Saturday, August 3, 2013

Game 111 Preview: Atlanta Braves (65-45) at Philadelphia Phillies (50-59)

Pitching Probables:
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RHP Brandon Beachy (ATL) 0-0, 17.18 ERA
LHP John Lannan (PHI) 3-4, 4.10 ERA

Today's Starting Lineups (4:05 pm ET, FOX):

Braves (career vs. Lannan):
Andrelton Simmons - SS (N/A)
Justin Upton - RF (2-11, 3B, RBI, BB, 2 K)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (6-17, 2B, RBI, BB, 6 K)
Evan Gattis - C (N/A)
Chris Johnson - 3B (3-5, 2B, RBI, K)
Dan Uggla - 2B (9-25, HR, 3 RBI, 6 BB, 2 K)
BJ Upton - CF (N/A)
Joey Terdoslavich - LF (N/A)
Brandon Beachy - P (N/A)

Phillies (career vs. Beachy):
Jimmy Rollins - SS (3-14, 2B)
Michael Young - 1B (N/A)
Chase Utley - 2B (2-11, 2 K)
Delmon Young - RF (N/A)
Darin Ruf - LF (N/A)
Cody Asche - 3B (N/A)
John Mayberry Jr. - CF (0-3, K)
Carlos Ruiz - C (5-11, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB)
John Lannan - P (N/A)

Don't look now, but the Atlanta Braves are running away with the NL East. After playing .500 ball for much of the past two months, Atlanta entered this weekend's series against Philadelphia with an 11 1/2 game lead in the division, the largest since September 21, 2003. With their 6-4 win over the Phillies last night, the Braves have now won eight straight, and have outscored their opponents, 57-20, during the streak.
Braves have picked the absolute perfect time to get hot, as each of its next 16 games are against division rivals. With two series each against the Phillies and Nationals during that span, the Braves could all, but lock up the NL East by the end of the month.
Brandon Beachy will try to help them get one step closer to that goal on Saturday in his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery. Beachy could not complete four innings in his first start back, as he struggled with command issues while allowing seven runs on eight hits, including two homers.
The Phillies meanwhile, will counter with John Lannan, who's pitching on three days rest in place of Jonathan Pettibone, who was placed on the disabled list on Friday with a strained right shoulder. Lannan has gone at least seven innings in three of his last four starts, and bolsters a 2.67 ERA in that span.
Phillies have lost 11 of their last 13 games since the All-Star break, prompting Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon to speak out. After saying he "definitely didn't come here for this," Papelbon blew a save opportunity in Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Giants, which led to Phillies fans raining boos down on the Phillies closer.

Welcome back, BJ!:
Having recovered from a strained right adductor, Braves CF BJ Upton concluded his rehab assignment with a 1-for-5 effort at Triple-A Gwinnett. Upton is in the lineup today and will hit seventh while playing in center field.
Upton is hitting just .177 in 84 games this season, but after seeing his 3-for-4 performance on Thursday, Braves hitting coach Greg Walker believes BJ can return to his old self.

Maholm update:
Braves SP Paul Maholm, who has been out since July 20 with a sprained left wrist, is expected to throw a bullpen session either today or tomorrow. Barring any setbacks, the lefty should be able to go out on a rehab assignment sometime next week.

Martin, Miner join Phillies pitching staff:
With Pettibone on the disabled list, Phillies recalled Ethan Martin from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make his Major league debut last night. The club also designated JC Ramirez for assignment to make room for Zach Miner, who was also recalled from Triple-A.
Miner spent four season with the Tigers, but has not pitched in the Majors since 2009. He's bounced around the Minors since undergoing Tommy John surgery. In 27 games (12 starts), Miner posted an ERA of 3.90.

Side note:
Braves have spent a Major League-leading 123 days atop the NL East this season. They've had a lead of at least four games since May 21.
Since the opening of Citizens Bank Park in 2004, the Braves and Phillies have split their 86 meetings.

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