Braves hoping their bats stay hot against Cubs
The Atlanta Braves will go for back-to-back wins over the visiting Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.
Atlanta is coming off an 8-7 win over the Cubs that included a three-run homer by Freddie Freeman and a solo shot by Dansby Swanson. The high-scoring victory followed a meager showing by the Braves, who were held to one hit in a doubleheader sweep against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
Swanson burned sage in the outfield before the series opener against the Cubs to try to bring good luck.
"All year, I've been like, 'Hey y'all, if it gets to a point, I'm bringing some sage in here," Swanson said. "I think (Sunday) was finally that point. I pretty much walked every bit of area in this place. It was fun. ... I might have to bring some (Tuesday), too."
Freeman supported his teammate's efforts.
"I walked into the clubhouse and it smelled like sage," Freeman said. "I made sure to tell him to get to our game bats. They're in a shopping cart locked away, so we made sure to get to those. I think he hit every part of the ballpark.
"I don't know if that works, but it's more a mental thing and fun thing to try to forget about (Sunday). The good thing about (Sunday) is the only way we could go is up. That was a good thing for us chemistry-wise."
The Cubs will try to supersede the superstition with right-hander Trevor Williams (2-1, 4.66 ERA), who is slated to make his fifth start of the season. The 29-year-old is in his first season with the Cubs after spending five years with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Williams is 1-0 with a 2.50 ERA in four appearances (three starts) against the Braves during his career. He has allowed only five runs on 13 hits in 18 innings while walking five and striking out 17.
In his last start Thursday against the New York Mets, Williams gave up two runs on five hits in five innings for a no-decision.
Atlanta will counter with right-hander Ian Anderson (1-0, 3.27 ERA), who is scheduled to make his fifth start of the season and the 11th start of his career. This will be Anderson's first career meeting against the Cubs.
The 22-year-old earned the victory in his last outing, shutting out the New York Yankees on four hits in 6 2/3 innings. He walked four while striking out four.
"That's the best he's been all year," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Spring training, everything. Just as far as the three-pitch mix, command of his fastball. The total package was the best it's been this year."
Cubs slugger Kris Bryant will look to stay hot after belting his sixth career grand slam in the series opener. Bryant is off to a hot start this season and credits his success to having fun on and off the field with his teammates.
This year, Bryant said, he and teammate Anthony Rizzo have made a point to enjoy the good times in what could be their final season together.
"It's not necessarily that we talk about it all the time," Bryant said, "but it's like, 'Let's maybe have a little more fun than we have (had) before and joke around some more, joke about these stresses that we have each and every day.
"We have each other to lean on, and it might be the last time we get to use each other for resources like that."
--Field Level Media