Rangers’ Nathan Eovaldi aims to build on scoreless streak vs. Braves

May 11, 2023; Oakland, California, USA;  Texas Rangers starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (17) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

For a mid-May game, it’s hard to ask for more than what the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves will offer Wednesday night as they square off in a three-game-series finale in Arlington, Texas.

It’s a matchup between two division leaders and two of the season’s top pitchers.

Texas starter Nathan Eovaldi (5-2, 2.70 ERA) is riding a scoreless innings streak of 28 2/3 innings into the game, while fellow right-hander Spencer Strider (4-1, 2.51) has double-digit strikeouts in three of his last four starts for Atlanta.

In his career vs. the Braves, Eovaldi is 3-3 with a 2.82 ERA over 15 starts.

Eovaldi has been dominant of late. He threw 8 2/3 scoreless innings at Oakland on Thursday for his third straight start with at least eight shutout innings. In that three-game stretch, Eovaldi has 25 2/3 innings pitched, 11 hits, no runs, three walks and 25 strikeouts.

According to STATS, Eovaldi is just the sixth pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to have a three-start span with 25-plus scoreless innings, 25-plus strikeouts and three walks or less. Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers accomplished the feat in 2015, the most recent to do so.

The scoreless streak, however, won’t be easy to keep intact against a Braves lineup that has scored 16 runs combined in the first two games of the series.

“That’s a tough lineup to navigate through,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said after Tuesday’s game, which the Rangers won 7-4.

Offensively, the Rangers rebounded after being shut out on Monday. Catcher Jonah Heim is riding a 14-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in the majors.

The Rangers could get another boost if star shortstop Corey Seager (hamstring) is deemed ready to return. Seager likely would have come off the injured list on Tuesday but was battling a stomach bug.

For Atlanta, Strider is off to a strong start. He has 79 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings over eight starts this season. He’ll face the Rangers for the second time in his career; he threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings with five strikeouts in a relief role last season.

Offensively, Ronald Acuna Jr. continues to impress for the Braves. He’s homered in both games this series, with a 454-foot shot on Monday followed by a 455-foot blast Tuesday. Acuna has 10 homers this season and is batting .348.

“The way he’s playing right now, (Acuna) is worthy of MVP,” Braves third-base coach Ron Washington told MLB.com. “Regardless of what his numbers may be at the end of the year, if he continues playing the way he is, he is going to be high on the (MVP) list.”

Sean Murphy also homered on Tuesday. Murphy has nine career home runs at Globe Life Field since it opened in 2020.

Including being swept at Toronto last weekend, the Braves have lost five of their last six games. Texas, meanwhile, is trying to win its fourth straight series. The Rangers have won eight of their past 11 games.

–Field Level Media

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