National League division leaders, one with more at stake than the other, go head-to-head Friday night when the Atlanta Braves and host San Francisco Giants open a three-game series.
Atlanta (76-68) will kick off the series with a three-game lead in the NL East over second-place Philadelphia (74-72), an advantage that shrunk by a half-game Thursday night as the Braves were flying across the country while the Phillies were beating the Chicago Cubs.
The Braves were rained out at home against the Colorado Rockies earlier in the afternoon, which benefitted the East leaders in that it gave each of their pitchers an extra day of rest entering the showdown series.
Atlanta manager Brian Snitker had trouble seeing any positives with a rainout that might cause his team to play a makeup game one day after the regular season ends.
Before that happens, the Braves will have to endure a 10-game Western swing that continues next week with four at Arizona and three at San Diego.
"That's up to Major League Baseball," he said about the makeup date, before reminding everyone his team's focus is on the upcoming trip, which he labeled the club's toughest of the season. "This (trip) probably trumps them all as far as looking at what we're getting ready to get into."
Right-hander Ian Anderson (7-5, 3.61 ERA), originally scheduled to pitch the series finale against the Rockies, was pushed back to start Friday's game against the Giants.
San Francisco (95-52) is expected to counter with righty Logan Webb (10-3, 2.80 ERA) as it puts sole possession of first place in the NL West at stake.
The Giants took a second straight loss to the San Diego Padres on Thursday, leaving San Francisco with just a one-game advantage over the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers (94-53).
The Dodgers begin a three-game series at Cincinnati on Friday.
Kris Bryant, who contributed a double and a single in San Francisco's 7-4 loss Thursday, sounded afterward as if he and his mates could use a day off like the Braves got.
"It's crazy how you play so many games throughout the year, but it always seems to come down to the last couple of weeks," he said. "You're kinda fatigued as a team mentally and physically, and that's when you need to be at your best."
The Braves and Giants met for three games in Atlanta last month, with the Braves using a seventh-inning, three-run homer from Jorge Soler to pull out a 6-5 thriller in the opener before each team won a blowout. Webb tossed seven shutout innings in a 5-0 triumph, before Anderson was nearly as effective in a 9-0 victory.
Making his first career appearance against the Giants, Anderson allowed just four hits in 5 2/3 innings during the series finale on Aug. 29. He has since served up a total of six runs in eight innings in starts against the Rockies and Miami Marlins, earning a no-decision and a win.
Webb also was sharp in his only other career start against the Braves, a 4-1 win at Atlanta on Sept. 22, 2019. He limited the hosts to one run and two hits in six innings.
Webb hasn't lost since May 5 at Colorado, a run of 16 starts in which the Giants have gone 15-1. Webb is 9-0 in those games with a 1.93 ERA.
--Field Level Media