With their offense clicking on all cylinders, the Atlanta Braves
are quickly making up for their brutal start to the season.
The Arizona Diamondbacks appear to be headed in the opposite
The surging Braves try for a ninth win in 10 games as they
continue a four-game set with the Diamondbacks, who are hoping to
avoid losing four straight at home for the first time in over a
season Friday night.
Since opening with four consecutive defeats – its worst start
since losing its first 10 in 1988, Atlanta (8-5) has proven nearly
unbeatable. The Braves have averaged 7.2 runs while batting .298
with runners in scoring position during their 8-1 run.
One night after posting its highest run total of the season
during a 14-6 win over the New York Mets, Atlanta went 4 for 12
with runners in scoring position during Thursday’s 10-2 win at
Arizona (7-6). Freddie Freeman continued his recent tear at the
plate, going 3 for 5 with a pair of two-run homers and a
career-high five RBIs.
Mike Minor, meanwhile, added to the Diamondbacks’ recent
struggles, allowing one earned run and striking out nine over a
career-best eight innings.
Arizona, which won four straight and five of six to open its
season, has since dropped five of seven – including three in a row
at home. The Diamondbacks haven’t lost four straight at Chase Field
since Sept. 4-7, 2010.
“Baseball,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “It’s not fun to be a part
of it, but you have to endure these times. We’ve been through it
before, last year.”
Already without injured outfielder Chris Young (right shoulder
contusion), Arizona was forced to leave two-time All-Star Justin
Upton (jammed left thumb) out of the starting lineup for the third
consecutive game. It’s unknown if Upton will be able in this
“Every morning when I get up it’s a little better, which is a
positive sign,” Upton, who’s batting just .212 with no homers in
nine starts, told the team’s official website. ” … We’ll see how
it is (Friday).”
Looking to take advantage of the Diamondbacks’ injury-stricken
lineup is Brandon Beachy (1-1, 0.75 ERA), who surrendered an
unearned run and three hits over seven innings of Sunday’s 7-4 win
over Milwaukee. The hard-throwing right-hander has made it through
at least seven innings just three times in 30 career starts.
“(Pitching to contact) is going to help me get to the seventh
and eighth inning, having a few quick innings,” he said. “I was
able to do that, and that comes from getting ahead in the count and
throwing the ball over the plate.”
In his only appearance against the Diamondbacks, Beachy gave up
one run, four hits and stuck out seven in six innings of an 8-1
home win Aug. 20.
The Diamondbacks will send Trevor Cahill (1-0, 1.35) to the
mound in hopes of getting back on track. Acquired via trade from
Oakland during the offseason, Cahill has limited opponents to a
.143 average over his first two outings.
The 24-year-old sinkerballer was at his best during Sunday’s 5-2
win at Colorado, surrendering one run and four hits over 7 1-3
“Trevor Cahill is a big-time sinker ball guy and he threw some
very good ones today,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
“This is a guy that if you’re going to succeed against him, you
definitely have to force him to raise the ball up, because if in
fact you don’t, there’s going to be an awful lot of groundballs hit
against him. That’s how good his sinker is.”
Cahill will need to be wary of Freeman, who’s gone 7 for 13 with
three homers and 10 RBIs in his last three games.