TIGERS (21-32) AT BRAVES (30-26)
7:20 p.m. ET; FSSO, FS-D, MLB.TV
A pair of prized rookies will face each other on Friday when the Atlanta Braves host the Detroit Tigers in the opener of a three-game interleague series.
The Braves boast outfielder Austin Riley, who is batting .375 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs in 14 games since being promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett. He will be tested by Detroit right-hander Spencer Turnbull, who has been impressive in his first 11 starts this season.
Turnbull (2-4, 2.97 ERA) will have Atlanta righty Mike Foltynewicz (1-3, 5.67) as his mound opponent.
The Braves most recently were swept by the visiting Washington Nationals in a two-game series. The Tigers took the final two in a three-game road series against the Baltimore Orioles earlier this week.
Riley was the bright spot for the Braves on Wednesday in a 14-4 loss to Washington. He was the only Atlanta player with multiple hits, and one of them was his first career grand slam.
The 22-year-old Memphis native needs three homers in his next three games to match the major league record for the fastest to double-digit long balls. Rhys Hoskins hit 10 home runs in 17 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2017.
Riley said of his early success with the Braves, “It’s cool to be part of a great franchise and the guys who have come through here. I think it’s something I’ll look back on in the next 10 to 15 years and appreciate.”
Turnbull lost his most recent start against the New York Mets because of one poorly played inning. A misplayed fly ball, a strategically placed bunt against an infield shift and a three-run homer by Adeiny Hechavarria helped send the Tigers to a 4-3 defeat. Turnbull pitched seven innings, gave up four runs and struck out eight.
“I thought he threw the ball great,” Detroit catcher John Hicks said. “We would like to get that fourth inning back.”
Turnbull was the team’s second-round draft choice out of the University of Alabama in 2014. He appeared in four games, three starts, in 2018 and went 0-2 with a 6.06 ERA. He has blossomed this season and become a fixture in the rotation.
Turnbull has pitched well in May but has nothing to show for it. In five starts this month, he has a 3.45 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings, resulting in two losses and three no-decisions. Turnbull, who has never faced the Braves, is 2-2 with a 3.14 ERA in five road starts this year.
Foltynewicz has put together strong back-to-back starts, indicating the veteran right-hander may be close to returning to the form that made him an All-Star last season.
In 12 combined innings against the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, Foltynewicz allowed three runs, two earned, with 10 strikeouts and no walks. He lowered his ERA from 8.02 on May 14 to 5.67.
“It looked like the old Folty,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said after the St. Louis game last Friday. “I told him, ‘You’re getting back to where you were.’ That’s good to see.”
The Tigers will be visiting SunTrust Park for the first time. Detroit last came to Atlanta in 2016, when the Tigers played the Braves in the final series hosted at Turner Field.
–Field Level Media