After struggling through the first two weeks of the season, the Braves just completed an impressive third week by going 5-1 against the Expos and the Phillies, which included four games of a five game winning streak. Through great pitching, hitting, and defensive performances, the Braves served notice to the rest of the National League East that they were still the team to beat. Let’s take a look at the highlights from the week.
Surprise, Surprise: The Braves picked up Shane Reynolds after learning that Paul Byrd will be out for 2-4 months after surgery. After being released by the Astros in Spring Training, many questioned if Reynolds’ could still be and effective pitcher in the league. Reynolds’ answered those questions with two solid performances in which he has pitched 12.1 innings allowing only one unearned run.
Rookie Rebound: After a very disappointing start against the Marlins, Ramirez came back to dominate the Expos in the second game of the three game series in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The young lefty pitched into the eighth inning, allowing his only two runs in the top of the eighth on a two-run homer.
Hit Parade: Sheffield and Giles continued their hot start to the season in San Juan against the Expos. The pair went a combined 11/19, with two homeruns and seven batted in. In the first game of the series, Sheffield hit a game tying homer in the top of the ninth while Giles hit a game winning homer in the top of the tenth.
Homecoming: Javy Lopez left his homeland of Puerto Rico with a band. In the final game of the three game set with the Expos in San Juan, Lopez gave his home town fans a performance they will never forget. After going hitless in the first two games of the series, Lopez went 3-6, 2HR, 6RBI. One of his homers was a grand slam in the top of the 10th to cap off a six run inning for the Braves.
Walk This Way: During his start against the Expos in San Juan, Russ Ortiz walked right batters in 5 1/3 innings while giving up three hits and four runs. The eight walks surpassed his previous career high of seven walks in a single start.
Brave First Start: On Saturday, Mike Hampton made his first start as an Atlanta Brave. He allowed six hits, four walks, and four runs in five innings. A loss of control in the third inning cost Hampton as he allowed a walk and threw two wild pitches, which lead to two runs for the Phillies.
Getting Even: In the Braves first and third series of the season, they were swept by the Expos and lost two of three to the Phillies. This week, they returned the favor by sweeping the Expos in San Juan, Puerto Rico and winning two of three from the Phillies in Atlanta.