The Atlanta Braves will be out for payback when they battle the New York Yankees in the second game of a two-game set at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. Atlanta (7-10) is in fourth place in a National League East that has only one team with a winning record. The Braves have dropped six of 10, but are only 2.5 games behind the Mets in the division.
The Yankees (6-10) will look to record consecutive victories for the third time this season after snapping a five-game skid by beating the Braves 3-1 on Tuesday. The Bronx Bombers are sitting in last place in the American League East, five games behind surprising Boston.
Atlanta Braves at New York Yankees
When: Wednesday, April 21, 2021, at 6:35 p.m. ET
Where: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
TV: ESPN, YES, Bally Sports South
Atlanta – Ian Anderson – RHP – (0-0, 4.70 ERA, 19 SO)
NY Yankees – Corey Kluber – RHP – (0-1, 6.10 ERA, 12 SO)
Atlanta +1½ -165
NY Yankees -1½ +145
NY Yankees -130
Braves Look for Payback
Atlanta Braves had won three of four before falling to New York Yankees 3-1 on Tuesday. Reliever Nate Jones threw a costly wild pitch that broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning and forced in a run with a four-pitch walk to Mike Ford. Atlanta blew a fine performance from veteran starter Charlie Morton, who limited New York to one run in 6.0 innings.
Acuna Jr. Challenging for Unofficial Title of Best Player
Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout, the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and young San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. are often mentioned as the unofficial best players in baseball, but right now that mythical title belongs to Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr.
Atlanta’s 23-year-old, five-tool superstar was held out of Tuesday’s loss after straining his abdomen when diving back into first base on a pickoff throw Sunday night. Still, the Venezuelan leads the majors in batting average (.419) and home runs (7) while currently tied for second place in RBIs (16).
“He feels better. I feel like we dodged a bullet there,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
On Wednesday, the Braves will hand the ball to Ian Anderson. The right-hander limited Miami to three earned runs on six hits in 5.0 innings of a 7-6 home win on Thursday. In three starts, Anderson has pitched 15.1 innings with 15 hits, eight earned runs, three homers allowed, seven walks and 19 strikeouts.
Yankees Looking for Missing Consistency
The only thing consistent about the prohibitive favorites to win the AL pennant this season has been their inconsistency. New York snapped a five-game losing streak on Tuesday, but is just 3-7 over its last 10 games. Gio Urshela hit a tying home run in the fifth inning off Morton and the Yankees won despite getting limited to five hits.
“It’s definitely nice after the week we’ve had. I think guys do exhale a little bit,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “But the resolve in that room and the confidence in that room, even though we’ve taken it on the chin here a little bit, hasn’t changed.”
On Wednesday, the Yankees will hand the ball to veteran Corey Kluber. The right-hander has been smacked around in all three of his starts this season and comes into this affair after allowing three runs on six hits, including two home runs, in 4.0 innings of a 5-4 road loss against Toronto last week. In three starts spanning just 10.1 innings, Kluber has a 6.10 ERA after allowing 16 hits, 10 runs (seven earned) and three homers. He has seven walks and 12 strikeouts.
Braves Pound Kluber to Get it Done
I know Kluber is a two-time Cy Young winner (2014, 2017) and three-time All-Star, but the once dominant hurler is a shell of his former self. Since going 20-7 in 33 starts in 2018, Kluber is 2-4 in only eight starts the last three seasons combined.
Yes, you read that right. That’s 2-4 over the last three years combined.
Anyway, I’m expecting reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman and underrated outfielder Marcell Ozuna to smack Kluber around to stake Atlanta to an early lead they won’t relinquish even if Acuna doesn’t suit up in this one.
The Braves are 4-1 in their last five interleague road games against a right-handed starter, 16-7 in their last 23 interleague games against a right-handed starter and 17-8 in their last 25 interleague road games against a team with a losing record.
Conversely, the Yankees are 2-5 in their last seven games following a win, an identical 2-5 in their last seven interleague games as a favorite and 1-4 in their last five games as a favorite and New York might be 5-0 in their last five home dates against Atlanta, but I’ve got the Bronx Bombers going down in a big way on Wednesday night.