MIAMI (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – For parts of 2016 it appeared that Marcell Ozuna was becoming the major league hitter that many expected but were waiting to see, but his red-hot bat became frozen during the final months of the season.
Ozuna battled inconsistency through his first four seasons, but he enters the Miami Marlins’ series finale at home Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves after the biggest offensive game of his career.
The left fielder belted two homers and drove home a career-high six runs as the Marlins took the series opener 8-4 for their fourth win in five games.
Fellow Miami outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich receive more attention, but Ozuna is off to a sizzling start through seven games while batting .423 with three homers and 12 RBIs.
Atlanta limps into the finale of the two-game set having lost five in a row and six times in seven games to start the season.
The Braves have allowed five runs or more in all six losses and have stranded 36 runners in their past four games.
Atlanta placed left fielder Matt Kemp on the 10-day disabled list with right hamstring tightness that has sidelined the Braves’ leading hitter since Saturday.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN South (Atlanta), FSN Florida (Miami)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves LH Jaime Garcia (0-1, 6.00 ERA) vs. Marlins RH Tom Koehler (0-0, 1.80)
Garcia lost to the Mets in his Atlanta debut on Thursday, surrendering four runs on six hits with two walks and no strikeouts in six innings.
The 30-year-old from Mexico, who is the only lefty in the Braves’ starting rotation, threw 86 pitches (56 strikes) in his season opener.
Garcia struggled against Miami while pitching with St. Louis in 2016, giving up 10 runs in 9 2/3 innings in two starts (going 0-1).
Koehler pitched well in his season debut Thursday against Washington, getting a no-decision after holding the Nationals to one run on four hits with four strikeouts in five innings.
He threw 42 of his 71 pitches for strikes, and two of the three walks he issued were intentional.
The 30-year-old Koehler went 1-1 in two starts against the Braves in 2016, posting a 5.91 ERA.
- Yelich finished 3-for-4 on Tuesday and is hitting .320 in 64 career games against the Braves.
- Atlanta 2B Brandon Phillips stole two bases Tuesday, surpassing the 200 mark for his career.
- The Braves went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position in the series opener, and are hitting .183 in those situations.
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