Nothing like a visit to Dallas to get the offense going. The Braves wound up scoring 28 runs in the series — nine last night — while giving up only 13 — three last night — and sweeping the Rangers. Together with losses by the Mets and Expos, and a win by the Marlins, the Braves stand five and a half games ahead of a three-team logjam of .500 teams in the NL East. It’s not just a weak division, mind you; the Braves have the third-best record in the NL and a better record than the leaders in either Central Division.
The hero last night was Javy Lopez, who had three hits including a homer and drove in four runs. The Braves also got good work from Vinny Castilla. Mind you, they both still have sub-.300 on-base percentages, and you can’t score a lot of runs like that, but at least they’re driving some in. The move of Julio Franco (and in DH games Darren Bragg) into the lineup has been a boon for these guys. You can get away with one or two low-OBP sluggers (not that Javy has been hitting for much power) but if you throw another — like Wes Helms — into the mix, there aren’t enough baserunners for them to drive in. Castilla has been cleaning up with the RBI, but the people hitting behind him have been getting very few RBI opportunities.
On to the Metrodome! Let Charlie Leibrandt be avenged!