Two hot hitters, the Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper and the Braves’ Dansby Swanson, will be in the spotlight when the clubs meet in Atlanta for the finale of a four-game series on Thursday.
The Braves dropped the opener 7-3 on Monday, then earned 6-5 and 8-4 victories the past two days.
Harper went 4-for-5 with two doubles and a run on Wednesday. In the series, he is 8-for-15 with three doubles, a home run, four RBIs and two runs. Despite playing with a sore elbow, Harper is batting .318 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs.
Swanson also finished 4-for-5 and extended his hitting streak to eight games on Wednesday. He homered, scored two runs and drove in two. He is 9-for-13 in the series and is 14-for-32 with two homers, four runs and seven RBIs during his hitting streak. Swanson has raised his batting average from .223 through May 16 to .268. He is batting .316 in May.
“It’s just his competitive nature,” said Atlanta’s Austin Riley, who shares locker space with Swanson. “He wants to win more than anybody I know. I think he puts that first, so whether it’s on the defensive side or the offensive side, if he can help the ball team win, I think that’s all that matters to him.”
Atlanta recorded double-digit hits for the third straight game. The offense has been boosted by Marcell Ozuna, who has a 12-game hitting streak; a resurgent Riley, who has six hits in the series; and hot-hitting catcher William Contreras, who has seven home runs in 13 games this year.
“They have some guys that are hot right now,” Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi. “Swanson has been really hot. Riley’s kind of picked it up, and they’ve hurt us and they’ve hurt us pretty bad.”
The pitching matchup for the series finale features Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola (1-4, 3.96 ERA) against Atlanta’s Kyle Wright (4-2, 2.49).
Nola has not won since his first outing of the season, although he has pitched better than his record might indicate. The problem has been consistency. In four May starts, Nola has allowed two or fewer runs twice and allowed four or more runs twice. In his latest outing, on Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Nola gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts.
Nola has made 25 career starts against the Braves, going 12-8 with a 3.32 ERA and 142 strikeouts. He last faced the Braves on Sept. 29, when he allowed three runs in six innings.
Wright has put together two good outings since his six-run hiccup against the Boston Red Sox on May 10. In his Saturday start against the Miami Marlins, he threw five scoreless innings and gave up two hits and three walks with six strikeouts but left after throwing 91 pitches.
Wright is looking for his first career win against Philadelphia. He is 0-2 with a 5.56 ERA in three appearances, two starts, vs. the Phillies.
Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. has a Grade 1 right quad strain and could “be down for a couple of games,” according to manager Brian Snitker. Acuna felt discomfort while trying to loosen up before the Wednesday game and was a late scratch.
–Field Level Media