Nationals look to end skid at Braves

MLB Baseball

The Washington Nationals hope to see Stephen Strasburg take another positive step in his quest to return to form in the second game of their four-game series in Atlanta.

Strasburg (1-2, 4.43 ERA) will be opposed by Atlanta southpaw Max Fried (2-2, 4.63) on Tuesday.

Atlanta won the first game of the series 5-3 on Monday to hand Washington its fifth straight loss. Atlanta has won six of seven games against the Nationals.

Strasburg has pitched well in the two starts since his return. He threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings against Baltimore on May 21 and allowed three runs in five innings against Cincinnati on May 27.

Those were his first starts since April 13, when he left in the fifth inning after allowing eight runs, seven earned, including three homers. Five days later, he was placed on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation that cost him 30 games.

“Look up at the first inning and he’s pumping 94. We’re all looking around like, ‘He’s back,’ you know,” first baseman Josh Bell said.

Strasburg is 14-12 with a 3.94 ERA in 35 career starts against the Braves. He has made one appearance against Atlanta this season, getting no decision despite pitching six scoreless innings and allowing just one hit on April 7.

“I feel like I’ve done this enough times where, yeah, the results are always great, but I think from an execution standpoint there’s definitely some room for improvement,” Strasburg said. “I think it was a step in the right direction, but again I think there’s still some work to be done.”

Fried had a successful May after returning from a stint on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain. In four May starts, Fried was 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA. He beat Pittsburgh on May 23 with a season-high seven-inning stint, allowing one run on four hits, three walks and two strikeouts.

Fried has made eight career appearances, seven starts, against Washington and has posted a 2-2 record with a 5.70 ERA. He has two starts against the Nationals this season, going 1-0 with a 7.71 ERA. Fried was rocked for five runs on eight hits in two innings on April 7, but limited the Nationals to one run in five innings on May 5.

With Marcell Ozuna’s future with the club uncertain, the Braves have been looking for outfield help. They recalled Abraham Almonte from Triple-A Gwinnett and inserted him the starting lineup on Sunday. He went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks. Ozuna is out for at least five more weeks with two broken fingers but he was also arrested over the weekend on charges of battery and aggravated assault by strangulation.

Almonte was batting .403 with three homers in 83 plate appearances at Gwinnett. He has played for six major league teams in parts of eight seasons since 2013. He can play all three outfield positions.

“The reports were that the guy is locked in,” said Atlanta manager Brian Snitker. “He’s hot. We haven’t been playing and (Gwinnett) has. It kind of sticks out that we go ahead and give this guy an opportunity.”

Atlanta kept utility man Johan Camargo on the active roster by placing injured pitcher Huascar Ynoa on the 60-day injured list, thus creating an opening on the 40-man roster.

The Nationals activated outfielder Victor Robles from the injured list (ankle sprain). He flew out as a pinch-hitter on Monday.

–Field Level Media

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