Just before the All-Star break, the Braves dropped a road series to the Reds, and it appeared as if they had hit rock bottom.

But ever since then the bats have come to life in Atlanta, and it appears that the Braves are doing the same thing they do every year – go on a long hot streak for about a month.

The Braves started knocking the cover off the ball a couple of games before the All-Star break, and they have picked right back up where they left off as soon as the season started back.

In the last six games, the Braves have scored 51 runs – a run total that took Atlanta two weeks to accumulate in June.

With the Braves’ bats hotter than any other team in the league, they are now putting up enough runs to overshadow the huge pile of junk they keep behind the outfield wall, sometimes better known as the Braves’ bullpen.

Even though the Braves are 10 games out of first in the National League East behind the Mets, there is still hope for a playoff berth.

Since the National League is down this year, a wild card is easily in reach.

The front office in Atlanta finally did the Braves fans justice, and paid everyone back for being forced to watch our starters suffer blown save after blown save when they picked up a proven closer in Bob Wickman from the Indians.

Hopefully Wickman will bring some stability in the late innings, but Braves GM John Schuerholz doesn’t need to stop there.

Long time starter and fan favorite John Smoltz spoke out in an interview last week, begging the Braves front office to bring in some bullpen help.

By saying this, he was acknowledging that Atlanta can make a return to the playoffs, but they can’t do it alone and with what they currently have.

If the Braves management doesn’t continue to address the problem after their team leader has made the request, then they are simply saying that the fans and winning do not matter, and that is a disgrace to baseball.

Hopefully the Braves front office will make the necessary moves before the trade deadline and get the players Bobby Cox and crew need to win.

If they don’t, we all know Cox will give it his best, but the fans know he can’t always take nothing and turn it into something.

It may already be too late to catch the Mets and claim another division title, but if we have learned anything about baseball’s playoffs over the past few years, wildcards have just as good of a shot at championships as the division winners.

The Braves seem to be hotter than ever and things are finally starting to turn around in Atlanta.

Hopefully the exit of Chris Retsima as closer and the addition of Wickman will be just the beginning of the Braves resurgence in 2006.

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