The Atlanta Braves will have a chance to clinch their second straight National League East championship Friday night when they host the San Francisco Giants in the opener of three-game series at SunTrust Park.
Atlanta (94-60) reduced its magic number to one after beating the Philadelphia Phillies 5-4 on Thursday. One Atlanta win or one Washington loss will ensure a division title for the Braves.
San Francisco (74-79) had its three-game winning streak broken by the Boston Red Sox 5-4 on Thursday. The Giants are just 19-26 after a blistering 19-6 July convinced the team brass to hold out hopes for a wild-card berth.
The Braves will send right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (7-5, 4.80 ERA) to the mound for the opener against San Francisco rookie Tyler Beede (5-9, 5.02).
The teams have not met since May 20-23, when the Braves won three games in the four-game series in San Francisco.
Foltynewicz has pitched well since spending a month at Triple-A Gwinnett. In the eight games since his return, the 2017 All-Star is 5-0 with a 2.76 ERA. In his most recent start on Sept. 14 against the Washington Nationals, Foltynewicz gave up one run in six innings with one walk and five strikeouts of a 10-1 win.
"I think I'm back to where I was last year," Foltynewicz said. "I got sent down to figure a lot of things out. I went there because I know how good this team is. I know I can help this team win."
Foltynewicz started the first game of the playoffs last season against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but only recently has been considered a legitimate contender for one of the postseason starts in the rotation. Catcher Brian McCann likes what he's seen from Foltynewicz since his return.
"He's been really, really good," McCann said. "He's been working both sides and getting that two-seamer going and the four-seamer. He's getting early-count outs and putting away guys when he gets two strikes on them."
Foltynewicz has not faced the Giants this season. In seven career starts, he is 3-3 with a 4.47 ERA against San Francisco.
Beede will be making his 21st start of the season. He snapped his personal six-game losing streak against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sept. 7 and built on that success when he beat the Miami Marlins on Sept. 14. Beede has not allowed a run in 11 1/3 innings combined over his last two starts.
"He went out there and did it again," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "Good stuff. Good fastball; it had good life to it. He had a good breaking ball going, changeup. He got us deep in the game and could have stayed out there a little longer."
Beede will be making his first appearance against Atlanta.
Atlanta's Ronald Acuna Jr. hit his 40th homer on Thursday. Acuna became the third player in history to hit 40 homers at age 21 or younger, joining Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews (47 in 1953) and Mel Ott (42 in 1929).
"It's crazy the year the kid's had," manager Brian Snitker said. "He's not a finished project. He's going to get better. If he stays grounded and headed in the right direction, the sky is the limit."
Acuna needs three stolen bases to become the fifth player in baseball history to have 40 homers and 40 steals in the same season.
--Field Level Media
Braves poised to clinch NL East against Giants
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