The Atlanta Braves (25-18) finished the weekend with a great deal of momentum, completing a sweep of the LA Dodgers that featured the Braves overcoming late deficits in all three games, including a rain-drenched Sunday afternoon game that went well into the evening due to two rain delays. The Braves were in desperate need of momentum, having lost 5 of 6 games before the weekend, but if the way they played against LA is any indication, they appear to have momentum to spare. They’ll need it as the Minnesota Twins (18-22) come to Turner Field for a three game series beginning tonight, most likely hungry from their recent struggles, and anxious to turn things around.
Minnesota has indeed struggled lately, losing their last five games, and are currently in last place in the AL Central, six games out of first. In fact, the Twins have been outscored more than 2-to-1 in their recent slide, and even the hot Joe Mauer had his 15 game hitting streak snapped in the Twins 5-1 loss to Boston on Sunday. When asked about their lackluster performance on Sunday, outfield Chris Parmelee said,
We didn’t really come up with key hits when we needed to or when we wanted to. It’s tough to win a ballgame when you don’t have any clutch hits.
With the ups-and-downs Atlanta has had, the Braves can certainly sympathize with the absence of clutch hits this season. Still atop the NL East though, and now by 2.5 games, the Braves are now showing great signs of an offensive turnaround, particularly in their series with LA where they practically defined clutch! Despite the recent loss of Jonny Venters to a 2nd TJ surgery, and the more recent loss of Eric O’Flaherty to the same fate, the Braves are playing well and poised to go on a run like they experienced in April.
Trying to keep that run going for the Atlanta Braves will be Julio Teheran (2-1, 4.57 ERA) in game 1 of the series against the Twins. Julio had a rough start to the season, but has begun to turn things around and pitch well. In his last four starts for Atlanta, Julio has gone for a 2.84 ERA, and although he has never faced the Twins before, his command and control issues early in the season are beginning to improve. When asked about the young pitcher, catcher Gerald Laird commented that,
He’s making adjustments in the middle of the game and he’s making changes when he needs to. That’s a good sign.
Taking the mound for the Twins in game 1 of the series will be Kevin Correia (4-3, 3.35 ERA). Kevin has had a rough stretch lately himself, but has still been the Twins most consistent pitcher. After beginning the season strong, he has put up a dismal 5.71 ERA in his last three outings, and hopes to turn that around pitching in a stadium he is familiar with. Correia spent his first decade as a pro in the National League, and posted a 2.66 ERA in five games played at Turner Field.
Of Note: The Twins have never been to Turner Field as a team. You may recall the sweet taste of victory the Braves enjoyed in game 5 of the 1991 World Series, when they beat the Twins 14-5 in Atlanta’s old, but memorable Fulton County Stadium. Unfortunately, the Braves went on to lose games 6 and 7 to lose the series, but Braves fans everywhere remember fondly that game 5. The Braves will hope to have that same game 5 flavor in this week’s series at Turner Field as well.
Game 1 – Monday, 7:10 PM EST
MIN: Correia (4-3, 3.35 ERA)
ATL: Teheran (2-1, 4.57 ERA)
Game 2 – Tuesday, 7:10 PM EST
MIN: Pelfrey (3-4, 6.57 ERA)
ATL: Hudson (4-3, 5.12 ERA)
Game 3 – Wednesday, 12:10 PM EST
MIN: Worley (1-4, 6.20 ERA)
ATL: Maholm (5-4, 3.83 ERA)