Young Braves right-hander Kyle Wright will try to build on a great start when he opposes veteran Chicago left-hander Drew Smyly in the rubber game of a three-game series on Thursday in Atlanta.
The Braves won the first game of the series 3-1 and the Cubs rebounded to win the second game 6-3 in 10 innings. The Braves are looking for their first series win of the season.
Wright (2-0, 1.06) has allowed only two runs this season thanks to his ability to throw strikes. He’s fanned 26 batters in 17 innings and walked only two. Wright struck out a career-high 11 batters in his last start against the Marlins on Friday.
“This is how I envisioned every season starting,” said Wright, the No. 5 overall pick of the 2017 draft.
Wright had an important breakthrough against the Marlins. He had retired 11 in a row but loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth. Manager Brian Snitker came to the mound, but Wright said he felt strong and was allowed to stay in the game. He retired the next batter on a comebacker.
“That was the answer I was looking for,” Snitker said.
Wright has made one career start against the Cubs, failing to get a decision after allowing three hits in 4 1/3 innings in 2021.
Smyly (1-1, 2.45) was part of Atlanta’s championship team last season and received his World Series ring before Tuesday’s game. He will make his third career appearance, second start, against his former team. He has a 5.79 ERA against the Braves in 4 2/3 innings and received no decision against them in his only start on Sept. 12, 2019.
Smyly suffered his first loss as a Cub in his last outing Friday against Pittsburgh. He allowed four runs on six hits in five innings with one walk and four strikeouts.
He saw his career-long streak of 17 1/3 scoreless innings come to an end in the second inning. He was the fourth Cub since 1893 to not allow a run in their first two starts with Chicago.
The Cubs hope they have turned the tide on the streak that saw them lose six of seven games.
“I get satisfaction out of guys getting better whether it’s a skill set, whether they get stronger, faster, the instincts grow,” Chicago manager David Ross said. “The things we want done around here start to show their face.
“I get satisfaction out of guys rootin’ for one another, the vibe in the clubhouse, the vibe in the dugout, satisfaction from our coaches growing. There’s a lot of satisfaction to be had. At the end of the day, it comes down to wins, and how that contributes to wins is what makes me satisfied.”
The Braves still have May 6 as the target date for the return of right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr., who is on a rehab assignment in Triple-A Gwinnett. Acuna had two hits on Wednesday and made three good defensive plays on balls hit in the corner.
Atlanta also saw a new young reliever make his major league debut Wednesday. William Woods worked one scoreless inning and struck out the first batter he faced.
“It was good,” Snitker said. “I was hoping he’d get the win.”
–Field Level Media