The Atlanta Braves’ lackluster start is quickly becoming a
distant memory. The same could be said about the Arizona
Diamondbacks’ four consecutive wins to open the season.
While the Braves will seek their 10th win in 11 games Saturday
night, the Diamondbacks hope to get another strong outing from Joe
Saunders and avoid a fifth consecutive defeat.
Atlanta (9-5) has rebounded strongly since dropping its first
four games, powered by a hitting resurgence. The Braves batted .165
and plated 10 runs during their 0-4 start, but are hitting .302 and
averaging 7.4 runs over their last 10 games.
They’ve totaled 33 runs and 45 hits – 19 for extra bases – over
their last three contests, including a 10-2 win in Thursday’s
opener of this four-game series at Chase Field.
Freddie Freeman went 3 for 4 with a pair of RBI doubles Friday
night as Atlanta rolled to a 9-1 rout. Brian McCann added a two-run
Freeman is 10 for 17 with five doubles, three homers and 12 RBIs
over his last four games.
“Hitting’s contagious,” Freeman said, “and when people are
getting hits, you want to go up there and knock them in. You don’t
want to lose those opportunities. Everybody feels good right now
and everybody’s taking advantage of it.”
The Diamondbacks, 3-7 since their 4-0 start, will look to
Saunders (1-0, 0.64 ERA) to help cool off the Braves. The
left-hander helped his team earn its most recent victory, 5-1 over
Pittsburgh on Monday, by allowing one run over seven innings.
Saunders is 1-0 with a 0.68 ERA in two career starts against the
Braves, and he might need to be at least that good if Arizona’s
lineup doesn’t start hitting.
The Diamondbacks have totaled eight runs and batted .194 over
their last four games. Not helping matters, Chris Young (shoulder),
Stephen Drew (ankle) and Justin Upton (thumb) are all battling
“(Atlanta is) playing well,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said.
“We aren’t playing so well right now, but we will be.”
Braves probable starter Tommy Hanson (1-2, 3.71) faltered in the
latter stages of his most recent start. The right-hander had
allowed two runs or fewer in each of his first two outings, then
yielded one over the first five innings Monday against the New York
The Mets scored four runs over the following two frames en route
to a 6-1 victory.
Hanson is 1-1 with a 4.42 ERA in three career outings against
Arizona (7-7). The most recent came June 10, 2010, at Chase Field.
He gave up two runs over 5 1-3 innings and struck out 10 but did
not get a decision in the Braves’ 11-7 victory.