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Braves aim for season-series sweep of Pirates

Aug 23, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Olson (28) greets left fielder Robbie Grossman (right) after Grossman scored a run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fifth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The visiting Atlanta Braves will shoot for a series and season sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates when the teams meet on Wednesday.

Atlanta, which has won five of six and 13 of 15 overall, already has clinched its fifth straight series win while also matching a season high with eight straight road wins.

The Braves won all four games in a home series against Pittsburgh in June and have won the first two this series 2-1 and 6-1.

Atlanta’s Vaughn Grissom went 3-for-4 with an RBI single on Tuesday. The 21-year-old rookie is hitting .420 with a .463 on-base percentage and a .660 slugging percentage through his first 14 major league games.

“I think the kid can just hit,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “There’s no panic in his at-bats. At two strikes, he’ll shorten up, put the ball in play. You see him go all over the ballpark.”

The Pirates have lost four in row and have been held to one run in three of those contests. In their six losses to Atlanta this year, they have been outscored 30-12.

“We know we’re going to have to score multiple runs,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said.

Pittsburgh got third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes back Tuesday after he spent the minimum time on the 10-day injured list because of a mid-back muscle strain. He finished 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

In the series finale, Atlanta right-hander Kyle Wright (15-5, 3.14 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (4-9, 4.49).

Wright has won his past two starts. His most recent outing was on Friday, when he allowed two runs and six hits in six innings with seven strikeouts and one walk against the Houston Astros.

That outing also proved to Wright, who is among the major league leaders in wins, that his right arm is sound after he had some fatigue in his previous start.

“I felt way better and a lot stronger,” Wright said. “I felt like my velo was back. I was back up to 96 (mph) with my sinker and it didn’t really get below 92, which is where I want to be.”

Wright has faced the Pirates once in his career, starting and picking up the win on June 12. He gave up three runs and five hits in six innings, striking out seven and walking two.

Keller did not go on the IL but has been idle since Aug. 16, when he left because of right shoulder fatigue after making 46 pitches in two innings against the Boston Red Sox. He gave up five runs, four earned, on five hits and three walks with one strikeout.

Shelton said there was no reason to panic because there was no pain in Keller’s shoulder, although Keller was still frustrated with his performance.

“I feel like everybody in the building who was watching knew that my velo was a little bit down and I was hanging sliders,” the pitcher said. “Usually if those sliders are down and away, they’re ground balls, but they were up in the zone, so got hit a little bit harder for drives in the gap and lost some long outs.”

Despite the setback, Keller is 2-3 with a 3.05 ERA over his past seven outings as he makes a push to establish himself as a consistent member of the rotation.

–Field Level Media