After winning without any of their injured big-name outfielders, the Atlanta Braves will again be shorthanded Sunday as they conclude a four-game home set against the slumping Cincinnati Reds.
One night after Heyward exited Thursday’s 6-5 win with a strained right hamstring, the Upton brothers were hurt Friday in a 4-2 defeat. While all three were held out Saturday, the Braves (54-40) beat Cincinnati 5-2 behind Mike Minor’s seven strong innings and homers from Brian McCann and Dan Uggla.
“I think Vegas lost a lot of money today when they saw our lineup,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose club improved to a major league-best 31-14 at home. “But you know what, you can’t judge and you can’t handicap heart.”
Called up from Triple-A Gwinnett earlier in the day, Jose Constanza started in left field and hit leadoff, Reed Johnson was in center and rookie Joey Terdoslavich was in right. The trio went a combined 7 for 11 with an RBI and two runs.
Heyward, Justin Upton (strained calf) and B.J. Upton (strained adductor muscle) are all expected to remain out through the All-Star break. While Heyward could return afterward, the Uptons’ status is uncertain.
“I feel bad for them to be hurt,” Constanza said through a translator. “It’s a bad way to be called up, but I was ready to come up here and help the team win.”
Saturday’s loss was the fifth in seven games for the Reds (52-42), who have dropped 11 of 15 on the road while hitting .190 with runners in scoring position.
“It’s disheartening to see it happening over and over again,” manager Dusty Baker said.
Shin-Soo Choo is batting .413 with nine runs during an 11-game hitting streak. Joey Votto, though, has gone 6 for 26 (.231) with no homers and one RBI over an eight-game stretch, and Jay Bruce, who hasn’t homered since June 22, is 8 for his last 40 (.200).
Things aren’t about to get any easier with a matchup against Julio Teheran (7-4, 3.09 ERA), who ranks among the major league leaders with a 2.36 ERA since April 23. The 22-year-old right-hander yielded four runs – one earned – and seven hits in 7 1-3 innings Tuesday in a 6-4 win at Miami.
“He gave us a great outing,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Teheran, who is 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA over his last four home starts.
Teheran will be making his first appearance versus Cincinnati, which counters with an impressive young pitcher of its own in Tony Cingrani (3-1, 3.30). The 24-year-old left-hander has posted a .196 opponent batting average and struck out 61 in nine starts spanning 52 2-3 innings.
Cingrani, who has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of those outings, gave up two and three hits over seven innings Tuesday in a 2-0 loss at Milwaukee.
“It’s frustrating. I thought I did my job,” Cingrani said after striking out 10 and walking two.
He has compiled a 3.75 ERA on the road, more than a run higher than his home mark of 2.63. He has never faced Atlanta.
Cingrani could have his hands full with McCann, who is batting .414 with six homers in his last nine home games in the series.
The Braves have taken seven of 10 from the Reds at Turner Field.