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Jul 9, 2024 2:36 am

Braves, D-backs face off in prime-time pitching matchup

chris sale

The Atlanta Braves pushed back the start of All-Star left-hander Chris Sale by one day, setting up a stellar pitching matchup against Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Zac Gallen when the teams meet Tuesday night in Phoenix.

Sale (11-3, 2.71 ERA) is tied for the major league lead in victories. Gallen (6-4, 3.06) finished third in National League Cy Young Award balloting last season.

Sale was listed to start Monday, but the Braves scratched him in favor of right-hander Bryce Elder four-plus hours before first pitch. Elder was promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett, and he threw five-plus innings of three-run ball.

“We decided to bring Bryce in, give all those guys an extra day leading into the (All-Star) break,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker of the rotation.

The Braves are seeking their fourth straight victory after rallying for a 5-4, 11-inning triumph Monday in the opener of the four-game series.

Arizona was one out away from winning in the ninth when Atlanta’s Sean Murphy hit a 431-foot, tying two-run blast to right-center off Paul Sewald.

“I hit the homer, but the idea is just to get the next guy up and see what happens,” Murphy said. “It went my way and left the ballpark.”

The blown save was the third in a row for Sewald, but Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said that the right-hander would remain the club’s closer.

“He made some really good pitches to get to that position and then a couple mistakes,” Lovullo said of Sewald, who converted his first 11 save opportunities before the recent struggles. “A couple things went wrong, and good teams will capitalize on that.

“I’m still shaking my head — a two-out homer doesn’t happen very often. But it’s been happening to us a little lately.”

The loss prevented the Diamondbacks from moving above .500 for the first time since April 3.

Sale, 35, has revived his career this season and ranks sixth in the majors in strikeouts (127) and eighth in ERA. He was named to an All-Star team for the eighth time in his career.

Sale made the American League All-Star team in seven straight seasons from 2012-18 — starting each of the last three — before injuries derailed his career. The biggest blow was undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2020 that caused him to miss all of that season and the first four-plus months of the 2021 season.

He won a total of 11 games from 2021-23, then was traded by the Boston Red Sox to Atlanta in December. A week later, the Braves gave him a two-year, $38 million contract extension.

“To be able to be in this position, having a team take a chance on me, it wasn’t an easy trigger to pull — I’m assuming — just because of what it looked like previously,” Sale said.

Sale has allowed two or fewer runs in 11 of his past 12 starts. The outlier was a horrendous outing against the Oakland Athletics on June 1 in which he surrendered eight runs in four innings during a no-decision.

Sale is 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA in three career games (two starts) against Arizona. He beat the Diamondbacks on April 7 when he allowed two runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 5-2 home victory.

Randal Grichuk (6-for-20) has two homers against Sale. Arizona All-Star second baseman Ketel Marte is just 1-for-12 against him.

Gallen will be making his third start since missing nearly a month with a hamstring injury.

He defeated the Athletics on June 29 when he gave up just one hit over six scoreless innings. He wasn’t as sharp on Thursday, allowing three runs and four hits over four innings in a no-decision against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Gallen is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in four career starts against Atlanta. Austin Riley (4-for-10), Ozzie Albies (4-for-11), Orlando Arcia (1-for-5) and Matt Olson (2-for-12) all have homered against Gallen. Riley hit a solo blast in the Braves’ win on Monday.

–Field Level Media

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