Giants, Braves hope for offensive fireworks, series win

A pair of pitchers looking to build off strong starts will aim to give their teams an Independence Day victory when the San Francisco Giants finish a three-game road set against the Atlanta Braves.

Atlanta’s Charlie Morton (5-4, 3.89 ERA) will face Logan Webb (6-6, 3.12) in Thursday night’s series finale, following a split of the first two meetings.

Morton threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings Friday in his most recent outing, helping Atlanta top the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1. With the victory, the 40-year old right-hander has defeated every major league club. In 16 career starts against San Francisco, Morton is 4-6 with a 2.77 ERA.

He hasn’t faced the Giants since Sept. 14, 2022, taking a 4-1 loss.

For San Francisco, Webb, a right-hander, earned a no-decision after seven innings of two-run ball against the rival Los Angeles Dodgers last Friday. Last year’s NL Cy Young Award runner-up, Webb has completed at least six innings in 10 consecutive outings dating to May 10.

Thursday will mark Webb’s seventh career start against Atlanta, and he has a 2-0 record and 3.05 ERA.

In the second game of the series on Wednesday, Atlanta earned a 3-1 win thanks to six quality innings from starter Chris Sale. With 11 wins, Sale is tied atop the major league leaderboard with Seth Lugo of the Kansas City Royals.

Offensively, Austin Riley tallied a pair of hits and two RBIs, and the Atlanta third baseman has seen his batting average increase from .220 to .254 since June 13.

Riley hits in the heart of an Atlanta lineup that’s still trying to live up to last year’s historic campaign. After matching the major league record with 307 home runs in 2023, the Braves sit 14th in the majors with 91 homers this year. Unexpectedly, the team has mustered just 360 runs, ranking 18th.

“We need those guys in the middle of the order to get hot,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “We’ve been struggling all year to get some consistency, but I know when they get it going like they have in the past, it’s going to be fun to watch. It’s been harder to kick-start this year, but they’re going to still work at it. I still think our best baseball is ahead of us.”

Alongside Riley, designated hitter Marcell Ozuna is hitting .297 with 21 home runs and 67 RBIs, while first baseman Matt Olson sits at .240 with 12 homers and 41 driven in.

A victory Thursday for the Giants would clinch a third straight series win for the club, which took three of four games from the Chicago Cubs and two of three from the Dodgers on its most recent homestand.

The Braves evened the series Wednesday as they tagged starter Jordan Hicks for three runs on eight hits in five innings. Hicks hasn’t won a game since May 19, but he has the backing of manager Bob Melvin.

“When you give up three runs and only get four hits and a run, it doesn’t look great, but it’s not like he pitched poorly,” Giants manager Bob Melvin said. “It came down to not solving Sale.”

–Field Level Media