When Braves phenom Tommy Hanson struggled in his last outing, the Braves hoped it was a fluke.  Lasting just 3.2 innings against a middle-of-the-road White Sox team, the Braves figured to see Hanson bouncing back against the Tigers.  They didn’t get their wish.

Hanson, who again lasted just three and two thirds innings and gave up six runs (five of them earned), was chased from his second straight start.  I think Hanson will be thrilled to see interleague play end.

On the other side, Justin Verlander gave up four runs in seven innings to pick up the win and improve to 9-5.  The offense for the Braves has again shown a slow period, collecting just seven hits, while the Tigers banged out 17 hits. 

The interleague test for the Braves went somewhat decently, with a 9-6 interleague record.  But the Braves struggled against the White Sox and Tigers, getting swept by the White Sox and winning the first two against the Tigers before Hanson was roughed up in the third game of the three game series.

The Braves will take on the Washington Nationals (33-43, 12-11 against NL East opponents) tonight at Turner Field.  Rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg (2-1, 1.78 ERA) will go for the Nationals while the Braves send Tim Hudson (7-3, 2.54 ERA) to the hill.

The Braves need to catch fire soon.  The Mets, who are playing excellent baseball, trail the Braves by just a half game.  Just when the Braves need him the most, Jason Heyward will sit out due to his bum thumb, leaving a large hole in the offense in their time of need.  Perhaps the baseball deities will have mercy on a Braves team who hasn’t made the playoffs since 2005 and are hanging on to the lead.  If the Cubs are any indication of their mercies, the Braves may just be out of luck.  However, the Braves seem to find a way to make due in times of trouble.

I figure to see Eric Hinske starting in left, Melky Cabrera in right, and, hopefully, some decent run support out of the Braves.  A lineup with veteran presence, the Braves seem to be quick studies and are adept at hammering a pitcher his second time through the order.  Strasburg has some good stuff, however, and the Braves would be well advised to watch and learn well.

The Braves have a shot at getting back to October glory, but they have to hold off their archnemises, the New York Mets, in order to do so.  So, all you Met haters out there, let’s rally and make the Mets watch the postseason on their big flatscreen TVs.

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