Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 4/14/13

The Atlanta Braves rolled through their last two series with relative ease, as the team swept both the Florida Marlins and the Washington Nationals in their three games between the teams, leaving Atlanta with an 11-1 record, the best in all of baseball. Although there were certainly some close games mixed in between the latest six, overall Atlanta dominated their NL East foes, outscoring both Miami and Washington by a combined score of 31-7. The highlight of the two series came Friday night, when the Braves dug themselves out of a 4-2 hole in the ninth inning thanks to a single by Justin Upton that brought in two runs, which sent the game into extra innings. Now with the momentum in hand, Atlanta jumped out to their first lead of the game in the top of the tenth on a two-run homer by shortstop Ramiro Pena, who has been clutch for the team so far this season. Pena strategically placed the baseball in the outfield stands Closer Craig Kimbrel then proceeded to set down the remaining Nationals’ batters 1-2-3, leaving Atlanta with a great start to their first series of the year against a team that many consider to be their biggest threat to the NL East title. The eleven wins that Atlanta has compiled through twelve games is not the only thing the fans and media are currently talking about. Here are just a few of the headlines that feature the players that call Turner Field Home: Gattis Goes Yard Again (and Again) – Everyone’s favorite former janitor is making a name for himself so far this year, as through nine games “El Oso Blanco” holds a .385 batting average with 4 homeruns (including a shot off of Steven Strasburg on Saturday that would have left Roy Hobbs smiling) and 10 RBIs. Gattis has yet to show any signs of weakness or slowing down while he fills in along with Gerald Laird in the absence of Brian McCann. If Gattis keeps this up over a significant period of time and McCann returns with less-than-average numbers, I could definitely see a scenario where the Braves would part with their longtime catcher (whose contract just happens to be up after this season) in favor of Gattis. El Oso Blanco’s legend continues to grow with each HR J-Upton Keeps it Up – Meanwhile, Justin Upton continues to be one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball, and Sunday’s homerun off of Gio Gonzalez pushed the former Diamondbacks’ totals to 7 homeruns, 11 RBIs, and a batting average of .348. The younger Upton has needed very little adjustment time in his move to Atlanta, and the upcoming opposition for Atlanta—home games against the Royals and away games versus the Pirates and the Rockies—makes it appear as if the twenty-five year old will not be slowing down in the upcoming stretch of games. Maholm Making Noise – Flashback to last summer: the Atlanta Braves were in discussions with the Chicago Cubs about acquiring starter Ryan Dempster, but once Dempster balked on heading to Atlanta the Braves instead agreed on bringing in starter Paul Maholm. Fast-forward to 2013, and it looks through this early part of the season that Dempster’s stubbornness has in fact benefited the Bravos, as through his first three starts Maholm holds a 3-0 record with 11 hits, 5 walks, 20 strikeouts, and a 0.00 ERA. Maholm’s performance against the Nats on Sunday was very admirable, as he did not give up a single run along with just four hits and seven strikeouts in an outing that sealed Atlanta’s second straight sweep this season. The next three series for Atlanta has the club facing off with Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Colorado, three teams that have not exactly been competitive over the past few years (the last to make the playoffs was the Rockies back in 2009) but have started the season off on fairly good notes. It will be important to see if two of Atlanta’s bigger bats, Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward, are able to get out of their disastrously bad starts to the season, especially in the hitter-friendly Coors Field.

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