It’s been than three months since the Atlanta Braves haven’t held sole possession of first in the NL East. Mike Minor(notes) will try to keep his team in that position by continuing a strong start to his major league career.
The left-hander will attempt to improve to 4-0 as the Braves wrap up their three-game series with the Florida Marlins on Sunday.
Atlanta (79-57) overcame 15 strikeouts and a 1-for-12 performance with runners in scoring position for a 2-0 win Saturday to maintain its one-game lead over Philadelphia in its division. The Braves have been alone atop the standings since May 31, when a victory over the Phillies put them one-half game in front.
That lead grew to as many as seven games on July 22, but Atlanta finished August ahead by three. Philadelphia whittled two games off that deficit in the first three days of this month.
“The situation we’re in right now, only one game up, everybody is watching the scoreboard,” pitcher Jair Jurrjens(notes) said. “Right now, every game for us is big. We’re trying to keep the Phillies off our back.”
Minor (3-0, 3.91 ERA) will try to help the Braves gain some ground with his fourth victory in as many starts. After tying a franchise-rookie record with 12 strikeouts against Chicago on Aug. 22, he earned his latest win by limiting New York to two runs over five innings Tuesday night. He impressed teammates by working out of a bases-loaded jam in his final inning to limit the damage.
“Sometimes guys get frustrated and they lose their composure. He didn’t do that,” catcher David Ross(notes) told the team’s website. “You could see him getting a little frustrated. But when it came time to make that pitch, he made that pitch.”
The Marlins (68-66) will counter with fellow rookie Alex Sanabia(notes) (3-2, 3.98), who was suspended five games Friday for his part during a brawl in a 16-10 win over Washington on Wednesday night. Like teammates Chris Volstad(notes) and Gaby Sanchez(notes), the right-hander appealed his suspension, which was set to begin Sept. 8.
Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez returned to the dugout Saturday after serving his one-game ban.
“I think the umpires and the league did what they had to do,” Rodriguez told the team’s website. “All the players are going to be appealing their suspensions. The league did what they had to do, to get this over and start playing baseball.”
The incident with the Nationals came two days after Sanabia had a three-game win streak snapped in a 9-3 loss. He gave up four runs over 5 2-3 innings.
Sanabia allowed one run and seven hits over 4 1-3 innings in his only matchup with the Braves, a 7-6 win July 23.
The teams have split their eight matchups at Sun Life Stadium and their past 44 there dating back to the start of the 2006 season.