The Braves are playing not only their best baseball of the season, but probably their best baseball since early 2000. They waxed the Reds 7-0 last night, and today beat them again, 7-1. They’ve won 12 of 16 and five of their last seven series, the other two being ties. Currently, the Braves are a game up on the Mets, with New York playing tonight.
Gary Sheffield is back in the lineup, and has made his presence felt quickly. He had two hits last night, one a double, and today was the hitting star, with two homers and five RBI. He hasn’t been himself this season, obviously, but he’s apparently coming around, giving the Braves three bona-fide weapons in the lineup, all outfielders. Andruw hit his 13th homer today, breaking a long slump; he and Chipper both had two hits. If the Braves were getting anything from Rafael Furcal (who admittedly has been a little better of late) and the rest of the infielders, the offense might be something special; at the least, it’s better than the Mets’.
Julio Franco appears to have won the first base job again, with Wes Helms on the bench. Julio is hitting .250, with a .328 on-base percentage. That doesn’t sound like much, but he was hitting .195 only a week ago and .146 at the beginning of May. The twists and turns of the Braves’ first base situation probably aren’t done yet.