Not that they’ll get any credit for it, but the Braves just did something really impressive, sweeping the Rockies in Denver. That hadn’t happened all season, and as I mentioned coming into the series, they were 44-19 at home. Giving up “only” 13 runs there isn’t bad either.
Russ Ortiz won his eighteenth, matching a career high and also giving him the league lead. He struck out five and walked one in 6 2/3, which as far as I’m concerned makes this a great start. That he gave up four runs and a homer isn’t his fault. You try pitching on the moon sometime. Moreover, two of the runs scored on a double off Ray King in the seventh after Ortiz was pulled (having thrown 118 pitches. Poor Jason Marquis finally gets to pitch and it’s two mopup innings in Coors Field, giving up two ninth inning runs. On the other hand, he threw strikes. In Colorado, you look for any good sign.
The Braves hitters took advantage of the thin air and thin pitching of the Rockies to have several good days. Furcal and Chipper both had four hits, Furcal homering and Chipper doubling twice. Sheffield and Castilla both homered as well. The Braves had 17 hits in all.
Matt Franco had another “why not?” start at first, getting a hit and two walks. Marcus Giles was the only Braves starter without a hit, going 0-5 to break a modest hitting streak. Javy was 1-3 with two walks and now is hitting .326.
Tomorrow is a travel day, then the hapless Mets come to Atlanta for three. All the Braves’ remaining games are against NL East opponents except for seven with the Pirates. The Phillies lost again and the Braves’ magic number is now 20, meaning I can talk about it without too much embarrassment. There’s a chance that the Braves could clinch the division against the Phillies, a four-game series in Atlanta Sept. 8-11. More likely, it would be on a road trip to Florida and Montreal following.