The Atlanta Braves will hope to have a bit of Country Breakfast for dinner as they travel to Kansas City to take on Billy Butler, aka Country Breakfast, and his fellow Royals at Kauffman Stadium. The Braves’ had been on quite a skid, losing two out of three to the NL Central division’s last place Milwaukee Brewers. With a fantastic home record, and having never lost a series at Turner Field this year, it was a bit of a rude awakening for the Atlanta Braves. It had to be hard to swallow losing the series, but even harder being shutout 2-0 in the first two games, and that while facing opposing pitchers that shouldn’t have given them nearly the trouble they did.
Atlanta was able to put those first two games behind them though, and came out swinging like mad men in game 3 of the set, putting together a 14 hit night in a 7-4 win against the Brew Crew. Strangely, Freddie Freeman went hitless in that final game, and he’s been on a tear recently. Six other Braves were productive though, with a hit by Jason Heyward, two hits apiece for Andrelton Simmons, Dan Uggla, and Chris Johnson, three hits by Brian McCann, and a whopping four hits by Jordan Schafer. After such a productive night for Schafer, I have to say I hope that Fredi Gonzalez manages to somehow keep him in the lineup for the short, two game set against the Royals. The Braves desperately need to put men on base, and provide solid run production to maintain that kind of momentum, and get out of their funk.
It won’t be easy in game 1, because the Braves will be facing Ervin Santana (5-5, 2.64 ERA). If Santana’s low ERA isn’t enough to indicate his prowess on the bump this year, perhaps it will put the Braves on the alert knowing that he has gone 2-0 with a 0.94 ERA in four June starts. The Braves will need to be patient with Santana, who typically goes deep into games. If Atlanta batters can stay patient, hang back and look for the best pitch, the hope would be to upset Santana’s control of late, and force the Royals to the bullpen earlier than the 8th inning.
Kris Medlen (4-7, 2.96 ERA) will take the mound to face the Royals in game 1, and Kris is no slouch himself. In fact, although Kris has gotten little run support from his teammates this year, don’t let his 4-7 record fool you. You can see Medlen’s ERA, but he has also improved to 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA in four outings during June, and he went better than seven innings in his last outing to help get the 5-3 win over the New York Mets. In that game, Kris allowed just three runs (and only 1 earned), mostly because of his own throwing error to third base. In short, if both pitchers are on their recent game, it should be a great matchup.
The Royals will hope that some of their usual offensive weapons will get out their funk much like Atlanta did on Sunday. In the Royals most recent win, they were helped by homers from George Kottaras and Jarrod Dyson, and David Lough went 3 for 4. That production aside though, some of the Royals typically big hitters are in the funk as well, as Lorenzo Cain has gotten just 1 hit, Alex Gordon just a couple of hits, and Billy “Country Breakfast” Butler just a couple hits as well, in the past five games. Braves’ pitchers will hope to contain the rest of the Royals hitters, and keep their sluggers mired in their current slump.
In game two of the mini-series, the Braves’ will bring Mike Minor (8-3, 2.89 ERA) to the mound to face off against Luis Mendoza (2-4, 4.30 ERA). Outside of a hiccup or two in Mike’s last outing, Minor has had the most consistent command of any starting pitcher for the Braves this year. He will look to bounce back from his last outing, where Mike gave up an uncharacteristic 9 hits (4 earned) in just 6 innings, bumping his ERA up to the whopping [insert sarcastic smirk here] 2.89 it currently is! Mendoza has a 5.88 ERA when playing at home, and a 4.98 during night games. The Braves’ will hope that trend continues for Mendoza in game 2.
On The Bump
Game 1 – 8:10 PM EST
Royals: Ervin Santana (5-5, 2.64 ERA)
Game 2 – 8:10 PM EST
Braves: Mike Minor (8-3, 2.89 ERA)
Royals: Luis Mendoza (2-4, 4.30 ERA)