The Atlanta Braves will welcome the Los Angeles Dodgers to SunTrust Park on Friday for a three-game series between the two best teams in the National League.
The Braves (72-50) entered Thursday night’s game against the New York Mets on a three-game winning streak, with a six-game lead over the Washington Nationals in the NL East.
Even after their loss to the Miami Marlins on Thursday, the Dodgers were still 81-42 record, just behind the New York Yankees for the best record in the majors. Los Angeles has won nine of its last 11 and owns a commanding 19-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West.
Atlanta is riding the hot bat of Ronald Acuña Jr. into the series. Over the last week, Acuña has hit .400 with five home runs and eight RBIs. In the 31 games since the All-Star break, the 21-year-old outfielder has hit .316 with 13 homers, 29 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.
Now hitting .298 with 34 homers, 82 RBIs and 28 stolen bases, Acuña has put himself in the conversation for voting as the NL’s most valuable player, and he has an outside shot at becoming just the fifth player in baseball history to tally 40 homers and 40 stolen bases in a single season.
One of Acuña’s biggest challengers for the MVP award will be on the field with him this weekend. Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger is hitting .317 with 40 home runs and 93 RBIs, but while Acuña has gotten hot, Bellinger has cooled slightly, hitting only .258 since the All-Star break.
Third baseman Justin Turner has helped pick up where Bellinger has left off. Over the last week, he is hitting .340 with four homers and seven RBIs.
Following the completion of the Dodgers series, the Braves will have an off day Monday before hosting the Miami Marlins for a three-game series.
Mike Soroka (10-2, 2.32) will open the series coming off arguably one of his strongest outings of the season. Last Saturday against Miami, he threw seven shutout innings and allowed only three hits, but ended with a no-decision as the Marlins won 7-6.
Soroka is expected to face Kenta Maeda (8-8, 4.12), who had the same pitching line as Soroka in a win over Arizona last weekend.
On Saturday, Mike Foltynewicz (4-5, 6.24) will look for his third straight win since being recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett.
He is scheduled to match up with the National League’s leading Cy Young candidate, Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-2, 1.45). Over his last six starts, Ryu has allowed just two earned runs in 33 2/3 innings.
Max Fried (14-4, 3.99) will start the finale for the Braves, likely to face rookie Dustin May (1-1, 2.65), who will be making his fourth career start.
Friday night will kick off the Braves’ Alumni Weekend, with fans able to meet and greet former Braves players each day.
On Friday at 6 p.m., fans can line the streets of The Battery Atlanta for a parade of Braves alumni. The parade will begin outside Pepper Boxing on Battery Avenue. This event is free and a game ticket is not required.
On Saturday, the alumni will be available for autographs throughout SunTrust Park from 4:45-5:45 p.m. Game ticket is required.
Saturday’s game will also be preceded by an alumni home run derby, with Brian Jordan captaining a team with Andruw Jones and Ryan Klesko, and Jeff Francoeur captaining a team with Dan Uggla and Johnny Estrada.
On Sunday, fans can walk onto the warning track and snap a photo with Braves alumni from 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Game ticket is required.
In addition to Friday night fireworks, Noah Guthrie and Good Trouble will take the Georgia Power Pavilion stage prior to Saturday’s game, performing a free concert from 5:30-6:30 p.m. On and Sunday, the first 5,000 children age 14 and under will receive a custom Braves alumni-focused baseball card pack and, following the game, will have the chance to run the bases.
ON THE AIR
All three games will air on Fox Sports South. Friday’s and Saturday’s games will begin at 7 p.m., with Sunday’s at 1 p.m. The games can also be heard on 680 AM The Fan and Rock 100.5 FM.