Braves chances of winning NL East slipping away

The red hot Phillies beat the Braves 5-3 tonight in front of the 119th consecutive sold out crowd at Citizens Bank Ballpark.

The win increased Philadelphia’s lead to five games over Atlanta in the NL East.

Halladay wasn’t dominant, but he kept the Braves at bay. Brad Lidge picked up his second save in two nights.

Roy Halladay became MLB’s first 20-game winner this season and he has been nothing short of fantastic for the Phillies.

I want to say that it’s unreal that he has never pitched in the postseason, but he played with the Blue Jays his entire career. That’s not a shot at the Blue Jays, either.

Jason Werth and Raul Ibanez paved the way for the Phillies offense. Werth crushed a three-run homer in the third inning and Ibanez increased the Phillies lead in the sixth inning with a two-run double.

It was another long night for the Braves bullpen and that’s not a good thing. For the second consecutive night, a Braves starter took an early exit. In this series alone, the Braves bullpen has thrown 9.2 innings. Mike Dunn allowed the first two runs of his season in the bottom of the 6th inning. Tommy Hanson must throw 7 innings tomorrow. The Braves will get a day off on Thursday while they travel to Washington.

Things haven’t been good for Minor lately. He’s struggled in his last four starts. I think it could be a product of fatigue. He’s thrown a combined 157.1 innings this season and his previous career high is 124.2 IP (Vanderbilt/Rome) from last year.It might not be a bad idea to let Beachy pitch again when Minor’s turn in the rotation comes up again.

The Phillies are 16-3 this month and have won nine games in a row. Cole Hamels is 5-0 in his last five starts with a 0.48 ERA. Roy Oswalt is 7-0 with a 1.48 ERA in his last nine starts. The Phillies host the Mets after the Braves before traveling to Washington and then to Atlanta to close up the regular season.

The Braves are going to need some serious help from the Mets and Nationals if they have any chance of winning the division. The Braves aren’t mathematically eliminated from division contention, but it’s getting close.

Both losses to the Phillies could have been worse if you ask me. The Phillies had tons of runners in scoring position last night and they failed to push them across. Tonight, they were 2-14 with runners in scoring position. It just seems like they are always threatening to score and that has to put a tremendous amount of pressure on any team they play.

The Braves remain 1.5 games ahead of the Padres in the NL Wildcard race and 2.5 ahead of the Rockies. However, the Padres are currently beating the Dodgers 6-0 in the ninth inning. They will be one game out if they hold on to win. The Braves may as well get it in their heads that they have to win every single game from here on out.

Tommy Hanson (10-11, 3.62 ERA) is pitching for the Braves tomorrow and the Phillies will counter with Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.90 ERA). First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. CST.

Some positives:

  • Derrek Lee went 2-3 and continues his hot hitting. Over his last five games, Lee is hitting .500 (9-18) with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 6 R
  • Freddie Freeman hit the first homerun of his career against Roy Halladay in the 7th inning. It was a pinch hit homer.
  • Jair Jurrjens received encouraging news from his MRI. He will test his knee Friday and will rejoin the rotation if all goes well. There’s also news about Saito in that article as well. Saito had an MRI on his shoulder and it didn’t reveal any structural damage.
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