Now that the Arizona Diamondbacks have snapped the longest scoring drought in club history, their normally-potent offense looks to return to form when they continue their four-game series with a day-night doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.
Friday’s game was postponed after a two-hour rain delay. The rainout is the eighth in the nine-year history of Turner Field and first since Aug. 29, when Hurricane Katrina was moving through the Gulf of Mexico.
“The smartest thing to do is play two, for both teams,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “You don’t want to lose your starter and then have to play two.”
The Diamondbacks (31-22) are averaging 5.25 runs per game—third-most in the NL entering Friday’s games. Scoring has not been easy for Arizona lately, though, as it broke a franchise-record 24-inning scoreless streak with two unearned runs in the eighth inning of Thursday’s 2-1 win over Atlanta (28-26) in the series opener.
“Once the streak gets going and going, you can’t help but try too hard,” Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said.
Arizona failed to score in the final 17 innings of a series in New York, including a 1-0, 13-inning loss on Wednesday.
“I can’t explain the magnitude of Shawn Green’s hit right there,” said Eric Byrnes, who went 2-for-2 to extend his hitting streak to 15 games. “When you go that long without scoring, it’s not good.”
The Diamondbacks are 4-3 with three games to play on their 10-game road trip.
Andruw Jones provided the Braves’ only offense Thursday with a solo homer in the ninth inning, and is 6-for-8 with two homers and four RBIs in his last two games.
Arizona took two of three games from Atlanta at Chase Field in May, scoring 23 total runs in the first two games of that series. Luis Gonzalez went 6-for-12 with two doubles and five runs against the Braves in May, but is just 14-for-71 (.197) with 13 strikeouts in his career against John Smoltz, who will start the first game for Atlanta.
Smoltz (4-2, 3.58 ERA) gave up eight runs and 10 hits in six innings of a 13-12 11-inning victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday. He injured his left hamstring after covering first base in the second inning but stayed in the game.
Smoltz put the Braves in position for the win on Sunday, but the Atlanta bullpen has blown save opportunities in four of Smoltz’s five starts when he didn’t record a decision.
The 39-year-old right-hander has not started against the Diamondbacks since Sept, 4, 1999, and is 2-1 with a 3.04 ERA in four career starts versus Arizona.
Smoltz will face Enrique Gonzalez (0-0, 1.50), who is making his second career start. Gonzalez allowed a leadoff home run to Cincinnati’s Ryan Freel on Sunday, but didn’t allow a runner past first base after that.
The 23-year-old right-hander pitched six innings, allowing one run and three hits but did not factor in the decision in a 5-4 defeat.
John Thomson (2-4, 3.75) will start the second game for Atlanta. He gave up seven runs and seven hits in just 1 1-3 innings of Monday’s 12-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The outing was Thomson’s shortest as a starter since June 9, 2004, when he lasted just one inning for the Braves in a rain-delayed game.
“He actually pitched good. He got the ground balls,” Cox said. “They just weren’t hit hard enough for anyone to make plays off of.”
Thomson has allowed 25 runs in 19 1-3 innings in his last four starts. He led the NL with a 1.88 ERA through his first eight games, including six starts.
Thomson is 2-3 with a 5.35 ERA in 11 career starts against the Diamondbacks. He will face Claudio Vargas (5-2, 5.44), who gave up six runs and seven hits in six innings of the Diamondbacks’ 8-7 loss to the New York Mets on Monday, but did not receive a decision.
Vargas, who has won four of his last five decisions, is 3-0 with a 3.98 ERA in 12 career appearances, including five starts, against the Braves.