Division lead up for grabs in Braves-Marlins series

MLB

First place in the National League East is at stake when the Atlanta Braves host the Miami Marlins for a four-game series that begins Monday.

The Braves (31-22) are trying to win their third straight division title. They open the series against the Marlins (28-25) with a three-game lead over Miami.

Both teams are 6-4 over the past 10 games. Atlanta won two of three against the New York Mets over the weekend. Miami took three of five games againstWashington.

The Braves and Marlins have split six games this season. It’s quite a departure from a year ago, when the Braves went 15-4 against the Marlins.

The Braves will use right-hander Huascar Ynoa (0-0, 5.30 ERA) against Miami left-hander Trevor Rogers (1-1, 6.00) in the series opener.

Ynoa has appeared in eight games and started four. He was outstanding against Baltimore in his most recent start on Sept. 15. The young right-hander pitched four scoreless innings, allowed only two hits and struck out five before leaving with tightness in his lower back. He showed no lingering effects and was cleared to make the start, probably his final one of the season. He has never faced Miami.

Rogers, the team’s No. 1 draft choice in 2017, joined the rotation Aug. 25 and will make his sixth start. It will be his first appearance against Atlanta. In his last start on Sept. 16, Rogers allowed one run on three hits in three innings against the Boston Red Sox and was struck in the lower back by a line drive, but fielded it and retired batter Yairo Munoz at first base. Rogers was not seriously injured, but he did not return for another inning.

“Luckily it hit me right in the spot where my belt was,” Rogers said. “(My back) pretty much tightened right away on me. I went to the trainers and got it taken care of.”

Rogers will face one of the top hitting teams in the National League. The Braves have scored five or more runs in 30 games and won 23 of those. They set an NL record with 29 runs against the Marlins on Sept. 9. They scored seven on Sunday against the Mets.

Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman is making a bid to become the league’s MVP. He is batting .346, second to Washington’s Juan Soto’s .353, and is attempting to become the first Atlanta player to lead the league since Chipper Jones in 2008.

Atlanta center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. appears to have emerged from a recent downswing. He hit an opposite-field home run on Sunday, giving him 13 homers through 135 at-bats. Ten of his past 13 hits have gone for extra bases – two doubles and eight homers.

“Maybe (having Thursday off) was good for him because he just let his mind rest a little bit,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “From the first at-bat (on Friday) he was a lot more aggressive and on the attack. That was good to see.”

Miami third baseman Brian Anderson went 0-for-6 in Sunday’s doubleheader, but had gone 5-for-8 with three homers in the two previous games. In 23 games in September, Anderson is batting .329 and slugging .539.

–Field Level Media

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