The Braves took it to the Phillies, and by winning two-of-three at Citizens Bank Ballpark this week, they have put them six games behind first place. Roy Halladay was able to dominate the Braves, but Matt Diaz and company took care of the Philadelphia left-handers and won games two and three. The Braves have struggled against southpaws this season, so getting Matt Diaz back into the thick of things is a huge boost for this offense. As mentioned in last night's game recap, the top if the sixth against Jamie Moyer was one of the best innings the Braves have had all season. The game and series were looking grim until Martin Prado, Brian McCann, and Diaz came through with huge hits to put the Phillies in a hole.
What we liked:
Martin Prado: Martin makes this list in pretty much every series. In the past three games, Martin went 5-14 with a walk, three home runs, three RBI, and four runs. He homered in the final two games of the series and twice off of Moyer. It was Martin's second career multi-homer game and second of the season.
Matt Diaz: Matty went 4-9 with a home run and two doubles as he started the final two games. His double to put the Braves ahead in the 11th inning of game two was vital, and his home run in the sixth inning of game three provided the Braves enough insurance to coast to victory.
Brian McCann: Brian started the first and third game of the series and had hits in each start. Against Roy Halladay he singled and doubled, and against Jamie Moyer he had a go-ahead, bases clearing double. He has bee very hot as of late, and hopefully he can stay hot at Citi Field this weekend.
Jair Jurrjens: Jair started the second game and allowed just two hits over six innings. He retired the side in order in five straight innings, allowing one walk in that stretch but erasing it with a double play. It was another very good start and although he did not record an out in the seventh, you have to be pleased with how good Jair pitched after the Ibanez homer.
Billy Wagner: Neither of Wagner's saves were extremely high stress innings, but he got the job done. He finished out the final two games for his 18th and 19th saves, striking out three in the process and allowing just one hit.
What we didn't like:
Yunel Escobar: Escobar went just 2-12, both hits being singles. A better performance in the second half from Yunel would be a welcomed addition to the offense. The only production he has really had offensively was in the beginning-to-middle of June, so it would certainly be helpful if he started to hit.
Takashi Saito: Saito pitched a perfect inning in game two, but he had a rough eighth inning last night as he allowed three hits and a run in just two-thirds of an inning. Saito has not looked or performed quite the same since returning from his injury.
Troy Glaus: Glaus went just 1-7 with a walk in the series. He is rebounding from a leg injury and has been slumping as of late. The All-Star break should do him some good and let him rest up, but first he has to destroy an R.A. Dickey knuckleball into the Citi Field seats.
Number of the Series: 3
The Reds took care of the mets to win two-of-three as well, and the Braves now have a three game lead heading into the final series of the first half. In addition, Martin Prado had three home runs and has moved himself into MVP considerations. At different parts of the season, the Braves have had three MVP candidates. In the first few months it was Jason Heyward, in June it was Troy Glaus, and now it is Martin Prado. The Braves are also 33-17 since moving Martin into the leadoff spot, and the number 33 has two threes, in case you didn't know.
The New York Mets at Citi Field. I'll be at game one when Tommy Hanson takes on R.A. Dickey, and my win-loss record at Citi Field is 6-3, all three losses coming in that dreadful series earlier this season. The last game we had against them was called short due to rain but the Mets had no question for Hanson's pitches the whole game. No matter what happens, the Braves head into the All-Star break in first place.