Atlanta Braves' new manager Fredi Gonzalez (L) shakes the hand of former manager Bobby Cox after Cox threw out the first pitch at the start of their home opening MLB baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Atlanta, Georgia, April 8, 2011. REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
The series has been a fast one. It seems like it just started a day ago for me, but the first three game series with Atlanta wraps up today down in Coca Cola Park. The baton has been passed from Bobby Cox, who managed the Braves for 25 years, to Freddi Gonzalez, who used to manage the Florida Marlins.
It’s been a rock’em and sock’em series so far. The Phillies have pounded out 23 hits and the Braves 18 so far in the first two games. The Phils have scored 13 combined runs and the Braves 8.
The unsung heroes for the Phillies are perhaps the biggest story of the year for the Phils outside of the Phillies starting rotation. Already, the combination of Ben Francisco, Wilson Valdez, and yesterday’s star Carlos Ruiz, have made their presence known on this ballclub.
It really seems like the Braves series may be one of the better series that the Phillies will have over the year. The Braves will probably be the team that the Phillies have the hardest time against. The Braves are cultivating a mix of younger players who have a lot of promise along with some veterans that are already superstars.
Chipper Jones has started off with a tremendous year so far. He has set the pace on the team for others to follow. If he can stay healthy, he may be on the way to one of his best seasons with the Braves ever. We’re still only 10 days into the season though. It’s a long and grueling season for some, and usually the older a player is, the sooner those nagging injuries return. Chipper just went over 2,500 hits in this series, and he seems assured for the Hall of Fame in the first ballot.
Carlos Ruiz has done something that Ryan Howard has struggled with over the first 8 games so far. That is clean the bases when they are loaded. Ruiz went deep for a Grand Slam yesterday on the first appearance for the team on Fox Saturday afternoon baseball. The last Phillies player to hit a Grand Slam by a pinch hitter was Matt Stairs who did it in 2009.
It’s Cole Hamels again for the Phillies today. He’ll get a chance to erase that tough start he had against the Mets at home. Roy Oswalt is the first Phillies pitcher to reach 2 wins. Here’s how the Phillies starters and relievers stack up so far in this early season, click to go to Baseball-Reference.