After losing two straight in Dunedin to the Blue Jays and three straight games overall, the Braves are looking to get things back on track by at least salvaging a victory from this three-game series at Toronto’s spring training facility.
The big problem that the Braves have had over the first two games of this series has been that the pitching staff has struggled to hold Toronto’s offense at bay in any way, shape, or form. The Blue Jays have hit eight homers so far and anytime that they’ve needed to score runs, they’ve been able to do it. It’s especially a bummer when you consider that the Braves had a four-run lead at one point last night, only for them to eventually lose the game in frustrating fashion in extra innings. So if there was a cliché “key to the game” for this afternoon’s contest, it’s simply for the Braves to stop the bleeding when it comes to giving up runs left-and-right.
The good news is that the Braves couldn’t ask for a better person to take the mound (at the moment) than Ian Anderson. Through his first five starts, it’s been like Anderson has been slowly but surely putting things together with each passing start. His last time out was when everything really clicked for the right-hander, as he racked up eight strikeouts while only giving up one hit and dealing out one free pass over seven shutout innings. A similar outing (or at least something close to that) would be like manna from heaven for the Braves after the past two nights that this pitching staff has had.
Meanwhile, it’s still a little up in the air as to who’s going to be getting the start for the Blue Jays. Yesterday, word was getting out that it was going to be Ross Stripling. This is assuming that he feels good enough to return from the IL after dealing with forearm tightness that forced him to sit out. This is after he had a pair of rough starts to start off his 2021 campaign, and that was coming off of a 2020 that was a season to forget for the veteran righty. If he does indeed make the start, then there’s a chance that the Braves could be dealing with a vulnerable pitcher making his return from the IL. There’s also a chance that the IL stint could work like a charm and Ross Stripling will return to the mound looking, feeling, and pitching like a million bucks. Just like the pitching situation, it’s all up in the air at the moment.
Either way, we know who needs to step up for today’s game. The offense for Atlanta has produced five runs in each of the two games. Normally, that’s enough to win or at least give you a solid chance of winning. While the Braves did have a chance at winning on Saturday, it was the failure to hold on to a solid lead that doomed Atlanta last night. Then, the five runs that the Braves scored on Friday night paled in comparison to the explosion of offense that the Blue Jays had during that game.
Plain and simple, the pitching staff needs to have a good day if the Braves are going to have a serious chance at avoiding the sweep this weekend in Dunedin. If things keep going the way they are, then the Braves could be looking at suffering their third four-game losing streak of the season already. Hopefully they can avoid that and pick up a win today!
Game Date/Time: Saturday, May 2, 1:07 p.m. ET
Location: TD Ballpark, Dunedin, Florida
TV: Bally Sports South, MLB Network (out-of-market only)
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, @NNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network