With the Braves’ bats rebounding following a dismal stretch, Smoltz hopes the offensive turnaround can last when he takes the mound Wednesday night in the series finale against Washington at Turner Field.
The 40-year-old right-hander will be making his 65th career appearance against the Nationals’ franchise on Wednesday, tying Washington (32-45) with the New York Mets as the teams he’s faced the most times in his career.
Smoltz (8-4, 3.14 ERA) is 18-11 with a 2.68 ERA against the Nationals. The 18 wins trail only his 19 against Cincinnati—his most against any team. He also has 17 saves in 21 opportunities—the third-most saves he has against any opponent.
This will be the veteran’s fourth time facing Washington this season. He is 1-2 with a 2.61 ERA in the three starts this season, as Atlanta (40-38) failed to score in two of those outings while Smoltz was on the mound.
Atlanta’s offense has shown signs of life in the first two games of this series after managing just one run in its previous five games. The Braves have recorded 18 hits in the series, winning Monday’s opener 4-1 before a 6-2 victory the next day.
Rookie Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered twice Tuesday, and struggling center fielder Andruw Jones also connected. Jones, who was in a 1-for-31 slump, had gone 53 at-bats without an extra-base hit since his last homer on June 9 before he hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning to give the Braves a 5-1 lead.
“He’s one of the best players in the game,” teammate Brian McCann said. “I know he’s been struggling a little bit, but he’s starting to put some better swings on the ball. It’s only a matter of time before he starts hitting the ball and carrying us. Then, all this will be forgotten.”
Atlanta is looking to win three in a row for the first time since May 30-June 2. The Braves haven’t swept a three-game set since doing so in their season-opening series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Nationals will try to avoid the sweep when they send Micah Bowie (4-2, 3.63) to the mound. Bowie is looking to win his fifth straight decision since moving out of the bullpen.
Washington is 7-0 with Bowie on the mound since he was promoted to a starter near the end of May because of a variety of injuries to the rotation.
Bowie lasted only 4 1-3 innings on Friday against the Cleveland Indians after throwing 104 pitches. He allowed just one run and five hits in a 4-1 victory, striking out a season-high seven and walking four.
This will be his first start against Atlanta. The left-hander has no record and a 2.08 ERA over four relief appearances against the Braves this season.
Washington, which has dropped eight out of 11 games, has already been swept four times this season.