After earning their first interleague win of the season, the Atlanta Braves are hopeful Jason Heyward can play in their attempt to claim another one.
Because of a bruised right hand, Heyward’s status is unknown heading into the Braves’ matchup with red-hot Los Angeles Angels right-hander Garrett Richards on Saturday night.
Atlanta (35-31) was 0-6 against AL teams until a 4-3 victory in Friday’s series opener. Evan Gattis hit a three-run homer and Chris Johnson followed with a solo shot in the first inning as the Braves also avoided a season-high fifth consecutive home defeat.
Heyward, though, was forced to leave after getting hit by a pitch from Angels starter C.J. Wilson in the opening inning. The Braves said that X-rays were negative, and he’s considered day-to-day.
The right fielder, an NL Gold Glove winner in 2013, is batting .305 (18 for 59) with three homers and 11 RBIs in his past 14 games. He’s also reached base in 29 of his last 32 contests.
If Heyward has to sit out, it could make it a little more difficult for Atlanta against Richards (6-2, 3.09 ERA). The Angels starter has allowed one run in 15 innings while striking out 13 and walking one in winning his two outings this month.
He has given up four hits in each of those two games, the latest a 4-1 win over Oakland on Monday.
"Personally, for me, quality-wise and stuff-wise and everything, I think he’s an All-Star pitcher, and that’s just how I feel about it," catcher Hank Conger told the team’s website. "I think by the time this season is over – not to put pressure on him or anything – you’re going to look back at his numbers and you’re going to be like, ‘Wow. That’s a really good season for a guy who’s in his first year of being an everyday starter.’"
Los Angeles (36-30) is trying to avoid a third straight loss following a season-high, five-game win streak. The Angels have lost six of seven on the road after winning 15 of their first 25.
Richards is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in five career interleague starts and 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA in his two this season. Los Angeles has won 10 of 13 over the NL dating back to last season and is 6-3 this year.
The Angels, 8-2 in their last 10 interleague road games, face Gavin Floyd (1-2, 2.57), who is coming off his first win since returning from Tommy John surgery.
The right-hander gave up a solo homer, two other hits and three walks in 6 2-3 innings in a 3-1 victory in Colorado on Monday. He had allowed a season-high five runs and 10 hits in five-plus innings in a 7-5 loss to Seattle on June 3.
"Even though I know I’ve felt good and I’ve been pitching real well, it’s nice to have that first (win)," Floyd told the team’s website.
Floyd is 2-6 with a 5.27 ERA in 10 career starts against Los Angeles.
While Heyward’s chances of being in the starting lineup are unclear, Gerald Laird might return Saturday. The catcher was hit in the head by Corey Dickerson’s backswing Thursday in Colorado.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia will miss this game to attend the funeral of former pitcher Bob Welch, his teammate with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1980-87. Bench coach Dino Ebel will fill in for Scioscia.