The Atlanta Braves (39-27) just came off am embarrassing sweep at the hands of the San Diego Padres (32-34), and another rough road trip out West where they also split the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers (28-37). Returning home to Turner Field, the Braves will face the San Francisco Giants (34-31) for the 2nd time in a three game series beginning this evening. The last time the Braves faced the Giants was in early May, on the road, and the Giants were able to take 3 out of 4 in that series. The Braves have played well at home though with the best home record in baseball (21-7), and the Giants are dealing with a plethora of injuries and a road record that’s just awful for a team over .500. On the road, the Giants are just 13-20, so the Braves will be hoping to get some redemption from their series loss earlier in the season.
Taking the mound for Atlanta tonight will be Kris Medlen (3-6, 2.87 ERA), who after a few shaky starts here and there, and a propensity to give up the long ball more than usual, has looked amazing in his last two starts throwing almost 14 shutout innings. Kris has not gotten near enough run support in his outings this year, so while he has just a 3-6 record, his ERA tells the real story of the kind of command that Medlen has. He has struggled with spot command on key pitches against power, but has clearly begun to put the puzzle on that together. Kris will hope to continue that command tonight, and his teammates will hope to continue to give him the run support he needs.
Facing Medlen for the Giants in game 1 will be Madison Bumgarner (5-4, 3.58). Bumgarner has had some shaky outings this year as well, losing three of his last four starts and posting a 6.29 ERA in that stretch. His last outing was a touch better, but hopefully the Braves can take advantage of his spotty command again this evening as he takes the hill for the Giants. The Braves will hope that Bumgarner is not as sharp as the last time they faced him, where on May 11 he pitched seven sharp innings, allowing only 1 run in a 10-1 victory for the Giants. Justin Upton has hit well against Bumgarner, and Evan Gattis has as well, so Fredi may find a way to get Evan Gattis in the lineup again this evening.
As mentioned earlier, the Giants are dealing with a number of key injuries, and those injuries could certainly hurt the Giants chances of success in this series. Centerfielder Angel Pagan went on the 15 day DL with a strained left hamstring. His return is listed as TBD, but he had not resumed activities as of June 11. Pablo Sandoval (3B) went on the 15 day DL on June 11, retroactive to June 9th, with a strained tendon in his left foot. His return is listed as probably late June. Finally, Marco Scutaro (2B) is also day-to-day with a left pinkie injury and is trying to avoid a possible surgery to correct. He did not play on June 12th and 13th, and his return is listed as TBD as well. The Braves will hope to take advantage of some possible gaping holes in the Giants normally productive lineup.
Game 1 – 7:30 PM EST Friday
Braves: K. Medlen (3-6, 2.87 ERA)
Giants: M. Bumgarner (5-4, 3.58 ERA)
Game 2 – 4:05 PM EST Saturday
Braves: M. Minor (8-2, 2.44 ERA)
Giants: C. Gaudin (2-1, 2.32 ERA)
Game 3 – 8:05 PM EST Sunday
Braves: J. Teheran (4-3, 3.62 ERA)
Giants: T. Lincecum (4-6, 4.70 ERA)
Jason Heyward has been on a bit of a tear lately, which is just what the doctor ordered for the Braves, who have seen him struggle along with B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla. Jason is 17 for 43 for a .395 BA during a 10-game hitting streak, and has raised his average from .142 to .215. Facing the Giants, Heyward has also gone yard in his last three games against them.
Evan Gattis has also hit well against Bumgarner, and though they’ve not seen each other that much, the Braves may look to get Evan back in the lineup tonight, probably catching, but possibly in LF.
Justin Upton was able to go yard for his 15th homer on Wednesday evening in the loss to the Padres. Prior to that homerun, Justin had gone a whopping 21 games without the long ball. Despite that power slump, Justin is 9-17 against Madison Bumgarner overall, and will look to take advantage again.