Escobar's return ignites Atlanta offense
This week the Atlanta Braves took the trip to Florida to take on the Marlins. Game 1 had Atlanta pitcher Jorge Campillo shut down the Florida offense. He pitched 7 innings of 2 hit, no run ball. Marlin starter Chris Volstad pitched well, but not good enough. He pitched 6 innings of 3 run ball. Chipper Jones, Mark Teixeira, and Mark Kotsay knocked in the runs to give Atlanta the lead. Will Ohman and Mike Gonzalez pitched perfect innings to shutdown the Florida hitters and give the Braves a 4-0 victory.
Game 2 on Tuesday had Charlie Morton face Rick VandenHurk. VandenHurk brought his A game as he pitched 5 innings of no hit ball. This is the 3rd time this month Atlanta has flirted with being victims of a no hitter. Chipper Jones had the lone Atlanta hit in the 6th inning. Mike Jacobs provided the offense as he hit a 3 run home run off of Charlie Morton in the 4th inning. Jacobs’ home run would be more than enough, as the Marlins would win the game 4-0.
The final game of the series on Wednesday had Atlanta ace Tim Hudson face Ricky Nolasco. Gregor Blanco had 4 hits to lead the offense that crushed the Marlins for the first 8 innings. In the 9th inning the Marlins scored 4 runs but it was not nearly enough. Atlanta took the game 9-4 on a strong but shortened outing by Tim Hudson. Hudson left after just 6 innings or scoreless ball when he felt tightness in this elbow. This was the second loss of the night as Chipper Jones strained his hamstring while attempting to beat out a ground ball in the 4th inning. It appears it is not serious so Chipper should not miss any time.
Don’t raise your expectations and get excited because Mike Hampton could make his first start in what seems like forever on Saturday. He was delayed further with a groin injury but now says he is ready for the majors. In other injury news, Yunel Escobar was back in the lineup for game 3 and provided a key RBI double. Rafael Soriano is back off the disabled list so he should be available to pitch any time. Omar Infante also came off the DL and played left field in this week’s series finale.
In trade news it looks as though Atlanta is shopping Teixeira. The next series will determine his fate. Even if the Braves do shop Teixeira there are not many buyers. Will Ohman will most likely be traded if Atlanta does not win the next series. Left-handed relievers are needed and Atlanta will not hesitate to trade him. Mark Kotsay also expects to be in trade rumors. He will be a free agent at the end of the season and knows he could be playing for a contender by the trade deadline. Atlanta has come out and said they will not trade Mike Gonzalez. This is good as he is their best reliever and maybe future closer.
The Braves have an off day on Thursday and start a 3 game series against the Phillies in Philadelphia on Friday. Game one is set to see Jair Jurrjens (9-5) try to redeem his last outing against Kyle Kendrick (8-4). Saturday could be very interesting. Atlanta will send either Jo-Jo Reyes (3-9) or Mike Hampton (0-0) to face Phillie ace Cole Hamels (9-6). The final game of the series on Sunday has Jorge Campillo (5-4) facing newly acquired Joe Blanton (5-12). Blanton will be making his second start as a Phillie. His first did not go well as he gave up 5 runs in 6 innings. The Braves will try to take advantage of Blanton and salvage their poor start to the season. This series will determine the rest of Atlanta’s season.
By Ben Burrows
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