Marlins’ Pablo Lopez looks to beat Braves

MLB

The Atlanta Braves celebrated the announcement that first baseman Freddie Freeman and right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. were chosen to start the All-Star Game, but there was disappointment that second baseman Ozzie Albies didn’t make the opening lineup.

“It’s a great accomplishment for Freddie and Ronald. Well deserved,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Hopefully, Ozzie gets recognized.”

The Braves, fresh from taking two of three games against the New York Mets, will open a three-game series against the visiting Miami Marlins on Friday night.

Atlanta beat the Mets 4-3 Thursday on a walk-off infield single by Freeman in the ninth inning. The Braves are 39-41 as they approach the midpoint of the season.

The young Marlins, who are 5-2 against Atlanta, did not have a starter named to the July 13 All-Star Game. Miami (34-45) split the first two games of its series in Philadelphia, but the scheduled Thursday game was postponed because of rain.

The early rainout decision means the Marlins will be able to slide right-hander Pablo Lopez (4-4, 2.87 ERA) into the series opener against Atlanta lefty Drew Smyly (5-3, 4.79) on Friday.

Lopez earned a win in his latest outing, June 25 against the Washington Nationals, when he allowed two runs on six hits in six innings and tied his season high with nine strikeouts. Lopez has held opponents to one or fewer runs in seven of his 16 starts and two runs or fewer in 13 outings. He was 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA in June.

Lopez is 2-5 with a 5.66 ERA in 10 career starts against the Braves. He has faced Atlanta twice this year, going 0-1 with an ugly 12.86 ERA.

Smyly won each of his past three starts, most recently a 3-2 victory over Cincinnati on June 25 when he allowed one run over six innings. In five June starts, Smyly was 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA. One of those appearances came June 13 at Miami, when he gave up two runs over five innings in a win.

Albies was overtaken in All-Star voting by Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier, who earned his first appearance in the Mid-Summer Classic.

Albies racked up 29 RBIs in June, tied for the second most in Atlanta history. He has a National League-best 57 RBIs.

Miami hopes to get an offensive boost from Joe Panik, who was obtained in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. The veteran went 2-for-4 with a home run Wednesday, becoming the seventh player in Marlins history to homer in his first plate appearance with the club. The most recent to accomplish the feat had been Neil Walker in March 2019.

“It was really fun playing with these guys,” Panik said. “Definitely a good first day and a lot more good to come, hopefully.”

Panik is expected to platoon at third base with Jon Berti while Brian Anderson continues to rehab his left shoulder. Panik also can play second base and shortstop.

“He’s got versatility,” Miami general manager Kim Ng said. “We think he’s going to be a weapon.”

–Field Level Media

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