Welcome to round nine.
The Braves and Philadelphia, expected to battle for the National League East lead all season, meet for the ninth time today at Turner Field. They’ve split the first eight games, which says as much as you need to know about how even the teams are.
It’s another throwback day on baseball’s Civil Rights Weekend. The Braves and Phillies will wear replica uniforms from the 1974 season, when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record.
There have been times this season when Aaron probably could’ve helped the Braves’ lineup — and, yes, I realize he’s 77 years old. But the Braves have picked it up a bit offensively, hitting .273 in May after struggling at .229 in April.
The most notable exception is Dan Uggla. He is still batting fifth despite a .196 batting average. He is 0-for-7 in this series with four strikeouts and for the season is hitting .154 (6 for 44, 11 strikeouts) with runners in scoring position, which is a problem when you get paid to drive in runs.
I spoke to Uggla before the game and he admits he’s frustrated, but there’s certainly no sense of panic. There’s a chance the game column today will focus on him.
For what it’s worth, Uggla is 7 for 19 (.368) in his career against today’s Phillies’ starter, Roy Halladay.
The Braves are starting Tim Hudson, who was dinged in his last outing for seven runs (three earned) and two homers against Washington. Today’s pre-game ceremonies include the presentation of the Beacon Awards to Morgan Freeman (Beacon of Hope), Carlos Santana (Beacon of Change) and Ernie Banks (Beacon of Life).
That’s it for now. I’ll be back blogging life from the first pitch at 1:35 p.m. If you have any thoughts on Uggla or how this series has gone so far, I’m here.
By Jeff Schultz