Jun 11, 2013, 4:54 PM EDT
|Photo by USA Today|
By Steve Roney
After a brief hiatus last week, the NL East roundup is back, with much to cover. While there's been some minor action in the standings, with the Phillies briefly overtaking the Nats for second place only to concede it again days later, the big stories are the individual ones, the most notable of which concerns an outfielder in Philadelphia who really digs the long ball.
Atlanta Braves (39-25)
After a mid-spring lull, the Braves have fully regained their commanding lead, lording a seven-game advantage over the rest of the division — the biggest margin between first and second place in the major leagues. Big bat Evan Gattis has tied Justin Upton, who's bat feel completely silent in the month of May, for the team lead in home runs with 14, and Dan Uggla has continued his all-or-nothing ways with 13 homers and a .195 average.
After tinkering with his swing a bit, B.J. Upton has "broken out" by upping his season totals to six home runs and a .165 average, a 20-point improvement since the dawn of June. His mate in the outfield, Jason Heyward, has begun to warm as well, raising his totals to five and .207, respectively. While they provide a boost to the offense (however long that may last), Atlanta's impressive rotation will benefit even further from the return of Brandon Beachy, set to come off the DL and make his season debut on June 18 in a doubleheader against the Mets — barring any setbacks in his final rehab start in Triple-A Gwinnett between now and then.
Player of the Week: Heyward, OF: 6 R, 2 HR, 2 R, .414 AVG
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NLDS: NATIONALS VS. GIANTS
SAT: Game 2 at Washington, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3 at San Francisco, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4 at San Francisco, TBA (FS1)*
THU: Game 5 at Washington, TBA (FS1)*
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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