What an awesome turnaround? By taking the first two games of their three game set with the Phillies, the Braves have ensured that when they prepare to depart on one of the longest road trips of the season they will do so in first place. While it is no secret that the Phillies came to Atlanta struggling, the Braves have done nothing to let them off the hook.
Troy Glaus hammered his second three run homer in as many nights and has to be given a lot of the credit for the Braves resurgence in the month of May and now into June. Glaus led the National League in RBI’s for the month of May and has continued to help carry the Braves offense. He is now hitting .277 with 9 homers and 40 RBI. Those are huge numbers considering at the end of April he was hitting .194 with 2 homers and 9 RBI. If there is a cause for concern it is a troublesome sore foot that he has been playing through and is worth keeping an eye on moving forward.
More after the Jump……….
In recent days the Braves have also seen a resurgence in shortstop Yunel Escobar. Escobar is 7 for 12 in his last three games with three RBI’s. He has raised his batting average from .188 to .221 in the process. The Braves need his bat and he is starting to show some signs of life after spending some significant time on the Disabled List earlier this season.
Offensively another reason for the Braves success has been the huge contributions they have received from their bench. Omar Infante, Eric Hinske or Melky Cabrera, David Ross, and David Ross have all been pressed into action at various times due to a starters injury and all have come up with big hits. It is the first time in a long time that the Braves have had a bench this strong or playing this well. The jobs that Infante and Ross did filling in for an injured Yunel Escobar and Brian McCann can’t go unnoticed. Eric Hinske also deserves mention because it was his insertion into the starting lineup over the struggling combination of Matt Diaz and Melky Cabrera that really jump started the Braves. Cabrera has recently been swinging the bat a lot better and looks to get a few more opportunities in Center Field where Nate McLouth‘s struggles continue.
In recent days the Braves pitching staff has really come together. Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson were huge in the first two games of this Phillies series. Hudson has been lights out the entire season with a 6-1 record and a sparkling 2.30 ERA. He pitched 6 innings of 2 run baseball in Tuesday night’s win over the Phillies. The bullpen has been strong especially Billy Wagner who pitched out of a bases loaded jam in the ninth on Wednesday. Wagner is 4-0 with a 1.77 ERA and has 8 Saves on the season.
Every bit of padding that the Braves can get in terms of their division lead will be important as they prepare to embark on an eleven game road trip with stops in Los Angeles, Arizona, and Minnesota. The Braves are currently 12-16 on the road this season but it is fair to say that part of that record was obtained when the team was struggling. Right now they have a confidence and a unique air about them. Lets just hope that it is something that lasts.