National League Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, May 31st
(All times Eastern)
Washington Nationals (27-27) at Atlanta Braves (32-21), 7:30 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Washington - Stephen Strasburg (3-5, 2.49)
Atlanta - Julio Teheran (3-1, 3.67)
(Sports Network) - The Washington Nationals hope star outfielder Bryce Harper
can make a healthy return to the lineup Friday in the opener of a three-game
series against the NL East-rival Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
Sidelined the past four games with bursitis in his left knee, Harper
originally suffered the injury on May 13 when he collided with the outfield
wall at Dodger Stadium. He then aggravated the knee sliding in Sunday's 6-1
win over Philadelphia.
"I had a good talk with him yesterday," Nationals manager Davey Johnson told
the club's website Thursday. "He hit yesterday and he's going to try and do a
little more today. He's shooting for tomorrow."
Harper has a hit in each of his last four games and is batting .287 with 12
homers and 23 RBI in 44 games. In 25 career games against the Braves, Harper
has a .213 batting average, five homers and seven RBI.
The Nationals could have used their young outfielder in Thursday's 2-0 loss at
Baltimore, as they compiled only three hits and watched starting pitcher Dan
Haren surrender both runs and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings.
"We have a good team, maybe some of our approach has to change. We just have
to play better. We are capable of playing better, it is time to go," said
Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, who had one of the three hits.
Washington has dropped two in a row and four of six games, and will try to
trim its 5 1/2-game deficit in the NL East.
The Nationals will have their horse on the mound Friday, as Stephen Strasburg
is set to make his 12th start of the season. Strasburg is 2-0 in his previous
three starts and struck out nine batters over eight innings of one-run ball in
a 6-1 rout of the Phillies on Sunday. He scattered five hits and pushed his
record to 3-5 with a 2.49 earned run average.
Strasburg, who was 0-5 in seven starts before his current unbeaten run, is 0-1
in two outings against the Braves this season and 3-4 with a 3.51 ERA in nine
career starts in this series.
The NL East-leading Braves opened an eight-game homestand with a two-game
split versus the Toronto Blue Jays.
In Thursday's 11-3 drubbing of the Jays, Reed Johnson and Freddie Freeman both
homered, Ramiro Pena had three hits and four RBI and Evan Gattis ended 3-for-4
with three runs scored in the 16-hit attack for Atlanta, winners in 10 of 13
Mike Minor drew the start for the Braves and yielded three runs -- two earned
-- in seven innings for the win. Jordan Walden and Alex Wood both tossed a
scoreless inning of relief.
"I felt good again (and) obviously the bats were going," Minor said. "It felt
good just to get a win against a tough team like this."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez rested starters Dan Uggla, B.J. Upton and Jason
Heyward on Thursday and all three are expected back in the lineup tonight.
Julio Teheran gets the call for Gonzalez's club Friday and is 3-1 with a 3.67
earned run average over nine starts. Teheran has allowed only one run in each
of his last two starts and did not record a decision Sunday in a 4-2 road loss
against the New York Mets. He yielded a run and five hits in 6 2/3 innings,
struck out five and issued three walks.
Teheran, a right-hander, has faced the Nationals twice this season and
received no-decisions in both to go along with a 4.76 ERA.
The Braves will also host Pittsburgh on their homestand and have taken five of
seven meetings with Washington this season. Atlanta is 9-2 in the last 11
matchups with the Nationals.
05/31 10:52:10 ET
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