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Monday, August 09, 2004 

Brave Old World

In case you haven't noticed, the Atlanta Braves have not only reclaimed the pole in the NL East, but have run up a 5.5 game lead. The same Braves that lost Gary Sheffield, Javy Lopez, Greg Maddux, and Vinny Castilla* in the offseason and whose best remaining hitter, Chipper Jones, is treading water at .244. So, how in the name of Mark Lemke are they doing it yet again? Would you believe Jaret Wright?

Okay, it's a little more than the former Indians burnout. But, Wright, along with fellow starters Russ Ortiz and Mike Hampton, combined to go 14-0 with a 1.87 ERA in July. To put this in some sort of perspective, the best month ever recorded by Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz? April of 1997 when the legendary trio went 11-3, 1.90. The only question left is when does pitching coach Leo Mazzone get his own "Extreme Makeover" show where he turns a lucky viewer into a 14-game winner?

(* I know he's in Colorado, but Castilla is on pace for a 38 HR/150 RBI year.)

I know I ought to know the answer to the question before I ask it, but how many games did the Braves play against the NL East in July while those three posted those numbers? A decent team can look very good indeed when they get to play the disappointing Marlins and Phillies and dreadful Expos and traditionally 10-games-under 500 Mets a lot.

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