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Series Preview: Braves vs. Phillies

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It's time to shake the doldrums of the All-Star Break and get back to winning!

Kevin Liles

The Braves kick off the post-Break schedule at home against the Phillies, winners of five of seven leading up to the Break. Atlanta enters the second half tied for the NL East lead while the Phillies sit in last place, 10 games out.

The Phillies have shown themselves to be not the most offensively threatening team the first 95 games of the season. They're hitting .238 as a team, 28th in the Majors, and despite their five-game winning streak right before the Break are hitting just .212 in July. Ben Revere and Chase Utley have certainly done their part: Revere leads the way with a .333 avg. this month while Utley, the team's lone All-Star, is hitting .292.

The same can't be said for Ryan Howard, who's hitting just .106 in 13 games, but I'm willing to bet that all becomes moot once he steps foot inside Turner Field. When the Phillies last played at Turner Field, he continued his trend of turning Atlanta's ballpark into his playground with a pair of homers among the five hits he accumulated in a three-game sweep. Howard's 20 home runs at Turner Field are the most he's hit in an opponent's ballpark.

Howard's 15 home runs are three shy of the team lead, held by Marlon Byrd. Trade rumors have been following Byrd lately with talks he could be headed to Seattle even though that's one of four teams on his no-trade list.

The Braves will see Burnett, Hamels and Kendrick in this series. All three have performed as well as expected of late: Burnett, good; Hamels, better; Kendrick, bleh. In Kendrick's case however, like Ryan Howard, he'll suddenly turn superhuman against the Braves. His 3.32 ERA against Atlanta is tied for the lowest against NL opponents, and is 4-0 with a 2.47 ERA at Turner Field. Hamels is tough enough, but Burnett is beatable. If the Braves can shake their funk against Kendrick (even though they beat him last time), we'll all be happy.


Friday, July 18, 7:35 p.m. ET

Ervin Santana (ATL)

Last 3 starts: 21 IP, 19 hits, 8 ER, 4 BB, 15 K

A.J. Burnett (PHI)

Last 3 starts: 20.2 IP, 16 hits, 8 ER, 10 BB, 23 K

Saturday, July 19, 7:10 p.m. ET

Aaron Harang (ATL)

Last 3 starts: 22 IP, 23 hits, 6 ER, 7 BB, 7 K

Cole Hamels (PHI)

Last 3 starts: 18.2 IP, 16 hits, 7 ER, 9 BB, 15 K

Sunday, July 20, 1:35 p.m. ET

Alex Wood (ATL)

Last 3 starts: 18.1 IP, 14 hits, 9 ER, 7 BB, 15 K

Kyle Kendrick (PHI)

Last 3 starts: 18.1 IP, 22 hits, 14 ER, 3 BB, 11 K