MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Marlins closed an ugly month of May by winning their final four contests, starting a stretch of 12 victories in 17 games.
They look to continue that entering Friday’s series opener at the Atlanta Braves. The Marlins are averaging six runs during their surge and expect to activate first baseman Justin Bour (ankle) from the disabled list for the weekend, adding his 16 homers and .295 average to an already potent lineup.
The improvement since starting May with 18 losses in 24 games has come both at the plate and on the mound for Miami, which is hitting .292 during its hot stretch while posting a 3.62 ERA as a staff.
The Braves return home to open a 10-game homestand after winning two of three at National League East-leader Washington, improving to 14-15 since losing first baseman Freddie Freeman to a fractured wrist. Atlanta hopes left fielder Matt Kemp, who entered Thursday fifth in the NL in batting average (.327), will be available Friday after he left Wednesday’s game with left hamstring tightness. The Braves have won three of the first five matchups against the Marlins this season and are 14-9 versus Miami since the start of 2016.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins RH Dan Straily (4-4, 3.89 ERA) vs. Braves LH Sean Newcomb (0-1, 0.00)
Straily has posted a 3.32 ERA while going 3-1 across his past seven starts, allowing more than three runs just once in that span. It occurred in his last start Saturday at Pittsburgh when the 28-year-old gave up four runs on nine hits in four innings of a no-decision. Straily earned his first victory for Miami against the Braves on April 11, surrendering two earned runs in five innings with two walks and five strikeouts to improve to 1-1 in two career starts against Atlanta.
Newcomb impressed in his major-league debut Saturday against the New York Mets, surrendering just an unearned run on four hits over 6 1/3 innings with two walks (one intentional) and seven strikeouts. The 24-year-old struggled at times in the minor leagues with control, but fired 70 of his 96 pitches for strikes in his debut to earn another turn in the rotation. Newcomb was promoted to replace Bartolo Colon, who is on the disabled list with a strained oblique.
1. Atlanta CF Ender Inciarte and 2B Brandon Phillips combined for seven hits and five RBIs in Wednesday’s 13-2 victory, and both are batting above .300 (Phillips at .306; Inciarte at .304).
2. Miami LF Marcel Ozuna enters the series hitting .333 with 17 homers and 47 RBIs, ranking in the top 10 in the NL in each category while sitting third in the league with 83 hits.
3. Marlins rookie INF J.T. Riddle is batting .295 in his past 28 games, after starting the season 2-for-21.
PREDICTION: Braves 4, Marlins 3