A pair of promising left-handers take the mound on Thursday when Atlanta hosts Tampa Bay in the finale of a two-game series.
The Rays won the first two games of the two-city, four-game set played in Tampa, but the Braves came back to win their home opener 7-4 on Wednesday in Atlanta.
The pitching matchup for Thursday features Tampa Bay's Ryan Yarbrough (0-0, 0.00 ERA) against Atlanta's Max Fried (0-0, 3.60). Both failed to get a decision despite pitching well in their respective debuts.
Yarbrough threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings against Toronto in the second game of the season, but received no decision. It was the third time in his career that he had made a scoreless start and failed to get a win.
Despite the scoreless outing, Yarbrough is winless (0-3) in his last nine appearances, all starts, since Aug. 11, 2019. He went 11-6 with a 4.13 ERA for the Rays in 2019.
"He was outstanding," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash told reporters following Yarbrough's first start. "I thought he was awesome. He could have gone further, but confident he'll be under a pretty normal workload going forward. ... When he's on and he has a feel for the cutter, he gets really nasty."
Yarbrough continues to show excellent control. He has allowed two or fewer walks in 18 consecutive starts since June 11, 2018, the third-longest streak in club history.
"Getting the opportunity last year to kind of get comfortable in the starting role, to be able to go out there for a while and just understand what I need to do to be out there and put myself in good situations," Yarbrough said.
Yarbrough has made one career appearance against the Braves. He worked five innings and allowed five runs on six hits against Atlanta in 2018. He is 1-4 with a 5.74 ERA in eight career interleague appearances, three of them starts.
Fried produced solid results in his first start of the season -- a 5-3 Braves win over the Mets in New York -- and didn't surrender a hit until the fifth inning. He allowed just two runs on two hits and two walks. He struck out five, including Mets slugger Pete Alonso on a devastating 12-6 curveball.
"I felt like my stuff was really good (against New York)," Fried said. "The fastball was coming out good. I was able to throw my slider pretty well. Curveball was hit or miss. Had some good ones, had some bad ones."
Fried will be making his first career appearance against Tampa Bay. He is 3-0 with a 2.55 ERA in three interleague starts.
Fried will try to slow down Tampa Bay third baseman Joey Wendle, who had two hits on Wednesday and is batting .416 (5-for-12) with three runs and two RBIs against the Braves this season.
Atlanta was encouraged by Freddie Freeman's four-hit performance on Wednesday. Freeman, who also hit his first homer, raised his average from .143 to .316.
The Braves learned Wednesday that outfielder Nick Markakis will rejoin the team. The veteran signed a one-year deal, but three weeks ago opted out because of COVID-19 concerns. Markakis, 36, said he has spent the last two weeks thinking he'd made a mistake.
"Sometimes we all make rash decisions that are not thought out completely," Markakis said. It is not certain when he will be placed on the active roster.
--Field Level Media