Struggling Jays looks to stop surging Braves
(Sports Network) - Sporting the longest winning streak in the majors entering play on Sunday, the Atlanta Braves try to complete the three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays in interleague action at Turner Field.
Since suffering through a stretch where they lost nine of 11 contests, the Braves have reversed their fortunes by piling up six consecutive victories and that has the team just one game out of first place in the National League East, trailing only Washington.
On Saturday, Atlanta starter Tommy Hanson picked up his seventh win of the campaign as he gave up just two runs on five hits in eight innings of work.
"I threw well, there were a ton of good plays and it was a total team effort. That's got to be one of my favorite games I've ever played in," noted Hanson.
Stepping in to pitch a perfect ninth was Craig Kimbrel, who registered his 18th save of the season in the process.
Dan Uggla belted a three-run home run for the hosts, while Michael Bourn upped his batting average to .317 thanks to a trio of hits for the Braves. Andrelton Simmons connected on a solo home run as well, his first of the year.
Drew Hutchison was tabbed with the loss, his fifth of the season for the visiting Jays. The starter worked his way through 6 1/3 innings, permitting five runs on seven hits, while fanning seven.
Jose Bautista supplied the offense for Toronto, delivering a two-out, two-run home run in the sixth inning to keep the Jays close. For Bautista it was his 17th long ball of the campaign.
Shooting for his eighth win of the season in nine decisions this afternoon is Jays left-hander Ricky Romero. A first-round pick of Toronto back in 2005, the sixth selection overall, Romero has won his last three decisions.
On Tuesday the California native made it through seven innings against the Chicago White Sox, allowing three earned runs on six hits and a walk, while fanning four in a 9-5 triumph.
Needing one more victory for the 50th of his career, Romero lost his only previous decision against Atlanta.
As for the Braves, they originally had Tim Hudson set in the rotation for today, but bone spurs in his left ankle will have him sidelined for the time being. Instead, Atlanta has called up Julio Teheran from Triple-A Gwinnett to make a spot start.
The Braves' top pitching prospect, Teheran is 5-2 with a 3.15 ERA in 11 starts at Gwinnett. He pitched a seven-hit complete-game shutout, allowing only one run, in his last start against Charlotte. To make room for Teheran on the roster the Braves optioned catcher J.C. Boscan to Gwinnett following the game yesterday.
Despite the recent success of the Braves and their fight to remain close to the top of the NL East standings, the team is getting the job done with marginal pitching efforts at best. The staff has an ERA that ranks 15th in the majors at 3.94 and the squad has just 25 quality starts thus far, ranking them 27th in baseball.
Toronto, now fourth in the American League East and four games out of contention, have a collective ERA of 4.03 (19th) but have limited opposing hitters to just a .241 batting average thus far.
Winners of eight straight over the Jays dating back to 2009, Atlanta now has an interleague mark of 133-113, Toronto coming in at 125-145.