National League Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, July 28th (All times Eastern)
Philadelphia Phillies (45-55) at Atlanta Braves (55-44), 7:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Philadelphia - Joe Blanton (8-8, 4.70) Atlanta - Mike Minor (5-7, 5.49)
(Sports Network) - To say Brian McCann is hitting well against the Philadelphia Phillies would be an understatement. He's knocking the cover off the ball.
McCann has homered in each of his last six games facing Philadelphia. Last night, he hammered a three-run homer off the newly-flush Cole Hamels to spark the Atlanta Braves in a 6-1 victory.
McCann is a career .279 hitter against the Phillies with 19 homers and 75 RBI. He's hitting .346 with 16 RBI this year versus Philadelphia.
Atlanta's win last night combined with Washington's loss at Milwaukee moved the Braves within four games of the NL East-leading Nationals.
With the Phillies mired in last place in the NL East and well out of the wild card race, Joe Blanton could be on the trading block, especially this being the final season of a three-year, $24 million contract for the right-hander.
Blanton, who comes into tonight's contest off a pair of strong starts, has won four of his last six decisions, covering eight starts. He has thrown eight innings in each of his previous two appearances, including a no-decision against the Giants on Sunday. He's 2-5 with a 4.87 ERA in 13 career games (12 starts) versus Atlanta.
Mike Minor has also pitched well recently, giving up two earned runs or less in three consecutive outings. He was on the wrong side of a 2-1 final at Miami on Monday. In that game, the southpaw surrendered six hits and a pair of runs over seven frames. He has compiled a 3-2 record with a 4.69 ERA in eight lifetime contests against the Phillies.
Friday's blast by McCann helped Ben Sheets (3-0) win his third consecutive start since returning from Tommy John surgery, as the former All-Star's surprising resurgence continued by holding the streaking Phillies to one run on six hits over six innings.
"He's (done) everything and more we could ever have asked for him to do," McCann said of his batterymate. "His stuff is there. He knows what he's doing. It's very impressive."
Philadelphia had won four in a row in comeback fashion and was looking to spoil the opener of Atlanta's 10-game homestand with their ace on the hill.
But Hamels (11-5) had his shortest outing the season just two days removed from becoming the second highest paid pitcher in baseball. The left-hander, fresh off signing a six-year, $144 million extension, issued a career-high six walks and surrendered five runs -- three earned -- in five innings of work.
"I wasn't able to get the pitches where I wanted to," Hamels said. "I wasn't even throwing strikes to the pitcher when he was bunting."
Braves outfielder Chipper Jones continues his ascent up the milestone charts. He doubled twice last night and is tied with Pete Rose for second-most extra base hits among switch hitters with 1,041. Eddie Murray is first with 1,099.
Atlanta has taken five of seven from Philadelphia so far this season.
07/28 10:22:20 ET