Braves-Blue Jays Preview
While Shelby Miller has gotten his Atlanta Braves career off to a solid start, Josh Donaldson is also proving to be quite a good offseason acquisition.
After Donaldson's walk-off home run evened this series for the Toronto Blue Jays, Miller will try to cool off the red-hot third baseman Sunday when the Braves look to avoid their fourth loss in five games.
Miller (1-0, 0.90 ERA), acquired from St. Louis in the Jason Heyward deal in November, is looking go a bit deeper into the game for Atlanta (7-4) after pitching five innings in each of his first two starts. The 24-year-old allowed four hits but needed 97 pitches to get through five April 8 at Miami, then had his second start cut short after 88 pitches partly due to a 39-minute rain delay in the fourth inning Monday. Still, he got his first win in a Braves uniform, allowing one run and three hits in a 3-2 win over the Marlins.
One of the only two complete games of his four-year career came in his only matchup with the Blue Jays, throwing a three-hitter in the Cardinals' 5-0 victory June 7 in Toronto.
Donaldson was with Oakland then, and he's come on strong lately in his first season with the Blue Jays. He homered for the third time in two days in the 10th inning of Saturday's 6-5 win.
He's 11 for 21 with seven RBIs over his last five games. He had a run-scoring single in his only career at-bat against Miller in 2013.
"Forget the fact he's a good player," manager John Gibbons told MLB's official website. "He brings something to that clubhouse. He has energy, he's a fun-loving guy, but once that game starts, he's all baseball. It's legit."
Danny Valencia matched a career high with four hits Saturday and Jose Bautista hit his third home run as Toronto (6-6) rallied from a four-run, seventh-inning deficit and improved to 2-4 on a 10-game homestand.
Daniel Norris (1-0, 4.22) kept the Blue Jays close in his last outing despite not being at his best. He gave up two runs and two hits while yielding three walks over five innings in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay.
"I want to have my good stuff, and go out there and compete with that," said the rookie left-hander, who got his only major league victory last week at Yankee Stadium.
Norris will get his first look at an Atlanta lineup that has totaled 13 runs and 21 hits in this series and has homered nine times over its past four games. Freddie Freeman and A.J. Pierzynski went deep Saturday before former Toronto infielder Kelly Johnson hit a game-tying solo shot in the ninth inning.
Freeman has gone 15 for 31 over his last seven games against the Blue Jays, with homers in the past three. Nick Markakis is 8 for 17 during Atlanta's 4-1 road start and has hit .357 in his last 19 games at Rogers Centre.
The Braves are batting .205 versus left-handers but have gone 6 for 13 with two homers off them in this series.