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 .Bumgarner throws a four-seamer up in the zone and tries to get it inside to righties. He throws his cutter/slider about a third

PHILADELPHIA -- Its been as if someone flipped the switch to on for the Philadelphia Phillies while the Atlanta Braves dial has been stuck in off for the majority of the season.The bottom two teams in the NL East, the Phillies and Braves open a three-game series in Philadelphia on Monday. They are one week removed from a much-needed All-Star break to regroup... except the Phillies may not want to stop playing anytime soon.After battling offensive ineptitude for about 75 games, the Phillies bats have come alive, and it has fueled a 5-1 stretch.I dont know exactly whats happened. I just know we had it in us, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said following Sundays 7-2 win over Kansas City. I always felt even for the first two months that we were a better hitting team than it showed and it was kind of an enigma as to why we werent hitting better. It just took a little time.The individual numbers have really turned around as of late. Maikel Franco has been on a torrid stretch that has seen him record multiple hits in five of his last six games. He has also reached base safely in 11 of the last 12 contests. The third basemen ripped a home run on Sunday to cap off a 3-for-4 day.Cameron Rupp also hit a home run in that game. He is on an eight-game hitting streak that has been highlighted by his last two outings in which he has gone a combined 5-for-8 with three RBI and two doubles. Cody Asche also hit a home run in their latest victory. Likewise, Peter Bourjos singled to extend his hit streak to 12 games.It helps when youve got a guy like Bourjos, who came out of nowhere up to .270, Mackanin said. Thats an unbelievable story in itself. I think the other players feed off things like that. You know, its like, Well I can do it, too. I know thats not a scientific answer, but its the best I can do.No explanation needed. Its apparent that the Phillies are trending upward as the All-Star break looms.Meanwhile, the Braves really have yet to get going, which has led to a forgettable first half. They put together a six-game winning streak in the middle of June but came back down to reality by losing six of eight games immediately afterward.Their problems run the full gamut. The pitching has been unreliable while the hitting has been streaky. The have also had some bad luck.On Saturday, the Braves tied the Marlins in the ninth inning with a Tyler Flowers home run. In the 12th inning, the game-winning hit was delivered by pinch-hitter Jose Fernandez, the Miami pitcher. Things like that only add salt to the wounds.It was eventful, Flowers said, according to I thought we battled well... I think there were a lot of positives to take away. We just couldnt come up with the big hit at the end.That could very well sum up the Braves season: eventful yet left helpless at the end. Wholesale Adidas Soccer Jerseys .Y. -- Sabres forward Drew Stafford has witnessed plenty of turmoil during his eight seasons in Buffalo. Stitched Soccer Jerseys . Just as Montreal was settling into the first full working week of a new year, the Impact announced the appointment of their new head coach. . It just didnt show when he hit the ice. Berra made 42 saves and Kris Russell scored at 1:32 of overtime, lifting the Calgary Flames to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night. Cheap Soccer Jerseys Authentic . -- The plastic that was taped across the lockers in Oaklands clubhouse came down and the champagne that was on ice went back into the cooler. Wholesale Soccer Jerseys . Traditional contenders Brazil, Greece and Turkey drew the other three spots to complete the 24-team field for this summers tournament in Spain, basketball governing body FIBA announced Saturday at its meeting in Barcelona. The Chicago Cubs head to San Francisco with a commanding 2-0 lead over the Giants. But waiting for them in the city by the bay is one of the best postseason pitchers in baseball history -- Madison Bumgarner. Can Bumgarner pitch the Giants back into the series or will the Cubs continue their march through the postseason?Go inside the numbers and matchups that will decide tonights game, and then vote for which team will win at the bottom of the page.Inside the pitching matchupWhen Jake Arrieta is on the mound: There arent too many pitchers who go 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA and feel like it was a bit of letdown. Arrieta had a 1.74 ERA through June 22, dominating like he did in 2015, but he had control issues after that and posted a 4.44 ERA over his final 16 starts with 41 walks in 99.1 innings. In his final start, he allowed 10 hits and 7 runs in five innings to the Pirates. Even as he struggled in the second half, producing hard contact against him wasnt easy. Batters hit just .213 vs. Arrieta over those 16 starts. He did seem to lose the feel of that slider, which was so unhittable last year and early this season, as batters hit .271/.377/.441 against it with a strikeout rate of 15.9 percent compared to 26.4 percent in 2015. Last year, batters hit .119 with a 43 percent strikeout rate against his curveball; over these 16 starts the numbers are .279 and 31.2 percent.Arrietas fastball is still a tough pitch, averaging 93.8 mph with some late sink to it. Against left-handers, he tends to work the outer third of the strike zone, and he also works up and down the zone. With three lefties in the pen, Joe Maddon will have the luxury of a quick hook and mixing and matching out of the bullpen. -- David SchoenfieldWhen Madison Bumgarner is on the mound: The Bumgarner legend continued to grow with another shutout in the wild-card game. His career postseason record is now 8-3 with a 1.94 ERA and 6-1, 0.79 over his past eight starts and one relief appearance covering 68.1 innings. So everyone wants to put this game in the win column for the Giants before its even been played.One thing to point out: His past four postseason outings -- one against the Mets, three against the Royals -- came against two lineups weak against left-handed pitching. The Mets had three lefties who cant hit lefties and the 2014 Royals featured a lineup where its best hitters (Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas) were left-handed and the team hit just 31 home runs all season against lefties. Those clubs were ripe for a lefty to eat them up. This Cubs lineup is a much tougher proposition, ranking second in the majors in OPS against lefties.Bumgarner throws a four-seamer up in the zone and tries to get it inside to righties. He throws his cutter/slider about a third of the time and a curveball about 15 percent of the time. In the wild-card game, he threw his fastball 58 percent of the time -- his fourth-highest percentage of the season -- and threw his curveball at the second-highest rate. Right-handed batters hit just .150 against the curveball, so lets see if Bumgarner sticks with that pitch as his primary breaking ball, considering how effective it was against the Mets. -- SchoenfieldPlayer in the sppotlightHunter Pence: We love the hair and the beard and the scooter and the energy, but the dirty little secret is that Pence has been a lousy postseason hitter, even as the Giants won titles in 2012 and 2014.dddddddddddd Hes 2-for-12 this postseason, and in 36 playoff games with the Giants, hes hitting .264 with 2 home runs and 12 RBIs. -- ESPN.comWhat will decide tonights gameMadison Bumgarner threw his slider just 12 percent of the time in Wednesdays wild-card game, his lowest rate in a start since September of 2010, and Mets hitters didnt miss one of their swings against it. In two starts against the Cubs this season, he threw 36 percent sliders and hitters went 3-for-22 with 7 Ks in ABs ending in a Bumgarner slider (all singles and no hard-hit balls). -- ESPN Stats & InfoChoosing sides: Who will win?It seemed like the moment Bumgarner shut down the New York Mets in the wild-card game, and his teams matchup with the Cubs was set, everyone was penciling in a win in Game 3 for the Giants. It mattered little Bumgarner would be going up against Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta as baseball observers rightly saw the Cubs as a big underdog. They are, and theyll lose Game 3, not because Arrieta will blow up, but simply because the Giants have too much pride to get swept with their ace on the mound. -- Jesse RogersIf you want to be a pessimist, you could say that the Cubs are fortunate to be up 2-0, mostly because their big bats have yet to get going. Of course, that could also be looked at as reason for optimism. Still, the road to Valhalla is rocky and winding. (Or so Ive heard.) We dont know what were going to get out of Jake Arrieta these days, but with Madison Bumgarner, all you have to do is look at a calendar. Im going with San Francisco in this one. -- Bradford DoolittleLets not even rely entirely on Madison Bumgarner and his 23-inning scoreless streak in the postseason. Thats too easy. Lets start with Jake Arrieta, who hasnt been the same guy since mid-August, delivering a 4.74 ERA in his past eight starts. His last two in the playoffs last year werent so great either. He allowed 8 combined runs and didnt make it out of the sixth inning either time. Bumgarner is on regular rest coming off his shutout in the Wild Card Game in New York, and this time the noise will be for when the Giants do something good, not the Cubs. Arrieta will be better, but not good enough. Anthony Rizzo has done nothing in this series and he wont enjoy facing Bumgarner slinging it from the left side. The Giants will manage just enough offense to stay alive and extend the series to Tuesday. -- Mark SaxonWhere the series standsThe Giants need a gem from their ace, and then anything can happen. Game 4 would feature John Lackey versus Matt Moore, and then the Giants would go back to Johnny Cueto in Game 5. But can they scratch across enough runs to win three in a row? They have 17 hits in three playoff games so far (granted, theyve faced some tough pitchers). But win these two at home and the Cubs will have all the pressure in a Game 5 at Wrigley. -- Schoenfield cheap falcons jerseys cheap ravens jerseys cheap bills jerseys cheap bears jerseys cheap bengals jerseys cheap cowboys jerseys cheap lions jerseys cheap texans jerseys cheap colts jerseys cheap jaguars jerseys cheap chiefs jerseys cheap rams jerseys cheap dolphins jerseys cheap vikings jerseys cheap saints jerseys cheap giants jerseys cheap jets jerseys cheap eagles jerseys cheap steelers jerseys cheap 49ers jerseys ' ' '

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