The Atlanta Braves would likely be atop the NL East if they had better success against the division’s worst team.
The Braves try to avoid dropping two of three to the lowly Washington Nationals in Wednesday’s series finale at Turner Field.
With Tuesday’s 6-0 loss to the Nationals, coupled with the Phillies’ win over Florida, Atlanta (83-63) dropped two games behind first-place Philadelphia. The Braves, who haven’t been more than two out of the top spot since they were 2 1/2 back May 26, currently hold the wild card.
Despite being in the thick of the postseason race, Atlanta hasn’t looked much like a playoff team against the Nationals, going 7-7 in the season series.
The Braves defeated Washington 4-0 in Monday’s opener, but were limited to five singles Tuesday. They’re hitting .226 on the season against the Nationals, with five-time All-Star catcher Brian McCann(notes) batting .200 with two RBIs.
“Every game we lose right now is going to be frustrating, especially if the Phillies are winning,” said Jair Jurrjens(notes), Tuesday’s losing pitcher. “Every game we don’t win is going to be stressful.”
The Nationals (61-84), who snapped a six-game skid Tuesday, don’t have the same pressure and are enjoying making things tough on Atlanta.
If Washington takes two of three in this series, that would be quite disconcerting for an Atlanta team that has only lost one series at Turner Field all season - April 20-22, against Philadelphia.
Minor allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings of Friday’s 8-6 win over St. Louis, but didn’t get a decision. The 22-year-old left-hander has a 10.00 ERA in two September starts after posting a 3.71 ERA while winning his previous three outings.
“The last couple of starts, it’s just been hit or miss with everything,” Minor told the Braves’ official website.
Minor, the seventh pick of the 2009 draft, earned his first major league win against Washington on Aug. 17, yielding two runs in six innings of a 10-2 victory.
The Nationals counter with John Lannan(notes) (7-7, 4.69), who has posted a 2.45 ERA while winning his last three road starts - including one in Atlanta. He surrendered two runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-2 victory at Turner Field on Aug. 19.
Lannan was feeling under the weather Friday against Florida, but still had a decent outing, allowing three runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 3-1 loss. The left-hander has yielded three runs or fewer in seven of eight starts since the beginning of August.