A capsule look at the best-of-five playoff series between the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves in Houston beginning Tuesday:
Season Series: Braves won 6-4.
Playoff Entry: second place, NL East.
Playoff Seed: No. 6.
Manager: Don Mattingly (fifth season).
Projected Rotation: RHP Sandy Alcantara (3-2, 3.00 ERA), RHP Pablo Lopez (6-4, 3.61, 59 Ks), RHP Sixto Sanchez (3-2, 3.46), LHP Trevor Rogers (1-2, 6.11, 39 Ks in 28 IP).
Top Hitters: 1B Jesus Aguilar (.277, 8 HRs, 34 RBIs), SS Miguel Rojas (.304, 4, 20, .888 OPS).
Top Relievers: RHP Brandon Kintzler (2-3, 2.22 ERA, 12 saves), RHP Brad Boxberger (1-0, 3.00).
Series Summary: The Marlins are in the playoffs for the first time since 2003, when they rallied past the Cubs in an NL Championship Series famous for the Steve Bartman episode at Wrigley Field and then beat the New York Yankees in the World Series. ... The Marlins topped the Cubs in the postseason again this year, sweeping two first-round games at Wrigley Field behind Alcantara and the 22-year-old Sanchez, who combined to allow one run over 11 2/3 innings in their two starts. Miami also got fine bullpen work and outscored the Cubs 7-1, giving up just nine hits. ... The Braves went 29-9 against the Marlins from 2018-19. Coincidentally, on Sept. 9 the Braves beat Miami by that same margin, 29-9, setting a National League record for runs in a game since 1900. ... After losing 105 games last year, Miami finished with a winning record for the first time since 2009. The club overcame a coronavirus outbreak at the start of the season that sidelined more than half the team, and navigated a closing stretch that included 28 games in 24 days. The acquisition of CF Starling Marte at the trade deadline and the emergence of rookie Sanchez in the rotation helped push them over the finish line. Marte, however, broke a bone in his left hand when he was hit by a pitch in the ninth inning of Game 1 against the Cubs. He sat out Game 2 and it was unclear if he could be available against the Braves. ... Lopez had six wins during the regular season, double anyone else on the staff, but hasn’t pitched since Sept. 24. ... This is a franchise that tends to be an also-ran in the summer but dominant in October, with a 7-0 record in postseason series. That includes World Series titles in 1997 and 2003.
Playoff Entry: NL East champions.
Playoff Seed: No. 2.
Manager: Brian Snitker (fifth season).
Projected Rotation: LHP Max Fried (7-0, 2.25 ERA, 50 Ks), RHP Ian Anderson (3-2, 1.95, 6 games), RHP Kyle Wright (2-4, 5.21, 30 Ks), RHP Josh Tomlin (2-2, 4.76).
Top Hitters: 1B Freddie Freeman (.341, 13 HRs, 53 RBIs, 51 runs, 1.102 OPS), DH Marcell Ozuna (.338, 18, 56, 77 hits, 1.067 OPS), OF Ronald Acuña Jr. (.250, 14, 29).
Top Relievers: RHP Mark Melancon (2-1, 2.78 ERA, 11 saves), LHP Will Smith (2-2, 4.50), RHP Chris Martin (1-1, 1.00, 1 save), RHP Bryse Wilson (1-0, 4.02, 1 save).
Series Summary: Winners of three straight NL East titles, the Braves finally won a playoff series for the first time since 2001 when they beat Cincinnati in the first round. They held the Reds scoreless over 22 innings in a two-game sweep at home. Atlanta had dropped 10 straight postseason rounds, including a loss to St. Louis in the 2019 Division Series. ... Led by a power-packed lineup, the Braves won the division despite a wave of injuries and demotions from their rotation, including the loss of top starter Mike Soroka for the season and most recently shutting down veteran Cole Hamels after only one start. Fried tweaked his ankle in his last regular-season start but threw seven sharp innings in Game 1 against the Reds. The 22-year-old Anderson had made only six career appearances before striking out nine over six innings of two-hit ball to win Game 2. Still, the young and thin rotation could force the Braves to rely on a strong bullpen that tossed nine shutout innings against Cincinnati. ... If necessary, Snitker could go with a bullpen game against the Marlins, perhaps started by swing man Tomlin. Acuña was scratched from the final regular-season game with left wrist irritation, a concern since he spent time on the injured list with the same problem last month. But he batted .364 (4 for 11) with two doubles against the Reds. ... There have been hard feelings between these teams in the past, particularly in 2018 after Acuña was hit by pitch from Marlins right-hander José Ureña, who is sidelined with a broken forearm.
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