Atlanta swept away by Cubs
This week featured a double header, a bench clearing pitch and a player hit for the cycle. It was a very exciting series for both teams even though only one team enjoyed a victory. The Chicago Cubs traveled to Atlanta and swept the Braves with their overpowering offense. The Braves could not answer the Chicago bats and would fall easily in the 3 game series.
Game 1 was rained out and forced the clubs to play a double header on Wednesday. The first half of the double header was all Cubs. Braves’ starter Charlie Morton served up pitches, and the Cubs hit crushed them. Morton was coming off his 2 best starts of the season. He would last only 2 and 1/3 innings while allowing 4 earned runs and 4 walks. Jason Marquis got his revenge against his former team. Marquis was solid over 5 and 1/3 innings. He gave up only 2 earned runs on 6 hits. Geovany Soto would lead the Chicago offense with 3 hits and 4 runs batted in.
This game was exciting for all the wrong reasons. In the 9th inning Braves’ pitcher Francisley Bueno threw behind Alfonso Soriano’s head. This came after Soriano hit a line drive and jogged to first base. Soriano was held to a single because he didn’t run. This also goes all the way back to earlier this year when Soriano was hit and missed time due to a broken wrist. Regardless of that, Atlanta didn’t have the offense and lost 10-2.
Game 2 of the double header was much of the same for the Cubs. Rich Harden was decent for Chicago. Harden went 5 innings, but walked 5 batters. Jorge Campillo did not have his best stuff, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits in 5 innings. The Braves’ bats were once again confused and could not produce much offense. Like in game 1, the Cubs had no problem scoring runs. Chicago would score 4 in the first inning off Campillo to bury the Braves early. Chicago would add 4 more and take game 2 easily 8-0.
The final game of the series was very exciting. Game 3 saw Mark Kotsay hit for the cycle while going 5-5 with 2 runs batted in. Unfortunately this was not the highlight of the game. Yunel Escobar hit a line drive up the middle that nearly hit Cubs’ pitcher Ted Lilly in the head. Later in the game Lilly hit Escobar in the elbow with a pitch. The benches cleared but no punches were thrown and no one was ejected. Ted Lilly has a past with throwing at Atlanta players. Last year he hit Edger Renteria and threw over the head of catcher Brian McCann. This year he hit Yunel Escobar. He could just be protecting his players but it needs to stop. The teams did actually play a full game that saw the Cubs win 11-7 to sweep the Braves.
In injury news the Braves are actually pretty healthy for this years standards. Rafael Soriano is still unavailable to pitch. This is bad for the Braves whose bullpen is overused and just plain tired. Matt Diaz should be returning soon and provide a boost in offense. Diaz has missed most of the season with a knee injury but is in rehab.
Soon we could see the Braves calling up some young players to get experience. A name to watch is Jordan Schafer. Schafer is supposed to be the center fielder of the future. He has speed, defense, and can hit for a high average. Despite the steroid suspension he is the real deal. Jordan could see some playing time in Atlanta soon and show glimpses of the future. Another player to watch is Jason Heyward. Jason has size like Ryan Howard and is compared to Cliff Floyd by Braves’ General Manager Frank Wren. Heyward has great power and can hit for average. Overall he is just an excellent, young hitter. He may not be called up but should be watched by Braves fans.
The weekend has the Giants come to Turner Field. Matt Cain (7-9) will face Jair Jurrjens (11-7). Jurrjens has stepped up to be the ace of the staff. “JJ” as he is called is the future of the Braves. Get used to him because he could be great. Game 2 will have Jonathan Sanchez take on Mike Hampton (1-1). Hampton has showed improvement since his return. A quality start would be more than acceptable from Mike. Game 3 is the toughest game of the series. Tim Lincecum (12-3) will pitch against either Jeff Bennett or Buddy Carlyle. Carlyle has been solid from the bullpen for Atlanta and deserves this start. Lincecum has been amazing all yearlong and Atlanta fans can only hope he gets sick on Sunday. The series finale has Barry Zito (6-15) facing Jorge Campillo (7-5). Zito has been arguably the worst free agent signing ever. Hopefully he will continue the trend against the Braves on Monday. Campillo will try to improve on his last start that was less than spectacular.
By Ben Burrows
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