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At Cubs, Braves can match franchise win streak record

Sportsnaut
Jun 14, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Harris II (23) hits a solo home run against the Washington Nationals during the sixth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves still haven’t lost a game in June.

Meanwhile, it only seems like the Chicago Cubs are winless this month.

The visiting Braves can match a modern-era franchise record with their 15th consecutive victory Friday, while also trying to extend the Cubs’ season-high losing streak to 11.

Atlanta lost back-to-back games at Arizona on the last two days of May to sit at 23-27. Since then, the Braves have averaged 7.2 runs, clubbed 35 homers, posted a plus-60 run differential (101-41) and own an ERA of 2.72 during their 14-game winning streak — one shy of the club mark set in 2000.

“We’re just out here having fun, doing our jobs, having fun doing it,” rookie Braves outfielder Michael Harris II, batting .433 with eight RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Braves also have outscored opponents 63-27 during an eight-game road winning streak — their longest since taking 13 in a row away from home last season. Atlanta belted 13 homers while sweeping a three-game set at Washington this week.

“It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish,” Atlanta’s Austin Riley, who homered twice Wednesday in an 8-2 victory over the Nationals, told the Journal-Constitution. “There’s a lot of baseball left.

“But right now, we’re clicking on all cylinders.”

None of this seems to bode well for the Cubs, who have been outscored 90-30 and sport an 8.07 ERA while losing 10 straight since beating St. Louis in a doubleheader opener on June 4. Chicago, which has now endured three losing streaks of at least 10 games since June 25, 2021, also will try to avoid a season-high seventh consecutive loss at home, where it is 11-24.

“This a frustrating moment in time,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said Thursday before the Cubs’ 6-4 loss to San Diego. “What we’ve seen since (June 4), obviously that’s been a real struggle and really frustrating.”

The Cubs, though, might feel confident facing Atlanta’s Charlie Morton (4-3, 5.67 ERA), who is 1-2 with a 9.68 ERA in his last four starts vs. Chicago, dating to 2014. He allowed three runs, four hits and four walks in 2 1/3 innings of a 6-3, 10-inning home loss to Chicago on April 27.

The right-hander has a 6.66 ERA in his last five starts but is 2-0 with a run-support average of 8.42 in those games. Morton gets his first look at Cubs rookie Christopher Morel, who has homered in two straight contests and is batting .367 with six RBIs in his last seven at home.

Meanwhile, Chicago’s Keegan Thompson (6-2, 3.67) makes his fifth straight start, looking to get back on track after allowing 10 runs and eight hits over just 3 2/3 innings of his last two. Thompson, 3-2 with a 6.26 ERA in six 2022 starts, yielded five runs — three earned — while facing just nine batters in 2/3 inning Sunday before being pulled in an 18-4 loss to the New York Yankees.

Thompson allowed a run, three hits and two walks while striking out three over three innings of relief in that April win at Atlanta. He fanned Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson, but the veteran is batting .400 with three homers and 11 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak.

–Field Level Media