One week ago, the Atlanta Braves found themselves 7.5 games back in the NL East and 5.5 back in the NL Wild Card. They have been on a surge lately winning five in a row and seven out of their last eight. On Friday, the Braves will start their most important series of the season, a three-game set against the Phillies. When this series concludes on Sunday, the Braves could be anywhere from eight games back to two games back.
The pitching mactchups seem to favor the Braves, except maybe Saturday when Kawakami takes the hill. In the defense of Kawakami, he did pitch excellent last Saturday against the Dodgers, going seven innings and giving up no runs.
Jurrjens will get the call on Friday, and he has been spectacular this season against the Phillies. Jurrjens has pitched two games this season against Philadelphia has yet to give up an earned run.
Javy Vazquez pitches the Sunday night game and he looks to continue his dominance after the All-Star break. Last Sunday, Vazquez went eight strong innings against the Dodgers, giving up one earned run and striking out seven.
The Braves offense will need to continue to be hot if they want to take this series. Adam LaRoche has been a nice addition to the offense, and look for him to continue hitting well in the second half of the season. Omar Infante, who's coming off the DL, only adds more depth to the Braves infield, which will help them down the stretch. Tim Hudson is scheduled to make two more starts in Gwinnett and then be activated from the DL. Also, Nate McLouth is expected to be back in the lineup on Friday against Philadelphia.
If the Braves want to stay in the NL East race, as well as the Wild Card race, they have to take at least two out of three games against Philadelphia. It is make or break for Atlanta this weekend; hopefully, they can continue to ride the momentum they have had since the All-Star break.