Phillies: 5-1, first in NL East

Braves: 3-4, fourth in NL East (2.5 games behind Phillies)

Phillies preview: The Phillies come into this early-season showdown with the Braves having won five of six to begin the season. The offense leads the National League with a .353 average and a .407 on base percentage.

Ryan Howard is a strong candidate for player of the week with a .480 average, two home runs and eight RBI. Placido Polanco continues to swing the ball well in April. He is hitting .440 with four doubles and eight RBI.  

Three of Philadelphia’s four aces take the hill in the series, starting with Cliff Lee tonight. Lee had a solid outing in his first start back with the Phillies. He allowed three runs, four hits and struck out 11 in seven innings.

Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels take the mound for the Phillies in the remaining two games. Hamels will look to rebound from one of the worst pitching performances of his career last Tuesday against the Mets. Cole allowed six runs on seven hits in just 2.2 innings of work. He is 9-5 with a 3.95 ERA in his career against Atlanta.

Braves preview: The Braves offense has been anemic after the first week of the season. Atlanta is 13th in the National League with a .226 batting average after seven games.  

Dan Uggla is hitting .222 with two home runs and two RBI this season. The Braves need more production out of Uggla if they are serious contenders for the National League East title.

Jason Hayward continues to hit the ball hard with two home runs and five RBI to begin the season. Atlanta sends Tim Hudson, Brandon Beachy and Derek Lowe to face the Phillies in the series. Lowe is 7-4 with a 3.21 ERA against the Phillies in his career and is hard to hit in Turner Field.

Player to Watch

Phillies: Wilson Valdez is batting .429 with three doubles and five RBI’s this season, which is a pleasant surprise for the offense. He will look to continue this hot streak against Hudson, Beachy, and Lowe.

Braves: Brian McCann has an excellent track record against the Phillies. McCann has a lifetime .289 average, with 12 home runs, and 56 RBI’s against Philadelphia. In order for the Braves to win the series, McCann has to deliver some big hits against the Phillies rotation.


Pitching Probables

Friday 4/8: PHI Lee (1-0, 3.86 ERA) at ATL Hudson (1-0, 1.29 ERA)

Saturday 4/9: PHI Oswalt (1-0, 3.00 ERA) at ATL Beachy (0-0, 1.50 ERA)

Sunday 4/10: PHI Hamels (0-1, 20.25 ERA) at ATL Lowe (1-1, 0.77 ERA)

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