Series Preview: Atlanta Braves

PHI: 5-1; ATL: 3-4
When: April 8-10
Where: Turner Field (Atlanta, GA)

Probable Pitchers
Friday: Cliff Lee (1-0, 3.86) vs. Tim Hudson (1-0, 1.29)

Saturday: Roy Oswalt (1-0, 3.00) vs. Brandon Beachy (1-0, 1.50)
Sunday: Cole Hamels (0-1, 20.25) vs. Derek Lowe (1-1, 0.77)

Broadcast Info
Friday, 7:05, PHL 17

Saturday, 1:10, FOX
Sunday, 1:35, PHL 17
All Games on 1210 AM

Player to Watch – RF Jason Heyward:

In two straight seasons, Jason Heyward homered on Opening Day. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Heyward had a great rookie campaign last year, proving to the majors he was ready to take on this level of pitching.

But now with a year under his belt, Heyward has the pressure of avoiding that sophomore slump, cutting down the strike out numbers and turning into a dangerous and patient hitter the Braves hope he is for the next decade.

The 21-year-old New Jersey native is batting .250 with two homers and five RBIs from the six-spot to start the season with the Braves. But last season, Heyward struggled in his 13 games against the Phils, batting .163 (7-for-43) with a homer and two RBIs (the homer was a game-winner off Ryan Madson early in the season).

Philly will look to continue their success against Heyward as he will look to get his season underway against a division rival.

Overview: The Braves are the team to beat in the NL East… if you’re an idiot like Buster Olney. With the Braves off to a slow start and the Phils offense on fire, it should be interesting to see how the first match up of these two NL East front-runners goes.

The Phillies offensive surge could have come thanks to playing in their band box of a park at CBP. Turner Field is spacious and balls get lost in the outfield if hit over the fielder’s heads. But the Phils have played some serious small ball, homering only five times to start the season while leading the league with 56 singles and second in the NL with 43 runs.

Wilson Valdez (.429 avg, 3 2B, 5 RBI) and Ben Francisco (.320, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI) have silenced the critics on whether they could fill the holes left by the injured Chase Utley and the departed Jayson Werth. Ryan Howard is also off to a freakishly hot start, batting .480 with three doubles, two homers and eight RBIs.

Catcher Brian McCann is off to a great start for the Braves, hitting .423 with five RBIs and newly acquired second baseman Dan Uggla has homered twice. Atlanta also has Chipper Jones playing solid to start. They just need All-Star Martin Prado and Heyward to turn it on.

Cole Hamels will be in need of a desperate bounce-back game on Sunday. He was shelled in Tuesday’s loss to the Mets and will hope to feast on a struggling Braves offense to get him in line with the rest of the aces.

This series will be the first test for the Phils. They can either keep up the hot start and gain some early distance on Atlanta or they could fall back to earth against a strong pitching team. The action starts tonight at 7:05 with Cliff Lee on the hill.

And for some bonus stuff, here is a little stroll down memory lane:

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