At The Break As The Best Team In The National League

Written by Jonathan on July 12, 2010 – 3:43 pm

If only this Atlanta Braves team could do everything I wished for, we’d be set for years to come.  Ten days ago, with 9 important division games standing between the Braves and the All-Star Break, I asked for 3 series wins to finish out the front half of the season. Sure enough, here we are at the break after doing just that.  The Braves took 2-1 series wins over the Marlins, Phillies and Mets bringing the team record to 52-36 to this point.

The Braves sit 4 games atop the National League East with a 4 game lead over the Mets and a 4.5 game lead over the Phillies.  The  Marlins and Nationals round out the division 10 and 13.5 games back respectively.

The first half of the season was far from perfect however.  We’ve tried our best to forget about the abysmal baseball the Braves were playing in April, culminating with a 9-game losing streak.  Injuries have hampered the team at times.  Heyward and Diaz have missed time along with Jair Jurrjens.  Diaz and Jurrjens have recently returned to the squad and things are looking up on that front.  Jason Heyward has decided to sit out in his first All-Star selection to rest his injured thumb.  He should be back in the lineup for the Braves shortly after the break and hopefully picking up where he left off before the injury.

It’s a much needed break for the team, with the exception of the Braves’s 5 All-Stars (6 counting Billy Wagner who will not take part in All-Star festivities).  Here’s hoping the team will come out firing on all cylinders after the break, much like they did in the 2009 season.   It’s great to see winning baseball back in Atlanta and like I said, if the Braves just keep winning series, there will be a little extra baseball around the Ted come October.

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Countdown To The All-Star Break: 9 Important Games

Written by Jonathan on July 2, 2010 – 4:05 pm

The Atlanta Braves have 3 series remaining until the All-Star break.  That’s 9 games left to make one last first half statement to the rest of the league.  Why are these games so important?  They’re all against teams in the NL East.  We kick off tonight for 3 games against the Marlins and then head to Philadelphia and New York for 3 games each against the Phillies and the Mets.

In the last 16 series, the Braves are 13-1-2 and currently sit with a 46-33 record on the season.  The Marlins series won’t be an easy one however as we’re catching the dominant portion of the Florida pitching staff.  On the bright side, however, the Braves are sending some top performers to the mound as well in the series.  Tonight Josh Johnson (8-3, 1.83) faces off against Kris Medlen (5-1 (4-0 as a starter), 3.15).  Kris’s first start as an official member of the starting rotation, now that Kenshin Kawakami has taken a role in the bullpen, will have to be a good one.  Hopefully the offense can help him out and get Johnson, who is tied with Ubaldo Jiminez for the best ERA in MLB, out of the game before the 7th.

Saturday’s matchup will be Anibal Sanchez (7-4, 3.18) against Tommy Hanson (7-5, 4.50).  Hanson has struggled as of late, getting knocked around pretty solidly in a few of his recent outings.  Roger McDowell is confident Hanson will spring back, but all eyes will be on him to see if he can get back to dominant form.  If not, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see Kawakami on for him in long relief.  The final game of the series will bring Ricky Nolasco (7-6, 4.84) in to face off against Tim Hudson (8-3, 2.37).  On paper, this game favors the Braves as Hudson has been unstoppable lately and Nolasco likes to give up the long ball (19 in 16 outings this season), but he has won his last two.  Anything can happen.

I’m looking for the Braves to continue their dominance at Turner Field this weekend (their 28-9 home record is the best in MLB) and take care of business with the Marlins.  I’ll be happy with 3 more series victories heading into the All-Star break which would give us a record of at least 52-36 before the break, but why stop there?  I’ll settle for a sweep or two.

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Discussing The All-Star Break

Written by Akshay on July 14, 2008 – 1:05 pm

Back to the regular sized blog post.

So, we haven’t posted in a while, but this would be a good time to discuss the break and such. Chipper, McCann and trainer Jeff Porter are in New York as I write this enjoying the sites, including Yankee stadium, as well as enjoying their four days off. Chipper and McCann have been THE most consistent presences in this line-up, everyone knows that. While they do deserve these four days off, I doubt either would trade in a trip to Yankee stadium to play the final All-Star game their for those days off.

The Braves played San Diego and the Dodgers last week, coming away with their first .500 road trip of any length since WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY back last season when they went 1-2 against the Mets and 2-1 against the Nats from September 10-16, seriously. But going into the break with a road trip like that, even if it is against the worst team in the league in San Diego, is still something to build on.

Looking more into those six games, the Braves pitched out of their mind amazing, they gave up eight runs to LA in three games and eight runs to the Padres in three games. Against San Diego, only seven of those runs were earned and against LA only seven of those runs were earned as well, bringing the team ERA for those six games down to a ridiculous 2.33, yet we only went 3-3, sad.

The two teams we played, from before the season even started, were supposed to be slightly offensively challenged, yet the Braves looked like the team that needed a bat or three or four. In the first five games in the series, the Braves went 1-54 (0.019) in the first four innings, THEY HAD ONE HIT IN FIVE GAMES IN THE FIRST FOUR INNINGS! Throwing in the final game doesn’t make it that much better either, the Braves had three hits in the first four innings Sunday, bringing the grand total up to 4-67 (0.059). That’s just pathetic offensively.

With the Mets heating up and Florida not going away any time soon (they just got Josh Johnson back for the homestretch), this won’t be easy. Philly’s ball park isn’t miraculously going to get bigger and allow them to hit less home runs, and the Mets and Marlins aren’t going to stop hitting either. This team needs some sort of a wake up call and they need it fast, whether it is waving the white flag to trade guys away and tell them, “we’re not invincible,” or get a new guy in the clubhouse and infuse new energy. Heck Mike Hampton pitching might put enough energy into this team to give them some new life. Who knows?

Looking ahead to past the break, the Braves have a sweepable series against the Nats. The pitching matchups have already been set. Aces duel in the first game when Tim Hudson (9-7) takes on Tim Redding (7-3), Jair Jurrjens (9-4) gets the ball in game two against John Lannan (5-9) and Jojo Reyes (3-8) will face off against Odalis Perez (2-7) in the final game of the series.

Btw, was it just me or was taking Reyes out of his Friday start against the Padres after four innings because we had guys in scoring position a serious desparation move by the Braves? Buddy Carlyle came in and did a good job finishing it up, but seriously. For whatever reason, Reyes always seems to have a shorter leash than any of the other guys out there.

– Akshay

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