We’re LIVE as Braves go for two straight over Philly

Troy Glaus hopes to start June against Philadelphia the same way he ended May. (AP photo)

Troy Glaus hopes to start June against Philadelphia the same way he ended May. (AP photo)

The first-place Atlanta Braves . . .

Wait a minute. Let me type that again.

The first-place Atlanta Braves . . .  (who’d a thunk it?)  . . . play game two of their series against the Philadelphia Phillies tonight. In the last two weeks, the Braves are 11-2 and the Phillies are 4-9, which has led to something we haven’t seen here in five years. Yes, it has been that long since the Braves have been in first place as late as June.

Does it guarantee anything? No. It’s a little early to start computing magic numbers. (OK, but this is for entertainment purposes only: The Braves’ magic number is 112.)

But as I noted the other day, this is a key stretch for the Braves. Even though they’re only 51 games into a 162-games season, they’ve entered a difficult part of their schedule. Thirteen of 17 games in an 18-day span come against the Phillies, Dodgers, Twins and Rays. Starting the stretch with Monday’s 9-3 win was impressive.

For some reason, a few readers took it as a negative the other day when I pointed out after a win over Pittsburgh that the Braves were 16-4 against the bottom six teams in the National League and 11-18 against everybody else. To those folks: I think you missed the point. I wasn’t bashing the Braves for beating the Pirates. The stats merely were to illustrate that the team had something to prove against tougher opponents in this stretch — something that even players in the clubhouse acknowledged.

Here’s a few things to take note of tonight:

♦ Re-signing starting pitcher Tim Hudson was the best decision general manager Frank Wren made this past winter. While the deal with the Yankees involving Javier Vazquez and Melky Cabrera (and other pieces) largely was lampooned, Hudson has held up his end. He’s 5-1 with a 2.24 ERA and leads the team with eight quality starts in 10 outings.

Chipper Jones, possibly the subject of tonight’s column, is 8-for-16 with seven RBI over the last five games. I thought it was significant that he possibly set the tone for this series Monday with a two-run homer that gave the Braves an early lead.

Troy Glaus, the bulls-eye for jokes in April, made a strong bid for National League Player of the Month in May, hitting .330 (34 for 103) with six homers and 28 RBI. He also hit a three-run homer Monday.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are struggling offensively. Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News points out that the Phillies have scored only 10 runs in the last nine games. An excerpt from Hagen’s column:

The Phillies are a team that has been to the World Series the last two years and has pretensions of a three-peat. A team that had five regulars make the All-Star team last year and had five at the top of the balloting in the first results released last week. A team with a payroll pushing $140 million. And also a team that, even after yesterday’s virtual run-producing explosion in a 9-3 loss to the Braves at Turner Field, has scored a grand total of 10 times in the last nine games. That’s awful no matter how hard you try to paint a happy face on it.

This really isn’t amusing anymore. But even Charlie Manuel, who got himself ejected in the third inning, couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of it all.

“Let me put it to you like this. It seems like a long time since I saw us score 5, 6, 7, 8 runs,” the manager said. “If you watch one of our games, most of the time we’re going to score five runs or better. Five runs is kind of what you expect. And all of a sudden we have trouble scoring one run.

“I heard somebody say [nine] games. It seems like it’s been months. Something’s got to break for us.”

So, yeah: The mood’s a little different in Philly.

That’s it for now. I’ll be blogging live starting with the first pitch but let me know if you have any questions until then. Thanks. JS

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503 comments Add your comment

BRAVES RULE

June 1st, 2010
6:14 pm

GO BRAVO’S

Steve

June 1st, 2010
6:20 pm

Huge road trip coming up! These guys will see what they are made of. I would take a 6-5 road trip in a heartbeat. At least we have Arizona in there who has a losing record at home. Very much looking forward to the Tampa series as well. Since both pitchers have great ERA’s tonight I am sure it will be one of those 8-6 games. Funny how that works. Wonder what Greg Norton is doing nowadays? Sure don’t miss him.

Cody

June 1st, 2010
6:21 pm

Jeff,

Can you let us know what the lineup will be without McLouth?

BravosJOE

June 1st, 2010
6:22 pm

Jeff, do you think that the braves will trade mcclouth? I think he can rebound.

Mid Town Joe

June 1st, 2010
6:24 pm

I think he is a great center fielder.

Mid Town Joe

June 1st, 2010
6:25 pm

I’ve been ribbing my Philly friends pretty hard between the Phillies collapse and the Stanley Cup.

Real UT

June 1st, 2010
6:32 pm

Jeff, don’t feel bad, I’ve noticed reading comprehension is not a great skill for many ajc bloggers.

Kane337

June 1st, 2010
6:34 pm

Hope Huddy can pitch a good game tonight. Cole Hamels has been tough on the Braves in the past.

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
6:34 pm

Steve — It is kind of nice the way the D-Backs are sandwiched between the Dodgers and Twins series. … And by the way: Greg Norton is the hitting coach with the New Orleans Zephyrs.

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
6:35 pm

Cody: Prado-Heyward-Chipper-Glaus-McCann-Escobar-Infante (left field)-Cabrera (center field) -Hudson

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
6:36 pm

BravosJOE — Not sure what they could get for McLouth. In any event, it won’t be an issue until Schafer is called up, which will be a while.

Real UT

June 1st, 2010
6:38 pm

The Tigers were able to trade the D-Train, so if McOut continues to struggle there may still be hope of something in return with a trade.

Steve

June 1st, 2010
6:42 pm

The New Orleans what? Wow. Thanks Jeff. I went ahead and looked up what a Zephyrs is. Either a light westerly wind (maybe caused by Norton striking out often when he was with the Braves) or a greek god of the west wind. Now you know.

Tim

June 1st, 2010
6:44 pm

So Jeff… I was watching Sportscenter and First Take this morning and nobody wants to give us some credit. Kept showing the hitting stats for Philly and how they’ve flip-flopped since April… I kept waiting to see them show how OUR stats have done a 180 as well. My personal opinion… Every team goes through slumps. We just happened to have our ENTIRE team slumping at the same time. Things have evened out and I think we are now seeing both teams true colors. We need to hop on the Silly’s right now before they turn back into the team we know they are!

P.S. Why don’t they bring back Chief Knockahoma? I loved that dude!

Real UT

June 1st, 2010
6:47 pm

Curt Schilling is on SC as an analyst. He looks terrible.

Real UT

June 1st, 2010
6:52 pm

Was anybody watching 6 pm SC? Ron Artest’s thoughts on taking a charge were pretty, well, WOW. Shelley Smith was doing a report on Phil calling for his thin-chested big men to take more charges. He said that he learned- while playing ball on the streets of NY- that when you take a charge and call it someone gets stabbed. Like I said, WOW! Way to take the question completely out of context Ron Ron.

Mr. Turnip-Green Jeans

June 1st, 2010
6:58 pm

Greg Norton is the hitting coach with the New Orleans Zephyrs.”

I’ll bet their bats are creating plenty of zephyrs.

UcantCLA

June 1st, 2010
7:01 pm

Im gald Troy is a Bruin who is doing well on our team. How long is Prado’s contract? I would hope Wren is already talking about extending it. Go Bruins, Braves and Lakers!!!!!!

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
7:04 pm

Steve — Thanks. I’ll impress somebody at a party one day with that.

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
7:05 pm

Tim — If team plays well in these next two weeks, I guarantee you Braves will get a lot of credit nationally.

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
7:14 pm

This doesn’t look promising. Thunder. Light sprinkles. And they just closed the windows in the press box.

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
7:15 pm

OK. We made it to the bottom of the first. Not an official game yet.

Traver

June 1st, 2010
7:16 pm

Tim is going to get screwed by the weather again.

Traver

June 1st, 2010
7:19 pm

Making the call – Heyward – 2 run bomb

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
7:19 pm

Rain is down and fans are scattering. Meanwhile, man on second and one out.

Traver

June 1st, 2010
7:19 pm

OK – Chipper 2 run bomb

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
7:20 pm

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
7:21 pm

Traver .. I think what you meant to say was “Glaus 3 run bomb”

ace

June 1st, 2010
7:21 pm

no way glaus does it again……………

More impressive facts for social gatherings

June 1st, 2010
7:21 pm

Try this one on at the next social gathering: a leading theory on why a baseball argument is called a “rhubarb” is that in the early days of radio, when a director wanted to create the sound of an angry mob, he’d get a group of actors to murmur “rhubarb…rhubarb”

Or you could just say your J-Hey’s Feng Shui consultant.

Mtn Brave

June 1st, 2010
7:22 pm

How the forecast look?

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
7:22 pm

Most fans moving under overhangs. This is getting ridiculous.

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
7:22 pm

I said that Traver! I said that!

ace

June 1st, 2010
7:23 pm

Traver

June 1st, 2010
7:23 pm

wait Glaus 3 run bomb!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Real UT

June 1st, 2010
7:23 pm

More impressive facts for social gatherings

June 1st, 2010
7:24 pm

Make that Glaus’ Feng Shui consultant…

Traver

June 1st, 2010
7:24 pm

Indeed Jeff. I don’t mind getting it wrong as long as it turn out they way it did.

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
7:24 pm

I heard Glaus carved his own bat. Doesn’t chip. Says Wonderboy on it.

Landrum

June 1st, 2010
7:25 pm

I am really enjoying the candid comments of John Smoltz–counteracting some of Joe Simpson’s “see no evil, hear no evil,” approach.

Mr Charlie

June 1st, 2010
7:25 pm

Did that just happen? I am telling you, this team is about destiny. Maybe the baseball gods are going to give Bobby the sendoff he deserves.

J.J.M.

June 1st, 2010
7:25 pm

why are they still playing?

Real UT

June 1st, 2010
7:26 pm

Mother Nature hates Tim Hudson.

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
7:26 pm

That’s it — official rain delay at 7:25. … 2-1 count on Escobar.
We’ll wait while the groundscrew puts a slip n slide leading into second base.

Traver

June 1st, 2010
7:26 pm

Enter your comments here

Rain delay material

June 1st, 2010
7:27 pm

Ok Jeff, now that we are in a rain delay, how much heat are the Phillies getting for their bats suddenly going cold after Binocular-Gate?

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
7:27 pm

Landrum — Obviously I’m not listening but I hope that’s the case. Smoltz was candid as a player and he needs to bring that to the booth. But for what it’s worth, I like Joe.

Mr Charlie

June 1st, 2010
7:28 pm

This team has put an entire season worth of bazaar hightlights in 2 months.

Traver

June 1st, 2010
7:28 pm

Smoltzie is breaking down the Rick Dempsey tarp slide. This delay can’t get over fast enough.

Jeff Schultz

June 1st, 2010
7:28 pm

Rain Delay — Completely forgot about the timing of Binocular-gate. Those dirty cheatin’ Phillies are getting just what they deserve!