Friday, July 23, 2010

The Series Cynic: Braves win battle of coastal powers

Posted By on Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 11:30 AM

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The Braves (56-39) reclaimed the National League's best record following their midweek series win over the San Diego Padres (55-39) on Thursday afternoon.

In what very easily could have been a three-game sweep for Atlanta, had it not been for Billy Wagner's fourth blown save of the season, the Braves more or less dominated the weak-hitting Padres who managed to score only seven runs throughout the series.

With the series victory, Atlanta also increased its division lead to seven games over both the Mets and Phillies.

That's the good news.

However, All-Star second baseman Martin Prado continues to see his average plummet as it has dropped nearly 20 points in the last 11 games—.336 down to .317 to be exact.

Thankfully Atlanta is 7-4 over that stretch and has been able to offset Prado's recent drought at the plate, but getting their leadoff hitter back on track is essential if the Braves want to remain atop the division standings.

"I feel frustrated," Prado said after Thursday afternoon's series-clinching win. "But we're winning [so] it doesn't matter. It would be worse if we were losing...then I would be pissed."

Prado went 2-for-14 against San Diego and is just 7-for-44 (.159) over the past two weeks—not including his 0-for-3 performance in last week's All-Star Game.

"They're gonna fall," Prado said. "I don't want to change anything, I just gotta keep hitting the ball and see what happens."

Despite being such an integral part of Atlanta's success in 2010, Prado says that there isn't any pressure on him to get hits because of the other guys in the lineup who have picked him up all season.

"I don't want to think about having to get a hit," he said. "I feel like there's all my teammates to pick me up when I'm doing bad. I'm getting good at-bats and hitting the ball hard. You get frustrated but you can't control that [so] I'll just keep doing what I'm doing."

Braves manager Bobby Cox shares Prado's lack of concern over his recent offensive dry spell and said that there's nothing to worry about.

"That's the problem with Prado, he always hits it well," Cox said. "It's either a base hit or right at somebody, he's amazing. He's not in any slump at all...he's hitting the ball fine, normal."

More bad news for Prado: the league leader in multi-hit games (41), Prado has recorded more than one hit in a game just once in his last 10 outings and has only seven hits over that span—his worst 10-game hit total of the season.

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