Miami Marlins (49-83) at Atlanta Braves (81-52), 7:30 p.m. (ET)
The Atlanta Braves get their first look at Miami Marlins phenom Jose Fernandez on Friday night when the NL East residents open up a three-game series.
The Braves are rolling towards their first division title since 2005, owning a current 13-game edge over the second-place Washington Nationals. They are coming off a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians and have won four in a row overall.
Atlanta has 29 games left in the season and its magic number to clinch the NL East is 17.
“We just have one goal,” Braves pitcher Kris Medlen told his team’s website after winning Sunday’s finale. “Whatever our magic number is, it doesn’t matter to us. We’re taking it a day at a time and a team at a time. To play as well as we did against the Indians, a quality team, it’s big for us.”
NL Rookie of the Year candidates meet in Atlanta
All-Star Fernandez faces Atlanta for first time, opposite Teheran
While Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig has captured much of the hype in the race for National League Rookie of the Year, a handful of pitchers are giving him a run for his money.
Two of those reside in the NL East, and they will square off for the first time on Friday night at Turner Field.
With the Braves hosting the Marlins for the opener of a three-game series, Marlins 21-year-old right-hander Jose Fernandez will get his first shot at Atlanta, the only division foe he has yet to face. Fernandez’s opponent will be 22-year-old righty Julio Teheran, making his third start of the year against Miami.
Braves win behind Brian McCann but lose Justin Upton
… As Upton walked off the field, there was a sense of dread at Turner Field. Just eight days earlier, outfielder Jason Heyward was struck in the face by a pitch against the New York Mets, leaving him with a broken jaw that required surgery. He could miss the rest of the regular season, though Heyward hopes to return in time for the playoffs.
Upton’s injury was not nearly as serious, it turned out, the Braves finally catching a break in what has been an injury plagued season.
“That’s a fragile area,” said Upton, his hand wrapped after the game. “It was definitely a little bit scary.”
Gonzalez said he’ll probably sit Upton on Friday as a precaution and “go from there.”
Why B.J. Upton Never Became One of MLB’s Great Hitters
Looking at Atlanta Braves outfielder B.J. Upton today, it is hard to see what made him one of the top prospects in all of baseball in the early 2000s. Yet that is the beauty, and tragedy, of scouting Major League Baseball players.
Coming out of Greenbrier Christian Academy in Virginia, Upton was drafted as a shortstop with the second overall pick by the Tampa Bay Rays two months before his 18th birthday. He debuted in 2004 at the age of 19, playing 45 games before getting called up for good at the end of the 2006 season.
Upton, who just turned 29 and signed a five-year, $75 million contract with the Braves last offseason, has been a disaster in 2013. He is hitting a paltry .183/.265/.291 in 103 games and has basically been relegated to pinch-hit and defensive-replacement duty for one of the best teams in baseball.
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