National League Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, August 17th
(All times Eastern)
Washington Nationals (59-62) at Atlanta Braves (75-47), 7:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Washington - Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.83)
Atlanta - Mike Minor (12-5, 2.87)
(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Braves can't make it easy on themselves all the
time and will try to stay hot Saturday in the second portion of a three-game
series versus the Washington Nationals at Turner Field.
The Braves needed 10 innings to hand Washington a 3-2 loss in Friday's series
opener, as Justin Upton cracked a game-winning home run in the bottom of the
10th. Upton clubbed a solo shot to left-center field for the Braves, winners
in three straight and 18 of the last 20 games.
"I didn't think it was going to be out ... but it carried enough," Braves
manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Upton's game-winning homer.
Upton, Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons had two hits apiece for Atlanta.
Scott Downs picked up the win with a scoreless top of the 10th and starter
Alex Wood limited the NL East-rival Nationals to a run in 6 1/3 innings with
nine K's and no walks.
Atlanta is 15 1/2 games ahead of Washington for the division lead and is
closing in on an NL East title, the first since 2005.
The Braves are 5-2 on a nine-game homestand and will turn to Mike Minor in
Saturday's tilt with Washington. Minor is 3-0 in his last four starts and has
won four of his past five decisions, including Sunday's 9-4 win over Miami in
which he scattered four runs across seven innings.
Minor is 6-3 in 13 home starts and 3-2 with a 4.30 earned run average in seven
career starts against the Nationals. In 24 overall starts, the left-handed
Minor owns a 12-5 record to go along with a 2.87 ERA.
Washington's chances of making a playoff push are dwindling and the club has
dropped consecutive games since winning five in a row. The Nationals opened a
10-game road trip in dramatic fashion on Friday, as Ian Krol served up Upton's
blast in the 10th to take the loss.
Taylor Jordan's start was wasted and he held the Braves to a pair of unearned
runs in six innings, while Jayson Werth provided two hits and an RBI for the
Nationals, who are 9 1/2 games off a wild card berth.
"It's not easy losing, that's for sure," Werth said. "It's kind of been the
story of the year for us so far. We play just good enough to lose."
Werth has posted three straight multi-hit games and six over his past eight.
Nationals young star Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch twice. Wood drilled the
left-handed batter in the fourth inning and Luis Avilan beaned the All-Star in
the upper part of his back during the eighth before both dugouts were issued
"I feel bad for him, especially because I don't want to hit him in that part
of the body. It was a bad day for me," Avilan said. "I was thinking, 'I hope
he doesn't think I hit him on purpose.' You know the situation. We were
leading, 2-1. I don't want to put the (go-ahead) run at first. I feel bad. If
I'm going to hit him on purpose, I'm not going to hit him almost in his head
because it's dangerous."
Stephen Strasburg draws the start for the Nationals Saturday and he halted a
five-start winless (0-3) drought in Sunday's 6-0 win over Philadelphia. The
hard-throwing Strasburg struck out 10 batters for his first career shutout and
complete game to improve to 6-9 in 23 starts with a 2.83 earned run average.
Strasburg, a right-hander, is only 1-5 in 10 road starts this season and 3-4
with a 3.43 ERA in 11 career starts against the Braves.
The Braves are 11-3 against the Nationals this season, have won the last six
matchups between the clubs and recorded a three-game sweep over them last
08/17 10:45:24 ET