Omar Infante could indeed be the key to pushing the Braves over that extra hump to get to October.
The Braves are playing great baseball, there is no doubts of that. Had they have played this well all season, the Braves would easily be in first place in the tough NL East division race.
However, entering Saturday night's game, the Braves had fallen six games out of first place. While the Braves have been playing at a high level lately, it's going to take playing at a very high level to gain ground on the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies.
Omar Infante can give the Braves that chance. Not to bad for a utility man huh?
Infante was the hero tonight in a must win game against the Phillies. His bases loaded single off of the devastating Brad Lidge in the bottom of the ninth inning was a game winning shot. Welcome back Omar Infante.
I think I could make a solid case for Infante being the everyday leadoff hitter. However, the problem in that decision would be where he would play defensively. The infield is full, and if you move him to the outfield you really don't want to have to move McClouth.
Thankfully, as Bobby Cox always says...these things tend to work themselves out. McClouth has been injured lately needing some days off, Chipper struggles to play everyday, and Prado doesn't necessarily require everyday play. Infante will get in the lineup enough to make an impact, don't you worry.
How about Kenshin Kawakami?
The 30+ year old rookie is getting better and better with every start. Many speculate that when Tim Hudson returns from the DL, Kawakami would be the logically choice to move to the pen. Kawakami is making a case to keep himself in the starting rotation.
In the past I've always questioned how effective Kawakami would be as a reliever for the Braves. Typically, pitchers that pitch to contact are not as valuable in the late innings as they are for a start of around six innings rather than one.
Now, Kawakami has shown me something lately. He could be very effective in the late innings. He could be a valuable tool late in the season as Soriano, Medlen, Gonzalez, and Moylan have all received a lot of work this season and could tire as October approaches.
It was also nice to see Brian McCann tee off on Cole Hamels tonight. B-Mac has seen his average dip over ten points here recently. Being a go-to guy on the team, it was nice to see him work out of the semi-slump.
The Braves will look to take the series on Sunday night as the two NL East rivals look to set up one of the better pitching matchups of the season. Javier Vazquez (10-7; 2.90 ERA; 171 Ks) of the Braves will face the sensational J.A. Happ (8-2; 2.75 ERA; 89 Ks) of the Phillies.
The Braves will need to jump on Happ quickly and attempt to force the Phillies to bring Jamie Moyer out of the bullpen to pitch batting practice to the Braves hitters in the late innings.
Sorry...that was uncalled for.
Tune in 8:05 ET to ESPN and watch this must win game for the Atlanta Braves. It should be a good pitchers duel. Enjoy the game.