The Braves pitchers have kept rolling with their longest scoreless streak in nearly nine years, which they will try to extend when Minor starts again Tuesday night against the Chicago Cubs.
Minor (3-2, 4.26 ERA) had won two of his previous three starts, including one against the Cubs on Aug. 12, before a 1-0 victory over San Francisco on Thursday. The left-hander allowed four hits and struck out nine over six innings while outdueling two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum(notes).
“He’s obviously the better pitcher,” Minor said. “It’s a big win. … Instead of giving in, I tried to bear down.”
Atlanta has kept that momentum going by allowing three runs over its five straight victories and none since the first inning of an 8-1 win over Arizona on Saturday. The Braves scattered nine hits and stranded 15 runners in a 3-0 series-opening victory Monday at Wrigley Field.
The Braves’ scoreless innings streak of 26 innings is their longest since going 29 straight in September 2002, also the last time they posted three straight shutouts. Minor will try to help his team accomplish that feat while winning his third consecutive start against the Cubs (56-72). He gave up three runs and nine hits over 5 2-3 innings versus Chicago earlier this month at Turner Field.
Zambrano cleaned out his locker and threatened to retire following that miserable outing, prompting the Cubs to place him on the 30-day disqualified list.
Before Monday’s game, that was the Braves’ only previous victory over the Cubs this season, but they might earn another against Zambrano’s replacement in the rotation, the struggling Casey Coleman(notes) (2-5, 7.43).
The right-hander failed to make it through the fourth inning after being recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday, giving up four runs and 10 hits in a 4-3 loss in Houston.
Coleman was sent down to the minors June 11 after going 2-4 with a 7.78 ERA in his first 10 appearances but was solid in a spot start against Washington on July 4, allowing three runs and five hits over 5 1-3 innings.
It’s unknown if Starlin Castro(notes), the NL’s leader with 164 hits, will return to the lineup to help Coleman in his first matchup with the Braves. The Cubs shortstop was given “a mental day off” Monday after television cameras caught him not paying attention in the field during a 6-2 loss to St. Louis the previous night.
Castro apologized to his teammates, but manager Mike Quade wouldn’t say if he would return to the lineup Tuesday.
“I was really disappointed and surprised, very surprised at him,” Quade said. “It is something we’ve been after him about from Day 1, focus-wise. To be honest with you, with his talent, sometimes that’s the toughest challenge for him.”
Castro is 2 for 6 in his career against Minor, while Marlon Byrd(notes) has more hits off the left-hander than any other batter, going 4 for 6. Aramis Ramirez(notes), batting .512 during an 11-game hit streak, is 3 for 6 with a home run.