Despite devastating injuries, the Atlanta Braves sit atop the National League East, in position to win their fourth straight division title.
So what’s one more injury to overcome?
Atlanta got a scare when second baseman Ozzie Albies was carried off the field at Dodger Stadium after fouling a pitch off his left knee Tuesday night. Albies couldn’t walk, and a fracture was feared.
However, the Braves (70-62) got good news when tests showed no major damage, and the All-Star could be in the lineup when Atlanta opens a four-game series against the Colorado Rockies (61-72) on Thursday in Denver.
Atlanta will send Touki Toussaint (3-2, 3.60 ERA) to the mound. The Rockies will counter with righty Chi Chi Gonzalez (3-6, 6.08).
The Braves were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers this week but still maintain a two-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Despite right-hander Mike Soroka being out all year due to a foot injury and losing outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. to a torn ACL in July, Atlanta is 26-17 since the All-Star break. Losing Albies would have been a tough blow, but the Braves got a break instead.
“He’s a lot better today, (better) than we thought he would be,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said before the Wednesday night series finale against the Dodgers, a 4-3 Los Angeles win.
Toussaint has made seven starts since being activated from the injured list July 16, and he pitched one inning of scoreless relief against the San Francisco Giants on Sunday. Toussaint, who made his major league debut in 2018, has never faced Colorado.
The Rockies are coming off a dramatic, come-from-behind 9-5 win at Texas on Wednesday that salvaged the finale of a three-game series against the Rangers. Colorado lost another starting pitcher to an injury in the win when lefty Kyle Freeland exited in the second inning due to a left hip impingement.
Jon Gray, who was originally scheduled to start Thursday against the Braves, was placed on the injured list Wednesday because of right forearm tightness. The injury will lead to Gonzalez making his 17th start and 22nd appearance of the season.
Gonzalez has never faced Atlanta in his 58 career appearances (45 starts).
Thursday is the opener of a seven-game homestand for Colorado, with all seven games coming against teams currently holding a playoff position. The Rockies have struggled on the road this year but have been much better in Denver. They also have gotten some strong performances offensively, especially from C.J. Cron, who hit 11 home runs and drove in 34 runs in August, both NL-leading totals.
Brendan Rodgers, who has battled injuries in his short career, has also swung the bat well. He had a home run and a game-turning double on Wednesday.
Rodgers hasn’t always been rewarded, though. He batted .235 (8-for-34) on the just-completed 10-game road trip but hit several balls hard that resulted in outs.
“My swing feels great,” Rodgers said. “I can’t really complain too much when you line out, or the guy runs the ball down when you hit the ball hard. You’ve just got to stay within yourself, within your approach. Those little things can be frustrating at times, but you’ve got to keep putting together solid at-bats.”
–Field Level Media