The Atlanta Braves improved their record to 24-15 on the year with a win on May 17 over the Miami Marlins by the score of 7-0. Brandon Beachy picked up his fifth win of the year for the Braves while Ricky Nolasco had his second loss.
Beachy was fantastic to say the least in the game against the Marlins, throwing a complete game shutout while only giving up five hits to go with six strikeouts. What is most surprising about his performance is that he threw only 12 first pitch strikes to 32 batters in the game, but his stuff was good later in the counts that he never gave up a walk for the entire game. It is now the seventh straight start that Beachy has gone at least six innings while giving up two runs or less, and he now leads not only the National League but all of Major League Baseball in ERA at only 1.33. The last person to have an ERA below 1.50 this late into the season was someone by the name of Greg Maddux in 1994, who finished the year with a 16-6 record with an ERA of 1.56. Hopefully Beachy doesn't do what Jair Jurrjens did last year in completely falling apart after the All-Star break, but I think he has a good chance to have a very good year in 2012 if he keeps his command up.
Chipper Jones went 2 for 4 with an RBI in the May 17 game to improve his average to .306 on the year, and he has basically been everything the Braves could have hoped for in his last year. He won't be able to play in every single game this year due to knee problems, but if he can somehow stay at this pace for the rest of the year while Juan Francisco continues to improve as a backup, I like Atlanta's chances to win the division in 2012.
The Atlanta Braves will now go on the road to face an interesting interleague series against the Tampa Bay Rays from May 18-20 before moving on to play a four game series against the Cincinnati Reds. The game to watch in the series will be on Sunday, as Tim Hudson will take the rubber against David Price. Both pitchers are coming off of good starts and have ERAs below four on the year. If the Braves can somehow get two out of three games, that would be good for them.
Ryan Kekoufski is a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan. He covers sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, and currently resides in Virginia. Follow him on Twitter @RyanKekoufski.