The Atlanta Braves love new Marlins Park. At least that’s how it appeared over the past three days as the Braves swept the Fish.
With 31 hits and 21 runs (3 of them doubles, 1 triple and 4 home runs) over 3 games, the Braves offense came to life in the massive Marlins Park. Perhaps the even bigger story, though, was Braves’ pitching. Tim Hudson threw a complete game, five-hit, shutout. Young Randall Delgado had a stellar outing, holding the Marlins to 1 run on 2 hits over 6 1/3 innings. Delgado struck out 7 batters and was backed up by a lights out bullpen. Despite 5 walks in 5 innings pitched, Mike Minor overcame control issues to hold the Marlins to 1 run, securing his first win since April.
Jason Heyward had a pretty successful series contributing a double, 3 RBI’s and 2 homers. Dan Uggla hammered his old team going 4-5 the first game with 2 home runs and a triple short of the cycle. And Martin Prado continues to be the most consistent bat in the lineup, constantly coming through in the clutch.
Freddie Freeman was injured on a bizarre double play as he was sliding into second base in game two. As the ball was thrown to first by Jose Reyes, it hit Freddie’s left index finger. Interference was called on Freeman and he was forced to leave the game with a contusion on that finger. Freddie did not play in the final game of the series and may not play in tonight’s game.
Atlanta leads the National League with the best road record at 20-14 (.588). This, of course, might have something to do with the fact that they’ve played the most games on the road of any team in the majors.
As the All Star Break approaches, it would appear the Braves that are having the most success in the first half are Michael Bourn, Martin Prado, Brandon Beachy and Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel has not given up a hit since May 11th in St. Louis. Of the 30 batters he has faced since then, he has had 13 strikeouts.
INTERLEAGUE PLAY RESUMES…
The Atlanta Braves are facing all American League East teams during interleague play this year. The AL East is as competitive this season as the NL East. The Braves have tough opponents ahead beginning with the power-hitting Toronto Blue Jays followed by the Yankees (twice), Orioles and Red Sox.
Friday: Drabek (4-6, 4.35) vs. Beachy (5-4, 1.87)
Saturday: Hutchison (5-2, 4.35) vs. Hanson (6-4, 3.71)
Sunday: Romero (7-1, 4.02) vs. Hudson (4-2, 3.83)
Toronto pitching has benefitted greatly from run support. With the power bats of Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion, who will be returning to the lineup today after being hit on the hand by a Daniel Bard pitch, pitching mistakes have been easier to overcome. While the team batting average is 9th in the AL at .248, the Blue Jays are 2nd in the league in HRs with 81 (behind the Yankees’ 84).
Though Toronto pitching is 5th in the AL with an opponent’s allowed average of .240, the Jays have given up the 3rd most homers (70) behind only the Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners. If the Braves were to continue this trend of home run hitting, the Blue Jays are their best opportunity during interleague play (with the exception of the short right field porch at new Yankee Stadium).
Tonight at Turner Field the Atlanta Braves will be retiring the number of pitcher John Smoltz. Smoltz’s No. 29 will be placed on the left field facade alongside teammates Greg Maddux and Tommy Glavine. Fox Sports South will broadcast the pre-game ceremony, beginning at 7 p.m. and Peachtree TV will broadcast the game, which is scheduled to begin at 7:35 p.m. (EST) for those who won’t be at Turner Field.
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