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Another series [url=http://www.authenticsbuffalobills.com/cheap-phillip-gaines-jersey]Phillip Gaines Color Rush Jersey[/url] , another opponent sitting at the top of its division.
That’s the scenario for the St. Louis Cardinals this weekend as they welcome the Atlanta Braves, who lead the National League East, for a three-game series at Busch Stadium starting Friday.
And Atlanta (45-34) will be a stronger team offensively for the series. Prized rookie outfielder Ronald Acuna will be activated off the 10-day disabled list for Friday night’s game and should slot right into the lineup.
The 21-year-old Acuna, who missed a month with a right knee injury suffered on May 27 in Boston, hit .265 with five homers and 13 RBIs in his first 117 big league at-bats. Acuna recorded a solid .779 OPS, although his 10 walks and 37 strikeouts suggests he needs to gain a bit more control of the strike zone.
Acuna’s return at least tempers worries about the status of center fielder Ender Inciarte, who left Wednesday’s 6-5 loss to Cincinnati when he felt discomfort near his left oblique. Should Inciarte have to miss any time, Acuna could bat near the top of the lineup.
The Braves missed a chance to extend their division lead during a six-game homestand against two last-place teams. They lost two of three to Baltimore, which has the worst record in baseball [url=http://www.authenticstennesseetitans.com/cheap-harold-landry-jersey]Harold Landry Color Rush Jersey[/url] , and dropped two of three to Cincinnati, which isn’t playing like a last-place team at the moment with nine wins in 10 games.
“We didn’t play up to our capabilities 100 percent,” Atlanta starting pitcher Sean Newcomb said to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You’re not going to every day. I know we’re going to come back out at St. Louis and be pretty strong, pitching and offensively.”
The Braves will have to be strong to deal with Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas (8-2, 2.69 ERA), who has been one of baseball’s best free-agent finds this year. Signed after three successful years in Japan, Mikolas has put together an All-Star resume with St. Louis.
He is coming off a 3-2 win Saturday in Milwaukee, giving up only three hits and two runs to the NL Central leaders in a 6 2/3-inning effort. Mikolas walked two and fanned five, giving him 71 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 97 innings.
Mikolas has faced Atlanta just once in his career [url=http://www.authenticsoaklandraiders.com/cheap-p.j.-hall-jersey]P.J. Hall Color Rush Jersey[/url] , throwing two shutout innings in relief six years ago when he pitched for San Diego.
Julio Teheran (5-5, 4.52) will continue a season-long search for consistency as he starts for the Braves. After tossing six no-hit innings on June 17 in a win over San Diego, Teheran was belted around Saturday for seven runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings of a 7-5 loss to Baltimore.
The veteran right-hander has made five career starts against the Cardinals, going 1-3 with a 3.86 earned run average. Two players who have hurt him are Matt Carpenter, who is 6-for-12 with two homers, and Marcell Ozuna, who is batting .405 with three homers in 42 career at-bats against Teheran.
St. Louis (42-37) had a four-game winning streak snapped Wednesday with a 5-1 loss to Cleveland.
Mike Minor wasn’t so broken up about losing his perfect game bid in the seventh inning. He would’ve liked a shot at a complete-game shutout, though.
Minor took a perfect game into the seventh inning, Shin-Soo Choo reached base for the 40th straight game and the Texas Rangers beat the San Diego Padres 5-2 on Wednesday night.
Minor was perfect until Eric Hosmer’s single up the middle with one out in the seventh. One out later [url=http://www.authenticsmiamidolphins.com/cheap-albert-wilson-jersey]Albert Wilson Color Rush Jersey[/url] , center fielder Delino DeShields preserved Minor’s shutout by leaping to rob Hunter Renfroe of a home run.
Minor struck out five and threw only 85 pitches through seven innings, yet manager Jeff Banister decided to go to the bullpen after that. That drew a pointed response from Minor: ”Why?”
”I don’t have a complete game shutout in my career, so I still had some goals,” Minor said. ”With the pitch count being low, I feel I could have still went out there and possibly finished the game.”
”He grinded hard,” Banister said. ”I told him if there were only zeroes on the board, it would have been yours all the way.”
Minor (6-4), making his 125th career start since August 2010, said the thought of a perfect game got stronger each inning.
”Just try to make pitches [url=http://www.newyorkjetsteamonline.com/sam-darnold-jersey]Sam Darnold Jets Jersey[/url] ,” he said. ”It was still a close ballgame.”
Minor benefited from two other strong defensive plays.
In the fifth inning, Jose Pirela hit a sharp grounder into the hole on the left side of the infield with two outs. Shortstop Elvis Andrus‘ long throw barely beat Pirela. Austin Hedges then hit a 105-mph liner to third baseman Adrian Beltre for the second out of the sixth inning.
”I thought, honestly, we had some hittable pitches early and missed them,” Padres manager Andy Green said. ”He wasn’t pitching the type of game that lent itself to what he was getting results-wise.”
Texas has won nine of its last 11 games while San Diego has lost nine of its last 11.
The Padres scored twice in the eighth inning but left the bases loaded. Keone Kela pitched a perfect ninth for his 20th save, the most in the majors this season without a blown save and a club record to begin a season.
Clayton Richard (7-7) hit three batters and allowed four runs and a season-high 10 hits over seven innings. He sought his career-best fifth consecutive winning start.
Minor signed with Texas as a free agent last December. He returned to the majors in 2017 after having shoulder surgery in 2015. He made 65 relief appearances for the Kansas City Royals last year.
As Minor pursued perfection, he was pitching to rookie Isiah Kiner-Falefa, an infielder making only his third big league start as a catcher.
”Izzy back there did a great job first time catching me,” Minor said. ”I didn’t really know what to expect.”
CHOO STILL STREAKING
Choo tied Philadelphia’s Odubel Herrera for the longest on-base streak in the majors this season. Choo was hit by a pitch leading off the first inning and also had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. His on-base streak is the fourth longest in Rangers history.
Beltre’s third-inning RBI double was No. 624 of his career [url=http://www.minnesotatwinsteamshop.com/authentic-eddie-rosario-jersey]Eddie Rosario Minnesota Twins Jersey[/url] , tying him with Hank Aaron for 12th on the career list. … The first-pitch temperature of 101 degrees made it the hottest game played in the majors this season. … The Padres used their 77th different lineup this season, second most in the majors, playing their 83rd game.
Texas RF Nomar Mazara (tight left hamstring) was held out of the lineup for the first time since June 16.
Padres: Rookie LHP Eric Lauer (3-4, 5.05) will open the weekend series vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.
Rangers: RHP Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 12.08) will make his third start for Texas on Friday at home against the Chicago White Sox.
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