Phillies-Braves: 5 things you need to know

Phillies-Braves: 5 things you need to know
September 2, 2014, 10:45 am
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Phillies at Braves
7:10 p.m. on CSN

Don't accuse the Phillies of packing it in just yet. In the best moment of a down year, Cole Hamels and three relievers pieced together the first combined no-hitter in franchise history.

While some thought Hamels should have been allowed to finish what he started, the involvement of the bullpen added some uniqueness to the situation. Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon each entered high-pressure situations, not wanting to be the man who blew the no-hitter, and all three were perfect.

In the short-term, it was nice to see an on-field celebration from a team that has fallen woefully short of expectations. In the long-term, it was nice to see the Phillies' top arms show a glimpse of how literally unhittable they can be. With Hamels atop the rotation and Diekman and Giles holding down the back end of the bullpen for years to come, the Phillies have the makings of a solid pitching staff. Filling in the other spots is the key.

Now the Phils move forward to Game 2 of their three-game set in Atlanta with a chance to pick up a series win. Here are five game notes to get you prepared:

Revere the RBI machine
Ben Revere entered Labor Day with 15 RBIs in 125 games. In just one afternoon, he added five to his season total.

Revere knocked in a career-high five runs with an RBI single, a three-run triple and a sacrifice fly, his first sac fly as a Phillie. He became the fourth leadoff man this season to drive in five runs in a game and the first Phillie to do so since Shane Victorino in April 2010.

Not since Ricky Otero in 1996 has a Phillies leadoff man driven in five runs in a game without a homer.

It was a strange-looking box score. Revere and Jimmy Rollins, the 1-2 hitters, went 5 for 8 with six RBIs, and all seven of the Phillies' runs were scored by players batting in the 6 through 9 spots in the order.

Kendrick goes for 3rd straight
Kyle Kendrick has won back-to-back starts against Adam Wainwright and Doug Fister, adding victories to his resume despite allowing eight runs in 12 1/3 innings.

It's the first time Kendrick has won consecutive starts since June 12 and 17. He has a 6.49 ERA over his last 10 outings.

Kendrick allowed two more runs in the first inning against Washington; he's given up seven first-inning runs over his last four starts and has the majors' highest ERA (10.00) in the opening frame.

The Phillies are hoping Kendrick can go deeper into Tuesday's game than he has been lately. Kendrick has completed seven innings just once over his last 10 starts. He's one more poor outing away from exiting a game with an ERA over 5.00 for the first time all season.

He's been pretty good against these Braves, though, with a 3.65 ERA in 116 innings. Kendrick has kept Braves leadoff man Jason Heyward off balance with his two-seamer, holding him to five hits in 30 at-bats with seven strikeouts.

Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson have all hit him around -- that trio has eight hits apiece for a combined .348 batting average with six doubles, three home runs and 15 RBIs in 69 at-bats vs. KK.

Minor coming around
Braves lefty Mike Minor has had a disappointing season, living around the plate and allowing hits at a higher rate than ever before.

On the year, Minor has allowed 144 hits in 126 1/3 innings for a .285 opponents' batting average. He's also allowed 20 homers in 21 starts, and on seven different occasions has allowed multiple homers in a game.

While Minor has had trouble with most hitters this season, same-handed ones have really given him fits. Lefties have hit .352 against him with a .905 OPS.

But the 26-year-old Vanderbilt product may be coming into his own. Over his last three starts he's allowed just four runs on nine hits over 21 2/3 innings. In those team wins over the Athletics, Reds and Mets, Minor lowered his ERA from 5.16 to 4.70 and watched his opponents' average drop from .312 to .285.

Minor has made eight career appearances against the Phillies and is 2-4 with a 3.59 ERA. Ryan Howard has enjoyed the lefty-lefty matchup, going 6 for 15 off him with three homers and eight RBIs.

Franco will debut
Corner infield prospect Maikel Franco was called up Monday along with six other Phillies as rosters expanded. He will get the start Tuesday night against the lefty.

Franco was slightly more effective against left-handed pitching this season at Triple A, hitting .275 with a .757 against southpaws compared to .250 with a .714 OPS against righties.

And the 22-year-old certainly finished with a flourish, hitting .383 with 11 extra-base hits and 16 RBIs over his final 16 games with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Embracing the spoiler role
The Phillies are 8-2 in their last 10 games against teams positioned for the playoffs. At this point, making life miserable for winning teams is one of the only things they have left to play for.

At 72-66, the Braves are pretty much finished in the NL East. They are seven games behind the Nationals and it feels like an even bigger deficit when you consider how well the Nats have played lately.

Atlanta's true hope is claiming the final wild-card spot. As of Tuesday morning, the Brewers held a 1½-game lead over the Braves for that final spot and a two-game lead over the Pirates. The wild-card picture is not as crowded as it was this time last year -- it's really a four-team race between the Giants and those three teams for the right to advance to the one-game playoff.

Knowing how streaky the Braves are and how lousy their offense has been -- they've scored the second-fewest runs in all of baseball -- they want no part of that do-or-die scenario. But it's the only realistic playoff hope Atlanta's got.

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