The Braves took two-of-three against the Tigers this weekend thanks to great pitching performances from the two pitchers battling to stay in the rotation. Sunday was ugly and took away from the good we saw earlier in the series, but taking two games against a tough American League team is always a good thing. Brian McCann had the first home run, so good job to the 24 voters who picked Brian in the preview. The coolest part of the series had to be Billy Wagner striking out the side in order to get his 400th save. The team letting Chipper take the field alone after his three-run homer in game two was almost as awesome.
Chipper Jones: Chipper only played in the first two games but went 3-for-7 with a walk and a go-ahead home run off of Joel Zumaya on Saturday evening. Chipper has hit in 10 straight games and is starting to get hot at the plate. His OBP is currently sixth highest in the NL and the highest in the NL East.
Kenshin Kawakami: Kenshin threw seven great innings and allowed just five base runners as he got his first win of the season. With his great start, he has certainly helped his chances to stay in the rotation. If Kenshin can build off of this start and pitch how he did in the middle months of last season, then he should see his numbers improve.
Kris Medlen: Medlen, the other pitcher vying to stay in the rotation, got the series started right by striking out five and walking one in 6.2 innings with just one run allowed. Whether Medlen stays in the rotation or moves to the bullpen, he should continue to pitch very well.
Martin Prado: Prado seems to make this list every series. He had a hit in every game and went 5/12 (.417 avg) overall, including two doubles.
Brian McCann: McCann hit his first home run against left-handed pitching on Friday off of Andrew Oliver, who was making his Major League debut. McCann had an RBI double on Sunday afternoon as well. Those were Brian's only hits in the series, but he also walked three times. Brian's patience is by far the most improved part of his game this season. He is on pace to set a career high BB% at 14.8%. Previously, Brian's career high was 9.9% in '08.
Billy Wagner: Wagner only threw one inning, but as previously mentioned he struck out the side in order and nabbed his 400th career save, making him just the second lefty to ever achieve the feat. Wagner was missed in the second game as the rest of the bullpen almost blew the game in the ninth. He got a cortisone shot on his ankle and was supposedly available yesterday.
What We Didn't Like:
Tommy Hanson: Hanson had another poor performance, going 3.2 innings and allowing 6 runs to come across. Hanson got hurt by a ton of singles once again, but he can definitely pitch better. Hopefully back-to-back poor outings have not gotten into his head and hurt his confidence.
Yunel Escobar: Yunel went just 1-10 with a walk and his average dropped to .243. His OBP is still a respectable .345, but his SLG is all the way down to .289, a pitiful mark. Yunel looked like he was getting into a groove earlier in the month but has fallen off as of late.
The Ninth Inning of Game 2: With Billy Wagner on the shelf, Takashi Saito, Eric O'Flaherty, and Peter Moylan could not find the zone at all and nearly blew the game. In fact, they did blow the game but due to a terrible called strike three against Johnny Damon, the Braves luckily held on. The Braves may have still won the game if the correct call was made, but it certainly wasn't looking good. It's hard to have confidence in anyone closing games not named Wagner.
A three-game set against the Washington Nationals in which Tim Hudson and Stephen Strasburg will open up. Before the series, I said a 6-3 record on the nine-game home stand would be preferred. With a series win against the Tigers it is certainly attainable.