Kawakami looks for a second quality start on Thursday as Atlanta tries to avoid getting swept at home by the Florida Marlins for the first time in a three-game set.
Kawakami (1-0, 4.50 ERA), who signed a three-year deal with the Braves in January after 11 seasons in Japan, gave up three runs and four hits over six innings in Saturday’s 5-3 win over Washington.
“I wasn’t nervous, I was excited,” Kawakami said through an interpreter following his 89-pitch outing. “A little too excited.”
The right-hander and first Japanese-born player in Braves history did not allow a hit in the final 3 2-3 innings.
“I thought for his first appearance in the United States, he was outstanding, a great addition to the team,” Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said.
Now, Kawakami takes on a Florida (7-1) club that’s off to its best start since 1997, when it opened 8-1 en route to a World Series title.
In Wednesday’s 10-4 win, Dan Uggla continued his hot hitting in Atlanta by going 2-for-4 with three RBIs for the second straight night. The second baseman, who leads the Marlins with 12 runs batted in, is hitting .367 (42-for-116) with eight home runs and 28 RBIs in his career at Turner Field - his best numbers in any opposing ballpark.
First baseman Jorge Cantu, who missed the previous two games with a hand injury, went 2-for-5 with an RBI as the Marlins won their third in a row.
Florida was second in the NL last season with 208 home runs but has none in this series.
Taking the mound for the Marlins in the series finale is Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 0.00). He scattered four hits and walked three over five innings Friday in a 5-4 win over the New York Mets, and the right-hander was 0-1 with a 11.25 ERA in two outings versus Atlanta last year.
In his last appearance against the Braves, Sanchez allowed six runs and eight hits in three innings in a 16-14 loss on Sept. 2.
Given the way the Marlins’ bullpen performed on Wednesday, Sanchez might have an extra cushion.
“They did a terrific job, all the way from Hayden and Meyer and Calero and Pinto,” Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “What do they do in hockey? Three stars? Those guys should get four stars.”
Atlanta’s bullpen, meanwhile, had a forgettable game after first-year Brave Derek Lowe allowed four runs, seven hits, and a career high-tying five walks in just five innings.
“It’s at a frustrating point right now,” Moylan said. “Two outings in a row I’m lights out, everything’s hitting where I want it to go, the ball’s sinking. And tonight, it wasn’t like the ball wasn’t moving.”
With just one hit in his last 15 at-bats, Brian McCann looks to snap out of his early-season slump. He is 4-for-11 with a homer and three RBIs lifetime versus Sanchez.
Florida third baseman Emilio Bonifacio’s batting average dipped to .436 with Wednesday’s 1-for-6 effort. He matched a career high with four strikeouts.