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Braves Aim for 4th Straight Win


The Atlanta Braves have very quietly put together a fantastic 2013 campaign and have compiled one of the best records (60-45) in the the majors, which has resulted in the largest lead in any divisional race. The Braves are eight and a half games up on the Washington Nationals as they aim for a fourth straight win today, so at the moment, there’s no need to look over their shoulder.

Still, with a little less than 60 games remaining in the regular season, it’s also no time to get complacent. In fact, the Braves will hope to do the opposite, as they put the pedal to the floor and try to lock down the East title as quickly as they can.

In coming off a sweep of the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals, the Braves should have plenty of confidence as they continue their second-half push today against the Colorado Rockies.

Despite Atlanta’s recent success, some might find it hard to believe the Braves would be feeling so good after seeing starter Tim Hudson go down with a broken ankle in the previous series. And although the Braves will certainly miss his presence in the rotation, they are happy to welcome back a familiar face today and a pitcher that could take Hudson’s place temporarily.

Brandon Beachy, who has missed over an entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, will make his first start in more than a year today against the Rockies at home. Beachy was one of the NL’s best young arms before he went down and although the Braves don’t expect him to be perfect in his return, they think he’ll be his usual strong self.

“(It’s) like getting a big piece in a trade at the deadline. Before he got hurt he was one of the most dominant pitchers in the National League,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said, according to ESPN.com. “I don’t think he’ll be that his first time out, but I think he’ll be close.”

For the Braves to pick up their fourth straight win, they’ll need him to be exceptional as they face off against Jorge De La Rosa (10-5, 2.97 ERA) and a formidable Rockies lineup.

The Rockies have hit the cover off the ball as a team at times this season, but they’ve experienced their fair share of offensive droughts as well. Today, they’re hoping they can recapture some of the success they had at the plate last night in a 6-5 win over the Brewers.

“We know we’re a talented team. We know we can compete with anyone in the league,” Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer said. “We’ve just got to be consistent. Hopefully (Sunday) was a stepping stone for that.”

Whether or not the Rockies can develop that consistency over the next couple of months is unclear, but I certainly like them in the pitching match-up today, considering we’re just not sure how Beachy will perform in his first outing in a long time.

The Braves could be the first team to clinch their division, but it appears their win streak could end today and even if it doesn’t, the Rockies should at least be able to keep things close.

Take the Rockies to cover +1.5 in this one.

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