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May 14, 2024 3:43 am

Cubs, Braves look for more strong pitching

Chris Sale

Chicago right-hander Jameson Taillon and Braves left-hander Chris Sale will try to follow the strong starting performances of their teammates in the series opener when they go head-to-head on Tuesday in the middle game of a three-game set at Atlanta.

The Braves won the opener 2-0 on Monday when Chicago’s Shota Imanaga and Atlanta’s Reynaldo Lopez each pitched five scoreless innings. Now it’s up to Taillon (3-0, 1.13 ERA) and Sale (5-1, 2.95) to match those efforts.

The Braves have won five of their past six games overall and are 13-7 against the Cubs in Truist Park since it opened in 2017. Chicago is 5-5 over its past 10 games and 2-2 on its current six-game road trip.

Taillon won his most recent start on May 4 against the Milwaukee Brewers after throwing six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks and striking out seven. He was originally scheduled to pitch last Friday against the Pirates but was pushed back when he felt a tweak in his lower back while throwing a bullpen session on May 7. Given the OK, Taillon was expected to start on Sunday, but the Cubs activated Kyle Hendricks and gave Taillon another two days off.

“We had a step back and we’re just going to make sure that it’s OK before we send him out there again,” Chicago manager Craig Counsell said.

Taillon said, “It’s more like, let’s be smart here, not risk pushing it and then something bad happening. That would leave the team in a bad spot, too. It’s kind of a weird spot to be in, but got to think of what puts the team in the best spot.”

Taillon is 1-0 with a 2.50 ERA and 15 strikeouts over 18 innings in three career starts against the Braves. He made one start against Atlanta last year but received no decision after giving up two runs over six innings. His victory against the Braves came in 2018 when he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Sale will be making his eighth start of the season and has pitched at least five innings in each outing. Over his past three starts, Sale has allowed only two runs in 18 innings. He faced the Boston Red Sox, his former team, on Wednesday and fired six scoreless innings while registering a season-high 10 strikeouts.

“It was just weird seeing all those guys,” Sale said. “It was fun. Facing your friends and old teammates is exciting. And I’m glad I didn’t suck.”

Sale has made five career appearances and three starts against the Cubs, going 2-1 with a 1.23 ERA. He hasn’t faced Chicago since 2016.

Atlanta third baseman Austin Riley did not play in the series opener because of inflammation in his left side. He is listed as day-to-day. Riley was replaced in the lineup by Zack Short, who delivered the go-ahead double in the sixth inning on Monday.

Chicago placed right-handed reliever Adbert Alzolay on the 15-day injured list because of a right forearm strain and recalled right-hander Jose Cuas, who had been sent to Triple-A Iowa one day earlier.

–Field Level Media

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