MLB Odds: Braves hit road to face Marlins

By: Jimmy Sirody | Friday, September 3, 2010

Jason Heyward has been wielding a hot bat for the Atlanta Braves.

Entering Friday’s series opener in Miami, the Atlanta Braves own a two-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East race. They stand 4 ½-games in front of San Francisco, who sit directly behind the front-running Phillies in the wild-card race.

Unfortunately for the Braves, they will play just 13 of their final 28 games within the friendly confines of Turner Field, where they are 49-19. Atlanta is a dismal 29-37 on the highway.

Last weekend the Braves took two of three from the Florida Marlins at home, including the rubber game when they overcame a five-run deficit. In winning seven of the first 12 meetings, Atlanta pitchers have posted a 3.86 ERA with 26 walks and 116 strikeouts in 109.2 innings pitched.

The Marlins trail by 10 games in the division race and their lone goal for the rest of the season is to finish with a winning record. That’s going to be a tall task with pitcher Ricky Nolasco, infielder Donny Murphy and catcher Brett Hayes declared out for the season in a 48-hour span. The Fish are also facing possible suspensions following a bench-clearing brawl with the Washington Nationals.

The Marlins will have their ace Josh Johnson on the mound Saturday night in Game 2 of the series with payback against the Braves on his plate.

Johnson has a pair of no decisions against Atlanta this season, the last coming Sunday when he allowed one run and six hits in six innings and fanned eight. In his first outing against the Braves at home he tossed six innings of three-hit ball and also whiffed eight.

The big right-hander has won four of six career decisions against Atlanta with a 2.44 ERA and has struck out 83 in 81 innings.

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Johnson is 7-2 at home this season with a 1.48 ERA and has held opponents to a .199 batting average. In addition, he has allowed just two homers in 97 1/3 innings at Land Shark Stadium and boasts an impressive 115:18 strikeout to walk ratio.

Jair Jurrjens (6-4, 4.38) looks to start another winning streak for the Braves when he faces the Fish for the second time. Atlanta had won five straight until falling short in Thursday’s series finale at Turner Field against the New York Mets.

Jurrjens has scuffled lately, issuing 10 walks and surrendering 15 hits in his past two starts covering 10 2/3 innings. He lost at Miami on July 25 when he surrendered six hits and four runs in seven innings.

Jurrjens is 0-4 on the road with a 6.62 ERA. He has won three of four career decisions against the Marlins with a 4.50 ERA.

Johnson is pitching with an extra day of rest and that’s not a good thing. The All-Star is 3-13 with five days between starts. The Marlins have also lost five of his last seven outings.

Atlanta has cashed 11 of its last 15 when playing on Saturday, while the Fish have dropped 11 of 15. The Braves are 2-5 in their last seven on the road against right-handers and 0-5 on the highway against winning teams.

Florida has floundered in nine of its last dozen against righties and in 10 of 13 versus clubs on the plus side of the ledger.

The last eight series encounters in the Sunshine State have topped the MLB betting ‘total’ and the ‘over’ has cashed the MLB money line at a torrid 12-3-2 clip in the last 17 meetings overall.

The Braves have zipped ‘over’ at an 8-3-1 clip in their last dozen and the Marlins have followed suit at a 7-1-1 rate. Florida has also jumped the number in eight of 10 at home and at a 14-3-1 pace versus division foes. However, the Fish have strayed ‘under’ at an 8-1-1 clip in Johnson’s last 10 home appearances.

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