The Braves won’t have the Miami Marlins to kick around anymore this season.
Entering Thursday night’s game at SunTrust Park – the last this season between the first- and last-place teams in the National League East -- the Braves had won 14 of 18 meetings with the Marlins this season and 28 of 37 over the past two. No NL team has won more games against a single opponent over either period.
But the Braves will have to navigate the remainder of their schedule this season, including 20 games against NL East opponents, without further visits to or from the Marlins.
Two Braves in particular have made the most of games against Miami: pitcher Julio Teheran and outfielder Ronald Acuna.
Teheran started five games against the Marlins this season, posting a mind-boggling 0.28 ERA against them (one earned run allowed in 32 innings). He became the first Braves pitcher in the live-ball era -- and the first MLB pitcher since 1985 – to allow one run or fewer in at least that many innings against a single opponent in a season.
“He had some kind of year against them, I’ll tell you that,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
“A situation like that kind of ends up in your head,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Teheran’s dominance of his team. “He’s just kind of been a mystery to us, I feel like, all year long.”
Teheran doesn’t know how to explain it, other than to acknowledge that he goes into games against Miami with confidence. His ERA against all other opponents this season is 4.45.
Acuna, meanwhile, has nine home runs in 68 at-bats against the Marlins this season (entering Thursday) – exactly one-fourth of his 36 homers for the season. He has 16 home runs against the Marlins over the past two seasons, 26% of his 62 career homers.
“He feels the same way that I feel against them; he’s got all the confidence,” Teheran said of Acuna. “Hopefully, next year he’ll still feel the same.”
“I think the confidence is always there,” Acuna said.
Although the Marlins have the NL’s worst record, Snitker said Acuna’s numbers against them shouldn’t be discounted.
“Those are some good arms he’s hitting, too, this year,” Snitker said. “Those guys have done a really good job in identifying some good young arms.
“But you have those teams that you get. I don’t know that anybody can explain it. You just kind of ride the crest and enjoy it.”
Over their final 33 games of the regular season, the Braves will have two series against each NL East opponent except the Marlins. The Braves have seven games left against the second-place Nationals, seven against the Phillies and six against the Mets (starting with a three-game series opening Friday night in New York).
The Braves are 8-5 against the Mets and 6-6 against both the Phillies and Nationals. But thanks in part to their success against Miami, the Braves hold a significant lead in the division (six games over the Nationals and nine games over both the Mets and Phillies through Wednesday).
The Nationals and Mets also have fared well against the Marlins this season – 10-3 and 11-4, respectively – but the Phillies have not (6-7). The Nationals and Phillies have six games apiece remaining against the Marlins, the Mets four.
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