It belongs to the Florida Marlins.
Miller, however, will have the difficult task of trying to outduel the Braves’ Derek Lowe, who so far has lived up to billing as his team’s ace.
The Marlins (6-1) have carried over last season’s surprising 84-77 finish with their best start since 1997, when they began their first championship season at 8-1. After scoring 31 runs in its first four wins, Florida has relied on its talented, young pitchers in its past two victories.
After Josh Johnson threw a complete game Sunday against the New York Mets for his second straight victory, Chris Volstad moved to 2-0 by allowing one run on three hits Tuesday night in a 5-1 series-opening win over Atlanta.
“I’ve been saying since spring training, we’ve finally got everybody healthy, and that’s the key,” second baseman Dan Uggla said of the team’s rotation. “They’ve been awesome so far.”
Making his first start in 2009, Miller will try to continue that run but hasn’t lived up to his potential since he was the sixth overall pick in 2006 by Detroit.
After going 5-6 with a 5.69 ERA in two season with Detroit, the Tigers traded the left-hander with five other players for Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera in December 2007. Enduring right patellar tendinitis part of last season, Miller was 6-10 with a 5.87 ERA in 29 appearances.
However, he managed to grab the Marlins’ final rotation spot in spring training and has made two relief appearances while awaiting his turn, allowing one run and five hits in 2 1-3 innings. Miller has won both career starts against Atlanta and has surrendered one earned run in four lifetime appearances.
To win another, he could use another strong performance from his offense. Florida used a 10-hit attack to beat the Braves on Tuesday with Uggla driving in three runs on two hits, and Emilio Bonifacio and John Baker each adding two hits.
With six multihit performances in seven games, Bonifacio is hitting a team-best .485, but is 1-for-6 lifetime against Lowe.
He might have a tough time getting another hit if Lowe continues his strong start. The right-hander has allowed one run in two starts, but only threw three innings Friday night against visiting Washington due to a 2 hour, 2 minute rain delay.
Lowe is 5-4 with a 4.23 ERA in his career against Florida but has lost twice in his last three starts versus the Marlins.
After recording double-digit hits in four straight games, the Braves (5-2) managed only four Tuesday and got their lone run on Kelly Johnson’s third home run of the season. Johnson, one of five Atlanta hitters batting over .300, is 2-for-3 lifetime against Miller.
While outfielder Alfredo Amezaga made his first start for the Marlins since he was activated from the 15-day disabled list Sunday, first baseman Jorge Cantu missed a third straight game with a bruised left hand.