The Atlanta Braves added Kurt Suzuki over the winter to serve as a backup catcher, but he is authoring a career-best hitting season entering Saturday night’s home contest against the Philadelphia Phillies. Suzuki blasted two homers in Friday’s 7-2 victory over the Phillies in the series opener, giving him a career-high 18 on the season, and in 76 games he is hitting .271 with 47 RBIs while helping guide Atlanta’s young pitching staff.
Friday’s victory was the 69th of the season for the Braves, surpassing last season’s total of 68, but it was only the fifth win in 17 times for Atlanta against Philadelphia this season. The Phillies have lost two in a row after winning eight of their previous 11 contests. Second baseman Cesar Hernandez finished with a double and three walks, raising his career average against the Braves to .323 in 69 games with 37 runs scored and 33 walks. Right fielder Nick Williams finished 2-for-3 in the opener and has 22 RBIs in 21 games in September.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, CSN Philadelphia, FSN South (Atlanta)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Phillies RH Henderson Alvarez (0-1, 7.20 ERA) vs. Braves RH Julio Teheran (11-12, 4.52)
Alvarez made his first major-league appearance since 2015 on Sunday, allowing four runs on four hits with four strikeouts in five innings in a loss to Oakland. The 27-year-old, who made 11 appearances for Oakland’s minor-league affiliates in 2016 before having shoulder surgery, earned a shot with the Phillies after going 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA for the Long Island Ducks in independent ball. He was even better at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, going 2-0 in three starts with a 2.84 ERA before his promotion to the majors.
Teheran makes his final home start of the season looking to finish with a flourish after posting a 6.23 ERA and a 3-10 record in 16 starts in the first year at SunTrust Park. The 26-year-old has pitched better of late in his new home ballpark, surrendering three runs or fewer in each of his past three home outings. Teheran, who is 8-2 with a 2.84 ERA in 14 road starts by comparison, is 1-2 with a 7.71 ERA in three appearances against Philadelphia this season, two of those starts coming on the road.
1. The Phillies are 34-34 against National League East competition; Philadelphia has not finished with a winning record against division foes since 2011.
2. Atlanta 3B Johan Camargo is hitting .381 in 12 games since coming off the disabled list.
3. The Braves opened Friday’s game with six consecutive hits, the first time they have started a game with six hits in a row since April 26, 1995.
PREDICTION: Braves 7, Phillies 4