The Atlanta Braves weren't able to get much offense going with Chipper Jones out of the lineup the last two games. They could certainly use him in their next contest. The Braves and Cincinnati Reds open a four-game series Monday night with each team starting a pitcher that ranks among the NL's worst in ERA. After splitting a two-game set with Miami, Atlanta (26-16) opened its seven-game road trip by taking two of three against Tampa Bay. Tim Hudson outpitched David Price in a 2-0 win Sunday and got all the support he needed from David Ross' third-inning homer. Jones, who is batting .307 this season with five homers and 24 RBIs, had two hits and drove in a run as Atlanta and Cincinnati split a pair of games last week.
The Reds (21-19) finished their seven-game trip with a winning record after taking the final two against the Yankees. Ryan Ludwick had a solo homer among his three hits and drove in three in a 5-2 victory Sunday. Ryan Hanigan also hit a solo home run for the Reds, who will be playing at home Monday for only the fourth time in a 17-game stretch. Monday should be a big game at the plate for both teams. Atlanta's Mike Minor (2-3, 7.09 ERA) has the second-highest ERA among NL pitchers with at least 37 innings, while Cincinnati's Mike Leake (0-5, 6.21) is fourth. Minor is trying to stay in the rotation after getting hit hard in four straight starts. He has allowed six or more runs in five of his eight outings this year, including four in a row - the first Braves starter to do so since John Thompson in 2006. Leake hasn't had much better luck this season, although he's coming off his strongest start of the year. Leake allowed three runs - a season-low one earned - in six innings of a 6-3 win over the Mets on Wednesday. He failed to make it through the fourth inning in two of his previous three starts and had allowed a season high-tying six runs in his previous appearance.
We get a relatively cheap price here, and given the way Atlanta has busted out of the gate overtaking Washington for first place in the NL East, we feel good about both offenses making their mark against 2 pitchers struggling to find a consistent rhythm. Freddie Freeman (.268 7 32) has picked up where he left off from last year's runner up rookie campaign. Jones is looking to have a farewell campaign that will send the Braves to the postseason once again hitting .307 with 5 HR. The future HOF'er has also driven in 24 runs as have Dan Uggla and Brian McCann. On the flip side, taking 2 of 3 from the Yankees this weekend has renowned confidence in the Redlegs bats, particularly Jay Bruce, whose 10 Hr and 27 RBi are complimentary to his .276 mark. Joey Votto also continues to have a solid season (.301 7 28) and the middle of the lineup will need to be productive for us to help cash this evening. We look to start another winning streak tonight. Best of luck however you play!