With a showdown against the New York Mets looming this weekend, the Atlanta Braves look to set the stage by continuing their dominance of the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.
After winning 8-0 at Washington on Monday, the Braves (96-58) have taken 13 of 17 from the Nationals this season andare 7-1 at Nationals Park. Atlanta hitters have feasted in Washington this season, hitting 24 home runs, the most by any visiting team in Nationals Park history (2008-present).
The Braves hit three homers in the series opener to back rookie Bryce Elder, who tossed a six-hit shutout for his first win since April 12. Matt Olson, who has been slumping, hit his 29th of the season and first since Sept. 6. He added a sacrifice fly and finished with three RBIs.
"(Olson) squared up some balls," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Hopefully that feeling gets him going."
Atlanta has won three straight while scoring 22 runs.
"One through nine, anybody can do it," Olson said of the lineup. "Obviously, personally, you want to be at your best. But we've got a lot of good talent in that lineup, and it can be anybody's night."
Atlanta is pushing ace Max Fried back so he can pitch against the Mets, so left-hander Kyle Muller (1-1, 10.57 ERA) will be called up from Triple-A Gwinnett to start on Tuesday.
Muller last appeared for Atlanta on Aug. 13, when he allowed two runs in five innings during a win against the Miami Marlins. He opposed the Texas Rangers in his only prior major league outing this year, when he gave up seven runs on four hits and six walks in 2 2/3 innings on May 1.
Muller has faced the Nationals once previously. He allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings during a no-decision on Aug. 6, 2021.
Washington right-hander Paolo Espino (0-7, 4.17 ERA) will take the mound on Tuesday closing in on some unwanted history. He has pitched 108 innings this season without a win. The record for innings without a victory is held by Terry Felton, who pitched 117 1/3 innings in 1982 while going 0-13 for the Minnesota Twins.
Espino got a no-decision on Wednesday in Atlanta, where he allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits in four-plus innings.
Three years after winning the World Series, the Nationals (53-100) are enduring their first 100-loss season since going 59-103 in 2009.
"We all know it (stinks), right?" Washington manager Dave Martinez said. "But we have to remember what we're trying to do here and it's going to be a process. So moving forward, hopefully this will be the last year we lose 100 games and we get better."
Luis Garcia had a double and a single on Tuesday for Washington, which fell to 15-52 vs. NL East opponents.
CJ Abrams went 1-for-4 after being moved up to the No. 2 spot in the Nationals' order. After a slow start, the 21-year-old rookie is hitting .304 with 11 runs, five doubles, two triples, six RBIs and three stolen bases in September.
"He's really trying hard to control his chasing," Martinez said of moving Abrams up. "He's doing a lot better job throughout his at-bats, so I thought we'll get him up there and see how he does."
Washington's Patrick Corbin threw a light bullpen session Monday at Nationals Park, his first mound work since being removed in the first inning on Sept. 20 in Atlanta due to back spasms. Martinez said depending on the result of a Wednesday session, Corbin could pitch this weekend.
--Field Level Media