The Atlanta Braves are enjoying the fruits of their summer labor as they take a 14-game winning streak into tonight’s game against the Miami Marlins at Turner Field in Atlanta. Following last night’s 5-0 shutout victory against the Marlins, the Braves need one more win to tie the Atlanta franchise mark for consecutive wins, currently held by the 2000 National League East winning squad.
After a red hot start to begin the season, one that saw the Braves win twelve of their first thirteen games, the Braves offense began to waver. Justin Upton, their offensive weapon in April, saw a decline in his production, hitting only one home run each in June and July. From the end of April through the All-Star break, the Braves were quiet, playing .500 baseball and dealing with a host of injuries to play makers Evan Gattis, B.J. Upton, and Jordan Schafer.
Now, Atlanta is putting that mediocre period behind them. Not only do the surging Braves seemingly have their season back on track, they now have the best record in the National League, holding a half-game lead over the Central Division leading Pittsburgh Pirates. Having the best record in the N.L. would not only give the Braves bragging rights, but would also give them home field advantage throughout the N.L. playoffs.
Rest assured, however, that Pittsburgh will do everything in its ability to finish ahead of the Braves. The Pirates are trying to secure their first winning season since they won their division twenty-one years ago. Pirate fans have not forgotten that 1992 season that saw the Braves eliminate them in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. The game-winning play, in which Sid Bream slid safely into home to send the Braves to the World Series, remains one of the most memorable plays in Braves history.
Braves fans should have no reason to be concerned about a collapse during the final weeks of the season. The Upton brothers are leading the charge so far in August. B.J. Upton is batting .400 since returning from the disabled list on August 3 and brother Justin Upton has six home runs in his first eight games of the month.
Evan Gattis is back on the field following his stint on the D.L. Speedster Jordan Schafer looks to be activated in time for tonight’s game and backup catcher Gerald Laird is eyeing a return sometime next week. Meanwhile, third baseman Chris Johnson continues his torrid hitting as he leads the N.L. in batting with a .338 average.
Starting pitcher Brandon Beachy won his first game last night since returning from Tommy John surgery, pitching eight solid innings and shutting out the Miami Marlins. After losing starter Tim Hudson with a season ending ankle injury, the Braves are looking for strong performances from Beachy down the stretch. General Manager Frank Wren also bolstered their bullpen just before the trade deadline, acquiring reliever Scott Downs from the Los Angeles Angels.
The Braves best season in years has them sprinting toward October baseball. If their offense can produce at its current rate through the end of the season and the Braves can avoid another Hudson-like injury, this year’s team has the ability to bring another World Series Championship to the city of Atlanta.
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