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The Atlanta Braves snapped a 12-game home losing streak Tuesday, and now will try to give Shelby Miller his first victory in nearly four months when they host the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday
Miller’s winless streak sits at 21 and in 13 of those outings the Braves have not scored a run while he has been in the game, but Atlanta found a way in the series opener to keep the American League East-leading Blue Jays from extending their division lead. Miller faces David Price in a matchup of two of the better pitchers in baseball this season.
Much like the last series, this three-game set between the Atlanta Bravesand Toronto Blue Jays features two teams trending in opposite directions. Toronto took three out of four from the New York Yankees over the weekend to open up a three-game lead in the American League East. Atlanta found a way to lose Sunday to cap off a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Mets.
Before being shutout Sunday, the Blue Jays scored 11, 9, and 10 runs against the Yankees. Against a Braves pitching staff that has struggled mightily in recent months, this does not bode well. Toronto boasts three of the top nine home run hitters in the American League in Josh Donaldson (38), Jose Bautista (35), and Edwin Encarnacion (32). Encarnacion has been especially hot as of late, hitting .341 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs in the last month. Speedy outfielder Ben Revere has been going well in recent days too, hitting .435 (10-for-23) during the past week.
The Braves, on the other hand, are in the midst of a miserable stretch. They lead theMets 7-4 with two outs in the ninth inning and the bases empty on Sunday. Three batters, later, Daniel Murphy tied the game with a three-run homer. New York scored three more runs with two outs in the tenth inning, to win 10-7. Atlanta has lost what is believed to be a franchise record 12 straight games at Turner Field. On a brighter note, Andrelton Simmons is hitting .375 (9-for-24) over the last week, and Michael Bourn has reversed some of his bad luck, batting .333 (7-for-21) over that same time.
The Blue Jays lead the Yankees by three games in the AL East and are 37-16 since the All-Star break, fueled by a high-powered offense. Toronto’s top three home-run hitters (Josh Donaldson, 38; Jose Bautista, 35; Edwin Encarnacion, 32) have combined for 105 homers, while the Braves as a team have belted just 89. Encarnacion missed his second consecutive game Tuesday with an injured middle finger on his left hand, and the Blue Jays hope he will be available at some point in the three-game series.
Blue Jays LH David Price (6-1, 2.28 ERA) vs. Braves RH Shelby Miller (5-14, 2.86)
Price has been outstanding in eight starts since being dealt from Detroit to Toronto at the trade deadline, winning four of his last five outings. He beat the Yankees on Friday, striking out seven with two runs allowed on six hits in five innings, and has not allowed more than three earned runs in any start with the Blue Jays. Price has averaged 8.1 strikeouts in his Toronto starts, allowing only three homers in 55 1/3 innings. Miller has taken the loss in his past five outings, even though he has allowed more than four earned runs just once in that stretch. He held the Mets to three runs on seven hits in six innings last time out, but again got no support in a 7-2 defeat. The Braves have averaged 2.37 runs in Miller’s starts this season, the lowest total for any qualifying starter in the majors.
- Atlanta has won just four times in its past 28 games but held the top five hitters in Toronto’s lineup to one hit in 19 at-bats with eight strikeouts in the series opener.
- Toronto 1B Justin Smoak started for Encarnacion and homered Tuesday, the 95th homer the Blue Jays have slugged on the road this season – second in the majors to Seattle’s 96.
- Blue Jays CF Ben Revere is hitless in his past eight at-bats after going 10-for-19 in his previous four games; Revere is hitting .325 in 40 games since being traded from Philadelphia to Toronto.