The Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves will close out a three-game National League East series Wednesday night at Turner Field.
Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves
Philadelphia can possibly deliver a knockout blow to its NL East rival in the regular season finale, as Atlanta is tied with St. Louis in the Wild Card race. The club celebrated a 7-1 victory last night by giving manager Charlie Manuel his 645th regular-season win, which tied Gene Mauch for the franchise record. It’s been a great year for the team, leading all Major League clubs this season in ERA and fielding percentage, which would be the first time it has led in both those categories in team history. The Phillies have tallied a 24-10 record in their last 34 road games and set a club record for single-season wins away from Philadelphia with the win Tuesday night.
Phillies starting pitcher Joe Blanton is 1-2 with a 5.03 ERA in 10 games (seven starts) this season, as he’s come out of the bullpen in his previous three appearances. The right-hander has registered a 1-2 record and 4.15 ERA in six road outings (five starts), issuing six walks and compiling 18 strikeouts in 26 innings. In 10 lifetime appearances (nine starts) versus the Braves, Blanton is 1-4 with a 5.47 ERA, including a 5-3 loss on May 14 at tonight’s venue (5 IP, 2 ER).
Atlanta has seen an 8 1/2-game lead in securing the NL’s final playoff spot evaporate since Sept. 6, as the team may have to play a one-game playoff Thursday night if it can somehow muster a victory and St. Louis wins as well. “It’s like we’re living out a bad dream,” commented Braves third baseman Chipper Jones. “You really never expect this to happen to you.” The Braves have scored just four runs in their last four games and have been outscored by a significant 43-9 margin in dropping six consecutive games against Philadelphia. Atlanta is 9-17 in September and 36-35 versus divisional foes.
Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson is 16-10 with a 3.23 ERA in 32 starts this season and will be looking to capture his third win in a row. He has allowed three runs and 13 hits over 13 2/3 frames, tallying wins over New York and Washington over that span. The right-hander is 10-4 with a 2.29 ERA in 18 home starts, as opponents are hitting .204 against him. In 21 career games versus the Phillies, Hudson is 7-8 with a 3.75 ERA, including a 6-3 road loss on Sept. 6. He surrendered four runs and six hits over six innings in that contest.
Bettors will likely back the Braves due to their 5-0 record in Hudson’s last five home starts, while the Phillies are 3-8 in their last 11 contests.
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