The Atlanta Braves will complete the regular season with 19 straight games against National League East opponents.
The stretch run begins Friday when they host the Philadelphia Phillies.
As the Braves push for a fifth consecutive NL East title, they will have some challenging games, starting with the three-game series against the Phillies.
The Braves (88-55) boast a 35-22 record against the NL East, including a 6-6 mark vs. Philadelphia (80-63). Atlanta sits one game behind the first-place New York Mets (90-55) in the division.
“We’ve got to go out and try to win series, still, ’til the last one we play,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “This time of year, it doesn’t even matter who you’re playing. You’re trying to win every game. I mean, I think every game is important, every game is big, so they all mean a lot now.”
The Braves are returning home after a 4-4 road trip against the Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants.
Atlanta fell 4-1 to the Giants in the series finale on Wednesday. Robbie Grossman was a positive influence as he finished 3-for-3 with an RBI.
“Obviously, you want to have a winning road trip. Any time you come out here and you break even, you kind of feel good,” Snitker said. “We played some close games and lost the (Sunday) one in Seattle that would have put us over the top. Here, (the Giants) played two really good ballgames out of the three against us.”
The Braves will hand the ball to Max Fried (13-6, 2.50 ERA) on Friday. The left-hander is 4-3 with a 3.96 ERA in 16 career games (10 starts) against the Phillies, 0-0 with a 3.75 ERA in three starts this year.
Atlanta received some good news as Ozzie Albies went 5-for-5 with a game-winning home run in a rehab game for Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday, then added a two-run triple on Wednesday. Albies has been out since June 14 with a broken left foot.
The Phillies had their five-game winning streak snapped with a 5-3 road loss to the Miami Marlins on Thursday, but they battled until the end.
Following Brandon Marsh’s fourth hit and second RBI, Matt Vierling grounded out — nipped by a half-step at first base — to end the game.
Philadelphia’s Bryson Stott added two hits and two runs and Kyle Schwarber hit his NL-leading 38th homer of the season.
Despite the loss, the Phillies are a confident club heading into this key series. Philadelphia is 2 1/2 games up on the San Diego Padres (78-66) for the second NL wild card and four games in front of the Milwaukee Brewers (76-67), the first team out of playoff position.
“I feel as confident as ever,” interim Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “We’re playing good. We’re battling. There’s a lot of energy in the dugout. Everyone is pulling for each other.”
Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins could be back in the lineup Friday. Hoskins was by a pitch on his right hand on Wednesday and sat out Thursday for precautionary reasons. He was relieved that his hand was bruised and not broken.
“The reality is I’ll play at some point,” Hoskins said. “Hopefully, it is (Friday). If not, probably not long after that. It’s going to stink not being out there. But I’ll be excited when I do.”
Ranger Suarez (9-5, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to start on Friday for the Phillies. In Suarez’s latest outing, on Saturday against the Washington Nationals, he threw 103 pitches and allowed seven hits and four runs in 6 2/3 innings.
“It was good to do that after my last two outings,” Suarez said. “The last time I threw 100-plus pitches was when I hurt my back, so it felt good to be able to do that.”
Suarez is 1-2 with a 4.20 ERA in 13 career games (four starts) against the Braves, 0-2 with a 5.06 ERA in three meetings this season.
–Field Level Media