Braves starters look to continue success vs. Phils
Nothing will be won. Something could be gained and a lot could be lost.
This seems to be the easiest way to break down the consequences entering this weekend’s key series against the Phillies.
If the Braves can take two of three from the Phillies this weekend, they’ll trail the defending world champs by four games in the National League East and also prolong the momentum they’ve gained while winning seven of their previous eight games.
Obviously sweeping the Phillies for the second time in a little more than a month at The Ted would truly increase the intrigue of the National League East race, within which the Braves would be just two games away from the top spot.
But if the Braves were to be swept and suddenly find themselves eight games back, it will be time for us once again to solely focus on the Wild Card race.
While winning seven of the first nine games they’ve played against the Phillies this year, the Braves starters have gone 5-1 with a 2.38 ERA. That’s more than a full run better than the ERA they’ve compiled against any of their other NL East opponents — Nationals (3.41 Mets (3.79), Marlins (5.74).
During these nine games against the Phillies, the Braves starters have allowed two earned runs or less seven times. The only game during which one of their starters allowed more than three runs against the potent Philadelphia offense occurred on May 8, when Jo-Jo Reyes was charged with four earned runs.
With Jair Jurrjens opposing Joe Blanton in tonight’s series opener, the advantage seemingly has to go to the Braves.
Blanton is 0-1 with an 8.74 ERA in three starts against the Braves. . Blanton surrendered 13 earned runs in his first 12 innings against Atlanta this year and then realized some improvement on June 30, when he was charged three earned runs and eight hits in five innings.
As for Jurrjens, when he last faced the Phillies on July 30, he allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings and that lone hit he surrendered was Paul Bako’s soft single to right with two outs in the seventh.
This dominant effort wasn’t exactly anything new for Jurrjens, who has blanked the Phillies during three of his six career starts against them. During his two outings against them this year, he has worked 12 1/3 scoreless innings.
All you loyal readers who have been reading this blog dating back to Spring Training should understand when I say that this seems to be a perfect spot to indicate there is no reason to believe that the law of averages won’t sneak up and bite Jurrjens tonight during this series opener.
Looking at the stats, it’s not hard to figure out how the Braves have found so much success against the Phillies this year. They’ve limited Jimmy Rollins to a .100 batting average (4-for-40) and a .143 on-base percentage. As for Shane Victorino, he has hit just .132 with a .195 on-base percentage against Atlanta this year.
And the always-dangerous Ryan Howard has gone homerless in his first 36 at-bats against the Braves this year. Entering this season, Howard had homered once every 9.75 at-bats against Bobby Cox’s club.
Since being swept out of Atlanta on July 2, the Phillies have gone 25-11, compiled a .263 batting average and hit 50 homers. They have averaged 5.47 runs per game during this span.
During this same span, the Braves have gone 22-14, compiled a .279 batting average and hit 41 homers. They’ve averaged 5.05 runs per game and managed to fall one-half game further behind the Phillies during this 36-game stretch.
There won’t be any need for the Braves to do any scoreboard watching this weekend. For the first time since 2005, it truly feels like a key series will be staged at Turner Field and by the time Sunday night concludes the city of Atlanta will have a much better idea about whether there’s truly a reason for them to believe the NL East title is a realistic possibility this year.