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Heyday: Braves at Phillies, Sept. 12-15

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Sept. 12: Braves 1, Phillies 4 WP: Eude Brito (1-0) LP: Tim Hudson (12-8)
Sept. 13: Braves 4, Phillies 5 WP: Aaron Fultz (4-0) LP: Blaine Boyer (2-2)
Sept. 14: Braves 4, Phillies 12 WP: Cory Lidle (11-10) LP: Horacio Ramirez (11-9)
Sept. 15: Braves 6, Phillies 4 WP: Jorge Sosa (12-3) LP: Brett Myers (12-8)

Overview: a little history
The final baseball season at Veterans Stadium two years ago ended with the Phillies at home against the Atlanta Braves. This was the year of great expectations: Jim Thome and Kevin Millwood had joined the young, mostly homegrown  Abreu/Rollins/Burrell/Wolf/Padilla/Myers nucleus, the payroll had rougly trebled, and with a beautiful new ballfield rising in red brick out in the parking lot, it seemed like the whole direction of the franchise was about to change for the better. Optimistic phans looked at the schedule in spring 2003 and licked their chops in anticipation of that series finale, in which the Phils might at last wrest away the division crown from Chipper and the Choppers.

Of course, it didn't quite work out that way. The Phils entered that series on a five-game losing streak that took them from the wild-card lead--the Braves had long since clinched the division, as usual--to playing out the string. They were routed Friday night (I was there, sitting way up in the outfield nosebleeds), came back to win the nationally televised Saturday game, and lost Sunday in a contest most memorable for Millwood, who'd been pounded yet again by his old team (he went 0-4 with a 7.77 ERA against them in '03), throwing his glove and cap into the stands. The Phils' tenure at the Vet ended in all too typical fashion.

Compared to that dreary weekend, the four-game set against Atlanta that begins Monday night is almost pleasant to contemplate. Sure, the Braves are within a week or so of clinching their 11th straight NL East title; yes, the Phils have ceded control of their own playoff fate with those four excruciating losses to the Astros and Marlins last week; and indeed, the team somehow needs at least one win from rookie starters Eude Brito and Gavin Floyd in the first two games. But there's life, there's hope, and after battering the Florida pitching staff all weekend, the team still has at least a puncher's chance.

Head to Head
The Braves have won 7 of the 12 meetings between the two teams in 2005. They've split six games at Citizens Bank Park, while Atlanta has won four of six at Turner Field, where the teams will meet next week.

  • Tuesday starter John Thomson was dominant in his one victorious start against the Phils this season: 7 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 8 K. Tim Hudson has beaten the Phillies twice in two starts and has put up a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings. On the other hand, Wednesday starter Horacio Ramirez has pitched to a 10.54 ERA and a 1-2 record in three starts vs. the Phils.
  • Andruw Jones has emerged as a serious contender for NL MVP honors with his team-record 49 home runs, but the Phils have pretty much held him down: he's 8-48 (.167) with two homers and a .570 OPS against Phillies pitching this season.
  • Atlanta's best hitter, by the numbers, in the season series no longer plays for the Braves: it's Raul Mondesi, who went 8 for 20 with two homers and a 1.135 OPS in six games earlier this year. Marcus Giles (12-40, 2 HR, .300 avg, 1.041 OPS), Chipper Jones (8-25, 12 RBI, 10 BB, .320 avg, .994 OPS) and Adam LaRoche (12-37, 3 HR, .324 avg, .985 OPS) also have been standouts against the Phillies this year.
  • Jason Michaels has been the Phils' best hitter against Atlanta this season (8-20, 1 HR, .400 avg, .538 OBP, 1.138 OPS), and Chase Utley has recorded a .917 OPS vs. Braves pitching. None of the other full-season regulars have done much in the series at all, OPS-wise: Bobby Abreu's at .716, Jimmy Rollins .669, Pat Burrell .585, and it gets worse from there.
  • Cory Lidle won his lone start against Atlanta with 6 2/3 strong innings. Brett Myers is 1-2 with a no-decision and a 3.62 ERA in four starts facing the Braves. Gavin Floyd might see Atlanta in his sleep; six days after shutting down the Cardinals in his first start of the season, Floyd was rocked by Atlanta, and in a later relief outing they hit him even harder. For the year, the Braves have tattooed Floyd for 13 earned runs in 4 innings--or an ERA of 29.25.