|Reds hope bats wake up against Braves|
A pair of quality right-handers take the hill Tuesday when the visiting Atlanta Braves open a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Atlanta will send Kevin Gausman (1-1, 2.75 ERA) against Cincinnati's Sonny Gray (0-3, 2.79) when the Braves pay their only series visit of the season to the Great American Ballpark.
The Braves are fresh from an 11-5 win over Cleveland on Sunday that gave them a 2-1 series victory. The Reds dropped a 4-3 decision at San Diego on Sunday, but took three of four games against the Padres.
Gausman gave the Braves a much-needed seven-inning start in his last outing. He allowed three hits and two runs against the Arizona Diamondbacks, striking out a season-high 10. Opponents are hitting only .141 against him through his first three starts.
"If we keep getting starting pitching like this, everything will work itself out," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said.
Gausman did not face the Reds in 2018. He lost his only start to Cincinnati when he yielded eight runs in 2 2/3 innings while he was a member of the Baltimore pitching staff in 2017.
Gray has yet to win a game, despite holding the opposition to a .174 batting average. The Reds have scored only two runs while Gray has been in the game. Last week against the Dodgers, he retired 15 of the first 16 batters but was tagged with the loss after giving up a three-run homer in the sixth inning.
Gray said he had no lingering issues with the left calf contusion that forced him to leave the game in the fourth inning of his start against the Miami Marlins on April 11. He has also avoided the stiffness in his right elbow that bothered him in spring training.
He has made two previous starts against the Braves, both while a member of the Oakland A's. He was 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA. The most recent start was in 2017, when he lost despite allowing only one run on two hits over eight innings.
Former Oakland teammate Josh Donaldson, who hit two home runs for Atlanta on Sunday, is batting .333 against Gray. No current Atlanta player has homered against Gray.
Gray, obtained in an offseason trade with the New York Yankees, has suffered from lack of support all season. The Cincinnati offense has been scuffling. The Reds rank last in the National League in batting average (.197) while the pitching is tied for the second-best ERA (3.22).
"I take that personally because I'm out there hitting myself," Cincinnati catcher Curt Casali said. "We're not doing (Gray) any favors right now. Kudos to him for not letting it be known. Everybody knows he's pitching his tail off and we're not giving him any support right now."
The Reds may be without left fielder Matt Kemp, who sustained a "bruised chest wall" after he ran into the outfield fence in San Diego while chasing a fly ball.
"Hopefully he's OK," Cincinnati manager David Bell said. "He's a tough guy."
Cincinnati is already without second baseman Scooter Gennett (right groin) and left-hander Alex Wood (lower back).
--Field Level Media