The Arizona Diamondbacks will try to start a new winning streak on Sunday when they meet the Atlanta Braves in the finale of a three-game series in Phoenix.
The Diamondbacks had won a season-high six consecutive games before meeting Braves ace Spencer Strider, who leads the majors in strikeouts and is an early contender for the National League Cy Young Award.
Strider and three relievers held Arizona to two runs on six hits in Atlanta’s 5-2 win Saturday.
Arizona enters Sunday tied for first place with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West. According to multiple reports after Saturday night’s game, the Diamondbacks have agreed to extend manager Torey Lovullo’s contract through the 2024 season.
Atlanta leads the NL East by 3 1/2 games over the Miami Marlins.
The Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. has been playing at an MVP level for most of this season. His 2-for-5 performance on Saturday night included a 464-foot blast that pushed Atlanta’s lead to 5-1. Acuna also collected his league-leading 24th stolen base and scored twice.
“You better not go get a beer or anything when he’s coming up because you might miss something really good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said after the victory Saturday night. “It’s amazing to me how that ball comes off his bat.”
Braves outfielder Eddie Rosario continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-4 on Saturday following a 3-for-4 night on Friday.
“It was really nice to string together some good at-bats and have some success (Saturday),” Rosario told Bally Sports after the victory.
Atlanta catcher Sean Murphy continued to provide offensive firepower, going 3-for-5 to push his average to .294 and his on-base percentage to .400 this season.
Braves outfielder Marcell Ozuna also found his stroke against the Diamondbacks, going 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI on Saturday.
Lovullo said he is looking forward to his team finding some punch.
“We just couldn’t get into sync offensively — a credit to him (Strider), obviously,” Lovullo said after Saturday’s game. “We just couldn’t get the big hit to push us over the top. We’ve gotta turn the page and filter this the right way, push through it, come out, be ready to go (Sunday).”
The pitching matchup Sunday will feature Diamondbacks ace right-hander Zac Gallen (7-2, 2.72 ERA) and Braves veteran right-hander Michael Soroka (0-1, 6.00).
Soroka went six innings at Oakland while allowing two walks, four runs and five hits on Monday in his first start of the season. He is 0-1 with a 1.64 ERA in two career starts against Arizona.
Gallen, who is among Strider’s top challengers for the NL Cy Young Award at this point of the season, threw six shutout innings at home against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday. He struck out seven and allowed five hits.
“He gets real stubborn,” Lovullo said following that start. “He slows the game down and he’s in total control and starts to make pitches. He pitches at a different level.”
Gallen has held Braves hitters to a .178 batting average (8-for-45) in his career. He is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in two career starts against Atlanta.
– Field Level Media