Los Angeles Dodgers (75-32 SU, 59-48 RL, 50-53-4 O/U) vs. Atlanta Braves (49-57 SU, 57-49 RL, 56-47-3 O/U)
MLB: Thursday, August 3, 2017 at 7:35 p.m. EST
The Line: Los Angeles Dodgers -240/Atlanta Braves +210. Total: 8.5.
The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers will conclude a three-game series when they meet again at SunTrust Park in Atlanta on Thursday night. Los Angeles had won nine in a row before falling on Wednesday. That ended the Braves’ six-game losing streak.
Simply on fire
The Dodgers are running away with the National League West thanks in part to a pitching staff that has smothered opposing offenses. The enjoyed another outstanding game from their hurlers on Tuesday, as Kenta Maeda and three relievers combined to allow only two runs on four hits en route to 3-2 victory. That marked Los Angeles’ ninth win in a row–improving to 40-6 since June 7. First baseman Cody Bellinger keeps cruising toward the NL Rookie of the Year award, slugging his 29th homer while going 2-for-4 Tuesday as the Dodgers improved to 44 games over .500. L.A. had won a major-league record 53 consecutive games in which it held the lead at any point, but that streak was snapped on Wednesday in the form of a 5-3 loss.
Left-hander Alex Wood (12-1, 2.38 ERA) is taking the mound for Los Angeles on Thursday. Wood rebounded from the Braves handing him his first loss of the season, beating San Francisco last Friday despite allowing four runs on eight hits in seven innings. That was a far cry from the nine runs (seven earned) and nine hits he surrendered July 21 against Atlanta, after allowing a total of 11 runs in his prior 12 starts. Wood made his major-league debut with the Braves in 2013, going 21-20 in 86 games with Atlanta before being traded to the Dodgers in 2015.
Can’t bring ’em home
While the Dodgers kept rolling through their 2017 campaign, the Braves continued their shift toward 2018 in the series opener. They promoted second baseman Ozzie Albies and starting pitcher Lucas Sims for their major-league debuts. Albies went 0-for-2 with a run scored and was left on deck when Nick Markakis struck out to end the series opener. Atlanta is 11-for-70 with runners in scoring position in their past 10 games, going 1-9 during that stretch. Infielder Johan Camargo hit just .218 in his previous 14 games before going 1-for-3 with a two-run homer Tuesday. First baseman Matt Adams, who made his first start in left field with the Braves, left Tuesday’s game due to dizziness. The Braves at least managed to prevail on Wednesday, when Tyler Flowers delivered an eighth-inning, pinch-hit homer.
Sean Newcomb (1-5, 4.50 ERA) will oppose wood on Thursday. Newcomb has pitched well in his past two starts after struggling in the first part of July, getting no-decisions against the Dodgers and Philadelphia while allowing only four runs combined. He held Los Angeles to three runs on three hits with nine strikeouts over six innings on July 23, and followed that up with five innings of one-run, two-hit pitching Saturday against the Phillies. Newcomb, who is making his 10th major-league start, has surrendered three earned runs or fewer six times.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are:
- 42-9 in their last 51 overall
- 19-7 in their last 26 road games
- 12-1 in Wood’s last 13 starts
The Atlanta Braves are:
- 1-6 in their last seven overall
- 1-4 in their last five at home
- 0-5 in Newcomb’s last five starts
Braves’ infielder Brandon Phillips started at third base Wednesday, his first appearance at the position in 1,845 career major-league games. Markakis singled in the seventh inning to move within one hit of 2,000 for his career while Phillips is 32 hits away from reaching that mark. They may have a tough time adding to their totals against Wood, who has been outstanding this season. Los Angeles’ last three losses have come against the Braves, and it hasn’t lost to anyone else since July 2–well before the all-star break. Asking the Braves to accomplish the feat again may be way too much. The Dodgers are 42-9 in their last 51 overall, 19-7 in their last 26 on the road, and 12-1 in Wood’s last 13 starts. Atlanta is 1-6 in its last seven overall, 1-4 in its last five at home, and 0-5 in Newcomb’s last five starts. Look for those trends to continue.