The National League East division is heating up as the season heads toward August. In Washington D.C., the division’s leader the Washington Nationals will host the second place Atlanta Braves. Washington has led the division nearly the entire season thanks to an excellent pitching staff and some timely hitting. However, of late, the Atlanta Braves have cut into the Nationals lead and only trail by 2 ½ games. The Braves have won 9 of 11 and will look to take two in today’s day night doubleheader.
Atlanta has increased its season record to 51-41 and will send Ben Sheets to the mound in game one. Sheets has pitched just one game this season, his first game in the majors since July of 2010. He was recovering for almost two years from reconstructive surgery on his throwing arm. In his first game back last Sunday, Sheets pitched six innings and gave up only two hits, while striking out five.
The Nationals record dropped to 53-38 after losing Friday night 11-10 to the Braves in the first game of the series. In that game, the Nationals held a 9-run lead but could not hold it and eventually lost in 11 innings. Today the Nationals will have Edwin Jackson on the mound against the Braves. Jackson is 5-5 on the season and has an ERA of 3.89. However, he has not pitched well at all over his last three appearances. During that stretch, his ERA has ballooned to over 10.
Atlanta has been powered offensively of late by veteran Chipper Jones, Martin Prado and Brian McCann. Each of the three had two runs batted in against the Nationals in Friday’s win. Freddie Freeman had three hits against Washington to help Atlanta’s cause.
The present line has the Nationals as the favorite playing on their home field at -125, while Atlanta is at +105. The total is sitting at 8. Smart money takes Atlanta to win, with the run total paying out to the UNDER.
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