Braves hope to rebound vs. Marlins

Field Level Media

June 11, 2021 at 4:17 am.

It’s been a painful 48 hours for the Atlanta Braves.

Atlanta, which has lost two straight games in walk-off fashion on Wednesday and Thursday, will look to turn things around when they visit the Miami Marlins on Friday night to start a three-contest series.

The reigning three-time champions of the National League East, the Braves have yet to get over .500 this year.

“It’s a long season,” said Braves star right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. “We just have to keep grinding.”

Will Smith, who leads Atlanta with 11 saves, took the loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night. Smith is now 1-5 with a 4.74 ERA.

Atlanta’s Chris Martin, who entered Thursday with a 1.54 ERA, took the loss in the second walk-off defeat to the Phillies. His ERA shot up to 3.09 after allowing two earned runs and getting no outs on Thursday.

The Braves’ pitching has been an issue overall this year, as entering Thursday they ranked tied for 19th in the majors in ERA (4.36).

On Friday, the Braves will start Charlie Morton (5-2, 4.21 ERA) against Miami’s Sandy Alcantara (3-5, 3.30 ERA) in a battle of right-handers.

Morton will be looking for his fourth straight win. In his past four starts, he has posted a 2.74 ERA.

The key for Morton is to avoid the big inning. In six of his 12 starts this season, he has suffered through an inning during which the opposition has scored at least three runs in that frame.

Historically, Morton has a winning record against the Marlins — 7-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 14 starts. He has been even better in Miami, going 3-1 with a 3.47 ERA in four starts at Marlins Park.

Alcantara, who is 0-0 with a 2.88 ERA in four career starts against the Braves, served the role of stopper last Sunday in a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He stopped Miami’s eight-game losing streak, which stands as the Marlins’ worst skid in six years.

Alcantara went eight innings for the second time in three starts, allowing one unearned run.

With two starting infielders out — third baseman Brian Anderson and shortstop Miguel Rojas — Alcantara blamed injuries for this difficult stretch during which the Marlins have lost 10 of their past 13 games.

“There’s been a lot of people getting hurt, and you can’t do anything about it,” Alcantara said of the injured list that also includes starting pitchers Sixto Sanchez and Elieser Hernandez. “We just have to keep positive.”

The Marlins have gotten back on track by winning two of their past three games, but that came against the visiting Colorado Rockies, who have the worst road record in the majors at 5-24.

Miami beat the Rockies 11-4 on Thursday on the strength of homers by Adam Duvall, Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Starling Marte during a six-run second inning.

Marte went 4-for-5 and is batting .360 this year, including a pair of four-hit games. Injuries, though, have limited him to 27 games.

Jesus Aguilar leads the Marlins with 12 homers and 47 RBIs. Duvall is second in both categories — 11 homers and 39 RBIs.

Chisholm has been impressive in 39 games as a rookie this year, blasting eight homers and stealing nine bases.

Atlanta, meanwhile, has four hitters with double-figure homers: Acuna (18), Freddie Freeman (14), Austin Riley (11) and Dansby Swanson (10). Acuna (38) and Ozzie Albies (37) are Nos. 1-2 on the Braves in RBIs.