Cubs at Braves
The Chicago Cubs arrived as contenders ahead of schedule in 2015 thanks to a flood of talented prospects. The Atlanta Braves are following the same blueprint, and their brigade will try to claim a series victory over the visiting Cubs on Thursday.
Rookies Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. - the two youngest position players in the majors - led a three-run outburst in the eighth inning Wednesday to give the Braves a 4-1 win and even the series. Acuna homered in the eighth to give Atlanta the lead in the series opener a night earlier, but the Cubs responded with two runs in the ninth to steal a win. The Braves have won seven of their last nine contests to maintain a one-game lead over Philadelphia in the National League East. After breaking out at the plate during a five-game winning streak last week, the Cubs have scored three or fewer runs in three of their past four games.
TV: 7:35 p.m. ET, MLB Network, WGN (Chicago), FS Southeast (Atlanta)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs LH Jon Lester (3-1, 2.66 ERA) vs. Braves RH Mike Soroka (1-1, 3.68)
Lester has allowed two or fewer runs in five of his eight starts, but he’s had difficulty getting past the sixth inning. The 34-year-old has walked at least three batters in five of his outings. Lester is 6-2 with a 2.47 ERA in nine meetings with the Braves, including eight quality starts.
Soroka’s last outing was hampered by a two-out error in the fifth inning that led to three unearned runs and ended his night early. The 20-year-old has shown electric stuff, compiling 15 strikeouts and just four walks in 14 2/3 innings across his first three big-league starts. He’s looking for his first win at home after allowing four runs in four innings of a loss to San Francisco in his SunTrust Park debut on May 6.
1. Albies’ 30 extra-base hits are the most by a Braves player through the team’s first 42 games of the season since Hank Aaron had 32 in 1959.
2. Cubs C Willson Contreras is 12-for-24 with nine extra-base hits over his past seven games.
3. Atlanta CF Ender Inciarte is 1-for-16 versus Lester.