Thursday, June 13, 2024
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MLB Preview: Atlanta Braves (26-16) at Texas Rangers (26-16)

ATLANTA BRAVES NOTES:

TONIGHT’S GAME: The Braves and Rangers tonight conclude a three-game series in what is the only scheduled matchup between the clubs this season… The two teams played three games here in Arlington last season.

  • Texas beat Atlanta, 7-4, last night to set up the rubber game tonight.
  • The Rangers took two-of-three from the Braves last season…Atlanta and Texas are playing in back-to-back seasons for just the second time in history, after also doing so in 2002 and 2003.
  • Atlanta and Texas have played 26 games since the advent of interleague play in 1997, with the Braves going 12-14 (.462) all-time against the Rangers… However, Atlanta won each of the first six games between the clubs in 2002 & 2003, and has gone just 6-14 (.300) since 2005.
  • The Braves have not won a series with the Rangers since a three-game sweep in 2003.
  • Here in Arlington, Atlanta has lost six-of-eight dating to 2014, and is just 4-11 since 2005.
  • RH Spencer Strider has never started against Texas, but did pitch in relief against the Rangers last season…The 6-foot-0, 205-pound right-hander pitched 3.2 scoreless innings here in Arlington on April 30, walking one and striking out five…Strider took his first loss of the season in his last start, May 12 at Toronto, but is 4-1 with a 2.51 ERA (13 ER/46.2 IP) through eight starts this season.
  • RH Nathan Eovaldi has made 15 career starts against Atlanta, and is 3-3 with a 2.82 ERA (29 ER/92.2 IP) and 81 strikeouts versus the Braves… The 6-foot-2, 225-pound native of Houston, TX, pitched against the Braves once last year while with Boston, and allowed six hits and three runs over 6.1 innings in a no-decision…In eight starts for the Rangers this season, he is 5-2 with a 2.70 ERA (16 ER/53. 1 IP).

LOSS: Atlanta jumped out to a second-inning lead last night, but Texas rallied to win, 7-4…The Braves lost for just the seventh time this season when scoring the opening run of the game.

  • Atlanta has scored the first run of the game 31 times this season, the most such games in the majors…The Braves are 24-7 (.774) when scoring first, the seventh-best record in baseball.
  • Ronald Acuña Jr. and Sean Murphy both homered for Atlanta, the 10th of the season for each of them…The Braves fell to 14-3 (.824) when hitting at least two home runs, although two of the three losses have come on this road trip…Atlanta hit three homers in the loss at Toronto on Sunday.
  • The Braves fell to 7-9 in interleague play with the loss, and are in the middle of 14 consecutive games against the American League…Atlanta hosts Seattle at Truist Park this weekend before playing another N.L. team (Los Angeles).

RUBBER GAME: Atlanta and Texas have split the first two games of this series, setting up the rubber game tonight…The Braves have won their only rubber game of the season, beating Baltimore on May 7.

  • The Braves were swept in Toronto over the weekend, and are looking to avoid losing back-to-back series for the first time this
    season…Atlanta has lost just three series on the season in total, a four-game set to San Diego and sweeps to the Astros and Blue Jays.
  • Atlanta has not lost back-to-back series since last September, when it dropped two-of-three in both Seattle and San Francisco.
  • The Braves entered this road trip with a 15-3 (.833) record away from Truist Park, but have gone just 1-4 through the first five games…Despite the losses, Atlanta’s 16-7 (.696) record in road games is still best in the majors.

STRIDER STRIKEOUTS: Spencer Strider enters tonight’s start with 79 strikeouts on the season, most in the majors…No Atlanta pitcher has led the majors in strikeouts since John Smoltz in 1996 (276).

  • Strider’s 79 strikeouts are the most by a pitcher in franchise history through eight starts…In Smoltz’s Atlanta Braves (26-16) at Texas Rangers (26-16) league-leading 1996 season, he had 67.
  • Strider has struck out double-digits in three of his last four starts, including 12 in his last turn on May 12 at Toronto.
  • He induced 32 swings-and-misses in his last start at Toronto, a new career high…The 32 swings-and-misses are the most by a Braves pitcher in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008), and Strider now owns four of the top six swing-and-miss performances for Atlanta in that span.
  • He got 31 swings-and-misses in his start earlier this season, April 24 vs. Miami, and 24 such swings twice last season (June 15 at Washington, July 2 at Cincinnati)…The only other Braves pitchers with 24 swings-and-misses in a game since 2008 are Ervin Santana (April 14, 2014 at Philadelphia) and Julio Teheran (October 2, 2016 vs. Detroit).

SEAN MURPHY: Went 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI last night…His 34 RBI on the season are most in the National League.

  • Murphy is already over halfway to surpassing his career-high totals in homers (18) and RBI (66), both set last season.
  • Through 42 team games, he is on pace for 39 homers and 131 RBI…The 131 RBI would easily set the franchise record from a catcher.
  • Just one catcher in franchise history has hit 39 homers in a single season…Javy López hit a franchise-record 43 in 2003.
  • Murphy leads all catchers in homers (10), RBI (34), extra-base hits (tied, 19) and runs (tied, 25), and ranks second in on-base (.400) and OPS (.975)

Tonight’s Starting Pitcher – #99 Spencer Strider
RHP • 6-0 • 195 • 24 yrs
2023 Record: 4-1, 2.51 ERA • 2022 Record: 11-5, 2.67 ERA
vs. RHB: .172 (15-87), 1 HR • vs. LHB: .165 (13-for-79), 1 HR
Home: 1-0, 3.13 ERA (8 ER/23.0) • Away: 3-1, 1.90 ERA (5/23.2)

Today’s Game

  • Strider is set to make his ninth start this year, first against Texas and second appearance of his career.
  • Struck out 12 hitters while allowing two runs, one earned, five hits and one walk in his last turn against Toronto, and extended his streak of eight or more strikeouts to 12 consecutive games.
  • It is the longest active streak in baseball and tied for the seventh longest streak in the live ball era, tied with Hall-of-Famers Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson.
  • Only Hall-of-Famers Ryan, Johnson, Pedro Martínez and active pitchers Corey Kluber and Shane Bieber have longer streaks.
  • Seven of the 12 strikeouts were recorded with his slider, tied for the second most of his career.
  • After his last start, Strider’s nine games of at least 10 strikeouts is the most through a player’s first 41 appearances in franchise history. (1901)
  • The next closest are Brandon Beachy, Tommy Hanson, and Julio Teheran with three each in their first 41 outings.
  • Tied with Noah Syndergaard, Kerry Wood, and Al Downing for seventh most in MLB history (dating to 1901) through a player’s first 41 games.
  • Leads all qualified starters with a rate of 15.24 strikeouts per nine innings this season.
  • Dating to 1901, his 15.24 K/9 rate is the highest through eight starts to open a season.
  • The next closest were Tyler Glasnow (’20), Jacob deGrom (’21), Kerry Wood (’98), and Corbin Burnes (’21) through their first eight starts in a season dating to 1901.
  • His swing and miss rate of 40.4% is the highest in the majors (among QS).
  • Strider’s 57.4% rate of pitches in the zone is the third highest among qualifiers; trails only Seattle’s George Kirby and Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller.

2023 Recap

  • On May 1 against New York (NL) Strider snapped his streak of nine consecutive games with at least nine strikeouts that begun on September 1, 2022.
  • It is tied for third-longest such streak in the modern era (since 1900).
  • Passed Hall-of-Famer John Smoltz for the longest streak in franchise history.
  • Carried a perfect game into the seventh inning in his last start against Miami until he lost his bid on a Matt Olson error.
  • Maintained a no-hitter through 7.1 innings; broken up on a single by Jean Segura.
  • Struckout a season-high 13 hitters and finished with two hits allowed over 8.0 innings pitched.
  • Started the second game of the season for Atlanta and earned the win, fanning nine hitters while pitching 6.0 scoreless innings against Washington.

TEXAS RANGERS NOTES:

WINS AND LOSSES: Texas beat the Braves last night, 7-4, and are now 1-1 on this 7-day, 6-game homestand vs. ATL (1-1 + 1 G) and COL (3 G)…TEX has won 3 of 4, 5 of 7 and 7 of 10…TEX is 8-3 in last 11 G and 12-5 in last 17 G…TEX is 12-8 in last 20 G, but still 18-10 in last 28 G and 22-12 in last 34 G beg. 4/9…have a 23-16 record last 39 G since club’s 3-0 start to the season…club has 5 different win streaks of 3+ G in 2023 (season-best 4-0 both 4/16-19 and 4/28-5/2)… team totaled 7 wins streaks of 3+ G in all of 2022.

  • At 26-16 (.619), TEX owns the 3rd-best record in A.L. and T4th-best in MLB (see chart)…club’s 26 wins rank 3rd in A.L. T4th in MLB (32-TB, 27-LAD/BAL, 26-TEX/ATL).
  • The 26-16 start marks Rangers’ best 42-G start to a season since 2013 (27-15), one of the 5 best starts in club history.
  • TEX is a season high-tying 10 G above .500 for the 2nd time this year (also 25-15, 5/14)…this campaign’s 2 instances at the 10-over mark the club’s 1st time to be 10-over since 6/28/19 (46-36), and 5/14 is the earliest date to reach 10-over in a season since 2013 (May 11).

BEST RECORDS IN MLB, 2023
Win Pct. Team W-L
.744 Tampa Bay 32-11
.643 Baltimore 27-15
.628 Los Angeles-NL 27-16
.619 Texas/Atlanta 26-16

WITH A WIN TONIGHT, Texas could:

  • Climb to season-best 11 G above .500 for 1st time since 6/4/16 (33-22), their most recent division-winning campaign.
  • Move to 27-16, which would be one of the 4 best 43-G starts in Texas Rangers history.
  • Earn a series win, moving club to 9-1-1 in its last 11 series.
  • Improve to a 5-0-0 record in rubber games this season.

STANDINGS: Rangers hold a 3.0-game lead in the A.L. West for the 2nd consecutive day after entering Monday with a season-best 4.0-G lead…this still marks the latest point in a season for Texas to hold a lead of 3.0+ G in the division since finishing the 2016 campaign 9.0 GA of 2nd-place Seattle… club currently holds a 3.0-G lead over 2nd-place Houston… the 3.0-G lead is the smallest division advantage in A.L. entering today (TB is +4.5 GA in A.L. East and MIN is +3.5 GA in A.L. Central)…TEX has been alone or tied atop the division for 46 of the season’s first 47 days (exception: 4/8).

SERIES STUFF: TEX is looking to win their 4th straight series for the 2nd time this season, having gone 4-0-1 in last 5 series and 8-1-1 in last 10…club is 4-0 in rubber games, 1-0 at home after win vs. OAK on 4/23…team is 5-0-0 in series against A.L. West foes in 2023…team is 9-3-1 overall in series this year, going 5-1-1 at home 4-2-0 on the road…club did not win a 9th series in 2022 until 6/27-29 at KC…TEX won 4 straight series 4/10-23, longest such span since going 5-0-0 from 6/15-7/1/18…TEX is 3-0-1 in last 4 series at GLF, as lone series loss at home in ‘23 was 4/3-5 vs. BAL (1-2).

AT HOME: The Rangers are 13-7 (.650) at home this season, this after starts of 8-12 (in 2022) and 10-10 (in 2021) at GLF the past 2 years…the .650 home win pct. is 4th in A.L. and 5th in MLB (19-3, .864-TB; 12-5, .706-TOR; 16-7, .696-LAD; 14-7, .667-BAL; 14-8, 13-7, .650-TEX)…TEX has
a 99-113 all-time record at Globe Life Field (2020-23), but are 19-14 last 33 G here (beg. 9/11/22)…TEX leads MLB in R/G (6.35) at home in 2023, and 127 R are 4th-most in the Majors…team is also 5th in MLB w/ 1.66 HR/G at home, this after ranking 9th in Majors at 1.25 HR/G at home in 2022.

VS. ATLANTA: Rangers and Braves are playing at Globe Life Field for a 2nd straight year, as TEX took 2 of 3 from 4/29-5/1/22…Rangers lead 14-12 all-time, winning 3 of 4 and 10 of last 14…since going 0-6 in 1st 2 meetings in 2002-03, Rangers are 14-6 beg. 2005 vs. ATL, winning each of last 6 series between the clubs.

  • TEX is 6-7 in Interleague this season, losing 7 of last 10 G, but are 5-2 vs. N.L. at Globe Life Field in ‘23…club is 10-4 in last 14 Interleague games at GLF (beg. 4/30/22).

WELCOME BACK, COREY: The Rangers this afternoon announced that SS Corey Seager has been activated from the 10-day Injured List…to make room for Seager on Texas’ active roster, C Sam Huff has been optioned to Round Rock (AAA).

  • Seager owned a .359 BA (14-39) with 1 HR and 4 RBI in 11 games before being placed on the IL with a left hamstring strain on April 12…he has reached base safely via H/BB in 23 of 49 PA this season…when placed on the IL, he ranked among A.L. leaders in BB (T3rd, 9), BA (7th) and OBP (8th, .469)…during a 3-G rehab assignment with Frisco (AA) from Thurs.-Sat., he batted .250 (2-8) with a 2B, 1 BB and 2 RBI.

RANGER BLUE STREAK: Nathan Eovaldi tonight will look to extend his career-best 28.2 consecutive scoreless innings streak (dating back to 4/24), this after posting 8.2 scoreless innings and a career-high 12 SO in his last start on Thurs. at OAK…it is the longest scoreless streak in MLB in 2023, longest in Majors since ARI’s Zac Gallen had 44.1 IP from 8/8-9/11/22, and 7th-longest in Rangers history (see chart)… Eovaldi has at least 8.0 SHO IP in 3 straight starts…during that stretch: 25.2 IP, 11 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 25 SO, .131 opp. BA… according to STATS, Eovaldi is just the 6th pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to have a 3-start span with 25.0+ scoreless innings, 25+ SO, and 3-or-fewer walks, joining Walter Johnson as only A.L. pitchers to ever accomplish the feat.

LONGEST SCORELESS STREAKS, RANGERS HISTORY
IP Pitcher Dates
39.0 Kenny Rogers 5/6-6/1/95
36.0 Charlie Hough 8/23-9/14/83
33.1 Yovani Gallardo 6/10-7/7/15
31.0 Kenny Rogers 4/27-5/20/05
29.2 Jeff Zimmerman 5/25-8/2/99
29.0 Fergie Jenkins 8/27-9/8/74
28.2 Nathan Eovaldi 4/24/23-current

KINGDOM OF DANE-MARK: After last night’s quality start (W, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R-ER, 0 BB, 4 SO, 92 pitches/60 strikes), Dane Dunning improved to 4-0 on the season, and has now registered a QS in each of his last 2 outings (also 6.0 IP, 2 ER on 5/10 at SEA)…has gone 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA (3 ER/17.0 IP) and 12 SO/2 BB in 3 starts since slotting into the rotation at the beginning of this month…his 1.69 ERA this season is 4th-best among MLB qualifiers…joins MIN’s Sonny Gray as the only 2 pitchers with 35.0+ IP and no HR allowed this year.

LEADERS AND STREAKS: Marcus Semien collected his 600th-career RBI last night with a 7th inning single and has hit safely in 13 of 14 G in May at .351/.441/.509/.950 (20-57), ranking among A.L. leaders for the month in times on base (1st, 30), hits (T2nd), RBI (T4th, 12) and BA (6th)…Adolis García launched a 2-R HR in the 4th inning last night, raising his MLB-leading RBI tally to 44…Jonah Heim extended his career best and MLB-leading 14-game hitting streak last night with an RBI single in the 6th inn…the hitting streak is tied for longest by a Ranger this year (Grossman, 4/16-5/6).

TONIGHT’S STARTING PITCHER – #17 Nathan Eovaldi, RHP (5-2, 2.70)
TONIGHT: The 33-year-old right-hander (pronounced ee-VAHL-dee) is scheduled to make his 9th start/appearance of the season in tonight’s series finale opposite the Atlanta Braves…after tossing 8.2 SHO IP in his most recent outing on May 11 at OAK, has crafted a career-best 28.2 consecutive scoreless innings streak (since 4/24), marking the longest scoreless streak in MLB in 2023…his last outing also marked his 3rd consecutive start of 8.0+ SHO IP (also: 5/6 at LAA – 8.0 SHO IP & 4/29 vs. NYY – CG SHO)…totals during that stretch: 25.2 IP, 11 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 25 SO, .131 opp. BA…has 5.0+ IP in all 7 starts, allowing 3-R-or-less in 6 of 8 outings…has made 5 straight quality starts (4-0, 1.19 ERA, 5 ER/37.2 IP) to drop season ERA from 6.32 to 2.70…his 1.96 FIP figure is the 4th-lowest among MLB qualifiers to ATL’s Spencer Strider (1.63), ARI’s Zac Gallen (1.78), and MIN’s Sonny Gray (1.90)…also ranks among A.L. qualifiers in HR/9 (2nd, 0.17), BB/9 (T3rd, 1.35) and SO/BB (4th, 7.00)…Eovaldi signed a 2-year free agent contract with the Rangers on 12/27/22…in 2022, his final season with Boston, went 6-3 with a 3.87 ERA (47 ER/109.1 IP) over 20 G/GS… ranked among A.L. leaders (min. 100.0 IP) in SO/BB (8th, 5.15) and BB/9 (9th, 1.65)…was slowed by a pair of IL stints: 6/9-7/14 (low back inflammation) and 8/19-9/28 (right shoulder inflammation)…the Texas native is seeking a return to his 2021 form, when he was an All-Star with the Red Sox and finished 4th in A.L. Cy Young Award voting…his Red Sox stint included a historic postseason stretch during the team’s 2018 World Series run…has 247 games/228 starts with LAD (2011-12), MIA (2012-14), NYY (2015-16), TB (2018), BOS (2018-22) and TEX (2023)…joined Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan as the only graduates of Alvin (TX) High School to reach the Major Leagues…Texas is 5-3 in Eovaldi’s 8 starts.

BROUGHT HIS “A” GAME: Earned his staff-leading 5th victory of the campaign on 5/11 at Oakland after twirling 8.2 SHO IP (3 H, 0 R 1 BB, 12 SO, 113 pitches/78 strikes)…fanned a career-high 12 hitters (prev: 11 SO, 5/22/22 vs. SEA), marking the most punchouts by a Rangers starter in 2023 and most overall since Jon Gray (also 12 SO) on 6/1/22 vs. TB…has now posted at least 8.0 SHO IP in 3 straight starts (since 4/29), becoming just the 3rd pitcher in TEX history with 3 consecutive outings of at least 8.0 scoreless innings, joining Martín Pérez (3, 4/13-23/14) and Charlie Hough (3, 8/28-9/7/83)…is currently riding a career-best 28.2-inning scoreless streak (since 4/24), marking the longest scoreless streak in MLB in 2023, longest in Majors since ARI’s Zac Gallen had 44.1 IP from 8/8-9/11/22, and 7th-longest in Rangers history.

BLANKED THE YANKS: Tossed 1st 9-inn. CG SHO of his career on 4/29 vs. NYY (9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 SO, 113 pitches/78 strikes)…was 1st CG SHO by a Ranger since Martín Pérez on 5/20/22 at HOU (9.0 SHO IP), and the 1st CG SHO ever thrown by a Texas pitcher at Globe Life Field…1st native Texan to throw a CG SHO for the Rangers since Roger Pavlik on 9/7/95 vs. CWS (9.0 SHO IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 5 SO)…1st CG SHO by a Ranger vs. NYY since Derek Holland on 6/27/13 at Yankee Stadium, just 4th CG SHO ever by a Ranger against the Yankees in Arlington.

VS. ATLANTA: Owns a career 3-3 record with a 2.82 ERA (29 ER/92.2 IP) across 15 career games/starts against the Braves, with his teams going 7-8 over those outings…most recently pitched against Atlanta on May 11, 2022 at SunTrust Park as a member of the Boston Red Sox (ND, 6.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R/ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 6 SO)…is 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA (6 ER/29.1 IP) over 4 career home starts vs. ATL, posting a quality start in each of those outings…despite his home success opposite the Braves, his clubs have mustered just a 2-2 mark in those contests.

After facing the Braves 12 times from the 2011-14 seasons, Eovaldi has matched up with Atlanta only thrice since 2015…was traded by MIA to NYY following the 2014 campaign and has pitched for strictly A.L. clubs ever since.

HOME COOKING: Is 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA (9 ER/19.0 IP) over 3 home starts in 2023 thus far, including a CG SHO on 4/29 vs. NYY (3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 SO, 113 pitches/78 strikes) in his most recent home outing…this compared to his 3-1 mark and 1.83 ERA (7 ER/34.1 IP) away from Globe Life FIeld this season…has fanned 21 compared to 2 walks at home in 2023 (10.50 SO/BB), marking the 8th-highest home SO/BB among A.L. hurlers (min. 15.0 IP)…has traditionally performed better at home (32-32, 3.96 ERA) than on the road (40-38, 4.24 ERA) in his career.

PUNCH OUT: Has struck out 56 of 206 (27.2%) batters faced in 2023, as his 9.45 strikeouts-per-9.0 innings figure ranks 18th among A.L. qualifiers…would be near the highest full-season SO/9 mark of his career (9.63 in 2021 w/ BOS)…has issued just 8 walks through 8 starts this season, joining Cliff Lee (58 SO/4 BB thru 8 GS in 2010) as the only pitchers in WSH/TEX franchise history with 56+ SO and 8-or-fewer BB in their first 8 outings with the club.

2023: Opponents have batted .231/.263/.344/.607 (45-195) with 16 extra-base hits (HR, 4 3B, 11 2B), incl. opp. BA of .202 (18-89) vs. LHB and .255 (27-106) vs. RHB…batters are 9-for-20 (.450) w/ 5 XBH when putting 1st pitch into play, also 5-for-22 (.227) with a 0-2 count…has 56 strikeouts/8 walks, as he ranks among A.L. qualifiers in HR/9 (2nd, 0.17), BB/9 (T3rd, 1.35) and SO/BB (4th, 7.00)… recorded season-high 19 swing-and-miss strikes (Statcast) on 5/11 at OAK (8.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 12 SO)…run support has been high (6+ R 4x) and low (one-or-zero R 2x)…made Rangers debut in 16-3 Texas victory on 4/1 vs. PHI (W, 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R-ER)…became 1st Rangers starting pitcher to be awarded a win in his first start with the club since A.J. Alexy on 8/3/21 vs. COL…the Alvin, TX native 9.45 strikeouts-per-9.0 innings figure ranks 18th among A.L. qualifiers…would be near the highest full-season SO/9 mark of his career (9.63 in 2021 w/ BOS)…has issued just 8 walks through 8 starts this season, joining Cliff Lee (58 SO/4 BB thru 8 GS in 2010) as the only pitchers in WSH/TEX franchise history with 56+ SO and 8-or-fewer BB in their first 8 outings with the club.

2023: Opponents have batted .231/.263/.344/.607 (45-195) with 16 extra-base hits (HR, 4 3B, 11 2B), incl. opp. BA of .202 (18-89) vs. LHB and .255 (27-106) vs. RHB…batters are 9-for-20 (.450) w/ 5 XBH when putting 1st pitch into play, also 5-for-22 (.227) with a 0-2 count…has 56 strikeouts/8 walks, as he ranks among A.L. qualifiers in HR/9 (2nd, 0.17), BB/9 (T3rd, 1.35) and SO/BB (4th, 7.00)… recorded season-high 19 swing-and-miss strikes (Statcast) on 5/11 at OAK (8.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 12 SO)…run support has been high (6+ R 4x) and low (oneor-zero R 2x)…made Rangers debut in 16-3 Texas victory on 4/1 vs. PHI (W, 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R-ER)…became 1st Rangers starting pitcher to be awarded a win in his first start with the club since A.J. Alexy on 8/3/21 vs. COL…the Alvin, TX native became the 5th native Texan ever to earn a win in his TEX debut (last Kip Wells on 8/2/06 at MIN.

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