Injuries get the best of the Braves, again
This series for Atlanta saw their most reliable players crumble, and their youngest players step up their game. The Marlins would get the best of Atlanta, but Atlanta could be set for the future. Chipper Jones missed time and Yunel Escobar was injured again. It was a tough, yet beneficial series for the Atlanta Braves.
Game 1 had an ending no Atlanta fan would expect. Atlanta’s best reliever faltered in the 9th. Mike Gonzalez allowed the winning run while walking 3 batters. Since coming off Tommy John Surgery, he has been magnificent. Mike Hampton was decent in his start. Mike put in a quality start going 6 innings and allowing 3 earned runs. Atlanta was able to chase Josh Johnson from the game after 6 innings of work and get to the Marlin bullpen. This did not do any good as they pitched 3 shutout innings. Rising star Josh Anderson was 3 for 5 for the Braves. He showed his worth in this series. Despite Josh’s great game, Atlanta fell 4-3.
In game 2 the scoreboard was lit up all night for both squads. Charlie Morton was again tagged for several runs. Morton lasted only 3 and 1/3 innings and allowed 4 earned runs. Anibal Sanchez was no better, lasting 3 innings and giving up 6 earned runs. Josh Anderson provided the spark for the Braves from the leadoff spot. He went 2 for 6 and scored 2 runs. If Anderson continues his great play he will win the centerfielder job next year easily. Chipper Jones was left out of the lineup again with an illness. With Chipper on the bench, the Braves were still able to win 16-14 in a slugfest.
Josh Anderson’s bat cooled off in game 3. Anderson took a 0-5 with 3 strikeouts. Anderson however still holds the centerfielder job and has provided Atlanta with great speed. Jorge Campillo was mediocre going 5 innings and allowing 3 runs. In the end, the Braves’ bats couldn’t get heated up and they fell 5-3. Atlanta may have lost the series but they may have gained some confidence. Anderson has been playing great and provides great speed and energy to go along with his bat. As of this series, he is the leading candidate for centerfield next year.
Unfortunately Yunel Escobar aggravated his shoulder again. Escobar has been fighting shoulder problems all season and they catch up with him occasionally. Brent Lillibridge replaced him at shortstop. Lillibridge is solid defensively but lacks the bat to be a full time major league player. Chipper missed Wednesday’s game after twisting his right knee on Tuesday. If Chipper can just stay healthy he is one of the best hitters in the game. It seems Chipper has been slumping since Mark Teixeira was traded to the Angels. On that note, Casey Kotchman should return soon from attending to his ailing mother. We all wish the best for him and his family in their time of need.
Thursday the Braves begin a 4 game set with the Washington Nationals. Game 1 will see Jason Bergmann (2-10) and Jo-Jo Reyes (3-10) toe the rubber. This should be interesting, as both pitchers have struggled greatly this season. Game 2 is set for Collin Balester (3-6) to start against Jair Jurrjens (11-9). Braves fan everywhere hope “JJ” can turn things around and get back to form. Tim Redding (10-8) will face Mike Hampton (2-2) in game 3. Hampton has steady improved in each start this season; hopefully he can keep the trend going. The series finale is set to see John Lannan (8-13) against Charlie Morton (4-8). Maybe Charlie can turn things around in this start against the National League’s worst team.
By Ben Burrows
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