A week after leaving his last start early because of injury, Atlanta ace John Smoltz says he’s ready to go.
Smoltz will get the ball in the second game of a day-night doubleheader Tuesday when the Braves continue their four-game series with the Florida Marlins at Turner Field.
The doubleheader was made necessary by an April 14 rainout.
Smoltz (7-2, 2.82 ERA) left his start last Tuesday after experiencing discomfort in his right shoulder warming up for the fourth inning and aggravating the right pinkie he’d dislocated two weeks earlier. The 40-year-old right hander, who gave up three runs in 3 1-3 innings but did not factor in the decision, was originally scheduled to start Sunday against the Chicago Cubs, but was moved back.
He did throw off a mound on Sunday and said he felt better. Manager Bobby Cox said he hasn’t decided on a fall-back plan if Smoltz isn’t ready Tuesday.
“I threw a lot better today,” Smoltz said Sunday. “Today, I could have gotten guys out, whereas Friday when I threw, no way. So that’s progress.”
Before his last outing, Smoltz had allowed only six runs in 41 2-3 innings over his six previous starts while posting a 5-1 record.
Smoltz is 13-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 52 career appearances, including 23 starts, against the Marlins.
After winning three in a row, the Braves (32-25) have dropped their last two, including Monday’s series-opening, 6-4 loss. Yunel Escobar, called up from Triple-A Richmond on Saturday to fill in for injured third baseman Chipper Jones, went 4-for-4 with his first career homer and a ground-rule double.
But it wasn’t enough for Atlanta, which fell four games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets.
The Marlins (28-30), meanwhile, scored four runs off Tim Hudson in the fifth inning and won for the fifth time in eight games. Aaron Boone hit a two-run single after Jeremy Hermida took first base on a dropped third strike that would have been the third out of the fifth.
“You take advantage of every break,” Boone said.
Sergio Mitre (2-2, 1.74) will look to keep Florida’s momentum going in the first game. His start was pushed back one day to give him time to rest the right hamstring he strained in his outing on May 30 against the Chicago Cubs.
The right-hander threw four scoreless innings without getting a decision in that game.
Mitre is 0-1 with a 6.14 ERA in four career appearances, including two starts, against the Braves, although he has not faced them since 2004.
The Marlins plan on calling up Rick Vanden Hurk (0-1, 12.75) from Double-A Carolina to start the nightcap. He has not pitched in the majors since April 24, when he started against the Braves and allowed six runs in one-plus inning without receiving a decision in his team’s 11-6 loss.
The Dutch right-hander also made an appearance out of the bullpen against Atlanta on April 10, giving up two runs in 2 1-3 innings without factoring in the decision.
“I expect him to pitch well,” Gonzalez told the Marlins’ official Web site. “We can use him for whatever we want and obviously we won’t abuse him. But he’s full strength.”
The Braves will turn to Buddy Carlyle (0-1, 9.00) to start Game 1. Carlyle was called up from Triple-A Richmond to start on May 26, when he allowed five runs in four innings of a 6-4 loss to Philadelphia.
The appearance was his first in the majors since May 25, 2005, for the Los Angeles Dodgers and his first start since Oct. 2, 1999, for San Diego.
Carlyle also made a relief appearance last Tuesday, throwing one scoreless inning in Milwaukee without receiving a decision. He started against Florida on Sept. 4, 1999, allowing five runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 6-4 defeat for the Padres.