Just one week after being swept by the Yankees at home, the Braves head to New York for another three-game set against the hottest team in baseball. With their win over the Nationals on Sunday, the Yankees extended their winning streak to nine games and have won 19 of their last 23.
The Braves had won eight of their previous 10 games entering last week's series against New York, but after that sweep and a series loss to Baltimore, they are just 1-5 in their last six.
CC Sabathia will take the mound for the Yankees in Monday's opener. Sabathia struggled in his most recent outing -- also against Atlanta -- giving up four runs on 10 hits in seven innings. But the Yankees, who can do no wrong of late, bailed out their ace with a six-run eighth to take a two-run lead, and Sabathia earned his eighth win of the season.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi isn't worried about his ace facing the same lineup in back-to-back outings.
"Sometimes guys worry about it," Girardi said. "But in other instances, CC might say, 'I learned a lot from that game, it can help me out.' I don't know how much better [Braves starter Mike] Minor could have pitched, so hopefully he learned something from that start. Sometimes guys don't like it, but it's not like CC has never done that before."
Hiroki Kuroda will follow Sabathia on Tuesday, and Phil Hughes gets the nod in Wednesday's finale.
Mike Minor, who starts for the Braves on Monday, will be happy to see his opponent, as his finest start came when he limited New York to one run in 7 1/3 innings on Tuesday. It was the first time he pitched into the eighth inning since April 19.
Minor will be followed in the series by Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson.
Yankees: Girardi credits solid pitching, bench for hot streak
Girardi said that the Yankees' recent success has been the ultimate demonstration of every piece doing its job.
"I think you first have to look at your starting pitching and what they've done," he said. "They've been outstanding through this run, and our bullpen has done a very nice job under some conditions where some guys have really had to step up. And our hits have been very, very timely."
Girardi also credited his bench players, specifically Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix and DeWayne Wise.
"We have experience when you look at our bench, and that's one of the reasons that I think they've had success," he said. "They've been asked to be bench players before."
Braves: Bourn, Prado stepping it up
The Braves have heavily relied on Michael Bourn and Martin Prado to carry their offense, and the two have done nothing but perform.
As of Sunday night, Bourn trailed only San Francisco's Melky Cabrera for the National League lead in hits. Prado was in the top 10.
Both are batting .313 on the season.
During the Yankees' winning streak, their starters have surrendered only 14 combined earned runs.
After the series against the Yankees, Atlanta will head to Boston for a three-game set, its fifth straight series against American League East opponents.