Diamondbacks going for sweep of Braves

Field Level Media

Arizona's Christian Walker has seen his status change dramatically over the last week.

Walker struggled when he was originally inserted in the lineup to replace the injured Jake Lamb. Now that he's gotten comfortable, it may be hard to get Walker off the field.

The Diamondbacks have won three straight and will be trying to sweep the three-game series in Atlanta on Thursday afternoon. Arizona will send right-hander Luke Weaver (0-1, 5.17) against Atlanta's Mike Soroka (first start in 2019).

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Walker has been a part of that success. In his last three games, Walker has seven hits and Wednesday became the 16th Diamondbacks player to have back-to-back three-hit games. Paul Goldschmidt was the last in 2018. Walker is now batting .291. Not bad for a guy who endured a 2-for-24 streak that included 12 strikeouts.

"I want the guys to count on me and want to count on me," Walker said. "I think that's what makes a team good. Any stress I felt was me wanting to come through for my teammates, which I felt like I wasn't doing."

Walker has five homers this season, all of them coming in the seventh inning or later. He had the go-ahead homer in the Tuesday night win over Atlanta. In the seventh or later, Walker is hitting .611 (11-for-18) with one double, five homers, nine RBIs and two walks.

"Sometimes you get cookies over the plate and sometimes guys are hitting their spots," Walker said.

Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman has been getting cookies all season. The veteran went 1-for-5 on Wednesday and has reached base in the first 17 games this season. That's the longest season-opening streak for Freeman, whose previous best was nine. The Braves' franchise record to open a season was 37 by Eddie Mathews in 1961; the Atlanta record is 27 by J.D. Drew in 2004.

Atlanta left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. extended his hitting streak to eight games.

Thursday's starting pitchers are young, but both are highly regarded. The Diamondbacks demanded Weaver as part of the deal that sent Goldschmidt to the Cardinals. Soroka was Atlanta's 28th pick in the 2015 draft and was promoted to the majors last year before being shut down with right shoulder inflammation.

Weaver dropped a tough 2-1 loss to the San Diego Padres in his last start on April 12, when he allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings. He is holding right-handed batters to a .214 average (9-for-42) with two walks and 12 strikeouts.

Weaver has made only one career start against Atlanta. He took the loss last summer when he was with the Cardinals, allowing eight earned runs in 4 2/3 innings of an 11-4 loss.

Soroka made five starts for Atlanta last year and went 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA. The Canadian struck out 21 and walked seven in 25 2/3 innings. He began the season with Triple-A Gwinnett, making two starts and going 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA.

Atlanta's bullpen has been a mess and is in further disarray with the loss of closer Arodys Vizcaino, who had shoulder surgery on Wednesday. The bullpen has an ERA of 5.31 and has the fans clamoring for the club to bring ex-Brave Craig Kimbrel back.

"I think it goes without saying that we're going to do what we can both internally and externally," Atlanta general manager Alex Anthopoulos said.

--Field Level Media

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