Man in the Stands

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Johnson, Braves continue streak

Atlanta third-baseman Chris Johnson picked up two hits against the Phillies to tie a Braves record in a 6-4 road win.

Johnson hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to put the Braves up 5-2 for his first hit of the night. The record-tying double came in the seventh inning off of Phillies reliever Jacob Diekman.

To be on any kind of record list in the Atlanta Braves organization is one thing. To tie Braves legend and Home Run King* Hank Aaron is another.

You read that right. With one swing of the bat in the seventh inning, 28-year-old Chris Johnson tied Hammerin’ Hank’s eight consecutive multi-hit game streak. Aaron completed the feat in 1959 and is the last Braves player to do so.

As for the game, the win brought the Braves up to eight-straight in their streak as well.

Brian McCann also hit a fifth inning home run, good for two RBIs. Joey Terdoslavich and Justin Upton added RBIs in the inning as well.

All six runs were earned and credited to Phillies right-hander Ethan Martin (0-1). Martin was called up on Thursday afternoon to his MLB debut in place of the injured Cliff Lee.

Martin was born in Athens, Ga, but attended Stephens County High School in Toccoa, Ga.

Martin’s official line in his debut: 4.1 inn, 8 hits, 6 earned, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts.

Kris Medlen improved to 8-10 with a lackluster start. He gave up six hits in his six innings of work. All four of the Phillies runs were earned and credited to Medlen. He did strikeout eight in his time on the mound.

Craig Kimbrel threw a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts for his 32nd save of the season.

Pitchers David Carpenter and Jordan Walden both threw perfect innings in the seventh and eighth, respectively. Carpenter struckout the side and Walden picked up two K’s in his inning of work as well.

*Still disputed among some sports talk circles, but, come on, we’re in Atlanta for crying out loud!

The winning streak:

The Braves’ winning streak could easily be attributed to the offensive firepower that has shown itself in the last eight games. During the streak, Atlanta has outscored its opponents 57-20 and outhit them 94-56.

If your team has scored more runs than your opponents have hits over the same span of time, you’re doing something right. Right now, the Braves are on a ball smashing streak and nobody wants to see it come to an end, except maybe the Phillies… and the Nationals… and the Mets… and the Marlins.

The streak has spanned across a three-game series against the Cardinals, who came into Atlanta riding a four-game winning streak, a four-game series against the Rockies and the opening of a three-game road series against the Phillies.

When the streak started, the Braves lead the Nationals and Philadelphia by eight games. The Mets were 10 games back and the Marlins were 18 games off-pace.

After beating Philadelphia Friday night, the Braves lead the Washington by 11.5 games, Philly and New York by 14.5, and Miami by an astounding 21 games.

Atlanta is also still the only team with a winning record in the National League East and one of only six in the entire NL. Washington is within 1.5 games of being at the .500 mark.

CJ 2.0:

Chipper Jones has the Twitter handle of @TheRealCJ10. Chris Johnson, who has taken over for Jones at third base, has quickly made a name for himself at the hot corner and has been deemed by some fans “CJ 2.0.”

In the last few months, Johnson’s batting average has continued to be as high as it was when he was splitting time with Juan Francisco in the lineup. Though, until just recently, it didn’t matter.

Johnson finally reached the number of at-bats to qualify for the batting title when the Cardinals came into Atlanta on July 26. After he crossed the threshold, his name popped up in the slot for the second-highest batting average in the National League behind one Yadier Molina.

Molina, the Cardinals catcher, was a firsthand witness as Johnson went 7-10 in the weekend series and took the number one spot on the list.

After going 9-19 in the four-game series with the Rockies and 2-4 Friday night against the Phillies, Johnson still sits atop the list with a .347 average.

It is throughout these eight games that Johnson has been able to tie a Braves franchise record eight straight multi-hit games.

With 52 games left, it’s hard to talk batting titles, but it’s oh so much fun!

Chris Johnson told MLB.com, in a recent article,

“We got two months of baseball left. If I start worrying about getting more hits that him (Molina), it’s just going to go downhill.”

The last Brave to win a batting title: Chipper Jones, 2008. Jones won it over Albert Pujols of the Cardinals with a .364 average. Jones was also a runner-up for the title in 2007 with a .337 average.

The similarities between the two are fun to look at. Is it coincidence that Jones was the last Atlanta player to win the award? Maybe. Is it coincidence that it happened to be over a Cardinals player? Yes. Is it coincidence that they both carry the same initials and play the same position for the same team? Only you can answer that one.

One thing that’s for sure: Chris Johnson is well on his way to earning, and living up to, the nickname CJ 2.0. Tying Hank Aaron for any kind of record in a Braves uniform while chasing a batting title is one hell of a way to start.

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