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STANDINGS:
 NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Philidelphia Phillies 89-61
Atlanta Braves 86-64 3 GAMES BACK

NATIONAL LEAGUE WILD CARD 
ATLANTA BRAVES 86-64
San Diego Padres  2.5 back
Colorado Rockies 3.5 back
St. Louis Cardinals 8.0 back
New York Mets 12 back
Florida Marlins 12 back

Derek Lee is starting to heat up just in time (photo from ajc.com/Kathy Willens, AP)

The Atlanta Braves completed a 3 game sweep of the Mets in Citi Field this weekend to remain three games back in the division, looking up to the Phillies, but gain a comfortable cushion in the wild-card lead, becoming 2 and a half games ahead of the even streakier (than us) San Diego Padres. The Braves won from a late-inning grand slam by first baseman Derek Lee to the second deck of the Mets’ Citi Field to power the Braves to their first road sweep of a team and series since May 10-12 against the Brewers in Milwaukee. Still, with a road record of 31-41, the Braves will take on a Phillies squad who have been rolling since the All Star Break to take control of the NL East and try to take the Pennant away from Bobby Cox and the Braves.

The Phillies and the Braves have split six games this year in Citizens’ Bank Park, and this 3 game series could either make the race even tighter down the stretch or take the Braves out of it completely. The Braves have decided to bring up AA-Pitcher of the Year Brandon Beachy (AA-Mississippi and AAA-Gwinnett)  to Philadelphia and place him on the 40-Man roster just in case starter Jair Jurjens is unable to make his start. Beachy, who has had 7 minor league starts in AAA Gwinnett, has an 1.73 ERA and a 5-1 record in those starts while splitting time between the two levels.

( Photo from Joe Ellis, The Clarion-Ledger)

Beachy’s opponent is one of three aces Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is throwing at the Braves, just to show how significant this series is to both teams. Tonight, the Braves will face Cole Hamels (11-10, 3.01 ERA, 8-5, 4.25 ERA v. Braves. Other probable starters for this series are the following:

Mike Minor LHP (3-1, 5.84 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay RHP(19-10, 2.49 ERA): Halladay was given an extra day of rest when Manuel wanted to assure that he would be ready for this series against the Braves. He has a 4.41 ERA in his past five starts prior to that rest. Minor who received his first loss in a loss to the Nationals at home early last week. Other than a grand slam against Justin Maxwell, Minor has looked like a Major-league player. 

Tommy Hanson RHP (10-11, 3.62 ERA) v. Roy Oswalt RHP (7-1, 1.94 ERA): The up and down 2010 campaign for Tommy Hanson continues the rollercoaster effect into September, but he is currently up. His last start was a win Friday vs. the Mets in New York. He will face Roy Oswalt, the second Roy and the third punch in the Phillies stellar 1-2-3 rotational punch out. It is worth noting that Oswalt is 0-3 with an ERA over 7.00 in the regular season agaisnt the Braves, but is undefeated with an ERA of 2.89 in three postseason starts. Interesting……

If the Braves are swept, that could be six games back by Thursday. If the Braves do the sweeping, they could be in a tie for first place, and further distancing themselves in the NL Wild Card. Either way, they will meet again for the very final series at Turner Field this season. This series only makes that one either more sought after, or increasingly meaningless as far as the division goes.

STAT OF THE DAY FROM AJC.COM: BRAVES COME FROM BEHIND WINS TOTAL IS 44, SECOND IN THE MAJORS TO THE YANKEES (46).

(Stats from AJC.COM, MLB.COM/ATLANTABRAVES.)

 

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