The Braves went into Chicago and took two-of-three in Lou Piniella's final series as a manager. The Braves had a comeback win and a blowout victory, along with a loss in which they mounted another impressive comeback. The Phillies matched the Braves by winning two against the Nationals as well, so their 2.5 game division lead is unchanged. The Giants have been slumping though, and the Braves have a 4.5 game cushion on the wild card as well. The more the Giants and Cardinals lose, the better the Braves chances at making the playoffs.
What We Liked:
Mike Minor: The young left-handed starter set the Atlanta Braves rookie record for strikeouts in a single game, recording 12 in his third career start. Minor has been incredible the entire season and has certainly impressed since filling in for the injured Kris Medlen. He got a ton of run support again and earned his second victory, but if he keeps whiffing batters at a solid pace he should see success for the remainder of the season.
Omar Infante: The All-Star utility man, now playing every day, went 7-14 with three homers, a double, and a walk this series. He notched his first multi-homer game as a Brave and flat out raked the entire series. He sure looked comfortable hitting at Wrigley, which probably makes the Cubs regret trading him before he ever even actually played for them.
Jason Heyward: J-Hey went 6-11 with two homers and three walks. His performance yesterday was incredible, getting on base in all six plate appearances and scoring four runs while driving four in as well. His OBP is currently ninth in the National League.
More after the jump:
Rick Ankiel: Slick Rick didn't have a great series, as he went hitless in the final two games. However, he did have the huge three-RBI triple that basically won the Braves the series opener. It was great to see Rick come through in that clutch situation and the Braves probably don't win the series if he swings and misses on that Marmol slider.
The Bullpen: The late-inning arms pitched eight total innings and allowed just two earned runs, both credited to Peter Moylan yesterday when the game was already in hand. They recorded an 8-0 strikeout to walk ratio, which is always a good sign from your bullpen. In game two, Eric O'Flaherty, Kyle Farnsworth, and Jonny Venters combined for three scoreless innings, which gave the Braves the chance to comeback on the Cubs although their attempt fell short.
What We Didn't Like:
Derrek Lee: It was Lee's debut with the Braves and he was playing against his former team in his former stadium, so he gets a pass on this one. He didn't have a productive series at all, only producing one hit in the three games. His one hit was also a playable ball that Aramis Ramirez misplayed, but not bad enough for it to be called an error. His hit did break open the series, but if he is going to remain in the cleanup spot then he must produce cleanup-worthy numbers.
Tommy Hanson: Hanson didn't give up any extra base hits in his start, but he did walk four and struck out only four. The Cubs hit a bunch of bloopers and soft singles -- a recurring theme in rough Hanson starts -- but Tommy was not exactly sharp on Saturday afternoon either.
Brian McCann: The top hitter on the team went hitless in the series but did walk twice. McCann was on fire up until lately so this is likely just a small slump. I expect him to rebound soon and start hitting as well as he usually does.
Melky Cabrera: Melky went just 1-9 with a walk in the series, which included an atrocious strikeout in ninth inning of the opener. Melky has been good for a while now, so hopefully this was just a rough series.
Number of the series: 47
This number doesn't really have much to do with the series as much as it does the season. 47 is the difference in run differential between the Braves (+118) and the Phillies (+71). For all who think the Braves season is lucky and that they won't sustain their success, they sure do a better job scoring more than their opponents do.