After splitting a rain shortened series with the Nationals, the Braves open a 3-game series today in Miami. The first game of the scheduled 3-game series in D.C. was postponed due to rain and tornado warnings. It has yet to be announced when that game will be made up, though the schedule looks most promising in August.
Heading into Miami, the Braves face a team that is tied for first place in the division and doing better than most had predicted. The Marlins have seen the unlikely Carlos Zambrano put up good numbers for his new team; Mark Buehrle has contributed veteran presence in the clubhouse; National League Player of the Month for May Giancarlo Stanton has set club records; and, before Emilio Bonifacio went on the DL with a left thumb injury that needed surgery, he was leading the league in stolen bases. The newly acquired free agent, closer Heath Bell may have struggled, but his team continued battling and is now reaping the rewards.
The competitive National League East is now only separated by 4 games.
3-GAME SET IN MIAMI…
Tuesday: Hudson (3-2, 4.60) vs. Sanchez (3-3, 2.57)
Wednesday: Delgado (3-5, 4.58) vs. Johnson (3-3, 4.83)
Thursday: Minor (2-4, 6.98) vs. Buehrle (5-5, 3.53)
Tim Hudson has pitched stellar baseball in the first three to four innings of his previous several starts. However, Huddy seems to lose control of the game and is roughed up in the fourth, fifth or sixth before being pulled by Fredi Gonzalez. For the rotation to be successful, the Braves need the veteran to have consistency in each outing, meaning from inning to inning, and they need him to go deeper into games. Though the Braves bullpen has calmed some with the consistency of Chad Durbin and even Livan Hernandez, the current absence of Kris Medlen in the ‘pen while he works out his arm to prepare him for joining the rotation is a loss.
Tim Hudson faces Anibal Sanchez, who has held opposing teams to 2 or fewer runs in 8 of his 10 starts this season. Though Sanchez’s season numbers are good, he has a tough go of it with the Atlanta Braves in his career. He has 4 wins against the Braves and 10 losses in his 16 career starts against the Braves. His 5.11 ERA is a high for Sanchez against all career opponents. Marlins Park may be offering Hudson a chance in this start to take his game deeper and help out the ‘pen.
While Mike Minor’s fate seems sealed, his next outing against Mark Buehrle seems to be on schedule. There has no announcement otherwise. Minor was skipped in the rotation with the rain out in D.C. When Minor takes the mound in Miami, he will be pitching on 12 days rest. Perhaps 12 days rest will have been the reset Minor desperately needed to return to the dominance he showed in spring training.
Minor has given up 13 home runs in his 10 outings this season. Going into Miami, he’ll face Giancarlo Stanton who has a matching 13 home runs. Containing Stanton alone may be a tall order for the struggling Mike Minor. It would be great to see Minor notch a solid start in Miami before decisions are made about the starting rotation.
In terms of offense, Brian McCann remains a question mark after taking a Venters’ slider off his left knee Saturday. He didn’t start on Sunday due to swelling in that knee, but hoped to return today after yesterday’s off day.
Andrelton Simmons made his debut with the Atlanta Braves on Saturday against the Nats. Simmons looks like a nice defensive upgrade from Tyler Pastornicky who was sent down to Triple-A Gwinnett when the Braves bought Simmons’ Mississippi contract. Simmons got his first big league hit Sunday against Gio Gonzalez, a 2-out double.
The Miami Marlins welcome the Atlanta Braves tonight at 7:10 (EST).
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