I’ve made it to Turner Field for the start of tonight’s Braves’ game. But I figure I could’ve waited out the traffic for a few hours.
True story: I turned on Monday night’s game just in time for the ninth inning rally against Los Angeles, which ended with Melky Cabrera’s two-run single to give the Braves a 4-3 win. So I’m thinking: What was the rush to get here?
This team’s resolve and flare for the dramatic has been well-chronicled. The win over the Dodgers was their majors-leading 20th win of the season in their final at-bat. How significant is that? Well, Philadelphia is second overall with 18 final at-bat victories. The Braves lead the Phillies by only 2 1/2 games in the National League East. Do the math: Two fewer late-game rallies and the lead is a half-game.
The Braves’ good news doesn’t end there: Martin Prado is back. The Braves’ unofficial MVP will be activated off the disabled list (fractured small finger) for tonight’s game, and his return answers two questions: Who will start at third base (Prado) and who will bat third in the order (Prado). Manager Bobby Cox decided not to mess with Omar Infante, who is playing solid at second base and is hitting .372 over the last 18 games. Infante also will bat lead off.
This is a good chance for the Braves to go on a little run. They’ll be facing two teams (Washington and Chicago) with losing records in the next two series. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. The Braves have losing records against only four teams this season, and the Nationals (4-5) are one of them. Offense has been the biggest issue, with only 12 runs scored in the last five meetings.
Last thing: You probably know this by now but a rumor has been floating around that the Braves might be interested in acquiring Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez in a waiver trade. David O’Brien did a fine job shooting this down for all of the obvious reasons: Ramirez is hitting .229 and will be owed a ridiculous amount of money — $31.6 million for two more seasons — if the Cubs deal him. He has a player option (sure to be exercised) for next year and a 2012 team option that automatically triggers in case of a trade.
These are the kind of trade rumors that generally get started either by someone with an agenda or someone under the influence of hallucinogens. Or possibly both.
OK, that’s it’s for now. Mike Minor makes his second start against Washington’s Scott Olson, who is 1-0 with a 2.03 ERA in two starts against the Braves this season.
I’ll check back shortly. Or in the ninth.
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