Freddie Freeman fractured his left wrist in May and has acknowledged strength in the injured area has not returned fully, but the Atlanta Braves first baseman is hot at the plate entering Saturday’s home contest with the Miami Marlins. Freeman slugged his 25th homer of the season in Friday’s 7-1 defeat, and is batting .407 in his past seven games with seven runs scored, seven RBIs and six extra-base hits.
Despite Freeman’s good work of late the Braves continue to struggle in the second half of the season, falling to 17-33 since July 17. Miami snapped a five-game losing streak Friday and won for just the second time in its past 12 contests. Second baseman Dee Gordon extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a seventh-inning single, is batting .416 during that streak and stole his 50th base of the season in the ninth. The Marlins also got a double and a run scored from first baseman Justin Bour – who is hitting .319 in his career against the Braves – in his return from the disabled list.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Miami), FSN South (Atlanta)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins LH Adam Conley (6-7, 5.09 ERA) vs. Braves LH Max Fried (1-0, 3.86)
Conley has done his best work away from home, posting a 2.89 ERA with a 4-3 record in eight starts. He did struggle in Atlanta in his only appearance against the Braves this season, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits in taking the loss Aug. 4. The 27-year-old has made 10 starts since returning from the minor leagues in July, going 4-4 with a 3.92 ERA in that stretch.
Fried earned his first major-league victory in his first big-league start Sunday, holding the Cubs to one run on four hits in five innings with three walks and four strikeouts. The 23-year-old pitched out of the bullpen in August, giving up four runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings in four appearances. Fried struggled to a 2-11 record at Double-A Mississippi, but posted a 2.19 ERA across his final four starts.
1. Miami RF Giancarlo Stanton – baseball’s leading home-run hitter with 53 but mired in a 3-for-33 slump – did not start Friday but was intentionally walked as a pinch hitter.
2. Atlanta C Tyler Flowers (left wrist bruise) returned from the disabled list and started Friday, while RF Nick Markakis remains sidelined with a sore right wrist and likely will miss the rest of the series.
3. Marlins CF Christian Yelich collected two hits Friday and is batting .318 lifetime against Atlanta.
PREDICTION: Braves 4, Marlins 2