Five Keys to Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants series

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The Braves and Giants are both built on the bedrock of great pitching. Of their seven meetings, of which the Braves won four, not a single game had more than nine runs scored — combined. In their most recent four-game series in Atlanta two months ago, the Braves took three of four in low-scoring fashion, winning 3-2, 3-0 and 6-3 while losing 3-2 in 11 innings.

Since then, however, the Braves have lost several key players to injury — most notably, infielders Chipper Jones and Martin Prado, starter Jair Jurrjens and reliever Eric O’Flaherty — while the Giants added relievers Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez just before that August series and acquired Jose Guillen and Cody Ross after it.

By the time the Giants’ new personnel got acclimated to their new team at the end of August and the Braves began playing without their key contributors, the balance of power in the National League has tipped. Since the beginning of September, the Giants are 20-10 and outscoring opponents 111 to 62 — the latter is 46 fewer runs allowed than any other NL team in that span. The Braves, meanwhile, are 15-16 over the same stretch and have a minus-13 run differential.

Also of concern is that, though the Braves had the majors’ best home record (56-35), they had the worst road record of any team in the postseason (35-46), seven games worse than the other three NL teams. The Giants had a more even split — 49-32 at home, 43-38 on the road — and of course have home-field advantage, thanks to the Braves’ status as the wild card.

Full story: Five Keys to Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants series – Joe Lemire –