Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox has plenty of confidence in the pitcher he’ll send to the mound to try to snap his club’s losing streak. It’s safe to say he’s not quite as sold on his team’s offense.
The Braves look to snap out of their funk at the plate and give Jair Jurrjens(notes) enough support to end their four-game losing streak Friday night when they continue a four-game road series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Derek Lowe(notes) and Javier Vazquez(notes) have been solid additions to the front of Atlanta’s revamped starting rotation, but the emergence of Jurrjens (4-2, 2.07 ERA) has been just as important. The 23-year-old right-hander is fourth in the majors in ERA and ranks near the top of the NL in opponents’ batting average (.228) and innings pitched (61).
While Jurrjens arguably has been Atlanta’s most effective starter early in 2009, he hasn’t always gotten a lot of help from the Braves’ bats. He held Toronto to two runs in six innings Sunday but got two runs of support or fewer for the fifth time in 10 starts. The Braves (23-24) went on to win that game 10-2, but Jurrjens didn’t get the decision, and Cox took notice.
“I can’t say enough about (Jurrjens),” Cox told the Braves’ official Web site. “He was outstanding. He deserves better. We’re not getting him many runs, that’s for sure.”
Jurrjens shrugged it off because the team won, but Atlanta’s offensive inconsistencies have become more of a problem lately. The Braves, near the bottom of the majors with 4.23 runs per game, have totaled seven runs and batted .177 while dropping four straight games, one shy of their season high.
“You can say ‘Well, we didn’t hit the ball tonight,’ but he was hard to hit at,” Cox said of Haren. “A lot of teams wouldn’t have hit him tonight at all.”
The Diamondbacks (21-27) are barely ahead of the Braves with 4.27 runs per game, but they’ve been connecting lately, averaging 5.75 runs and batting .287 while splitting the first four games of their seven-game homestand.
“We’ve got a knack right now when we put together quality at-bats in a row, we put up crooked numbers on the scoreboard,” manager A.J. Hinch told the team’s official Web site.
Justin Upton(notes) has been one of the keys to Arizona’s offensive success. The 21-year-old outfielder is 14 for 24 (.583) with three RBIs and six runs scored over his last six games, lifting his average to .346. He’s hit safely in seven straight and 30 of 33.
Upton hopes to continue his hot hitting for Friday’s starter Jon Garland(notes) (4-3, 4.70). Garland, in his first season with the Diamondbacks after spending his first nine seasons in the AL, has struggled to adjust to hitter-friendly Chase Field, where he’s 2-2 with a 6.99 ERA.
The right-hander suffered a 13-5 loss to Cincinnati in his last home start May 11. It was the second time he’s been reached for seven runs in 3 2-3 innings at Chase Field in 2009.
Garland looked better on the road his last time out, holding Oakland to three runs over six innings, but he still suffered the 6-2 defeat.
Garland gave up five runs and 12 hits in 5 2-3 innings to lose his only previous start against Atlanta on June 13, while with the Los Angeles Angels.
Jurrjens made his first two starts against the Diamondbacks last year, going 1-0 with a 5.06 ERA in two Braves victories.