(Photo credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
Ronald Acuna Jr. will seek the one additional home run he needs to join an elite group when the Atlanta Braves host the Philadelphia Phillies in the rubber game of their three-game series on Wednesday afternoon.
The Braves (97-54) ended their four-game losing streak on Tuesday with a 9-3 win overthe Phillies. Philadelphia (82-69) won the series opener on Monday. Atlanta has an 8-4 lead in the season series.
Acuna hit two home runs on Tuesday and has 39 this season. The next blast would make him the fifth player to reach 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in the same season. The only others are Alfonso Soriano (2006), Alex Rodriguez (1998), Barry Bonds (1996) and Jose Canseco (1988). Acuna has 67 stolen bases and would also become the first player to record 60 steals and 40 home runs.
Acuna drove in his 100th run on Tuesday, the second time he's reached that milestone. Ozzie Albies needs two RBIs to join Matt Olson (130) and Acuna with 100 runs driven in. Austin Riley is 10 shy of the mark.
"That's a testament to the bottom of the lineup," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "They roll the lineup over and (Acuna's) got runners to drive in. He's just putting together a special, special season."
Philadelphia's Aaron Nola (12-9, 4.62 ERA) will face Bryce Elder (12-4, 3.50) in the final regular-season meeting between the National League East rivals.
Nola has struggled in his last three starts, going 0-1 with an 8.56 ERA (13 earned runs in 13 2/3 innings) since the start of September. He gave up three runs -- two earned -- in 4 2/3 innings in his previous start on Friday at St. Louis, a game the Phillies won 5-4.
"I wasn't getting ahead too well," Nola said. "First-pitch strikes weren't really there. They battled me."
Nola has a 3.75 ERA in two starts against the Braves this season, failing to gain a decision in either. In 32 career starts against Atlanta, Nola is 15-10 with a 3.41 ERA.
Elder received no decision in his last start on Friday against Miami, a game the Braves lost 9-6. Elder gave up four runs on nine hits with six strikeouts in five innings.
"I just came out flat, wasn't very sharp and wasn't executing pitches," Elder said. "I was kind of pleased with the last couple of innings, but the first was just kind of sloppy and I paid for it."
Elder has made only one career start against the Phillies (June 22) and received no decision despite tossing seven scoreless innings in a game the Braves won in 10 innings.
The Braves made some pitching decisions on Tuesday. They announced that Max Fried would start the opener of the four-game weekend series against Washington. The left-hander had his start pushed back a few days after developing a blister on his left index finger. Atlanta also activated veteran reliever Jesse Chavez, who had been out since his left shin was fractured by a line drive off the bat of Miguel Cabrera on June 14.
Atlanta also said relievers Nick Anderson (right shoulder strain), Collin McHugh (right shoulder inflammation) and Daysbel Hernandez (right forearm inflammation) would begin minor league rehab sessions. All are considered potential additions to the postseason roster.
--Field Level Media