Thursday, May 18, 2017

Atlanta Braves experience week of highs and lows against Astros, Marlins

The Atlanta Braves experienced seven days of highs and lows this past week with some good things happening along with the not-so-good.

On Tuesday of last week, the Braves traveled to Minute Maid Park in Houston for a two-game inter-league series against the Astros, who currently have the best record in all of baseball. Houston handed the Braves a pair of losses, 8-3, on Tuesday of last week and 4-2 on Wednesday of last week, leaving the Braves on a six-game losing skid.

The Braves had the day off last Thursday before making their way down to Miami to take on the Marlins, who are just one spot above the Braves in the National League East standings. The Braves helped their cause by taking two games of the three-game series, beating them, 8-4, on Friday and 3-1 on Saturday. While the Braves did put together two wins against the Marlins, snapping their long losing streak, they dropped the final game of the series, 3-1, on Sunday.

In Major League Baseball, winning multi-game series over the long course of the season is the key to success. If your team can win two of three games or sweep a series, they’ll be in good shape when it comes to making the postseason. However, on the other side of the coin, if you get swept or can only grind out one win in a series, it’s likely going to be a long year.

Through Monday, Atlanta has played in 12 series since the start of the year and have won or split five of those. They swept the San Diego Padres and a rain-shortened two-game series against the Mets. They’ve also won or split series against Miami (twice) and the Milwaukee Brewers.

That sounds pretty good, but the bad news is that the Braves have been swept by some pretty good teams so far, including the Pittsburg Pirates, the Washington Nationals, the St. Louis Cardinals, Houston and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves have also gone 1-2 in a pair of series against their NL East rival, the New York Mets.

Of all this, perhaps the biggest surprise is the sweep against the Phillies. As of Monday, the Phillies were 14-21 overall with a winning percentage of .400. They were third in the division, sandwiched between the front-running Nats and Mets and the trailing Marlins and Braves. The Phillies were nine games out of first place.

With that said, the season is still early. We’re really only halfway through May and this week the Braves will have another chance to redeem themselves. The Braves began a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday and will wrap up the week with a three-game series against the Nationals that starts tomorrow (Friday) in Atlanta.

The series against Toronto is somewhat unusual. The first two games will be played in Canada, and the second two games will be played in Atlanta. The Braves stand to gain some ground against the Blue Jays. As of Monday, they were 17-21 overall and at the bottom of the American League East standings.

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