Braves’ McCarthy has proved tough to beat for Phillies

The Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies have grown familiar with each other during the last eight weeks. Brandon McCarthy has enjoyed those meetings against the Braves’ divisional rival.

McCarthy (4-2, 5.05 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season against the Phillies on Tuesday night in the middle game of a three-game series. It marks the Braves’ 11th meeting against the Phillies this season, and Atlanta has won six of the first 10.

McCarthy has been victorious in three of those meetings. McCarthy, a veteran right-hander, is 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 16 innings against the Phillies this season. He has a 6.53 ERA in his other six outings in 2018.

The 34-year-old will try to keep the Braves in first place in the National League East. The Phillies, now 27-18, opened the series with a 3-0 win Monday night. Philadelphia is just 9-14 against the rest of the NL East this season, but Monday’s win put the team just a half-game back of the Braves for first place.

Atlanta, meanwhile, still has the chance for its fourth series win in as many tries against the Phillies in the season’s first two months.

“When we walked in, I said it was like we just left,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said Monday after his team arrived at Citizens Bank Park. “Seems like an abnormal amount of time for the first couple of months in the season.”

Snitker added that he sees similarities between the clubs, who have been some of the biggest surprises in baseball through two months.

“We both have young, athletic, good looking players,” Snitker said. “I kind of looked at them (last year) and thought, that’s what we’re trying to get, young, athletic players. We’ve taken a step in the right direction.”

The Braves will be seeing Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez (4-4, 4.37) on Tuesday for the fourth time in 2018. Velasquez’s starts against Atlanta have not gone as well as McCarthy’s against Philadelphia.

Velasquez, who has a 4.89 ERA in seven career starts against the Braves, has given up 13 earned runs in 12 2/3 innings (9.24 ERA) against the Braves this season. He surrendered six runs and seven hits in four innings the last time he faced them on April 29.

Velasquez has been much better since that outing, however. In three starts in May, Velasquez has a 2.08 ERA, 1.038 WHIP and 10.9 K/9 rate. He struck out five and gave up just five hits in 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday in his last start.

“He did a good job mixing his pitches, stayed really composed,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told reporters of Velasquez. “Maybe he did not look as crisp early on as he did his last outing and then it just started coming together for him. He found his rhythm, he found his confidence, he found his mojo and then he started attacking them.”