I’m not sure who exactly makes the schedule, but the month of May hasn’t been too kind to the Braves. They followed a streak of 20 straight games and a lengthy west coast road trip with a daunting homestand featuring the Cardinals and Brewers. Now, they head back to the other side of the country for a four-game set with the Giants followed by a three-game series in St. Louis before returning home. All of that traveling might bother the Braves if they weren’t in the middle of the best stretch of baseball they have played all season.
For the first 40 games, Atlanta was nothing better than a .500 ball team – a disheartening start considering the expectations after they won the division a year ago. They had yet to have a real “we are better than you, and we know it” stretch of 10-20 games that separated themselves from the rest of the clubs hovering around the .500 mark – that is – until they got swept by the Dodgers.
Something about getting the breaks beaten off of you by the team that eliminated you from the playoffs a year ago must have left a sour taste in the Braves’ mouths because they’ve been a different ball club ever since. They went on to take three out of four from the snakes in the desert then came home to win back-to-back series against the Cardinals and Brewers. The streak has them nipping at the heels of the Phillies once again for the top spot in the division – a position they can improve on by taking care of the lowly Giants.
Quiet Bats by the Bay
San Francisco sits five games under .500 at the moment, and that includes their current stretch of four wins in their last six games. This isn’t a team that is anywhere close to competing as they have been for so many consecutive years. Their pitching isn’t what it used to be, but it’s their egregious offensive output that has led to their decline.
The Giants are 13th in the National League in runs scored; which is somehow still 57 runs better than the Marlins who have a league-worst 118 runs (belly laugh). They have a team batting average of .223 – only better than the Marlins and Reds – and are also the third-worst in team on-base percentage (.288). They don’t possess much pop, and few names should strike fear into any major league pitcher. As long as the Braves’ staff can throw strikes, they should be in a fantastic position to rack up another series win.
Mike Soroka aims to continue his dominance
The Mike Soroka bandwagon has reached maximum capacity. If you’re not on now, you’re far too late. The 21-year-old has been the best pitcher in the National League, recording a league-best 0.98 ERA through six starts this season. He’s the only pitcher to allow one earned run or less in nine of his first eleven career starts. Everything about this kid is impressive – his size, demeanor, repertoire, and control. There’s a reason why he was regarded as the Braves best pitching prospect in an outstanding crop of young arms. A red-hot Mike Soroka versus a depleted Giants lineup should be the perfect recipe for Atlanta to start this series off the right way.