The three-game series opener between two National League division leaders figures to draw large crowds to Great American Ball Park. The Reds have taken over first place in the NL Central while the Braves, who have won eight straight, boast the best record in the NL East (and the league overall)
Entering this season, the Braves were expected to contend for another NL East title and their second World Series championship in three seasons. The Reds were coming off just the second 100-loss season in their long history
That makes what Cincinnati has accomplished in the past two weeks all the more remarkable. With a victory on Friday night, the Reds would match the 1957 and 1939 teams for the franchise’s longest single-season winning streak since 1900. The team record in the modern era is a 13-game run that started in 1918 and ended in 1919
Gus Bell was an All-Star outfielder on the 1957 Cincinnati team. His grandson is now managing the current Reds squad
“I’ve heard so much about those teams,” Cincinnati skipper David Bell said, “so to even be mentioned and compared in a small way to teams like that is pretty neat. …
“It’s impressive. It kind of is a reminder that this kind of streak isn’t easy. Every single day it’s a battle. It’s a huge challenge. It takes everything you have.”
The Braves extended their winning streak on Thursday when they erupted for five runs in the 10th inning to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1. Atlanta owns a major-league-best 15-3 record in June, while Cincinnati is 14-6 this month
Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said of heading to Cincinnati on a winning streak, “It’s (all about) team. I mean, it’s not just one (part) of it. It’s been big hits, big plays, pitching — bullpen and starting. You need it all to come together. And I think it’s, like I say, a (total) team effort.”
Atlanta outfielder Eddie Rosario went hitless in two at-bats Thursday, ending a modest five-game hitting streak. However, in that streak, he went 10-for-15 with five homers, 11 RBIs and eight runs.
The Braves will send right-hander AJ Smith-Shawver (1-0, 2.03 ERA) to the mound in the series opener
The 20-year-old rookie was slated to start Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia before it was rained out, and then his turn was pushed back in the rotation. Smith-Shawver will be making his fourth career start and his first vs. Cincinnati.
The Reds will counter with right-hander Luke Weaver (1-2, 6.47 ERA), making his 12th start of the season. In six career appearances (five starts) vs. Atlanta, he is 1-3 with a 4.91 ERA
Weaver gave up a career-high-tying 10 hits in his most recent outing, on Sunday at Houston, when he allowed five runs in five innings. The Reds rallied from a 5-2 hole and beat the Astros 9-7 in 10 innings
–Field Level Media
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