As the Atlanta Braves attempt to sweep a road set from the Houston Astros, they hope an injury to one of their key contributors isn't that serious.
Freddie Freeman hopes to be in the lineup when the Braves look to hand the Astros a fifth consecutive defeat Thursday night.Justin Upton had three RBIs and homered for the second straight game while Alex Wood pitched three-hit ball over seven innings in Atlanta's 4-0 win at Houston (33-46) on Wednesday. The Braves (40-37) have won four of six on their 11-game trip, but Freeman's status for the rest of the trek is unknown.Among the team's top hitters at .286 with 12 homers and 37 RBIs, the first baseman left in the eighth after being hit by a pitch around his right elbow. A first-time All-Star in 2013, Freeman has started all 77 games this season and is poised to do so in the finale."The doctors have already seen me and everything is good," Freeman told MLB's official website. "Hopefully, it's not too swollen and too sore (Thursday) to go. I'm going to try everything I can to play."Catcher Evan Gattis could pick up the slack if Freeman is to miss any time. After going 0 for 7 in two games that followed a 20-game hitting streak during which he batted .386, Gattis had two doubles Wednesday.Upton is batting .190 in his last 22 games, but has five RBIs in his past three and two of his last three hits left the park."Hopefully this is the beginning of one of those big runs that he can give us," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.With or without Freeman, the Braves likely face a serious challenge against Houston's Jarred Cosart (7-5, 3.78 ERA).Looking for a fourth straight winning start, the right-hander has a 2.57 ERA over his last three and allowed six hits in eight scoreless innings to outpitch David Price during a 3-1 victory at Tampa Bay on Friday."That's where we're all trying to get, just trying to go out there and compete pitch for pitch," Cosart said.Since that win, the Astros have been outscored 20-4 and been shut out twice during their second four-game slide in the last nine. Rookie George Springer had one of Houston's three hits Wednesday, but is 6 for 40 (.150) with 19 strikeouts in his last 11 games.Teammate Dexter Fowler is 3 for 22 with eight strikeouts in the last six games, but 3 for 10 against Atlanta's Mike Minor (2-4, 4.20).The left-hander is 0-2 with a 4.46 ERA in six starts since winning consecutive outings May 13 and 19, but allowed two runs and struck out 11 over seven innings of a 6-4, 13-inning loss at Washington on Friday. Minor, who gave up seven hits after yielding 11 in each of the previous two outings, believes he has something to build on."I think that was one of my best (starts) feeling-wise in terms of mechanics," Minor said.He's posted a 3.75 ERA without a decision in two starts versus Houston, with the last coming in 2011.Atlanta's Ryan Doumit is the only Brave to face to Cosart, going 0 for 3.
After a rough April, the 1st 14 games of his career, George Springer seems to have figured it out.
He's slugging .554 in May and June combined, and has swatted 15 home runs, the 4th most in the bigs over that span.