video thumbnail

MIA@WSH: LeBlanc strikes out five over five solid

The Marlins and Braves are headed in different directions early into the 2013 season. But they'll send two pitchers with an even early slate to the hill on Tuesday night in the second game of this week's series.

After the Braves took the series opener on Monday, 2-0, they improved to 6-1. The Marlins dropped to 1-6, falling in their home opener.

But both starting pitchers in Tuesday's game -- Atlanta's Kris Medlen and Miami's Wade LeBlanc -- enter the tilt with identical 0-1 records and 3.60 ERAs after their season debuts. Each gave up two earned runs in five innings -- LeBlanc against the Nationals, and Medlen against the Phillies.

"The last two innings were really good, really efficient, really aggressive," LeBlanc said of his previous outing. "My stuff sharpened up, and I felt I got into a rhythm. I'll try to roll that up into the bullpen between starts, and try to carry it over into tomorrow."

The Miami lefty has never beaten the Braves, clocking in with an 0-3 record and 6.62 ERA in six appearances (three starts). He faced Atlanta twice during Grapefruit League play this spring, both on the Braves' turf in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

"I think when you're in the same division, you end up facing them several times anyway," LeBlanc said. "Whether it is the Braves, the Nationals or Mets, it doesn't matter. It just ends up that's the way the Spring Training rotation fell. My stuff and my approach is going to be a little different. Their approach is going to be a little bit different because we're not working on things."

The young Marlins will surely have their hands full against Medlen, who broke onto the scene last year when he went 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA. He walked four and struck out three in his first start of the year. He struck out two hitters in a perfect, nine-pitch fifth inning, with hopes to take that momentum into Tuesday's start.

"The last two or three innings, I felt more comfortable," Medlen said. "I made the adjustments I needed to make. I will just build off that and go from there."

Marlins: Lots of new faces
• With plenty of young faces in the rebuilding Marlins' lineup, there isn't much history for Mike Redmond to exploit when it comes to matchups.

"We get all this information and we look at all these matchups," Redmond said. "If you look, most of our hitters have two or three at-bats maybe against the pitcher on the other team. It's just they are very young in the Major Leagues. There is going to be some growing pains. Just have to get some at-bats under their belts."

• The Marlins are opening up a nine-game, 10-day homestand after a six-game road trip to begin the year. Each of Miami's three opponents will be from the National League East.

Braves: Uptons away
• Justin and B.J. Upton have already shown why they could be so important to the Braves after coming over this offseason. In the series opener in Miami on Monday, Justin scored both of the game's runs while hitting his sixth homer of the year. B.J. delivered his lone homer of the young season in Atlanta's dramatic walk-off win over Chicago on Saturday.

Justin Upton hit five homers, scored seven runs and drove in seven runs (including three game-winning RBIs) to earn a National League Player of the Week nomination last week, while establishing a franchise record with the five homers in the team's first five games.

• With this series, Atlanta opens a stretch of 18 games from April 8-28, with 16 of them coming on the road. The Braves' only home games in the upcoming three-week stretch will be two contests against the Royals on April 16-17.

• The Braves are 6-1 to start the season for the first time since 2007, when they opened at 7-1.

Worth noting
• Marlins infielder Placido Polanco is a .310 (96-for-310) career hitter against Atlanta, while Donovan Solano has 13 hits in 15 career games against the Braves.

• The Braves won 14 of the 18 meetings between the two teams last year, including seven of nine at Marlins Park. Miami hasn't had a winning season against Atlanta since 2009, when the Marlins went 10-8. Comments