The Atlanta Braves come home until the All-Star break and have a chance to take a commanding lead in the National League East.
Already up by 5 1/2 games, the Braves (50-35) host the second-place Philadelphia Phillies (44-40) in a three-game series at SunTrust Park.
Atlanta comes in off a 6-4 road trip in which it won its series with Washington Nationals and New York Mets, and split with the Chicago Cubs. Just before the Braves went on that trip, they won a three-game series against the Phillies at SunTrust.
Atlanta comes home with Ronald Acuna and Dansby Swanson swinging hot bats. Over the last seven games, Acuna has hit .393 with two homers and four stolen bases. He is one of three Braves, joining Freddie Freeman and Mike Soroka, headed to the All-Star game next week in Cleveland.
Swanson hit .385 over the same time with a homer and five RBIs. With one week left in the unofficial first half of the season, the former Marietta High School standout has already reached a career best 15 home runs in a season, and he is seven RBIs away from his best mark of 59, set last season.
First baseman Rhys Hoskins leads the Phillies in homers (19) and is second in RBIs (55). Catcher J.T. Realmuto, hitting .265 with 10 homers and 37 RBIs is Philadelphia’s lone All-Star. Big offseason-signee Bryce Harper hasn’t been able to get on track so far this season. He is hitting .250 with 15 home runs and 59 RBIs, but he also has 101 strikeouts.
Dallas Keuchel will make his SunTrust debut tonight in the series opener. Keuchel (1-1, 5.06 ERA) has allowed six earned runs in 10.2 innings over his first two starts. Last time out, he pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits in a win over the Chicago Cubs.
The Phillies are expected to counter with Nick Pivetta (4-2, 5.63). The righthander has allowed at least four earned runs and two home runs in each of his last three starts. In his last start against the New York Mets, Pivetta pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowed four runs on nine hits.
Wednesday, the Braves are expected to throw Bryse Wilson (0-0, 8.31) for his second straight start. Last week against the Cubs he pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing four earned runs on six hits. He will face Aaron Nola (6-2, 4.22). Thursday, Mike Soroka (9-1, 2.13) will make his final start before the All-Star break against Vince Velasquez (2-5, 4.73).
Tonight is All-Star poster giveaway night. Everyone in attendance will receive a poster highlighting the three Braves All-Stars — Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Mike Soroka, who will be heading to Cleveland for the Midsummer Classic.
Thursday the Braves will have an Independence Day celebration with special pregame ceremonies and activities along with postgame fireworks.
ON THE AIR
All three games can be seen on Fox Sports Southeast beginning at 7 p.m., and heard on 680 AM The Fan and Rock 100.5 FM.