Marlins aim to keep offense in gear vs. Braves

MLB

The resurgence of the Garrett Cooper may be just what the Miami Marlins’ sagging offense needs to back up the team’s stellar pitching staff.

Cooper broke out of a four-game hitless streak and finds himself on a roll as the visiting Marlins take on the Atlanta Braves in the second contest of a four-game series on Tuesday.

Cooper had gone 0-for-11 in the previous four games before collecting three hits in Miami’s 5-3 win on Monday. He doubled home two runs to tie the game in the eighth inning and knocked in the go-ahead run with a single in the 10th.

Cooper lifted his average to .240 and now has six RBIs. He looked more like the guy who hit .425 in 16 Grapefruit League games.

The five-run outburst was the second-most scored by Miami this season. The Marlins had totaled only eight runs in their previous five games.

Miami will bid to win its third straight game on Tuesday when it sends right-hander Pablo Lopez (0-1, 1.54 ERA) to the mound to face Atlanta southpaw Max Fried (0-0, 9.00).

Lopez will make his third start of the season. He took the loss in his last outing on Wednesday against St. Louis, allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings. He limited the Cardinals to three hits and two walks with six strikeouts, but surrendered a two-run homer to Yadier Molina on his final pitch of the game.

Lopez has made eight career starts against the Braves, going 2-4 with a 4.43 ERA. He faced the Braves three times in 2020 and went 2-1 with a 6.39 ERA. That included a five-inning scoreless stint in his final regular-season appearance.

“We take great pride to just take the mound every five days, and on that fifth day, when we take the mound, our mentality is to try to give our team a chance, which is always the goal every single outing,” Lopez said. “That’s what we’re trying to do, and we have the weapons to give ourselves good options to put ourselves in good counts, and when you’re in good counts, a lot of good things are going to happen.”

Fried, who went 7-0 last season, is coming off one of his worst starts when he was tagged for five runs on eight hits in two innings on Wednesday against the Washington Nationals. Fried left the game shortly after being hit in the right calf by a sharp bouncer off the bat of Juan Soto.

“Obviously, I wasn’t necessarily as effective as I wanted to be,” Fried said. “But I’m happy the team was able to pick me up and get the win.”

In six career starts against the Marlins, Fried is 0-1 with a 5.13 ERA. He made two starts against Miami last season and he did not record a decision while registering a 2.45 ERA over 7 1/3 innings.

Atlanta’s offense continues to be fueled by right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr., who was 1-for-2 with a triple, three walks and two runs scored in the series opener. Acuna, who has 10 extra-base hits on the season, has 15 hits in his last 26 at-bats (.577) after starting the season 2-for-12.

–Field Level Media

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