is in a local-rehabilitation facility and is expected to make a full recovery. Hats off to a legend.