The Braves and Phillies, who remain in contention for the NL wild card, continue their disappointing seasons Monday night when they begin a three-game series at Turner Field.
The New York Mets lead the NL East by 13 games over Philadelphia (53-57) and 15 games over Atlanta (51-59). The margin is unexpected since the Braves entered the season with 14 straight division titles and the Phillies have averaged more than 85 victories over the last five years.
Both teams have failed to meet expectations this season. However, Philadelphia trails NL wild card leader Cincinnati by 3 1/2 games and Atlanta is 5 1/2 games behind the Reds.
The Phillies are 5-3 against the Braves this year, and have taken two of three meetings at Turner Field.
Atlanta has had trouble containing Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Rollins is batting .432 (16-for-37) against the Braves this season and Utley, who has hit safely in 37 of his last 38 games overall, is 10-for-28 with seven RBIs against them.
The Braves missed an opportunity to gain ground in the wild card race by losing two of three games over the weekend at Cincinnati. Atlanta avoided the sweep by rallying for a 6-4 victory on Sunday.
Jeff Francoeur hit a game-tying two-run triple in the eighth inning that triggered a four-run rally. It was a rare hit on the road trip for Francoeur, who was 4-for-26 over the six games.
“It was a tough road trip for me,” Francoeur said. “I had a lot of opportunities to win games for this ballclub. I’ve done it in the past, but it’s been a while.”
The Braves are beginning a stretch in which they play 15 of 22 games. They realize they need to play well against clubs like the Phillies if they are to have any chance at a 15th straight postseason berth.
“It’s good to go out there and play the Phillies trying to the win the series,” center fielder Andruw Jones said. “Right now, the only thing we got to do is play good baseball and, best-case scenario, get a sweep.”
Horacio Ramirez (5-4, 4.35 ERA) has lost his last two home starts with a 24.92 ERA, failing to last past the fourth inning on both occasions. He’s 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break.
The left-hander is 0-3 with an 8.88 ERA over his last five starts against the Phillies.
Philadelphia fell to 4-2 on its nine-game road trip after an 8-1 loss at the Mets on Sunday. The Phillies have managed only one run over their last 17 innings.
Starter Brett Myers (7-5, 3.83) is 3-0 with a 5.18 ERA over his last seven road outings. Myers allowed six runs and nine hits over six innings last Wednesday, but got credit for the win in a 16-8 victory at St. Louis.
The right-hander is 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA in his last five starts against Atlanta, including 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA in three outings this year.
Francoeur and Marcus Giles are a combined 0-for-18 against Myers this season.