ATLANTA — A month of baseball will produce some strange numbers. Take the Atlanta Braves' scoring output of 5.04 runs per game in their first 22 games of 2012. The Braves averaged 3.96 runs per game in 2011 and only 3.22 runs per game during their disastrous month of September.
But here are these Braves, third in the National League in scoring after a quiet winter and numbing spring training. Their 2012 motto is "This Is Why We Chop," and most of the marketing surrounds 40-year-old Chipper Jones, who is playing in his final season.
As Jones has battled injury, just about every one of Atlanta's regulars has been productive, save Brian McCann. And as MLB.com's Mark Bowman writes, even Michael Bourn has made adjustments against lefthanded pitching.
Charlie Manuel will use a (sort of) familiar lineup in the opener of the season series against Atlanta:
1. Jimmy Rollins 6
2. Placido Polanco 5
3. Shane Victorino 8
4. Hunter Pence 9
5. Ty Wigginton 3
6. Laynce Nix 7
7. Carlos Ruiz 2
8. Freddy Galvis 4
9. Cole Hamels 1
Here are Atlanta's career numbers against Hamels:
The Phillies will face Brandon Beachy, who is off to a fantastic start in 2012. They have hit the righthander before; he has a 3.94 ERA in six career starts. Shane Victorino (4 for 10) and Carlos Ruiz (5 for 8) have success in limited time against Beachy.