On Monday, the Braves and Marlins will kick off Atlanta's final series at the ballpark as the Marlins look to play spoiler against their National League East rivals, who led the NL Wild Card race by four games following a Sunday loss. Atlanta's magic number sits at seven games.
The first pitch of the series opener is slated for 7:10 p.m. EDT. The Marlins just wrapped up a 6-5 road trip, while the Braves are coming off a series loss to the Mets in Atlanta.
"I just wish that we would have taken more advantage of our situation this homestand," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said on Sunday. "We had opportunities to really separate ourselves and, quite frankly, we didn't do it. Now we go back on the road. It's hard to win on the road in September. On paper, should we win the majority of the games? Yeah. Should have won the majority of the games here at home, too. But we didn't."
The Braves, who have won 11 of the 15 meetings between the two squads thus far this season, will send left-hander Mike Minor (5-2, 4.11 ERA) to the hill for the opener.
The left-hander has started 13 games for Atlanta this season, and has not lost a decision since May 31. He took a no-decision in his last outing, also against the Marlins, when he scattered four hits and one run over 5 2/3 innings on Sept. 13.
Minor will go toe-to-toe with Florida's Ricky Nolasco, who is coming off a tough loss to the Braves on Sept. 14, when he gave up four runs (all in the seventh inning). In that game, he was victimized by a three-run homer from Alex Gonzalez that was set up when Nolasco didn't properly field what was ruled a bunt single for Martin Prado.
"He's throwing the ball well right now," Marlins pitching coach Randy St. Claire said. "In his last game he threw an outstanding game. It is kind of frustrating when not fielding a bunt can cost you, maybe a [complete game], maybe a win. That's what it comes down to. Mistakes happen. They happen. That's part of the game."
Braves: Bourn provides spark
Center fielder Michael Bourn has hit safely in seven of his last 10 games and has gone 15-for-45 (.333) in that span.
Former Marlin Dan Uggla is hitting just .246 in 15 games against the Marlins. But he does have four homers and 13 RBIs, his highest RBI total against any team this year.
Marlins: Second-half surge
Omar Infante has provided the Marlins with an offensive spark since the All-Star Break, picking up at least one hit in 38 of his 48 games in the second half.
In that span, he's batting .321 (62-for-193). Since Aug. 30, the Marlins' starting pitchers own a 2.51 ERA (34 earned runs in 121 2/3 innings of work).
The Marlins are 0-6 against the Braves at Sun Life Stadium this year. Florida is 73-74 all-time against Atlanta in South Florida. The Marlins will move to their new ballpark next season.
Atlanta's Chipper Jones is a career .301 hitter against the Marlins with 40 homers and 161 RBIs.