The Atlanta Braves, owners of the best record in the majors, will have another chance to prove that they are still a force to be reckoned with when they face the host Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday in the second contest of a four-game set
In the series opener on Monday, Atlanta fell 7-6 after giving up six runs in the third — all charged to strikeout guru Spencer Strider, who had his shortest outing of the season (2 2/3 innings)
Overall, Atlanta has lost three straight games, is 10-11 since the All-Star break and is in danger of being overtaken by Baltimore atop the major league standings
But the Braves are not in danger of losing their confidence
“These last three games, we’ve been right there and we’re a hit away,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “It just makes it hard to have to come from behind.
The Pirates are hanging around near the bottom of the National League but have won two in a row, three of four and are 10-7 since they lost five straight to start the second half of the season
“If we keep doing the things that we’ve been doing, this team is gonna be nasty,” said Pittsburgh second baseman Liover Peguero, who went 2-for-4 on Monday. “In a good way.
Atlanta right-hander Yonny Chirinos (5-4, 4.42 ERA) is expected to start opposite Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (9-8, 4.35) on Tuesday
After establishing himself as the Pirates‘ ace, Keller has faltered since making his first All-Star appearance. He has lost each of his past four starts
While run support has been an issue, there are plenty of problems that rest with Keller. In his most recent outing, Keller allowed eight runs on nine hits in five innings against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday
“Definitely frustrating,” Keller said. “Just about the only word I’ve got.
Over his first 10 starts of the season, Keller had a 2.44 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings. In his past 13 starts, he has a 5.92 ERA, giving up 50 earned runs in 76 innings
“It’s all about execution — when he executes, pitches with his stuff, he has the ability to get outs,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said of Keller
What Keller is specifically not executing well is his setup pitch, his cutter
“I think that’s one of the big drivers. … It’s just off. It happens. I have to get it back,” Keller said
Keller hasn’t fared well against the Braves in a small sample size. He is 0-2 with a 10.03 ERA in three career starts
Chirinos, who has never faced the Pirates, was in and out of the Tampa Bay Rays’ rotation before the Braves acquired him off waivers. His two appearances with Atlanta have been starts and he has gone 1-0
In his most recent outing, Chirinos beat the Angels last Wednesday after giving up three runs on six hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out five
–Field Level Medi
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