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Braves not satisfied going into all-star break

POSTED: July 16, 2013 6:03 p.m.
MCT/

Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has been the anchor of baseball’s best bullpen going into the all-star break.

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ATLANTA — After 95 games, the Atlanta Braves (54-41) sit comfortably atop the National League East division by six games over the Washington Nationals, and their bats are the reason why.

The Braves have set the pace for the National League in most offensive categories. They lead the NL in home runs (114), are second in walks (329), third in OPS (.736), third in runs (415), fourth in RBIs (395) and fourth in OBP (.324).

However, Braves’ second baseman Dan Uggla said he isn’t satisfied with a six-game lead and noted that the Braves have room for improvement.

"We’re never comfortable," said Uggla, following Sunday’s 8-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. "Once you get comfortable, that lead’s going to be gone and you’re going to be shipped somewhere else, so we’re never comfortable.

"We’re definitely not satisfied, but right now looking back, we’re happy with where we’re at. Anytime we can create some distance between us and D.C. or Philly or whoever it is, that’s what we’re looking to do."

While the Braves’ offense has received much of the credit for the team’s success, the pitching has been stellar. Atlanta’s starting pitching ranks fifth in the league with a 3.59 ERA, while its bullpen boasts an impressive 2.62 ERA to lead all of baseball.

Luis Avilan, Craig Kimbrel and David Carpenter all have sub-1.80 ERAs and have struck out a combined 108 batters this season.

"We’re just going out there trying to do our job," Carpenter said. "Whether it’s trying to nail down a win with Craig, [Jordan] Walden and Avey or some of the other guys trying to hold the score where it’s at and give us a chance to come back, it doesn’t matter. It’s just us doing our part and giving our two cents to help the team out.

"…The way the whole bullpen’s been working, everybody’s been really busting their butt out there, and that’s good to see. …We’re just going to continue doing what we’re doing."

If the offense and pitching remain constant, the second half of the season should be much easier for the Braves. They play only 19 of their 67 remaining games against teams with a better than .500 record. To top things off, every game will be played in either the Eastern or Central time zone.

The Braves may receive some help from Washington’s tough schedule following the break. The Nationals immediately host the streaking Dodgers before playing the Pirates, who hold the second-best record in the NL at the break.

"It’s always good being in first place at the end of the first half," Carpenter said. "It gives you something to look forward to working-wise and getting a little bit of a break. Guys can heal up a little bit and everything and get refocused and get ready to try and win the second half."

 

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