The big question at SunTrust Park this weekend will be something along these lines: Have the NL East-leading Braves closed the gap on the NL West-leading Dodgers?
There is plenty of distance to close, based on how the teams have fared against each other since the Braves got good again last year.
Here are the numbers, heading into this weekend’s Braves-Dodgers series at SunTrust Park:
> The Braves are 3-11 vs. the Dodgers, including regular season and postseason games, since the start of last year.
> The Braves have been outscored by a cumulative margin of 78-33 in those 14 games.
> Against the Dodgers, the Braves went 2-5 in the 2018 regular season, 1-3 in a National League Division Series last October and 0-3 in a May series at L.A. this year. The Braves were outscored 20-8 in the NLDS and were shut out in each of the first two games of the series. In May, the Braves were outscored 23-7 across three games at Dodger Stadium, allowing nine runs in each of the final two games.
Big crowds will gather at SunTrust Park this weekend to find out how the Braves now measure up against the Dodgers in what could be a preview of another postseason meeting. The Dodgers, who have won the past two NL pennants and 90-plus games in each of the past six seasons, have the NL’s best record this year (81-42). The Braves have the league’s second-best mark (72-51), but are 14-14 over their past 28 games.
The series begins with a 7:20 p.m. game Friday, followed by games at 7:20 p.m. Saturday and 1:20 p.m. Sunday. As of Thursday, the Braves were selling standing-room-only tickets for both the Friday and Saturday games.
The scheduled pitching matchups for the series: Braves rookie right-hander Mike Soroka (10-2, 2.32) vs. Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda (8-8, 4.12) on Friday; Braves righty Mike Foltynewicz (4-5, 6.24) vs. Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-2, 1.45) on Saturday; and Braves lefty Max Fried (14-4, 3.99) on Sunday vs. a starter to be announced. (L.A. originally listed rookie righty Dustin May as Sunday's starter, but changed that to TBA.)
The Braves won’t draw Clayton Kershaw or Walker Buehler in the series; both started games against Atlanta in May. Kershaw (12-2, 2.63) and Buehler (10-3, 3.31) pitched the past two days at Miami.
Today’s Leadoff links
> NL MVP favorite Cody Bellinger is coming to town. Can the Braves' Ronald Acuna catch him? Michael Cunningham writes about that.
> The Falcons lost an exhibition game to the New York Jets, 22-10, before a sparse crowd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday night. It was the Falcons' 11th consecutive exhibition loss, dating to 2016. Read D. Orlando Ledbetter's report here.
> For the first time in GHSA history, most Georgia high school football teams will be playing their home games on artificial turf this season, Todd Holcomb reports.
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