Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Game 79 Preview: Atlanta Braves (45-33) at Kansas City Royals (35-39)

Pitching Probables:
LHP Mike Minor (ATL) 8-3, 2.89 ERA
RHP Luis Mendoza (KC) 2-4, 4.30 ERA

Tonight's Starting Lineups (8:10 pm ET, SportSouth):

Braves (career vs. Mendoza):
Jordan Schafer - LF (N/A)
Jason Heyward - RF (N/A)
Justin Upton - DH (1-2, RBI, BB)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (N/A)
Gerald Laird - C (0-1)
BJ Upton - CF (2-3)
Dan Uggla - 2B (N/A)
Chris Johnson - 3B (N/A)
Andrelton Simmons - SS (N/A)

Royals (career vs. Minor):
Alex Gordon - LF (0-3, 2 K)
Alcides Escobar - SS (2-3)
Eric Hosmer - 1B (N/A)
Billy Butler - DH (0-3, 2 K)
Salvador Perez - C (0-3)
Lorenzo Cain - CF (1-2)
Mike Moustakas - 3B (1-2)
Jeff Francoeur - RF (2-4, 2 RBI)
Miguel Tejada - 2B (0-2, K)

There is no better way for Mike Minor to bounce back from his last outing against the Mets in which he allowed a season-high three homers than to face the Royals who have the fewest four-baggers in all of baseball with 41. Minor will need to stay on his guard as he takes the hill in tonight's series finale at Kauffman Stadium. Minor has given up 12 home runs this season, which is tied for 10th-most among NL pitchers.
In his last start, Minor just didn't have his off-speed pitches working and tried using his fastball to get guys out, but to no avail. He left too many pitches over the plate which allowed David Wright (twice) and Andrew  Brown to take him deep.
Royals starting pitcher Luis Mendoza, who opposes Minor tonight, is hoping to build off his last start in which he retired the first 12 of 13 batters he face, then the Indians offense ate him alive with a three-run sixth innings in a 6-3 loss last Wednesday.
In a more general sense, both teams have pitched exceptionally well in the month of June. Braves boast the lowest ERA in the Majors at 2.71 through 24 games this month, while the Royals are right behind them at 2.76. The Blue Jays are the only team with an ERA under 3.00 in June.

Ramiro Pena injury update:
Braves INF Ramiro Pena will get a second opinion on his injured right shoulder in Atlanta today. He's battled right shoulder discomfort since landing awkwardly while making a diving stop along the third base line against the Dodgers on June 9.

Royals call up Will Smith for bullpen help:
Yesterday, the Royals called up Will Smith to take the place of struggling right-hander Kelvin Herrera in the bullpen. Herrera has given up eight home runs and 15 walks in 27 2/3 innings this season.
In seven relief appearances in Triple-A Omaha, Smith has recorded an ERA of 0.84 with one earned run and nine strikeouts. Smith pitched in last night's game as he faced the minimum in a scoreless ninth inning, including an inning-ending double play after hitting Jason Heyward with a pitch.

Side note:
Braves OF Jordan Schafer is 9-for-12 on stolen base attempts this season after swiping second in last night's game. The rest of the team is a combined 20-for-36. Schafer is again in the lineup tonight and will leadoff and play in left field.
Craig Kimbrel recorded his 22nd save of the season last night after getting out of a jam in which runners were at first and third with none out. The Braves victory was their 12th one-run win of the season.

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