Phillies, Braves righties meet in rematch

MLB

A pair of young right-handers will take the mound on Saturday for a pitching rematch when the Atlanta Braves host the Philadelphia Phillies in the second game of a three-game series.

The Braves won the first game, their home opener, 8-1 on Friday. The Phillies swept a three-game series against Atlanta to open the season in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia’s Zach Eflin (0-0, 1.29 ERA) will oppose Atlanta’s Ian Anderson (0-0, 1.80), the same pair who dueled on Sunday. Neither starter was involved in the decision that game, which the Phillies won 2-1.

Eflin pitched seven innings and allowed one run on four hits and one walk, striking out eight in his first start of the season. That continued his good work against the Braves: He improved to 5-3 with a 3.22 ERA in 10 career starts against Atlanta.

“I always try to top the guy that pitches before me — just use it as motivation to continue the streak of good pitching,” Eflin said. “It’s really nice to see the first two guys (Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler) go out there and get the job done with confidence. To follow that lead is crucial for me.”

Anderson made it through only five innings in his first start after throwing 70 pitches through the first three innings. He allowed one run on four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in his first career start against Philadelphia.

“I had all those strikeouts early on, but I was falling behind,” Anderson said. “Then I’d start pitching and get ahead. Getting weak contact is huge. That’s kind of how the game shifted. I guess it’s just part of baseball.”

The Phillies will try to slow slugging Atlanta outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., who had two doubles and a home run while going 4-for-5 on Friday. The homer was his third of the season, a 456-foot shot off starter Wheeler. It was the fifth four-hit game of his career. Acuna has reached base in 10 of his 17 plate appearances over the past four games.

The other Atlanta bats have been sluggish. Marcell Ozuna is hitting .125, Ozzie Albies is batting .111 and Freddie Freeman is hitting .136. however, all three had hits on Friday, and Freeman connected for his second homer.

The Braves continue to get power from their pinch hitters. Ehire Adrianza delivered a three-run pinch-hit homer on Friday, the first of his career. Atlanta has three pinch-hit homers this season.

Atlanta pitchers still haven’t found an answer for Philadelphia catcher J.T. Realmuto, who had two more hits and is batting .462 (6-for-13) against the Braves this season. But Rhys Hoskins, who had seven extra-base hits in the first six games, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, and Bryce Harper was 0-for-2 with a pair of walks.

The Philadelphia relief corps allowed five runs, three earned, in 3 1/2 innings on Friday. That caused the bullpen’s ERA to jump from 3.27 to 3.91. Brandon Kintzler allowed three runs, only one earned, to end a 10 2/3-inning scoreless streak that dated back to Sept. 11, 2020.

–Field Level Media

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