Interleague play hasn’t been kind to Atlanta in recent years, but right now, the Braves are happy just to be heading back home.
The Braves will be looking to build on the best home record in baseball when they open a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics at Turner Field.
Atlanta (20-20) is coming off a 2-5 trip to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia that dropped it to a major league-worst 6-16 on the road. However, the Braves are 14-4 at home and have won seven straight at Turner Field since a 7-2 loss to Florida on April 23.
If they hope to extend that run, however, the Braves will have to figure out a way to beat the AL. Atlanta was an NL-worst 4-11 in interleague play last season and hasn’t had a winning record against the AL since 2003, when it was 10-5.
Still, the Braves are 95-86 all-time in interleague competition.
Atlanta is coming off Thursday’s 5-0 loss to the Phillies. The Braves managed just four hits against Cole Hamels, who threw his first career shutout.
The Braves no doubt could have used third baseman Chipper Jones, who sat out Thursday because of a sore groin. Jones, who has hit safely in 32 of 37 games and is batting a major league-best .418, said he hopes to be back for the series opener.
“I feel confident that we’ll get this thing knocked out and I will get back in there in no time,” Jones told the Braves’ official team Web site.
Jones is the first qualifying hitter with a .400 average as late as May 14 since 1994, when the Yankees’ Paul O’Neill was hitting .461 on that date and San Diego’s Tony Gwynn was batting .419. He has hit .298 with 37 homers in 160 career interleague games.
The A’s (23-19) will be looking to bounce back after getting swept in three games in Cleveland, including Thursday’s 4-2 loss. Oakland is 1-5 on its current nine-game trip, but owns one of the best road records in baseball at 11-9.
The two runs Oakland scored Thursday were its first in the series with the Indians. They have been shut out three times on the road trip.
“We’ve run into some pitching,” manager Bob Geren said. “We’ve played good defense and pitched very well. We just haven’t scored any runs.”
Oakland is 113-81 in interleague play, the second-best record behind the Yankees (113-79). Starter Dana Eveland (3-3, 3.23 ERA) will look to improve on that mark on Friday.
Eveland gave up three runs in six innings Saturday, but was saddled with the 6-4 loss in Texas. The left-hander, who fell to 0-2 with a 4.42 ERA over his last three starts, gave up just his second homer in 47 1-3 innings this season.
Eveland made two relief appearances against the Braves in 2005 while with Milwaukee, giving up two runs in 1 1-3 total innings without getting a decision. He is making his first appearance in interleague play.
Atlanta counters with Jair Jurrjens (4-3, 3.10), who is starting on short rest for the first time in his career after throwing just 69 pitches in his last start. He gave up three runs in five innings, failing to reach the sixth for the first time in seven starts, and was charged with a 5-0 loss in the first game of a doubleheader in Pittsburgh on Monday.
“I think I did a pretty good job,” Jurrjens told the Braves’ site. “They didn’t hit me so hard. Sometimes, you don’t have luck on your side.”
Jurrjens, in his first full major league season, is making his first appearance against Oakland and his first interleague outing.
The Braves and A’s are meeting for the third time in interleague play. Atlanta took two of three in Oakland in 2003, while the A’s won two of three in Atlanta two years later.
The Boston Braves also swept the Philadelphia A’s in four games in the 1914 World Series.