Kendrick stands in the way of a series win
Most teams would welcome the opportunity to not have to face either Cliff Lee of Roy Halladay in a three-game series against the Phillies. The Braves have this luxury this week. But unlike most teams, they also have reason to react to this by saying, “Yeah, but we still have to see Kendrick.”
Entering tonight’s matchup against Tim Hudson, Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick is 5-1 with a 2.31 ERA in 11 career starts against the Braves. He scattered four hits over seven scoreless innings and got a no decision while making his only start against them this year on July 6.
Kendrick has gone 35-36 with a 4.76 ERA in the 101 career starts that he has made against every Major League team not based in Atlanta. He has allowed at least five earned runs or lasted four innings or fewer in six of his last seven starts. If you need to be reminded of what he did in that other start, please return to previous paragraph.
So as the Braves attempt to win a third consecutive series against the Phillies tonight, their offense could certainly be challenged for a second straight night. But it’s pretty hard to imagine Kendrick will come close to matching the excellence Cole Hamels showed while tossing a five-hit shutout and preventing the Braves from advancing a runner past first base on Tuesday night.
Minor impresses again: If there were any lingering questions about the increased confidence and poise Mike Minor has gained this year, they should have been answered on Tuesday night when Minor faced a 3-0 deficit with one out in the first inning and then limited the Phillies to those three runs over seven innings.
Minor completely turned his season around in July, a month in which he led all Major League pitchers in on-base percentage allowed (.206) and all National League pitchers in batting average allowed (.172). But the manner in which he handled early adversity on Tuesday night, Minor seemingly gave the Braves even more reason to feel good about his future.
Offense producing without spark from the top: When the Braves entered the All-Star break, it appeared much of their offensive success came courtesy of the production Michael Bourn and Martin Prado were providing while consistently manning the lineup’s top two spots. But as both have struggled over the past couple of weeks, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and others have kept the offense productive.
Before the All-Star break:
Bourn .311 BA .366 OBP .451 SLG
Prado .321 BA .382 OBP .457 SLG
Since the break:
Bourn .200 BA .263 OBP .286 SLG
Prado .218 .277 OBP .287 SLG
The Braves averaged 4.6 runs in the 85 games played before the break and have matched that same figure in the 25 games played since the break. But there is no doubt that they will need Bourn and Prado to prove much more productive over the remainder of the season.
More comedy courtesy of @RickyMast: Some of you have likely seen the hilarious Chipper Jones “Go Yicketty” YouTube clip produced by talented Braves fan Ricky Mast. After Tuesday’s game, I asked Jones if he had seen it. His response, “I saw it last night and laughed my (butt) off. That was great.”