Clutch pitching, timely hitting, and good fielding. Three terms that could be used to describe a winning baseball team. All three have applied to the Atlanta Braves over the past month and a half. This was even more apparent as the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays came in for a visit to Turner Field.
After the Rays won the opener, Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson came up with brilliant performances to shut down the Braves AL counterparts. Hanson pitched the Braves to a 6-2 win on Wednesday while Hudson was sparkling in a 3-1 win on Thursday.
Troy Glaus continued his stellar play during the series capped off by his sixth inning two run double that provided the winning margin on Thursday. Glaus is one of the feel good stories of the Major League season. His numbers are outstanding, .286 13 homers 53 RBI and the Braves would certainly be in trouble if not for his presence in the lineup. He is an absolute bargain as he will only cost the Braves around two million dollars this season in salary and performance bonuses. His 53 RBI tie him for the league lead and have him positioned as a possible All Star and probable Comeback Player of the Year.
Despite taking two of three from the Rays, the Braves remain only a half a game in front of the surging New York Mets for the division lead. The Mets have won nine of their last ten and have been on fire of late. The Braves will be hoping to maintain their lead as they prepare to open a three game set with the Kansas City Royals on Friday night. Derek Lowe will be on the hill for the Braves.