MLB - US Sports: Padres v Cubs preview
The Atlanta Braves have hit the hottest of hot streaks right now with a 14-game winning run that has cut the New York Mets' lead at the top of the National League East Division.
The Braves defeated the Washington Nationals on Wednesday evening 8-2 which made their 14 consecutive victories the most in Major League Baseball this season and matches the second-longest streak in franchise history since 1900, putting the Braves one win shy of the modern era club mark of 15, set in 2000.
What: Atlanta Braves versus Chicago Cubs, Game 1 of 3.
Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago, IIlinois.
When: 19:20, Friday 17th June, 2022.
How to watch: MLB.tv, BT Sport.
Strider catches the eye
Rookie pitcher Spencer Strider was superb in the sweep over the Nationals. The 23-year old pitched five and two-thirds of an inning, racking up a career-high 11 strikeouts.
Strider only gave up a run in the fifth inning when Washington's Luis Garcia's solo home run put the Nationals on the board.
Strider became only the third pitcher in Braves history to strike out 11 in fewer than six innings and the first since Julio Tehreran back in August 2013.
So it's a concern for the Chicago Cubs as they were hammered 19-5 by the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, their ninth straight loss.
Kilian struggles on second start
Young starter Caleb Kilian made his second start on the mound and the 25-year-old had a night to forget, going just four innings, allowing five hits, five runs and five walks. He never really settled into the game and exited after the fourth inning.
However, all this is for the future, according to team manager David Ross. With Marcus Stroman, Wade Miley and Drew Smyly all on the injured list, the Cubs' rotation is pretty limited. Stroman and Miley are dealing with shoulder issues and neither have started to throw yet.
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Kilian is likely to get more starts in the coming weeks and while the two career appearances from the mound haven't exactly gone to plan, he's a young pitcher who has shown plenty of talent in the minors and his 2.51 ERA is the fourth-lowest among International League starters.
Charlie Morton will go to the mound for Atlanta, the 38-year-old has a 4-3 record this season with a 5.67 ERA in 12 games with 66 strikeouts. In Morton's last outing in Atlanta against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he went six innings and gave up four earned runs, but struckout 12 and gave up just one walk.
The veteran has been crucial for the Braves and last lost a game at the start of May when pitching against the New York Mets at Citi Field.
While Atlanta, who are 6.50 to win the MLB NL East, has the luxury of naming all of their starting pitchers for the up-and-coming series starting on Friday, the Chicago Cubs, who are 51.00 to make the MLB play-offs, haven't named their starting pitcher for the game yet as they may prefer a bullpen game which has a host of pitchers using short inning time.
Matt Swarmer is perhaps the most obvious to start, although he gave up six earned runs in an 8-0 loss to the New York Yankees on his last start, striking out four.
Cubs' manager David Ross has seen all this before and advocated opportunities rather than excuses for the players that haven't been involved to take their chance while perceived starters are out injured.
The Northsiders' injury list just got a tad worse, losing second baseman Nick Madrigal to the 10-day injured list with a left groin strain, although he hopes to be back next week.
Ross, speaking to the official Chicago Cubs' website, refused to be drawn on the injured players. He said: "We haven't been very good, we need to pitch better. We'll come back tomorrow, play hard.
"The group continues to play hard and work well, teams go through different areas, playing well and I don't have an answer for you."
It's now 14 straight victories for the current four-time National League East champions and the Braves are making a surge for a fifth title.
Despite losing Ozzie Albies to a foot injury, of which he has had surgery, they were scintillating in their most recent win over the Nationals with Strider making waves and third baseman Austin Riley hitting two home runs, the first one giving the Braves a little breathing room, the second homer, effectively winning the game.
The Cubs may end their losing streak against the Padres in their final game, but the Braves are too hot for Chicago right now.
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