The streaking Chicago Cubs won’t be able to relax down the stretch if they hope to have the opportunity to defend their World Series championship as they still have several teams attempting to hunt them down in the National League Central. Chicago looks to continue its winning ways Friday afternoon, when it hosts the Atlanta Braves for the second contest of their four-game set.
The Cubs rolled to a 6-2 victory in the series opener, extending their winning streak to four games but remaining only 3 1/2 ahead of Milwaukee and six in front of St. Louis in the Central. Jon Jay collected four hits and scored twice while reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant belted his 25th homer, becoming the first player in franchise history and 12th overall in the majors to reach the plateau in each of his first three seasons. Anthony Rizzo hopes to continue producing in September after becoming the first Cub to register 30 RBIs in the month of August since Sammy Sosa (36) accomplished the feat in 2001. Nick Markakis is 6-for-15 during his four-game hitting streak for the Braves, who have lost four of their last six contests.
TV: 2:20 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN South (Atlanta), WGN (Chicago)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves RH Mike Foltynewicz (10-10, 4.84 ERA) vs. Cubs RH John Lackey (10-10, 4.98)
Foltynewicz enters with a four-start losing streak but showed signs of breaking out of his funk Sunday, when he allowed one run and four hits over five innings in a setback against Colorado. The 25-year-old native of Illinois surrendered 20 runs on 25 hits and nine walks over 11 2/3 frames in his previous three outings. Foltynewicz was pounded in his only career start against the Cubs on Aug. 20, 2015, surrendering seven runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings at Chicago.
Lackey is hoping the comforts of home will help him turn things around as he has yielded 11 runs (10 earned) and 15 hits over 10 innings in his last two starts - both on the road. The 38-year-old Texan has gone 2-0 in his last four turns at home, allowing three runs or fewer in each outing. Lackey improved to 2-1 in five career starts against the Braves on July 18, when he gave up one run and five hits in five innings at Atlanta.
1. The Cubs, who have outscored their opponents 33-7 during their winning streak, announced SS Addison Russell (foot) will be sidelined at last three more weeks.
2. Atlanta 2B Ozzie Albies went 2-for-3 with an RBI in the opener in place of Brandon Phillips, who was traded to the Los Angeles Angels for C Tony Sanchez.
3. Chicago acquired OF Leonys Martin from Seattle for a player to be named or cash.
PREDICTION: Cubs 7, Braves 3