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The red-hot Tampa Bay Rays are the next obstacle (15th Apr 19 at 2:44am UTC)
Tampa Bay (70-61) is nine games out of the final wild-card spot in the American League but has won eight straight games and just completed a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox , the team with the best record in baseball.Atlanta (73-57) has a three-game lead over Philadelphia in the NL East but only managed a split of a four-game weekend series against last-place Miami. The Braves are 5-5 in their last 10 games.Article continues below ...The two teams open a quick two-game series on Tuesday at SunTrust Park. Atlanta’s Julio Teheran (9-7, 4.09) will start the opener against Tampa Bay’s Ryne Stanek (2-3, 2.53).Teheran, a seven-year veteran on the Atlanta staff, has been good in August. In his last four starts, the right-hander has allowed seven runs in 25 2/3 innings for a 2.45 ERA. He has not allowed more than three runs in any start and has limited the opposition to one run in two games.Teheran’s control has been better (24 strikeouts, nine walks) and he has allowed only two home runs during the month. Gopher balls have plagued him this season; he has allowed 23 in 140 2/3 innings.Teheran threw seven strong innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates in his last start and allowed only one run despite an average fastball velocity of 88 mph. He was able to locate his pitches and baffled the Pirates.“We were talking about it during the game,” Atlanta catcher Tyler Flowers said. “He said, ‘I feel great. I’m just trying to locate it and not trying to overthrow it or anything.’ That’s what he ended up doing. I think that was one of his better command days with the full arsenal.”Stanek has been a workhorse for the Rays. He has appeared in 44 games and made 21 starts. He has not thrown more than two innings in any of his starts. In his 21 starts Robin Roberts Jersey , Stanek is 0-2 with a 2.84 ERA, with opponents hitting .168 against him.He is the first pitcher to have 20 starts and 20 relief appearances since Toronto’s Esmil Rogers in 2013 and the first rookie to do it since Minnesota’s Joe Mays in 1999.Stanek pitched against Boston on Saturday and picked up his second career win. He came into the game and got a flyout on a 3-0 count, picked off an inherited runner and struck out a batter.Boston manager Alex Cora was impressed by the way Tampa Bay is playing.“They’ve been playing great,” Cora said. “They’ve been pitching. … It’s a different ballclub compared to early in the season. … It’s a different type of team. More athletes, fast guys. They put the ball in play. They’re very uncomfortable (to play) right now.”The Braves won the first two games against the Rays in early April, with Sean Newcomb and Teheran each picking up victories.Atlanta made a roster move on Sunday, recalling third baseman Rio Ruiz from Triple-A Gwinnett. Ruiz drew a walk as a pinch-hitter against the Marlins. He is batting .269 with nine homers and 72 RBIs for Gwinnett this season.Atlanta designated catcher Chris Stewart for assignment. The veteran spent most of the season in Gwinnett. WASHINGTON (AP) — Even after his last trip to free agency dragged into January, Kurt Suzuki wanted to go the open market again.This time, the catcher found a home much quicker.Suzuki on Tuesday finalized a $10 million Tug McGraw Jersey , two-year contract to return to the Washington Nationals. The 35-year-old gets $4 million next year and $6 million in 2020, up from $3.5 million last season, his second with the Atlanta Braves.Suzuki is the first player of the 164 who hit free agency after the World Series to switch teams and the ninth with a finalized agreement.“Obviously the last time I went to free agency wasn’t as fun,” Suzuki said during a conference call. “It’s a lot nicer, more peace of mind knowing where you’re going to be, especially for the next two years. I’m 35 years old. I feel like I’ve been getting better as a player. I feel like I have a lot to offer for younger players, as well. I just try to go with it.”He hit .271 with 12 homers and 50 RBIs in 2018 as Atlanta won the NL East ahead of the second-place Nationals. General manager Mike Rizzo announced the finalized agreement Tuesday after Suzuki passed a physical.Suzuki played for Washington in 2012 and 2013, part of a 12-year major league career in which he has been with four clubs and batted .258 with 114 home runs and 619 RBIs.“The last two years at age 33 and 34 kind of had like a renaissance I guess,” Suzuki said. “I really haven’t changed much. I go out there and I don’t really think about launch angles or all these kind of analytical things. I go out there and I just try to do some damage Drew Hutchison Jersey , and whenever they throw me a pitch that I think I can do damage with, I swing.”He made the AL All-Star team in 2014 while with the Minnesota Twins.A right-handed hitter, Suzuki could wind up as part of a platoon at catcher for the Nationals, who have been in the market for help at that position after Matt Wieters batted under .240 in each of the past two seasons there.“Whether I’m a guy that catches 120 games or 90 games or whatever they want me to do, I just told (Rizzo) I’d be ready to do whatever you want,” Suzuki said.Washington is coming off an 82-80 season, its first under manager Dave Martinez, following two consecutive division titles and first-round playoff exits. Suzuki, who turned down a contract offer from Atlanta to become a free agent Larry Bowa Jersey , said it was a “good gamble” based on the deal he got from Washington, a team he called a perennial World Series contender.“We’ve got everything that it takes to win a World Series,” Suzuki said. “I love our chances for this year. I think we’ve got all the talent and all the tools to go out there and win.”So far, Washington’s offseason moves have centered on the bullpen, including exercising up closer Sean Doolittle’s option and signing former St. Louis Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.The Nationals are also expected to seek help for their starting rotation as well as a new second baseman.The biggest question of all that looms over the next few months, of course, is what will happen with outfielder Bryce Harper, the 2015 NL MVP who is a free agent.
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