The Atlanta Braves are making a spirited surge in the National League East. Unfortunately for Atlanta, it has dropped six of eight meetings with current division penthouse tenant Washington. The Braves will look to better their standing on Friday when they open a four-game set on the road against the Washington Nationals.
Atlanta posted its eighth win in 10 outings with a 3-2 triumph over San Francisco on Thursday to move within 3 1/2 games of Washington. Freddie Freeman and David Ross belted solo homers to account for two of the Braves’ three hits on the day. The offense will be tested by Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg, who celebrates his 24th birthday Friday.
Braves Nationals Betting
When: 7:05 PM ET, Friday, July 20, 2012
Where: Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, PTV (Atlanta), MASN (Washington)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves RH Tommy Hanson (10-5, 4.02 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 2.66)
Hanson is heating up with the weather, having won five of his last six decisions. The 25-year-old defeated Washington to start that stretch, tossing seven solid innings and striking out six in a 3-2 win on June 3. Hanson is 3-3 with a slim 1.14 WHIP versus the Nationals.
Strasburg snapped a career-worst three-game losing skid after scattering six hits over six scoreless innings in Sunday’s 4-0 win over Miami. The phenom lost his lone start versus Atlanta this season, yielding three runs and walking four in three innings on a sweltering 106-degree day on June 30. General manager Mike Rizzo declared earlier in the week that the decision on when to shut Strasburg down is his to make. Washington previously had set a 160-inning limit.
1. Washington’s Ian Desmond is expected to return to the starting lineup on Friday. Desmond has been nursing a strained oblique, which has limited him to pinch-hitting duty over the last five games.
2. Freeman is batting .337 since returning from a right index finger injury. He is just 1-for-6 in his career versus Strasburg.
3. Slugger Ryan Zimmerman homered during Washington’s 9-5 loss to the New York Mets on Thursday. Zimmerman has struggled mightily against Hanson, going 3-for-21 in his career.