After winning four straight games heading into the All-Star break, the Atlanta Braves have continued their hot streak into the second half of the season, defeating the New York Mets again on July 14 by the score of 8-7. Anthony Varvaro picked up his first win of the year in relief for the Braves, while Craig Kimbrel converted for his 27th save.
Hanson had another mediocre start for the Braves, going just over five innings while ultimately giving up six runs on nine hits to go along with five strikeouts as well. It is now the fifth straight start that Hanson has given up at least three runs, and I think it should be somewhat of a cause for concern for the Braves. Although Jair Jurrjens has pitched well since being called up, the back end of the rotation is still not that good, and it is really up in the air as to what Ben Sheets could provide the team with. There should be a good amount of starting pitchers available when the trading deadline nears, and if the Braves can somehow get someone like Matt Garza without giving up too much, I think it would be well worth it for them to do so.
The offensive player of the game for the Braves on July 14 was Freddie Freeman, who went 3 for 4 with a double and two RBIs. Freeman now has hits in six straight games, with four being multi-hit, and he finally seems to be coming around to what we expected him to do in 2012 until he started having vision problems. With Freddie starting to pick it up I think he would be better served in the clean-up spot for the Braves, with Jason Heyward hitting third, Chipper Jones fifth, Brian McCann sixth, and Dan Uggla seventh until he starts getting his average back up.
The Braves will look to sweep the Mets on July 15 as Ben Sheets takes the mound against Johan Santana. As stated earlier, Sheets is sort of a wildcard for the Braves who could either be a great pickup for the back end of the rotation or turn into another Livan Hernandez. Either way, I think it was worth it for the Braves to at least give Ben a shot and see if he can help the team out, and this will certainly be an interesting start to watch. Santana has been a bit inconsistent since his (supposed) no-hitter and is coming off of a start against the Chicago Cubs that saw him giving up seven runs in less than five innings. With the way the Braves are hitting right now I would expect them to get enough runs for Ben Sheets and hopefully get a sweep to start off the second half of the season.
Ryan Kekoufski is a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan.
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