For the second time this month, the Atlanta Braves will be heading into the final game of a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays while trying to avoid getting swept. This time, it’s at home and once again, the third game of the series is a matinee affair.
11 days ago, the Braves took on Ross Stripling in Dunedin, Florida and while Stripling wasn’t exactly spectacular against Atlanta’s lineup, he did his job and held the Braves at bay while the Blue Jays continued their offensive onslaught at the expense of Atlanta’s pitching staff. As it turned out, those 4.1 innings of work with only two runs allowed, four strikeouts and one walk have come to represent Stripling’s best start so far. In his other three starts, he’s given up at least three runs in each of them and also given up a homer in each of those starts. So again, this is a situation for the Braves where they should have an opportunity to break out and start the game on the right foot.
Whether or not the Braves lineup will seize that opportunity is a different question on its own. It’s been a rough couple of days at the ballpark for Atlanta since the Blue Jays came into town. It’s pretty likely that an output of either one run or three runs probably won’t be enough for the Braves to win today, since the Braves also have yet to really keep the Blue Jays from lighting up the scoreboard whenever they get an opportunity of their own. The lineup’s going to have to wake up if they want to at least avoid suffering a season sweep at the hands of Toronto.
The man who will be tasked with keeping the Blue Jays from breaking out in the early stages of the game is Charlie Morton, and it’s pretty safe to say that he probably can’t wait to hop on the mound again. There is nowhere to go but up for Morton after his last start saw him fail to make it out of the first inning against the Phillies. Granted, there was a fair amount of bad luck that contributed to that start but it was mostly Morton getting shelled in that one. Either way, he’ll be looking to prove that not only was that start against Philadelphia a fluke but also that his last start against Toronto is not indicative of what he can really do.
During Morton’s start against Toronto, it was a story that we’ve seen with a few of his starts so far this season. He’ll get through some innings with little-to-no issues but there will be one or maybe even two innings where things will go sideways and the game will get away from him. That was the case in Dunedin, as he looked pretty good through five innings before starting off the sixth inning with a hit-by-pitch and a walk and just like that, he was in trouble and that was his last inning of the night. While simply getting out of the first inning will be an improvement for Charlie Morton, you also would like to see him find a way to get back to what was working for him at times during the month of April.
Meanwhile, Atlanta’s bullpen work will be key as well. You can easily make the argument that the Braves’ relief corps played a big role in contributing to the two losses to the Blue Jays in this series. It’s been tough sledding for that crew, but hopefully at some point we’ll be able to see Chris Martin make his return from the IL and put in a solid inning of work for the Braves. They are in desperate need of some good work from their relievers, and having Chris Martin go out there at some point today would be a sight for sore eyes.
Anyways, the Braves have known nothing but frustration when it comes to playing Canada’s Team this season. I’d say that the Braves are just about due to have things go their way against the Blue Jays, but there’s also really no telling what the baseball gods have in store for you on any given day. With that being said, it would be nice to see the Braves pick up a win so that they won’t have to head into Friday trying to avoid yet another four-game losing streak. I think we’ve all had enough of those and it’s time to end this losing streak at just two games.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, May 13th, 12:20 P.M. ET
Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: Bally Sports South, MLB Network (Out-of-market only)
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network