Marlins look to slow Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr.

MLB Baseball

The Miami Marlins will send their No. 1 starter to the mound on Monday in hopes of slowing down Braves slugger Ronald Acuna Jr. in the opener a four-game series at Atlanta.

Miami’s Sandy Alcantara (0-1, 1.50 ERA) will be opposed by Atlanta’s Huascar Ynoa (0-0, 0.00) in a battle of right-handers.

The Braves are fresh from winning two of three games against the Philadelphia Phillies, losing 7-6 Sunday on a controversial ninth-inning sacrifice fly. Philadelphia’s Alec Bohm appeared to miss home plate on his slide, but he was ruled safe and the call wasn’t reversed after a replay review.

“For MLB not to overturn that, it’s embarrassing,” Atlanta pitcher Drew Smyly said. “You know, why even have replay if you won’t overturn that? They say there wasn’t enough evidence, but there’s five different angles. It’s clear. He didn’t touch the plate.”

The Marlins had their scheduled Sunday game against the New York Mets washed out by rain after just nine pitches. The teams had split the first two games.

Atlanta has won four of its last five games while Miami won on Saturday to end a four-game losing streak.

Alcantara pitched six scoreless innings on Opening Day against the Tampa Bay Rays, then took a loss Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals even though he tied a career high with 10 strikeouts. He has made three career starts against the Braves — all coming in 2019 — and has no decisions despite a 2.41 ERA in 18 2/3 innings.

He is part of a Miami rotation that has combined to record a 2.01 ERA through the first eight games. Opponents are hitting just .153 off Miami starters, who have yet to be charged with more than two earned runs in a game.

“I just take it pitch by pitch and work as effectively as possible,” Alcantara said. “I’m pretty focused right now, and I want to go deep in games.”

Miami manager Don Mattingly like what he saw from Alcantara in the last start.

“He was filthy,” Mattingly said. “He deserved better.”

But can they slow down Acuna? He has a league-leading nine extra-base hits and has 14 hits in his past 24 at-bats, raising his average to .444. On Sunday, Acuna went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, two runs and his fourth homer of the season.

Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman has started hitting, too. The reigning National League MVP has homered in each of the past three games and has four on the season.

Ynoa earned another shot as the team’s No. 5 starter after his strong effort against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday. He threw a career-best five innings, and allowed no runs on two hits while striking out five. It was only the second time he has thrown more than three innings.

Ynoa threw his fastball as high as 99 mph and averaged 96, and his slider, which he threw half the time, kept the Nationals baffled.

“I don’t know that he touched 98 in all that he did during spring training,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “The slider was really, really good. That was a big reason he got the start. But that was pretty darn good there.”

Ynoa made one start against Miami last year and allowed three runs in three innings.

Ynoa could be an important piece of the staff since ace Mike Soroka experienced some right shoulder soreness last week while rehabbing from last year’s torn right Achilles.

–Field Level Media

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