Phillies Visit Atlanta for Braves’ Home Opener

Philadelphia Phillies (Cliff Lee, 1-0) at Atlanta Braves (Tim Hudson, 1-0)
Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia
Friday, April 8, 2011, 7:35 pm Eastern, TV: MLB Network (regional)
Opening Money Line: PHI -136 / ATL +116
Current Money Line: ATL -110 / PHI -110
Opening Run Line: ATL +1 1/2 -155 / PHI -1 1/2 +135
Current Run Line: PHI +1 1/2 -230 / ATL – 1 1/2 +190
Opening Total: 7 under -115 / over -105
Current Total: 6 1/2 over -115 /  under -105

Tim Hudson goes for the Braves as they try to stop a three game losing streak. The Phillies are the opponent for teh braves' home opener.

These two rivals are expected to contend for the National League East title. The Phillies have gotten off to a great start so far with their pitching rotation full of aces. They are 5-1 and have a 2 game lead over the Marlins and Mets in the division. Yesterday the Phillies beat the Mets 11-0 to take 2 out of 3 in the series. The Braves play their first home game of the season after going 3-4 in road trips to Washington and Milwaukee to start the season. The Braves took the opener against Milwaukee Monday but the Brewers took three straight after that including a 4-2 decision yesterday.

The Phillies will start left-hander Cliff Lee. He struck out 11 with no walks in his last outing against the Astros. Lee gave up 3 earned runs in 7 innings in the Phillies’ 9-4 victory. His ERA is 3.86 for the young season in one game. Lee is 1-1 in his career against the Braves in 3 starts with a 5.06 ERA. The Braves will counter with veteran right-hander Tim Hudson. Hudson went 7 innings and only allowed 1 run in his first start of the season at Washington. He struck out 5 and walked 1 in the Braves’ 11-2 victory. His ERA is 1.29 on the season. Hudson is 6-7 in his career versus the Phillies in 18 starts with a 3.79 ERA.

Tim Hudson is 124-55 against the money line at home in his career, including 56-21 in home games after a loss. The Phillies are 100-73 against the money line in road games the last 3 seasons, including 30-13 when the money line is between -100 and -125. The Phillies are also 81-44 against the money line the last two years in night games. The two teams are 18-18 against each other in the last 3 seasons but the Braves are 10-8 in Atlanta. The under is 21-13 in those games.

The Phillies have a slew of injuries right now, most notably to closer Brad Lidge and 2B Chase Utley. Lidge is expected to be out until around the All-Star break with a shoulder injury. Utley is on the 15 day disabled list with a knee injury along with outfielder Domonic Brown (hand), infielder Brian Bocock (hand), and pitcher Brian Schlitter (forearm). Ryan Howard is leading the Phillies in every offensive category. He is batting .480 and has an OBP of .500. He is tied for the team lead in home runs with Ben Francisco with 2. Howard is tied for the team lead in RBI’s with Placido Palanco with 8. Howard has 12 hits. The Phillies have a team batting average of .353 so far this season. They are outscoring opponents 43-23 on the  season. The Phillies have a team ERA of 4.00. Jose Contreras will be the closer until Lidge gets back. Contreras has one save on the season.

Braves pitchers Kris Medlen and Jair Jurrjens are both on the 15 day disabled list.  Jason Hayward and Brian McCann have provided most of the offense for the Braves so far this season. Catcher McCann leads the team in batting average with .423 and hits with 11. He is tied with Hayward with 5 RBI’s. Hayward and Dan Uggla lead the team in home runs with 2 apiece. Hayward leads the team in OBP with .444. The Braves have a team batting average of .226. The Braves are outscoring opponents 22-19 on the season. If you take out the game against Washington where they had 11 runs, The Braves haven’t scored more than 4 runs a game in any other game. The Braves have a team ERA of 2.75 and average 6.86 strikeouts per nine innings. Closer Craig Kimbrel  has 2 saves and hasn’t allowed a run yet.

The Braves have to score more runs if they want to compete with the potent Phillies line-up. That is easier said than done when you are facing a pitcher as great as Cliff Lee. And it won’t get any easier as the Phillies will bring out Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in the other two games of the series.

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