ATLANTA — After playing just 22 home games during the first two months of the season, the Atlanta Braves are at SunTrust Park for 18 games in June.
“It seems like we have been on the road most of the time,” manager Brian Snitker said. “We haven’t really been at home enough yet to get comfortable with the new ballpark.”
That will change when the Braves play only three of the next 21 games away from Atlanta. The favorable schedule starts Monday with the perfect opponent if you judge by road records this season.
The Philadelphia Phillies swept a home series from the Braves in April, but they have the majors’ worst mark away from home at 7-21. They had been in a freefall since an 11-9 start before taking two of three at home from the San Francisco Giants over the weekend.
The Braves (24-30) are also coming off a series win, taking two of three at Cincinnati to conclude a 4-5 road trip that kept them five games ahead of the last-place Phillies (19-35) in the National League East.
Philadelphia had lost 10 consecutive series before winning the final two games against the Giants. It was the first time the Phillies won back-to-back games since late April, when they had a six-game winning streak that included the sweep of Atlanta.
Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera finally got back on track at the plate in the two victories, driving in six runs with four doubles and a homer. He had only five RBIs in May.
“I’m definitely watching the ball better now,” Herrera said through a translator. “I definitely try to stay positive. … There are a lot of games left.”
To gain momentum against the Braves, Philadelphia pitchers will have to do a better job of keeping the ball inside SunTrust Park than Atlanta pitchers have done so far.
Unlike Turner Field, the new ballpark favors hitters rather than pitchers.
SunTrust Park has yielded 55 homers, an average of 2.5 per game. That is a 54 percent jump from the 1.62 homers per game last season at Turner Field.
For the Braves, the bad news is that 34 have been hit by opponents compared to their 21. That is why Atlanta is no better than 10-12 at home.
The Braves will send struggling veteran Bartolo Colon (2-6, 6.99 ERA) to the mound against Phillies rookie Nick Pivetta (0-2, 5.12 ERA) in the series opener Monday night.
Colon, 44, is coming off the shortest outing of a rough first year with the Braves. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings in an interleague loss to the Los Angeles Angels last Tuesday in Anaheim, although seven of the nine runs were unearned.
“Bartolo was kind of looking like his old self there, and then it all went south,” Snitker said of the frightful third inning that included three errors and several other missteps.
Colon lost 4-3 in Philadelphia on April 21, but he is 11-6 with a 3.52 ERA in 20 career starts against the Phillies.
Philadelphia is recalling Pivetta from Triple-A Lehigh Valley after he made three starts in May. The right-hander is taking the rotation spot of Vince Velasquez, who went on the disabled list because of a strained elbow flexor tendon.
Pivetta, 24, was 5-0 with a 1.41 ERA in five starts for Lehigh Valley sandwiched around his first stint with the Phillies. He has yet to face the Braves.