ATLANTA (AP) — Long eliminated from the NL playoff race, the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves’ offenses continue to limp along as they enter what appears to be an irrelevant final two months of the season for these clubs.
They’ll be hoping for at least a temporary respite with two rookie starters on the mound in Thursday night’s opener of a four-game series in Atlanta, especially after facing two of the game’s best pitchers.
The Marlins (43-65) are only one game ahead of major league-worst Philadelphia and rank last in baseball with 3.5 runs per game. They’ve scored fewer than four runs nine times while dropping 10 of 12 and had collected seven hits or fewer in seven consecutive contests before a late rally Wednesday. Miami recorded just two hits during Matt Harvey’s seven-inning start, but tallied seven and scored six runs in the ninth inning of an 8-6 loss to the New York Mets.
“These guys showed heart and didn’t quit and battled back to bring the winning run to the plate in the ninth,” manager Dan Jennings said.
The Braves (48-60) failed a tough assignment of their own, striking out nine times during Madison Bumgarner’s 7 1-3 innings in a 6-1 loss to San Francisco.
Atlanta has averaged 2.5 runs while dropping 11 of 14, totaling four runs in back-to-back losses after seemingly encouraging six and nine-run outputs in wins Sunday and Monday.
Jose Urena (1-5, 4.37 ERA) will try to extend the Braves’ woes. He gave up five runs over 4 2-3 innings in his first career start May 26 at Pittsburgh, but has posted a 3.40 ERA in seven outings since. He’s just 1-4 in that span, however, averaging 2.5 runs of support.
The right-hander may have taken a step back Saturday against San Diego, surrendering five runs and eight hits in five innings of a 5-3 loss.
Urena enjoyed a successful major league debut in Atlanta on April 14, allowing one hit in a scoreless inning of relief in the Marlins’ 8-2 win.
Atlanta counters with another first-year hurler in Matt Wisler (5-2, 4.44), who comes off his first loss in six starts after being hit hard by Philadelphia on Saturday. Wisler yielded a season-high seven runs over 4 2-3 innings in a 12-2 road loss.
He allowed two homers for the first time in his career, including a three-run shot by Cameron Rupp.
“I need to pitch better than that,” he said. “The three-run homer just can’t happen.”
Wisler, 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA in three outings at Turner Field, can become the majors’ first pitcher to win the first four home starts of his career since Yu Darvish, who won his first seven home outings for Texas in 2012. He’d join Ron Piche as the only other Brave to accomplish the feat since 1914. Piche won his first four at County Stadium for the then-Milwaukee Braves.
For all of Atlanta’s offensive issues, Nick Markakis and A.J. Pierzynski own 12- and 10-game hitting streaks, respectively.
Dee Gordon’s .358 career average against Atlanta is his highest against any of the 17 teams he’s played at least seven times, and he’s batting .391 while hitting safely in 11 straight matchups.
The Braves lead the season series 7-2 while limiting Miami to 25 runs.
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