The Phillies (46-39) will finish their three games visit with the Braves (40-45) tonight, with a chance for a sweep and, surprises of surprises, a winning road trip. The game will be played at Turner Field, with a start time of 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starting pitcher will be their ace, Cole Hamels (8-5, 3.38), who is coming off a good start against the Rangers on June 28, where he went seven innings, giving up four earned runs on six hits, in the Phillies’ 8-6 win. He has already faced the Braves once this season, pitching a four-hit shut out against them on May 15, going all nine innings, in the Phillies’ 5-0 win. He will be shooting for his ninth win of the year and to complete the Phillies’ second straight sweep of the Braves in their own home ballpark, as well as give the Phillies a commanding 8-1 lead in the season series. The Braves will counter with Jair Jurrjens (8-3, 2.94), who will be looking to prevent the sweep. He is coming off a victory against the Blue Jays on June 27, where he would pitch eight innings, giving up no earned runs on three hits, in the Braves’ 4-0 win. In his last four starts, he has won three of them, with a no-decision in the fourth, which was also won by the Braves. In those four starts, he would give up only five earned runs in twenty-seven and two-thirds innings of work, while giving up no earned runs in his last twenty-three and two-thirds innings, while also giving up only twenty-five hits. He will also be shooting for his ninth victory of the year, while seeing if he can stop the Phillies’ just reawaken bats and keep the Braves from being swept for the second straight time by the Phillies.
The Phillies’ offense appear to have reawaken after being put to sleep by interleague play against some very good American League teams (and the Rangers). They are once again getting extra-base hits, having gotten nine (4 (2B), 1 (3B), 4 (HR)) of them among their twenty-seven hits. If the offense can continue to hit through their upcoming four games series with the Mets, then they will be tough to beat for the rest of the season. They can right now establish a stranglehood on the division, if their starting pitching can continue to pitch as well as they are right now, in spite of the Brett Myers situation, and the bullpen can stay in its league leading form. The resurgence of the Phillies’ hot bats can only mean trouble for the other teams in a very weak division.
The Phillies are presently leading the Marlins by a game and a half, as they begin a four games series with the Rockies in Denver. Their lead over the Mets is now at four and a half games as they prepare to conclude their four games series with the Cardinals. The Braves are now trailing the Phillies by six games, as they prepare for the last games of their series with the first place Phillies, before getting ready for a three games home stand with the Astros. The Phillies will now be trying to create some breathing space between them and their nearest opponents as they get closer to the All-Star break.