Braves hit three homers in eighth, move to 12-1

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The scorching Braves broke open a 2-2 game in the eighth Tuesday, with Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Dan Uggla all hitting homers off Kelvin Herrera in a 6-3 win over the Royals.

Crushing Herrera made the victory especially impressive. While hardly a household name, Herrera has been one of the AL’s best relievers since the start of 2012. Including his first six appearances this year, he had allowed four homers and posted an 88/22 K/BB ratio in 89 2/3 innings.

The Braves hit five homers in all tonight. Juan Francisco hit the first two, both off Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie.

The eighth-inning outburst came too late for Braves starter Kris Medlen, who left after seven, so Eric O’Flaherty ended up with his third win in relief. He’s tied for the major league lead in victories.

The Braves have won 10 straight since losing their second game of the season, and they’ve outscored the oppositing 62-23 this season. They’re the only team in either league with fewer than four losses.

The only bad news for the Braves tonight was that reliever Luis Avilan went down with a hamstring injury in the ninth and had to be helped off.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics