MIAMI (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – Don’t be fooled by their subpar record because the Atlanta Braves have been one of the best teams in baseball lately.
Becoming a father has not slowed down Freddie Freeman’s assault on National League pitching, something the first baseman hopes to continue when his Braves open a four-game set Thursday at the Miami Marlins.
Freeman, whose first child was born Sept. 15, brings a career-best 25-game hitting streak into the series opener as Atlanta – which has won five in a row – hopes to continue its better play as the 2016 season draws to a close.
Freeman is hitting .367 during his streak for Atlanta, which put a damper on the Mets’ postseason hopes by sweeping a three-game series in New York to improve to 11-8 in September and 24-23 since the start of August.
Miami is on the edge of the NL wild-card race, falling to 29-35 in the second half with Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to Washington that snapped a three-game winning streak.
Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who did not play in the series finale against the Nationals, homered in his previous two games. Derek Dietrich hit a two-run pinch-hit homer Wednesday for the Marlins to extend his hitting streak to eight games.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Atlanta), FSN Florida (Miami)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves RH Josh Collmenter (2-0, 4.61 ERA) vs. Marlins RH Jose Urena (4-7, 5.59)
Purchased from the Chicago Cubs after not making a major-league appearance for the franchise, Collmenter gave the Braves a boost by beating NL East-leading Washington in his first appearance on Saturday.
The 30-year-old struck out eight in five innings while allowing two runs on four hits to beat the Nationals, a pair of solo homers the only blemish on his performance.
Collmenter, who threw 60 of his 94 pitches for strikes in his Atlanta debut, posted a 4.84 ERA in 15 relief appearances with Arizona before the Diamondbacks released him Aug. 7.
Urena endured one of his worst starts of the season Saturday at Philadelphia, allowing seven runs on seven hits in just two innings.
The 25-year-old had surrendered only eight earned runs in his previous five starts, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sept. 11 with 8 2/3 innings of four-hit, shutout pitching. Urena made 16 relief appearances before the All-Star break, taking a loss against the Braves on May 28 when he allowed three runs on three hits in one inning.
- Atlanta has won nine of 15 games with Miami this season.
- Miami is just 17-20 against last-place teams this season.
- Braves CF Ender Inciarte is 14 hits shy of matching the Atlanta-era record for most hits in the second half of the season.
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