Atlanta plays spoiler in the desert
The Atlanta Braves’ playoff hopes may be over, but they can ruin other team’s playoff runs. The Braves played spoiler this week by taking 3 of 4 games from the NL West leading Arizona Diamondbacks. Solid pitching and a strong offense helped the Braves win their first road series of the year. The playoffs may be out of the picture for the Braves, but their young players are developing for next year.
Game 1 featured one of those young, developing players. The Braves sent rookie Charlie Morton to the mound to face Yusmeiro Petit. Morton brought his best stuff of the season. Charlie pitched 7 strong innings, allowing no runs and walking only 1 batter. Mike Gonzalez shut the door in the 9th inning to earn his 5th save of the season. The D’backs could not mount enough offense and dropped the 1st game 6-4.
Jorge Campillo started game 2 for the Braves. Jorge did not have his best stuff by allowing 5 earned runs. The Braves were able to give him an early lead to preserve the win. Chipper Jones hit a home run in his first game back for the disabled list. Casey Kotchman appears to be heating up, as he would add 3 hits in 4 at bats. Once again the Diamondbacks could not come up with enough offense and lost 11-6.
Game 3 looked to be a pitcher’s duel. Jair Jurrjens took on Dan Haren. Haren was strong until the 6th inning where the Braves would score 7 runs. Jurrjens put in another quality start. He went 6 innings, giving up 3 earned runs. Jurrjens earned his 11th win of the season to improve his Rookie of the Year hopes. Brian McCann continued his outstanding season by hitting his 21st home run. The Braves would win 11-4 and go for the sweep on Sunday. This win gave the Braves their first series win on the road this season.
Mike Hampton took the mound in search of the series sweep. Hampton gave up 6 runs in just 4 innings. The bullpen put in some solid innings for the Braves but it was not enough. The Braves were only able to produce 1 run and lost 6-1. Brandon Webb was good as usual. He gave up 1 run in 6 innings to earn his Major League leading 17th win.
Atlanta got good news this week on Tom Glavine. Glavine has completed a successful rehab assignment and will return to the Braves this week. His veteran leadership will help the young pitching staff. His guidance will do nothing but help Jair Jurrjens and Charlie Morton. Glavine could have the most impact on young lefty Jo-Jo Reyes. Reyes has potential but needs to put it all together. Glavine is just the guy to help him do this.
Even after the trade deadline has passed the Braves could still make a move. Putting players on the waiver wire will get a trade done. They could still try to move Mark Kotsay and Will Ohman. Both will be free agents and most likely not return to the team next season. Ohman is a veteran lefty that could help a playoff contender down the stretch. Kotsay could also help a team looking to get into the playoffs.The Braves have an off day on Monday. Tuesday the Cubs fly to town to take on the Braves. Game 1 has Rich Harden (6-2) facing Charlie Morton (3-5). Harden is one of the best pitchers when he is healthy, which he appears to be now. Morton seems to have gained confidence and hopefully it will carry over to this start. Jason Marquis (7-7) and Jorge Campillo (7-4) will start game 2. Campillo hopes to improve off of one of his worst starts of the season. Game 3 has lefties Ted Lilly (11-6) and Tom Glavine (2-3) starting. Glavine will be making his first start off the disabled list. The Braves could once again slow down another playoff contender with a win in this series.
By Ben Burrows
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