Marcell Ozuna, Braves look to keep rolling vs. Cardinals

Marcell Ozuna, Braves look to keep rolling vs. Cardinals

Although the Atlanta Braves‘ lineup features the National League home run leader (Matt Olson), one of the game’s most electrifying players (Ronald Acuna Jr.) and another bona fide slugger (Austin Riley), perhaps no one is currently shining brighter than Marcell Ozuna.

Ozuna will look to continue a torrid stretch on Tuesday when Atlanta opens a three-game series against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals.

Over his past 30 games, Ozuna is hitting .385 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs while recording hits in 28 of those contests. He has been even more impressive during the back half of that run, going 24-for-55 (.436) with eight homers and 16 RBIs in his past 15 games.

Ozuna went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk on Sunday as the Braves (90-46) fell 3-1 to the Los Angeles Dodgers to see their six-game winning streak end.

Despite the setback, Atlanta still came away with three wins in the four-game series while clubbing nine homers and scoring a total of 19 runs to assert their dominance over another one of the NL’s most dangerous contenders.

“It was a good series,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I feel like our guys feel like they can play with anybody in the game.”

Right-hander Miles Mikolas (6-10, 4.66 ERA) will attempt to slow Atlanta’s ferocious offense when he makes his 30th start of the season on Tuesday.

In his most recent outing, Mikolas took a no-decision after allowing three runs on seven hits in six innings against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. He walked two and struck out two while failing to record his first win since July 17.

Mikolas is 1-4 with a 3.86 ERA in six career appearances (five starts) against the Braves.

Atlanta had yet to officially announce a starter, but it could turn to right-hander Michael Soroka (2-1, 5.52 ERA), who has struggled in the majors this season after returning from a slew of Achilles injuries.

Before making his 2023 debut on May 29, Soroka hadn’t pitched since Aug. 3, 2020.

Soroka hasn’t taken the mound in a big-league game since July 21, when he gave up four runs on six hits in six innings to earn a win against the Milwaukee Brewers. He walked two and fanned four before being optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on July 23.

Should Soroka draw the start in the series opener, it could be a good opportunity for him to turn his season around. He is 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA in two career starts against St. Louis (59-78), and the Cardinals have lost eight of their past 12 games despite picking up a 6-4 victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

St. Louis’ latest rut has continued a season of lows for the Cardinals, who entered 2023 with aspirations of winning the NL Central. They are in serious danger of finishing with a losing record for the first time since 2007.

Rookie outfielder Jordan Walker has been one of the few positives for St. Louis, as the 21-year-old enters Tuesday riding a six-game hitting streak. He is 12-for-21 (.571) with three homers and seven RBIs during that span.

“When you’re a player with his skill set and aptitude, you’re bound to develop a lot quicker,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said of Walker. “He loves the game. He loves working hard. And it’s a matter of time before we see a much, much better player, and we’re already getting a good version of him.”

—Field Level Media

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.