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Blue Jays next up for Braves’ sizzling Spencer Strider

May 6, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider (99) throws against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta right-hander Spencer Strider will look to remain unbeaten when the Braves open a three-game series against the host Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.

Strider (4-0, 2.70 ERA) is enjoying a dominant season in which he has allowed just 23 hits while striking out 67 in only 40 innings. The strikeouts were tied for most in the majors entering Thursday.

“You can strike out a lot of guys and not get a lot of wins or put up zeroes,” Strider said earlier this month. “It’s just, hopefully, indicative of throwing strikes, getting ahead and using my full mix.”

The 24-year-old has allowed five or fewer hits in each of his seven outings while holding opponents to a .162 average.

Strider struck out 10 in five innings while taking a no-decision against the Baltimore Orioles in his last outing. He gave up two runs and four hits and didn’t issue a walk and was pulled after 95 pitches.

It marked his second straight outing in which he lasted just five innings. He threw a season-high 107 pitches in a 9-8 victory over the New York Mets on May 1.

Prior to his last two outings, Strider tossed 14 scoreless innings in a two-start span against the San Diego Padres and Miami Marlins, in which he allowed just three hits and three walks while striking out 22.

Atlanta’s Sean Murphy is in his first season catching Strider and has been amazed at the high-level stuff he possesses.

“He makes guys have to make a decision,” Murphy said. “When you’ve got stuff like that, it’s tough to get up there and try to put a good swing on him. He’s special.”

This will be Strider’s first career outing against the Blue Jays.

Atlanta has won 11 of its past 15 games despite dropping a 5-2 decision against the visiting Boston Red Sox on Wednesday. The Braves split the two-game set with Boston.

Ronald Acuna Jr. hit a 470-foot homer in Wednesday’s loss while going 2-for-4 for the second straight game. It was his third blast of the month and seventh of the season.

Toronto is coming off a 3-6 road trip and is happy to see its home ballpark and open a 10-game homestand.

The Blue Jays have played the fewest home games (12) in the majors — compared to 25 on the road. They are a stellar 9-3 at Rogers Centre.

“Playing at home is such an advantage for us,” right-hander Kevin Gausman said after Wednesday’s 2-1, 10-inning loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. “We always play better at home, so getting back there — obviously, a good team coming in with Atlanta — so, hopefully, we can turn the page.”

Gausman tossed six shutout innings and struck out nine against the Phillies. He is tied with Strider for the strikeout lead at 67.

Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went 1-for-6 in the last two games after missing two contests due to left wrist soreness.

Teammate George Springer wasn’t in the starting lineup the past two contests due to an illness, though he did pinch-hit on Tuesday. With the off-day Thursday, the expectation is that Stringer will be ready for Friday’s game.

Veteran right-hander Chris Bassitt (4-2, 4.28) will be on the mound for Toronto. He’ll be looking to win his fourth consecutive decision.

The 34-year-old Bassitt blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates on four hits over seven innings during a 4-0 win last Friday. He struck out five and walked four.

Bassitt is 1-2 with a 4.60 ERA in three career starts against Atlanta. His former Oakland Athletics teammate, Matt Olson, has homered against him while going 1-for-6. Austin Riley (3-for-7) also has gone deep.

–Field Level Media

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