NATIONALS (78-61) AT BRAVES (87-54)
7:20 p.m. ET; FSSO, MASN, MLB.TV
This is just the sort of game the Braves had in mind when they acquired Dallas Keuchel. Now the veteran must find a way to get past his Washington jinx.
The former Cy Young winner will get the start Friday when Atlanta hosts the Washington Nationals (-1.5) in the second game of a four-game series. Keuchel (6-5, 3.72 ERA) will be opposed by Patrick Corbin (11-6, 3.19) in a matchup of high-caliber left-handers.
The Braves won the first game 4-2 on Thursday and extended their lead in the National League East division to eight games over the Nationals. The Braves have won seven straight and 11 in a row at home, one shy of matching the modern-era franchise record. Atlanta has won 15 of its last 17.
The game will be a rematch of July 29, when Corbin outpitched Keuchel en route to a 6-3 Washington win. Corbin gave up two runs in six innings that night, while Keuchel allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings.
That just added to the frustration for Keuchel, who has never beaten Washington. His efforts against the Nationals have been forgettable. In five career starts, he’s 0-3 with a 5.08 ERA. That includes an 0-2 record and 6.10 ERA in a pair of starts this season.
But Keuchel has pitched like an ace the last four times he’s taken the mound. Since Aug. 14, Keuchel is 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA. That stretch includes two scoreless stints against the New York Mets (-1.5), a six-inning effort on Aug. 14 and a seven-inning start on Aug. 25. In his most recent start, Keuchel allowed two runs on nine hits, two hit batters and had three strikeouts in six innings against the Chicago White Sox (-1.5).
“We’ve been pretty gritty, even with guys out,” Keuchel said. “We still have to clean up some aspects of the game, but we’ve got a whole month. Hopefully we can work on a few minor adjustments. We’ll just keep having fun.”
Corbin has been a difficult foe for the Braves throughout his career. In 11 appearances, nine starts, he’s 6-1 with a 1.96 ERA and has 58 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings. He’s faced Atlanta twice this year, going 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA.
Corbin won his last start on Sept. 1 against Miami. He allowed three runs on three hits, three walks and eight strikeouts.
The veteran is comfortable with his spot in the veteran pitching rotation, but he wants to make sure he pulls his weight. Corbin, Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer each have surpassed 200 strikeouts, allowing the Nationals to join the 1969 Houston Astros as the only team to achieve that feat.
“You don’t want to be that weak link,” Corbin said. “Every fifth day if they’re losing your game, you don’t want that, so you try to go up there and one-up the person before you. I think the good thing here is everyone is trying to help each other and give information when they need to.”
Washington’s Anthony Rendon extended his on-base streak to 21 games with a single on Thursday; he had a 27-game streak earlier this season.
–Field Level Media