Major League Baseball

Braves hurler Soroka aims for ninth straight win

BRAVES (45-32) AT NATIONALS (37-39)
1:35 p.m. ET; MASN, FSSO, MLB.TV

Atlanta pitcher Mike Soroka will aim for his ninth win in a row Sunday against the host Washington Nationals, and he will do so after a low pitch count in his last outing.

Soroka (8-1, 2.12 ERA) will face Washington for the first time in his career after throwing just 68 pitches in six innings Monday against the New York Mets. The young pitcher from Canada won’t rely on a lot of tape of Washington hitters.

“Right now, I prefer to do my own thing and focus on what I need to do to bring my stuff up,” he told reporters Saturday while sitting in the Atlanta clubhouse. “Right now, it is about attacking and making them adjust to me. Right now, it is about being aggressive.

“We are really lucky here,” he added. “We have a bunch of leaders here. They show up to the field and go after it.”

No current Washington batter has faced Soroka, who has won eight decisions in a row since dropping his season debut to Arizona 4-1. He was drafted in the first round in 2015 by the Braves out of high school in Calgary.

“The last couple of times I haven’t had the best feel for my slider, and a lot of times that’s the pitch we need for some strikeouts,” Soroka told reporters after beating the Mets by allowing three runs in six innings. “But you keep attacking. It was good with the sinker and the changeup today. You’re still going to keep them off balance and you’re going to get outs.”

The Nationals were expected to start Joe Ross, but he was used out of the bullpen in a 13-9 loss to the Braves on Saturday night.

Washington will instead go with right-hander Austin Voth, who was called up as the 26th man for a doubleheader on Wednesday but was not used. He will be making his season debut Sunday.

Voth pitched in four games in 2018, making two starts. He pitched an inning out of the bullpen against the Braves last season, throwing eight pitches in a 1-2-3 inning. Voth is 3-5 with a 4.40 ERA in 12 starts this year for Triple-A Fresno.

The Nationals will need to make a move to put Voth on the 25-man roster.

“We will make a corresponding move in the morning,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said Saturday night.

Ross made four starts for Fresno and posted an ERA of 2.65.

“We have to figure out what his role will be,” Martinez said.

Washington could have gone with a bullpen game on Sunday against the Braves — using Ross for a short stint. But the bullpen has been busy the past few days, with the doubleheader on Wednesday and then going three innings in the win Friday night.

Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman drove in five runs Saturday and has now driven in a run in 10 consecutive games to set an Atlanta record.

Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna, Jr. was hitless in his previous 12 at-bats going into Saturday’s game. He was hitless in his first two at-bats Saturday before getting a hit as the Braves came back from a deficit of 8-4.

Washington center fielder Victor Robles left the game in the second inning Saturday with dehydration.

“He said he was real dizzy,” Martinez said.

–Field Level Media

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