Braves Hot Streak: It's For Real (plus 6/4 Preview vs. Dodgers)

Sean StricklandContributor IJune 5, 2010

LOS ANGELES - JUNE 3:  Manager Bobby Cox of the Atlanta Braves sits in the dugout before the game with the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 3, 2010 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Streak

9 straight wins have lead my beloved Braves to the top ranking in the NL East and, I'll tell you this with a straight face, they're not showing their true ability just yet.

The Braves can't ask for more this season.  In the final games for a legendary manager, a few sparks have ignited a flame under the entire Braves organization.

However, Bobby's boys have a 32-22 record without much help from their perrenial big guns.  Chipper Jones is hitting just .240 this season with 3 HRs and 21 RBI.  Brian McCann? .248/5/18.

This team feels more like the successful teams from the 90s.  Everyone plays a part and the pitching is dominant.  Even with the loss of Jair Jurrjens to injury, the combination of Lowe, Hanson, and Hudson has proved to be a solid rotation.

If Prado continues to bad anywhere near the realm of .323 and Glaus continues to provide a power stroke to the lineup while holding an average over .280, the Braves are in excellent shape to win the division -- even if Chipper and McCann continue their current, stagnant pace.

But here's the catch -- it's impossible for Chipper and McCann to continue batting as poorly as they have.

Odds are that one, or both, will heat up in the summer months.  When that happens, you'll see the true face of this new Braves team.  A face that strikes fear in the hearts of opponents and their fans.

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Expect a strong run into the playoffs for the south's team, and the team's outlook is only looking up from here out.

Preview of Today's Game

This evening, the team will attempt to extend a magnificant streak that includes a sweep of the rival Phillies when they face off against the Dodgers in the second game of a four game set.

Clayton Kershaw takes the mound for the Dodgers tonight, and he has absolutely had a monster May.  In his last 5 starts, Kershaw is 4-1 giving up only 4 earned runs while striking out 7 batters per game.  In 2009, Kershaw made his only career start against the Braves.  The result?  0 earned runs and 10 batters fanned over 7 innings.  Expect to see the same dominance out of this young pitcher tonight when the Braves come to town.

The Braves will answer with Kenshin Kawikami, who's off to a rocky start this season.  However, in KK's only career start against the Dodgers, he also pitched a gem allowing 0 runs and striking out 4 over 7 innings.  He'll need to have a strong start today to counter Kershaw's effectiveness.

With Brian McCann and Chipper Jones out of the lineup today; Prado, Heyward, and Glaus will be heavily relied on if the Braves are to extend their winning streak and put pressure on the rival Phillies to catch up.

Prediction for today's game: Kershaw pitches a solid game, netting at least 8 Ks and earning a 5-2 win for the Dodgers to break the hot streak.

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, they run into Tommy Hanson and a revived Tim Hudson in the final two games of the series.