Heading into the series opener with the Chicago Cubs, the Atlanta Braves were on an offensive tear. They had just come off a series in Colorado that saw them score 29 runs on their way to a series sweep. Instead of seeing their run total sky rocket, their offense failed starting pitcher, Tommy Hanson. As the series continues with a scheduled 8:05 p.m. ET first pitch on May 8, the team will turn to Randall Delgado to get them back in the win column.
The Braves managed just a single run against Jeff Samardzija, with Jason Heyward hitting his fourth home run of the season in the second inning. Aside from that homer, the Braves managed to get just four more hits against the starter and one hit off James Russell in the ninth inning.
Hanson didn't have the worst performance of his season, but threw 91 pitches in six innings before being lifted. He fell to 3-3 on the year and his ERA dropped to 3.63, but he still doesn't look like the same pitcher who broke into the league in the second half of 2009.
The Braves will rely on Delgado to avoid losing their second straight series. He will face a man who hates to face the Braves, Ryan Dempster. Dempster is just 2-12 in his career against the Braves, recording a 4.74 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 67 walks in 123 1/3 innings.
Delgado will need the Braves offense to succeed against Dempster, as he hasn't had the best rookie season yet. He is coming off his best performance of the year, going eight innings with just two earned runs allowed, but suffered his third straight loss as the offense was shut out.
Of the current Braves, Michael Bourn has had the greatest success in his career against Dempster, hitting .345 in 29 career at-bats. Chipper Jones is hitting just .261 against him in his career and Brian McCann is 0-for-12. Atlanta will need to find the offense from the top of the order, or it could be a long night at Wrigley Field.
For access to Atlanta Braves season recaps from 1990-present, a look at trades that changed Braves history, or a look at the greatest award winners in team history, go here for easier access.
More from this contributor:
Hobson Lopes has been a life-long Atlanta Braves fan, thanks to TBS, and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.