The Atlanta Braves, who have been getting good efforts from their starting pitchers, will try to continue the trend Saturday when they send right-hander Bryse Wilson to the mound in the third game of the four-game series against visiting Pittsburgh.
The Braves evened the series with a 20-1 win on Friday, becoming the first team in major-league history to hit seven or more homers in a game that included two slams, according to STATS.
Over the past 18 games, Atlanta starters have allowed 30 earned runs and just 10 home runs. Ian Anderson continued the good work when he threw six scoreless innings on Friday.
Wilson (1-2, 5.50 ERA) will be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller (2-5, 7.16). Wilson was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett, where he was scheduled to start on Saturday.
Wilson is filling the spot left open when Huascar Ynoa broke his hand by hitting the bench in frustration in Milwaukee on Sunday. He was recalled in another fill-in situation on May 11 and pitched six strong innings against Toronto, allowing two runs on six hits with five strikeouts.
Keller has lost his past two starts, but he pitched well in his last outing on May 16 against San Francisco. The right-hander allowed two runs over five innings and struck out eight.
“It’s important that Mitch continues to pitch,” Pittsburgh general manager Ben Cherington said. “We are encouraged and happy with his effort between starts, the things he’s working on. Clearly, there’s more improvement that needs to happen. He knows that. We know that. There’s been inconsistency there, outing to outing, in terms of bringing the practice work into the game.”
Keller has made one career start against Atlanta. He allowed six runs on 10 hits in three innings but wound up with no decision on June 12, 2019.
The Braves were encouraged by the offensive output on Friday. They scored a season-high 20 runs on 20 hits, seven of them home runs. Eight of those runs and one homer came in the eighth inning against position player Wilmer Difo. Atlanta has hit a league-leading 72 home runs and seven grand slams.
Two of the home runs came from third baseman Austin Riley, who went 3-for-4 with a sacrifice fly to raise his batting average to .310. Over the past 31 games, Riley is hitting .359 (37-for-103) with seven doubles and 15 RBI.
“He’s making strides,” manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s good to see. It’s more the hitter that I expect him to be. To his credit, he hasn’t gotten down. He’s been working hard every day and it’s good to see it paying off for him.”
Ronald Acuna Jr. hit the second grand slam of his career and Ehire Adrianza added a grand slam against Difo. Ozzie Albies, Marcell Ozuna and Dansby Swanson also went deep.
“It was awesome,” Riley said. “It seemed like everything was clicking offensively. It really shows what this team is capable of doing. Things may not be clicking on a daily basis, but it’s there.”
The Pirates had 11 hits on Friday, but all were singles. Adam Frazier extended his modest hitting streak to seven games with a bunt single to start the game. Frazier leads the league with 59 hits.
–Field Level Media