August 23, 2012 at 10:27 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Braves lineup: Michael Bourn (CF), Reed Johnson (RF), Martin Prado (LF), Chipper Jones (3B), Freddie Freeman (1B), Dan Uggla (2B), Brian McCann (C), Paul Janish (SS), Tommy Hanson (P).
Giants lineup: Angel Pagan (S, CF), Marco Scutaro (R, 2B), Pablo Sandoval (S, 3B), Hunter Pence (R, RF), Brandon Belt (L, 1B), Hector Sanchez (S, C), Gregor Blanco (L, LF), Brandon Crawford (L, SS), Barry Zito (L, P).
Jason Heyward is getting the day off with Reed Johnson taking his spot in right field and taking advantage of the left-handed Zito starting.
Brian McCann is back in the lineup after sitting for the third time in six days last night.
Buster Posey is out nursing a tight hamstring that he felt during pre-game stretches yesterday.
Game 1 vs. Giants
After a disappointing first two games to the series, the Braves managed to avoid a sweep with a 5-1 win over the Nationals in the series finale Wednesday. Kris Medlen pushed his scoreless streak to 21 innings with seven shutout innings, and Martin Prado doubled twice to lead Atlanta.
The Braves immediately hopped on a plane for San Francisco to begin a four-game series with the Giants starting tonight. The Giants currently lead the Dodgers in the NL West by 2.5 games after sweeping Los Angeles in their most recent series. Pitching remains the strength of the Giants, as they are currently eighth in MLB in ERA at 3.65 (Braves are sixth at 3.62) and fifth in FIP at 3.74 (Braves are 15th at 3.92).
The loss of Melky Cabrera was a big blow for the offense, but with bounceback seasons from Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval, the Giants offense has done enough to support the pitching staff, and over a month’s stretch, the difference in results shouldn’t be that great.
The Braves will see Barry Zito in the series opener. Zito is puttering along at a 4.42 ERA and 5.19 xFIP, the latter leading all of baseball, and not in the good way. His 13.2% strikeout rate is the lowest of his career, and with a 9.7% walk rate and 40% ground ball rate, there’s just really nothing to like.
Tommy Hanson will go for the Braves coming off a solid three runs allowed over 6.2 innings against the Dodgers. He walked two and struck out five, not allowing a run until the sixth.
Outfield Leaderboard by fWAR
Cardinals – 15.7
Braves – 14.7
Angels – 14.2
Brewers – 12.4
Rangers – 11.5
Mike Trout – 7.5
Andrew McCutchen – 6.3
Ryan Braun – 6.3
Michael Bourn – 5.9
Jason Heyward – 5.8
Braves.com recap for Wednesday’s win.
AJC quotes following Wednesday’s win. Chipper Jones on Kris Medlen: “He’s poised beyond his years. He’s one of those guys that is pretty quiet, but he always walks around like maybe he knows something you don’t. He’s got Doggie’s kind of presence out there on the mound. He’s not a big guy but he walks out there like ‘I know I can get you out.’ And he’s got a few different ways to do it.”
Matthew Leach of MLB.com writes a feature on Martin Prado’s value to the Braves.
Terence Moore of MLB.com writes a feature on Michael Bourn’s defense.
The Nationals gave Chipper a touching send-off in his final regular-season game in Washington.
Around the NL East
The latest on the Stephen Strasburg situation says Davey Johnson figures two or three more starts for Strasburg, which is something I thought was already figured.
Jacob Turner pitched well in his Marlins debut, and Ozzie Guillen acknowledged Turner will remain in Miami in some form for the rest of the season.
The Marlins placed Emilio Bonifacio on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right knee, the third trip to the DL for him this season.
Collin McHugh will make his major league debut today for the Mets. McHugh is a product of Berry College in Rome, the first Berry player to make the majors.