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Old 17-10-18, 05:46
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Default ely above Verlander’s.

On the morning of June 18 two years ago Authentic Tremaine Edmunds Jersey , the Atlanta Braves were 21-46. Now they’re atop the NL East.

Atlanta has turned its stocked farm system into a major league contender faster than expected, and after Sunday’s 4-1 win over San Diego, the Braves lead second-place Washington by 3 1/2 games. At 42-29, they’re even with Milwaukee for the National League’s best record and look poised to be a factor in what should be an entertaining race for that league’s five postseason spots.

After three straight seasons with at least 90 losses, Atlanta is making a jump similar to what Minnesota did a season ago, when the Twins improved from 59 wins to 85 and earned a wild card.

If you’re worried Atlanta is a fluke, there aren’t many obvious red flags. The Braves have a run differential of plus-67, the second-best mark in the NL. They’ve been fortunate at times (11-4 in one-run games) and unfortunate at times (1-6 in extra innings).

The Braves are second in the NL in OPS after finishing 11th a year ago. Their ERA has improved from 12th to fifth. They have an MVP candidate in slugger Freddie Freeman, and 21-year-old second baseman Ozzie Albies has 16 home runs. Outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. is on the disabled list after a knee injury, but he’s been considered one of the game’s top prospects. Shortstop Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft, has improved his OPS from .636 a season ago to .737.

That formula – Freeman surrounded by young standouts – could serve the Braves well for a while, and Atlanta has also received a lift from some older contributors. Nick Markakis is hitting .327, and Anibal Sanchez is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA for the Braves after signing a minor league contract before the season.

In November, Atlanta was hit with major penalties for circumventing international signing rules. That might hurt the Braves in the future, but it doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect on their ability to compete in 2018.

Other developments from around the majors:

MIDSEASON RUN

The Dodgers are 11-3 in June and have recovered from their poor start. They now trail Arizona by just 1 1/2 games atop the NL West.

Los Angeles can hope this season is following a similar trajectory to 2017, when the Dodgers went 21-7 in June on their way to 104 wins.

HIGHLIGHT

If you’re concerned about pace of play in baseball, you probably weren’t crazy about Joe Maddon’s maneuvering Wednesday. Maddon began the bottom of the eighth by bringing Steve Cishek in to pitch for the Cubs. After a single, Brian Duensing came on to pitch, but Cishek stayed in the game in left field. That enabled Cishek to go back to the mound one out later Authentic DJ Moore Jersey , with Duensing taking over in left. Duensing eventually went back to pitch and finished out the inning.

It was a clever way for Maddon to keep both pitchers available throughout the inning, but Chicago still lost 1-0 to Milwaukee.

LINE OF THE WEEK

San Diego’s Freddy Galvis went 5 for 5, including a three-run homer, in a 9-3 win over Atlanta on Friday night. Galvis drove in four runs in the game.




ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays continue to win games they perhaps shouldn’t, and they’ll have an opportunity for more of that Saturday against Houston’s Justin Verlander.

The Rays (40-41) hit the midway point of their 2018 season with a 3-2 win over Houston, giving them six wins in their last seven games. Their pitching has led the way — three times in the last four games, they have held their opponent to three hits or less, this after doing so only three times in the first 77 games of this season.

“If we are going to win a lot of game and we are going to string a bunch together, we have to have good pitching,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “The timely hitting is great, but we have to stay in the ballgame. For us to have allowed three runs in 18 innings against arguably the best team in baseball, we should find a way to win one.”

Houston will send Verlander, who has been dominant (9-3, 1.82 ERA) but has gotten surprisingly little run support from a potent Astros lineup.

Houston is just 11-7 in games he starts, and the Astros have scored a total of two runs in five of those losses.

So Saturday could look like Thursday’s 1-0 Astros win, or could look like Friday’s 3-2 loss, which saw two errors factor in Tampa Bay’s scoring.

Verlander faced the Rays just 11 days ago in Houston, again pitching well, allowing one run on six hits in 6 2/3 innings Authentic Donte Jackson Jersey , but ultimately taking a no-decision in a 2-1 loss. He has 136 strikeouts in 113 innings this season and a ridiculous 0.81 WHIP.

Against the Rays for his career, Verlander is 8-3 with a 3.18 ERA, but since 2010, he’s just 4-3, despite a 1.72 ERA in his last five starts against the Rays. At Tropicana Field, he’s 5-2 all-time with a 2.53 ERA, including a 1.20 ERA in his last two outings.

The Rays counter with reliever-turned-starter Ryne Stanek, who has thrived in the “opener” role that Tampa Bay has essentially created in the past six weeks. He’s starting for the second time in three days against the Astros having thrown 1 2/3 innings of scoreless, hitless baseball Thursday night. For the month of June, he’s pitched in 11 games and 14 2/3 innings without allowing a run.

He’s held opponents to just four hits, lowering his season ERA to 1.85, just barely above Verlander’s.

The Astros know they have to be careful with the white ceiling of Tropicana Field — the Rays’ three-run fourth inning got a spark Friday when center fielder Jake Marisnick couldn’t hold onto a pop at the warning track, allowing a run to score.

“When you play here, you try to not take your eye off the ball,” Marisnick said. “With the ceiling, I kind of glanced quickly at the ball, then looked back up and lost track. I wasn’t able to come up with it. That’s a play I need to make 10 out of 10 times.”
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