Based on the way Atlanta's Mike Minor has pitched since the last month of the 2012 season, facing the left-hander might not provide the Miami Marlins with much of a chance to end their offensive struggles.
Minor looks to help the visiting Braves to a sixth consecutive victory overall and seventh in a row over the Marlins, who hope to avoid a fifth straight defeat in Wednesday night's series finale.
The Braves have won six straight and 16 of 19 over the Marlins (1-7), who are off to their worst start since the 1998 team went 1-11. Atlanta pitching has held Miami to two runs and six hits in the series."When you are not winning, you are going to get frustrated," said Placido Polanco , who had half of the Marlins' four hits Tuesday. "We're all here to win, and we're not winning right now. We just have to put a couple of hits together and start scoring runs."
Miami, whose 609 runs last season were the second-fewest in the majors, has totaled 16 and is 11 for 63 (.175) with runners in scoring position.
Things likely won't get any easier against Minor, who allowed a homer and struck out seven in 7 1-3 innings of a 4-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Friday to improve to 6-0 with a 1.98 ERA in his last eight starts.
That performance came as a relief for Minor, who posted a 6.26 ERA in six starts during spring training."With spring training not going as well, I still had that confidence," he said. "I guess that was a big part of it (Friday)."I'm not going to say I'm going to have a game like this every time. But I had the confidence coming into the season that I was going to attack the hitters like I did last year and throw more breaking balls."
He gave up six runs in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-4 loss in his first 2012 start versus Miami, but went 1-1 with a 1.72 ERA in the next three against the Marlins.
Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton is 2 for 6 with two homers against Minor, but 4 for 26 (.154) without an RBI in 2013.
The Marlins hope to provide scheduled starter Alex Sanabia some support as he tries to build on a strong season debut in the team's lone victory. Sanabia, who made 14 starts for the Marlins in 2010-11 before spending last season in the minors, allowed six hits over six scoreless innings of a 7-5 win over the New York Mets on Friday."It felt awesome to be back out there on a big league mound. It's been a while," said Sanabia, who earned a spot in the rotation after injuries to Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez .
The right-hander has not faced the Braves since 2010, when he posted a 3.86 ERA while not recording a decision in three starts against them.
Gattis and teammate Justin Upton are a combined 8 for 16 with two homers and four RBIs in the series.
|April 07, 2013||Freddie Freeman||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|April 06, 2013||Andrelton Simmons||Day-to-Day||Sprained left thumb|
|March 27, 2013||Jonny Venters||15-Day DL||Sprained left elbow|
|March 22, 2013||Brandon Beachy||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Brian McCann||15-Day DL||Recovery from right shoulder surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Paul Janish||15-Day DL||Recovery from left shoulder surgery|
|April 04, 2013||Casey Kotchman||Day-to-Day||Strained left hamstring|
|April 04, 2013||Casey Kotchman||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|March 31, 2013||Alfredo Silverio||60-Day DL||Sprained right elbow|
|March 31, 2013||Jose Ceda||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 31, 2013||Logan Morrison||60-Day DL||Recovery from right knee surgery|
|March 27, 2013||Henderson Alvarez||15-Day DL||Mild right shoulder inflammation|
MIAMI (AP) -- The Atlanta Braves ' latest victory was especially splashy: Evan Gattis ' three-run homer landed in the nightclub swimming pool beyond the left-field fence.
Two batters later, Juan Francisco homered off the upper-deck facade in center field. The Braves had too much muscle for the feeble Miami Marlins and completed their second consecutive three-game sweep by winning 8-0 Wednesday night.
The homers came in a six-run fifth inning, when Atlanta broke open a game that had been scoreless.
"That's real men hitting the baseball," Braves outfielder Jordan Schafer said. "That's not little kids."
Mike Minor pitched 5 2-3 innings for the Braves, whose 8-1 record leads the majors. They're off to their best start since 1994, when they began the season 13-1.
Atlanta takes a six-game winning streak into a three-game series at Washington beginning Friday.
"It's good momentum," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Winning is always good. It's a good feeling. It's early, but you want to be the guy in front all the time."
Only three series into the season, Atlanta enjoys a seven-game lead over the Marlins, who have the worst record in the big leagues at 1-8. They've scored just 16 runs, and with five consecutive losses they're off to their worst start since the 1998 team began the season 1-11.
"It's snowballing a little bit," first-year manager Mike Redmond said. "We're pressing. They need to relax."
The Marlins kept the game scoreless until the fifth, when Gattis hit his third homer, a line drive that scattered revelers in the nightclub.
"I thought it was going to decapitate somebody," Gonzalez said.
"I never hit a home run into a pool before," Gattis said. "Notch that one."
The 26-year-old rookie also singled and is batting .391 with a slugging percentage of .826. He has been sharing playing time at catcher with Gerald Laird , who is batting .400, and Gonzalez said he would consider playing Gattis at first base Friday.
Was Gonzalez serious?
"It's hard to take that bat out of the lineup," the manager said. "Hey, I've got two days to think about it. Probably not, but we'll see. I've done crazier stuff. Make sure you tune in."
Gattis hit six home runs in spring training as a non-roster invitee to earn a spot on the team. His surprising success gives the Braves considerable depth at catcher, with Brian McCann expected to return from shoulder surgery by the end of April.
Andrelton Simmons drove in two runs for the Braves, while Schafer - a reserve making his first start this year - had four of their 13 hits.
The home team could be grateful there were few witnesses. For the second night in a row, the Marlins drew the smallest crowd since their park opened a year ago. Announced attendance was 13,810.
Minor (2-0) pitched around a leadoff double in the second and another in the third. Two relievers completed a seven-hitter.
The Braves came into the game with the best ERA in the majors at 2.13, and they've allowed only three runs in the past four games.
Miami went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and is batting .153 in those situations. Four starters ended the night hitting .200 or worse, including slugger Giancarlo Stanton at .167.
Alex Sanabia (1-1) gave up six runs, all in his fifth and final inning.
"It's tough to pitch and be perfect, especially when you're playing teams like the Braves and the Phillies," Redmond said. "We've got to do our part offensively to take some of the pressure off the pitchers. We can't ask those guys to go out and throw a shutout every single night."
Schafer led off the Braves' big inning with a bunt single, stole second and scored on a single by Simmons. Following a walk, Gattis hit a two-out homer.
After another walk, Francisco hit his first homer.
"One through eight, we've got guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark," Minor said. "A lot of times it leads to a big inning. We're not really worried about it throughout the game if we have zeros on the board, because at any time, they can put one out of the ballpark."
NOTES: Slumping Braves CF B.J. Upton (.103) was given the night off. ... Braves RF Jason Heyward went 0 for 4, dropping his average to .071. ... Marlins rookie Chris Valaika , who started at 1B, said he never played the position before, not even in Little League. He mishandled his first chance for an error.