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Nationals look to end Braves’ hot streak

Sportsnaut
Jun 12, 2022; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Adam Duvall (14) runs the bases after hitting a home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the second inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

From one team on a streak to another, the Washington Nationals are facing an array of opponents on this homestand.

The Atlanta Braves will look more formidable than the last foe for the Nationals.

After Washington’s series against the Milwaukee Brewers, who lost eight games in a row before winning Sunday’s finale, the Nationals will try to halt Atlanta’s 11-game winning streak when the teams match up Monday night in Washington to begin a three-game series.

The Braves will arrive on a major hot streak, marking their longest string of success since winning 14 straight in 1993.

“We’re having fun. We’re still working,” Braves outfielder Adam Duvall said. “We’re still doing the things that you need to do to keep this thing going.”

Right-hander Josiah Gray (6-4, 4.33 ERA) will get the start for the Nationals. He has won his last two decisions, but one of his most impressive outings of the season came with five shutout innings last week at Miami in a no-decision, though he logged 101 pitches. That pushed his string of 16 innings while allowing just two runs, both coming on solo homers.

Gray is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three appearances all-time against Atlanta, including a win earlier this spring.

Atlanta has been on a power surge lately. The Braves homered four times Sunday, with Duvall going long twice. William Contreras has played in just 27 games but has homered nine times.

Seven of Atlanta’s last nine wins have come by two runs or less or in extra innings.

The Nationals had an uptick of offense with seven home runs in the first two games of the Milwaukee series before falling 4-1 on Sunday.

“Let’s come back (Monday) and try to put up some runs early and often,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said.

The Braves will have right-hander Ian Anderson (5-3, 4.53 ERA) on the mound. Anderson won his only outing vs. Washington, firing seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts in September 2020.

The first five triumphs in Atlanta’s winning streak came on the road before winning six in a row at home.

“We hit the road here and look to have a good road series,” Duvall said.

Duvall said the Braves had done a good job offensively with taking good at-bats and making opposing pitchers work.

“We try to help each other out with that,” Duvall said.

Atlanta won one of three games at home against the Nationals in mid-April.

The Nationals could have infielder Alcides Escobar back in action soon as he’s eligible to come off the injured list.

“He has taken a bunch of ground balls,” Martinez said. “He’s hitting. He’s getting close.”

It could be a matter of how Escobar fits in because his replacement, Luis Garcia, has hit .372 in 11 games.

Washington reliever Carl Edwards Jr. will look to begin another streak after a string of 13 consecutive outings without surrendering a run was snapped by Andrew McCutchen’s solo home run leading off the ninth Sunday.

For the Nationals, Monday night’s game will come before the buzz that’s bound to accompany pitcher Stephen Strasburg’s first scheduled start in a home game in more than a year Tuesday night.

–Field Level Media