Right-hander Spencer Strider will enter a brave new world Monday night when he makes his Oracle Park debut as the Atlanta Braves visit the San Francisco Giants for the opener of a three-game series.
The Braves (87-53) will begin the set 1 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Mets (89-52) in the National League East, having lost two in a row after beginning an eight-game Western swing with three consecutive wins.
As Atlanta prepares to play its last three games outside the Eastern time zone, it’s the Giants who had the tougher travel day Sunday. San Francisco completed a seven-day, eight-game trip with a 4-2 nationally televised night win in Chicago against the Cubs that ended more than four hours after the Braves were wrapping up an 8-7 loss in Seattle.
Strider (10-4, 2.69 ERA) has been pushed up a day to start the series opener, with Kyle Wright rescheduled for Tuesday.
Strider, 23, threw well across the San Francisco Bay last Wednesday when he struck out nine in six innings, allowing just two hits, in a 7-3 win over the Oakland Athletics.
He has faced the Giants just once in his career, during the clubs’ four-game series in Atlanta in June. Strider was bombed for six runs in 3 2/3 innings in Atlanta’s 12-10 loss.
The Braves took three of four from the Giants in that series, including 2-1 and 4-3 walk-off wins. The four games were decided by a total of five runs.
Braves closer Kenley Jansen has blown three of his last seven save opportunities, including on Sunday when he served up home runs to Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez and Eugenio Suarez in the bottom of the ninth of a walk-off loss.
Jansen might welcome the sight of Oracle Park, where he has 17 saves and a 1.72 ERA in 32 appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Got another game tomorrow,” the veteran shrugged when asked about Sunday’s nightmarish finish. “I can’t look back. Nothing you can do about it. Continue to battle and we’ll get through it.”
Relegating to playing the role of spoiler a year after they had the best record in baseball, the Giants (67-73) won their trip opener over the Dodgers and their last two games over the Cubs, sandwiching five consecutive losses.
The trip included a two-homer game by Lewis Brinson in Los Angeles, another by David Villar against the Dodgers, and a 3-for-8 series by Austin Dean against the Cubs as the Giants are looking at prospects they might invite back next season.
“There’s development happening; it’s kind of cool,” manager Gabe Kapler observed. “It’s definitely a silver lining right now.”
The Giants are still counting on veterans to do much of the pitching, and that’ll be the case again Monday when righty Alex Cobb (5-6, 3.68 ERA) attempts to extend his unbeaten streak to seven starts.
The 34-year-old did not pitch in the earlier series in Atlanta. He has never lost to the Braves in his career, going 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts — one for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012, the other for the Baltimore Orioles in 2018.
–Field Level Media