(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)
Miami Marlins: still trying to get used to the alliteration, but I actually like it better. Those of us who grew up in the home city of the Carolina Panthers, who also happen to be Duke graduates, think teams should be named for their home city. So I’m down with it. As for the new uniforms and logo? Those will have to grow on me.
But Ozzie Guillen and crew are in town for the blink of an eye, and a second straight two-game series to wrap
up this homestand. Believe it or not, as well as things are going this year for the Braves, they have a little work to do in the NL East. Yes, they just moved back ahead of the Nationals by one-half game last night into first place in the division, but overall the Braves are 3-6 in NL East play this season:
0-3 in season-opener in New York, April 5-8
2-1 at home against the Mets, April 16-18
1-2 at home against the Phillies, May 1-3
The Marlins come in the hottest team in baseball for the month of May at 11-3. Their 2.86 ERA for the month is second only to the Astros (yep) at 2.83. Josh Johnson just won his first start last night against the Pirates, and good for the Braves they don’t have to face him as he’s starting to put things together after a slow start.
They’ll face left-hander Mark Buehrle tonight, the Marlins’ free agent acquisition for the rotation, to go along with Jose Reyes for the infield and Heath Bell for the bullpen. The Braves faced Buehrle twice with the White Sox in interleague play and he beat them twice, giving up three runs in eight innings on June 13, 2004 and allowing two earned runs in six innings on June 23, 2010. Both of those games were in Chicago.
But as David Ross pointed out to me when I was asking him about Buehrle and the Marlins, the Braves have a new ace in the hole. Hitting coach Greg Walker spent nine seasons with the White Sox, watching Buehrle in action. So he’ll have a good idea of how Braves hitters should approach him.
And the other good news? I think between the series preview yesterday and the blog today I might have finally learned to spell B-u-e-h-r-l-e. The Southerner in me wants to put the “r” before the “h.”
Former Brave Omar Infante is coming in hot. He had a career-high four hits last night against the Pirates and is leading the Marlins with a .325 batting average and 38 hits. He was a thorn in the Braves side last September, when he hit .423 (11-for-26) in two three-game series against them, with a double, a triple, a home run and three RBIs. I think we all gained a sense of respect for Infante as a player in his time spent in Atlanta. I know I did.
Freddie Freeman was hopeful yesterday that he could return to the lineup tonight after giving his left eye a day to rest without contacts. We’ll update you on that later this afternoon, but I’d expect him to be back in there.
Fredi Gonzalez has been talking about giving Michael Bourn a day off and even threw out yesterday it might be today, against Buehrle. Another option was that it would be over the weekend in Tampa, when he can use him as a DH.
My word, it would be hard to sit the guy right now. He’s raking. Bourn has got three three-hit games in the past five days. He’s hit safely in five straight and 17 of his past 18. In that stretch, Bourn is hitting .365 (31-for-85) in 18 games with a .413 on-base percentage. He has three doubles in that time, one triple one home run, six RBIs and four stolen bases. But he also has yet to have a day off this season and the Braves are in the midst of playing 33 games in 34 days.
I’d imagine Matt Diaz will be in there today a) because it’s a lefty and b) because of what he does against the Marlins. Diaz has hit .374 (70-for-187) in 66 games for his career against the Marlins, including 12 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs and 28 RBIs. So you could play Diaz in right and move Jason Heyward over to center if you’re going to give Bourn the day off.
1. Tyler Pastornicky SS
2. Martin Prado LF
3. Freddie Freeman 1B
4. Dan Uggla 2B
5. Brian McCann C
6. Matt Diaz RF
7. Jason Heyward CF
8. Juan Francisco 3B
9. Mike Minor P
Friday night, watching Mike Minor pitch in St. Louis, it was a pretty strange sight – he started out so well and had seven strikeouts, but he also gave up three home runs and failed to make it through the fifth inning. He gave up three runs with two outs in the fifth. It seemed like every mistake he made right down the middle was hit for a home run – Matt Carpenter’s solo shot the perfect example.
So now, after going 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in a three-start stretch, Minor is 0-1 with an 11.81 ERA in his past three starts.
If there’s a silver lining it’s that the Braves won his past two starts almost in spite of him: 9-7 in 12 innings on Friday night in St. Louis and 13-9 on May 5 in Colorado. Minor could use a good outing though to stop the bleeding.
DOB was in touch with Peter Moylan this morning and found out that he’s scheduled to throw off a mound on Tuesday for the first time since his offseason shoulder surgery. Moylan said his shoulder felt “amazing.” There’s no specific target date for his return, but Moylan expects to be throwing in minor league rehabilitation games sometime around the All-Star break.
Your ERA leaders
Our congrats to Brandon Beachy, who is leading the majors with a 1.60 ERA after what the Braves did to Johnny Cueto last night (five earned runs in four innings to raise his ERA to 1.89). That’s a nice bit of positive reinforcement for the good work Beachy has done this season.
And of course, leading the American League in ERA now is just who you’d expect, right? That would be Cleveland Indian Derek Lowe, who is 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA after the complete-game shutout he pitched against the Twins yesterday. It couldn’t happen to a better guy, and I’m glad to see he’s sorting things out up there in Cleveland. Course I’m not paying $10 million of his salary either, but Lowe is one of those upbeat, heart-on-his-sleeve guys that you wish well. Good for him.
OK, time to post this thing and get down to the yard.