Atlanta Braves (31-22) at Los Angeles Dodgers (31-22)
10:10 PM ET
ATL: Kris Medlen (2-1, 2.85)
LOS: Hiroki Kuroda (5-3, 3.55)
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The NL East leading Braves will start a four game series against rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers beginning on Thursday in LA.
The Braves are first in the NL East heading into an 11 game road trip, 2.5 games over the Phillies. Riding and eight game win streak, they just swept Philadelphia after a 2-1 win on Tuesday. They have a 19-6 record at home, but are only 12-16 on the road.
The Dodgers are the second hottest team in baseball, to the Braves, with a four-game win streak and sit only one game behind San Diego in the West. They have an 18-8 record at home. Both teams finished April in last place in their divisions with identical 9-14 records and looked headed toward disappointing seasons, but have turned it around and share identical 31-22 records now.
Atlanta’s hitting was missing for a long time, but has come on as of late. Troy Glaus, the 33-year-old right-handed power hitter signed in the off season to shore up first base, was hitting just .194 at the start of May. Since then, he’s hit .333 with seven homers and 31 RBIs. For the season he is batting a solid .278 with nine homers and 40 RBIs in his first 53. Chipper Jones could be sidelined for at least a few days with an inflamed right ring finger that became too painful to deal with during the fourth inning of Wednesday’s victory.
Taking the mound against the Dodgers will be starter Kris Medlen, who beat the Pirates on Saturday with a solid effort; six innings with three earned runs. He struck out four while walking two. He did allow nine hits. Medlen continues to have success as a member of the Braves’ starting rotation with a 2-1 record. Through 41 innings this season, Medlen has a 2.85 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and a 32:9 K: BB ratio.
Garret Anderson’s two-out RBI single in the bottom of the 14th inning drove home Matt Kemp for a 1-0 victory Wednesday against Arizona. Signs of life in Anderson’s bat is a good thing, as he has hit only .182 on the season and shown little power. Matt Kemp and Andre Either are the heart of the lineup and lead the team with 11 homers apiece.
Hiroki Kuroda will look to rebound after giving up five earned runs (a season-high) and ten hits in just four innings (a season-low) against the Rockies on Saturday. The 35-year-old right-hander, coming off back-to-back losses, has surrendered just two runs in 15 innings spanning two career starts against the Braves, which is good for a 1.20 ERA. Bullpen sessions have been positive and it was most likely a fluke start.
Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton continues to be lights out and has yet to give up a home run in 22 appearances, during which time he has issued only three walks while recording 33 strikeouts.
The odds makers have the Dodgers as –1-½ – favorites with a run total of 8.
These are tow very hot teams coming into the series. I expect the Dodgers to take game one and the UNDER with a solid performance from Kuroda.
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