|Braves, Phillies begin weekend series in Philly|
The Atlanta Braves will see what Ronald Acuna Jr. can do as an encore.
Acuna, the highly touted 20-year-old, crushed his first major league home run on Thursday in his second game. His third big league game should come Friday night as the Braves start a weekend series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Ranked as the top prospect by Baseball America, Acuna was called up earlier in the week. He had one hit in his debut Wednesday and followed with a three-hit, two-RBI performance against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday. Acuna smashed a homer to the second deck of Great American Ball Park and then had the go-ahead double in the Braves' 14th win of the season.
"It's always good to get that first homer," Braves manager Brian Snitker told MLB.com. "He clocked that ball. But he just shows you what he brings. That set of legs is going to be really valuable for us, the way he can run around and how athletic he is. He definitely makes our club better."
Friday's series opener will feature a familiar pitching matchup. Aaron Nola of the Phillies will face Julio Teheran of the Braves for the third time in the season's first month.
Nola (2-1, 2.30 ERA) has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his five starts so far in 2018. The right-hander struck out a season-best nine batters and did not issue a walk during a six-inning outing in his last start against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In Nola's two games against the Braves this season -- including a start that ended after 68 pitches on opening day -- he has given up just three runs, seven hits and two walks in 11 1/3 innings. The Phillies, however, have come up short in both games.
"Noles did a good job keeping us in that game," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told reporters after Nola's six-inning, two-run showing against the Braves on April 16. "He battled really hard and started to find his curveball later in the outing, dropping his curveball in for a strike a little bit later in the outing. Definitely kept us in the game. Definitely gave us a chance to win that game."
Nola is 5-2 with a 2.04 ERA in nine career starts against the Braves. Teheran, meanwhile, is 9-6 with a 3.43 lifetime ERA versus the Phillies, a team he has made 20 starts against in his eight-year career.
Teheran (1-1, 4.00 ERA) has no-decisions in both of his games against Philadelphia this season. But the 27-year-old was much sharper in his start against the Phillies on April 16 than he was on opening day.
Teheran, who gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings in his 2018 debut, held the Phillies to one run and five hits and had nine strikeouts in six innings on April 16. He followed that with another strong showing in his last start.
Teheran had his best start of the season against the New York Mets last Saturday. The right-hander tossed seven scoreless innings and held New York to four hits.
The Braves won the first two series of 2018 against the Phillies, both at SunTrust Park, and are 4-2 against the divisional opponents this season. The Phillies lost their first home series of the season to the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this week, but they still own a 10-3 record at Citizens Bank Park.