LEADING OFF: Braves go for 14th straight, Flaherty returns
A look at what’s happening around the majors Wednesday:
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Dansby Swanson and the Braves go for their 14th straight victory when they wrap up a series at Washington. The longest winning streak in the majors this season is Atlanta’s best stretch since the team won 14 consecutive games from July 26 to Aug. 9, 2013.
“It’s a good feeling,” rookie outfielder Michael Harris II said. “You feel like you’re on top of the world, honestly. Keep winning every night.”
Atlanta hit back-to-back homers Tuesday night for the third straight game, this time doing it twice. Travis d’Arnaud and Marcell Ozuna went deep in the third inning, and Orlando Arcia and Harris followed in the sixth.
It’s the first time in the expansion era (since 1961) the Braves have hit back-to-back home runs in three consecutive games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Swanson also connected and has homered in five straight games at Nationals Park, dating to Aug. 13 last season. That’s the longest home run streak by any player in the ballpark’s 15-year history. He has 11 career home runs there.
Atlanta has won a franchise-record 10 consecutive games at Nationals Park — the final eight in 2021 and its first two this season. Overall, the Braves have won 17 of their last 20 in Washington.
MAKE YOUR PITCH
Rays starter Shane McClanahan (7-2, 1.87 ERA) and fellow left-hander Nestor Cortes (5-2, 1.96) of the New York Yankees square off in a showdown of surprising early season Cy Young Award contenders.
McClanahan pitched a career-high eight innings in his previous start against St. Louis, allowing only an unearned run in a 2-1 win — he says he’s never pitched nine innings at any level. Cortes stumbled last time out against Minnesota, giving up two homers for the first time this season while permitting four runs in 4 1/3 innings.
Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson returns from his one-game suspension for making a remark to White Sox star Tim Anderson about Jackie Robinson. Donaldson’s comments to Anderson were called racist by Chicago manager Tony La Russa.
New York won 2-0 on Tuesday night in the series opener between AL East rivals, improving the best record in the majors to 45-16 with its fifth consecutive victory.
Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty makes his first start of the season in the series finale against Pittsburgh, which has lost nine straight.
Flaherty had been scheduled for his third minor league rehab start Wednesday but will face the Pirates instead in a surprise decision. St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said Flaherty will be held to around 60 pitches.
Flaherty had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his shoulder in early March to combat inflammation. He has been impressive in two minor league starts at Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis, allowing just one run in seven total innings.
The 26-year-old Flaherty has a career record of 32-24 with a 3.34 ERA. He went 9-2 last season with a 3.22 ERA before the shoulder injury cut his season short.
His return comes one night after teammate Miles Mikolas came within one strike of St. Louis’ first no-hitter in 21 years. Mikolas didn’t give up a hit until Cal Mitchell doubled on a 2-2 curveball with two outs in the ninth inning during the second game of a doubleheader sweep for the Cardinals.
NOT READY YET
Fernando Tatis Jr.’s surgically repaired left wrist hasn’t progressed to the point where the electrifying All-Star shortstop can start swinging a bat, general manager A.J. Preller said Tuesday.
Tatis had a three-month follow-up exam in Arizona on Monday with Dr. Donald Sheridan, who operated on his broken wrist in mid-March.
The MRI exam “continues to show healing,” but not enough for the doctor to “give a full green light,” Preller said.
Tatis, who signed a $340 million, 14-year contract before the 2021 season, has been taking grounders, throwing and running. Swinging a bat will begin the last major step in his comeback.
“The full go, start swinging the bat, playing in rehab games, that’s going to be more of a week-to-week decision here going forward,” Preller said.
Otherwise, the doctor felt positive about Tatis’ strength and range of motion, Preller said.
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