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Freeman becoming the offensive force in Atlanta’s Lineup

The Atlanta Braves enter their last weekend of games before the All Star break with a 6 game lead over the second place Washington Nationals and 7 games over the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East.

Atlanta has a record of 53-39 on the season and a big part of that is thanks to their young 23-year old first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Freeman was the last All-Star picked in an online selection in the Final Man Vote. He beat out Yasiel Puig from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

On Thursday night, he showed why he is considered one of the best young players in the game, as he had 3 hits and knocked in 4 runs as the Braves beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-5.

Over the first half of the season, Freeman has become the important element in the Braves offense. Justin Upton started the season with a bang in April, but has struggled since and Jason Heyward has had trouble finding a groove due to an early season appendectomy. He left Thursday’s game with the Reds with a hamstring strain.

Freeman now is hitting .313 with 60 RBIs and with runners in scoring position his average improves to .421. Freeman has been compared already to Eddie Murray and John Olerud.

Freeman physically is more similar to Olerud than he is Murray. Both Freeman and Olerud are 6-foot-5, both bat from the left side, both are not all that fast, while Murray is shorter at 6-foot-2, and was a career switch-hitter.

Over his last 15 games played, Freeman is batting .351 with 12 runs batted in. In four games versus the Reds, Freeman has 7 hits in 16 at bats and seven RBIs.

Tonight, against the Red the Braves will send Kris Medlen to the mound. The Braves right-hander is 6-8 on the season with an ERA of 3.45. Over his last past seven starts, Medlen is 5-2 with an ERA of just over 2.80. He is 3-4 at home, as he is away, but his ERA at home is just 2.83 and on the road is 4.04.

Cincinnati will send Bronson Arroyo to the mound against the Braves. Arroyo is 7-7 on the season with a 3.55 ERA. On the road, Arroyo is a dismal 1-5 with an ERA of 5.70. Over his past four outings against the Braves, Arroyo is 0-1 with an ERA of 5.91.

The Braves hope to go into the All Star break with at least two more wins in the three games remaining to keep their 6 game lead over the Nationals or extend it.

Charging up strong behind the Nationals, are the Phillies, who have won 7 of their past 10 games overall.

The Phillies could be a team to watch in the second half of the season if they can acquire another strong pitcher and some power in their batting order in case Ryan Howard is slowed by injury.

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