Despite a leaky bullpen that has cost them several times in the season's first three weeks, the Atlanta Braves open a three-game series Tuesday at the Cincinnati Reds brimming with confidence after their offense fueled back-to-back victories at Cleveland to close the weekend. Atlanta rallied from seven runs down to win the nightcap of a Saturday doubleheader then bashed the Indians 11-5 on Sunday, scoring 19 runs on 24 hits in the final 14 innings of the series.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson homered twice and finished with three hits Sunday, and in his past 13 games is batting .340 with a 1.168 OPS, 11 walks and four homers - helping drive an Atlanta offense that began Monday leading the majors in team on-base percentage (.360) and ranked fourth in walks (99). Cincinnati is moving in the opposite direction offensively, hitting a major-league worst .197 as a team while drawing only 52 walks (fewest in the majors). The Reds have won three of their past five thanks largely to their pitching, which has posted a 2.40 ERA with 60 strikeouts and only nine walks in 45 innings during that span. Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto, hitting .227 with 20 strikeouts in 19 games, missed his second consecutive contest Sunday with tightness in his back, while outfielder Matt Kemp left Sunday's 4-3 loss at San Diego with a bruised chest.
TV: 6:40 p.m. ET, FS Southeast (Atlanta), FS Ohio (Cincinnati)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves RH Kevin Gausman (1-1, 2.75 ERA) vs. Reds RH Sonny Gray (0-3, 2.79)
Gausman made arguably his best start since joining Atlanta at last summer's trade deadline Wednesday against Arizona, striking out a career-high 10 while allowing two runs on three hits over seven innings. The 28-year-old rebounded from allowing four runs across 5 2/3 innings in his previous start April 11 against the New York Mets by walking only one batter while throwing 67 of his 99 pitches for strikes without getting a decision, after Arizona rallied against Atlanta's bullpen. Gausman, who has posted a 0.76 WHIP and allowed just nine hits in 19 2/3 innings across three starts, surrendered eight runs over 2 2/3 innings in his only career appearance against Cincinnati in 2017.
Gray has yet to win in his first four starts with Cincinnati but the veteran has pitched well, giving up six earned runs over 19 1/3 innings with a 0.93 WHIP and 5.6 hits allowed per nine innings. The 29-year old, who is holding opponents to a .174 batting average with 22 strikeouts in 69 at-bats, struck out nine across six innings while allowing three runs on two hits in his last start Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Gray, who struck out 13 batters in 10 2/3 innings with five hits and one run surrendered in his previous two starts, has lost his two career starts against Atlanta (2014, 2017).
1. Cincinnati RHP Michael Lorenzen has appeared in 14 of the Reds first 21 games this season, pitching in nine while also pinch-hitting, pinch-running and playing center field.
2. Atlanta RF Nick Markakis is hitting .387 with a 1.040 OPS since beginning the season 1-for-12, and he is batting .333 with runners in scoring position with 13 RBIs in 24 at-bats.
3. Reds SS Jose Iglesias collected three hits Sunday and is 8-for-24 in his past seven games.
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Key Players to Watch
- BATTING 0.381 Charlie Culberson #8 | LF
- HOMERUNS 13 Freddie Freeman #5 | 1B
- RUNS BATTED IN 35 Dansby Swanson #7 | SS
- STOLEN BASES 5 Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 | LF
- EARNED RUN AVERAGE 17.357 Jonny Venters #48 | RP
- WINS 7 Max Fried #54 | SP
- STRIKEOUTS 58 Josh Donaldson #20 | 3B
- SAVES 7 Luke Jackson #77 | RP
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- CalfOut indefinitely | 10-day IL
Duke has landed on the 10-day injured list due to a right calf strain. He is without a definitive timetable for return.
- ShoulderProb Fri | probable
Puig has been absent from the lineup during the past two games due to a right shoulder sprain, but it is anticipated that he will return Friday against the Cubs.
- KneeEarly June | 10-day IL
Blandino is on the 10-day injured list as he is recovering from surgery to repair a torn MCL and ACL in his right knee. He is likely to be held out of action until at least the start of June.
- BackEarly July | 10-day IL
Wood is on the 10-day injured list due to lower-back soreness. He suffered a setback in his recovery, and he is likely to be out until the All-Star break.
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- BackMid June | 10-day IL
Inciarte sustained a lumbar strain and has been designated for the 10-day injured list. It is anticipated that he will be out of commission until at least the middle of June.
- AbdominalProb Sun | 10-day IL
Sobotka has been activated from the 10-day injured list where he was recovering from a left abdominal strain. He is projected to return to the team for Sunday's contest against the Cardinals.
- Elbowout for season | 60-day IL
Vizcaino has been transferred to the 60-day injured list after having surgery to remove scar tissue from his right elbow. He is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
- RestQues Wed | questionable
Donaldson is unlikely to take part in Wednesday's game against the Giants due to a day of rest.
- RestQues Tues | questionable
Albies is not expected to be in Tuesday's lineup against the Giants as he will be granted a day of rest.
- RestQues Sun | questionable
Donaldson is not expected to be in the starting lineup Sunday against the Brewers as he likely will be given the day to rest.
- IllnessProb Tues | probable
Freeman sat out the last game due to an illness but is expected to suit up against the Cardinals on Tuesday.
- ThighProb Tues | probable
Biddle has been activated from the 10-day injured list after healing from a right thigh contusion and right groin strain. He is projected to be available Tuesday against the Cardinals.
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cincinnati-reds Stats 2019
atlanta-braves Stats 2019