(Photo credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
If the Atlanta Braves are determined to make a good impression prior to the postseason, they might be up to something this weekend in Washington.
The Braves won the opener of the four-game series and will look to post back-to-back victories for the first time in over a week when they take on thehost Nationals on Friday night.
"I play hard no matter what," Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies said. "Keep playing hard since the first day I played baseball."
The National League East champion Braves (98-55) won 10-3 on Thursday to open their final road series of the regular season. The 100-win mark is in sight and clinching home-field advantage in the playoffs is also within reach.
"Really proud. (It) means we're putting great work in and it's getting great results," said Albies, who drove in four runs on Thursday night, pushing his RBI total to 103 this season. "It's obviously a great milestone to get. When you win, that makes it better."
Albies is one of the catalysts for the Braves.
"He had some really good at-bats," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "What he brings is so vital to the whole lifeline of the whole club."
The Nationals (68-86) will be paying attention to how the Braves operate during the rest of the series.
"We want to be in the position they're in next year," said right-hander Jake Irvin, the losing pitcher on Thursday night. "Trying to learn a lot from that."
Right-hander Charlie Morton (14-12, 3.66 ERA) will be Atlanta's starter on Friday night as he aims for his first victory this month. He won in his final four starts of August before going 0-2 so far in September.
He hasn't completed five innings in two of his last three starts. Morton had a seven-game stretch without yielding a home run end Sunday at Miami.
This will be the fifth consecutive start on the road for Morton, who holds a 6-6 record and a 4.75 ERA in 15 career starts versus the Nationals. He has yet to face Washington this year, but he went 2-0 in matchups against it last year.
The Nationals will go with left-hander Patrick Corbin (10-13, 5.00), who had a strong outing on Sunday at Milwaukee by holding the Brewers to one run in six innings. However, Corbin only has one home victory to show for the past two-plus months.
Corbin was the losing pitcher on March 30 in his only outing this season against Atlanta. He's 6-11 with a 4.32 ERA in 22 all-time appearances (20 starts) against the Braves. Only his 5-12 record against the Los Angeles Dodgers reflects more losses against one team.
The Nationals are hoping that 4 2/3 innings of relief work from Cory Abbott in the series opener pays off as others in the bullpen were rested for later in the series.
"Cory did a great job for us. He saved our bullpen," Washington manager Dave Martinez said. "That's a tough ask for him and he did well. I know he gave up some runs, but he did well. He gave us the innings we needed. We'll have (relievers) for (Friday) in case something goes wrong."
--Field Level Media