The Atlanta Braves are hopeful the return of second baseman Ozzie Albies will help stabilize the suddenly staggering team as it pursues its fourth straight National League East pennant.
Albies was back in the lineup on Friday and has been declared healthy for the remainder of Atlanta’s four-game series against the Colorado Rockies, which continues on Saturday night in Denver. The teams have split the first two games, with Colorado prevailing 4-3 on Friday.
Atlanta (71-63), which has a two-game lead over second-place Philadelphia in the East, missed a chance to pick up ground after the Phillies lost to the Miami Marlins on Friday. The Braves led the division by 5 1/2 games on Aug. 27.
Colorado (62-73) resides in fourth place in the NL West.
Albies had been out since fouling a pitch off his left knee against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday. He sat out two games but declared himself healthy and ready on Friday.
“He had a great workout (Thursday), but we decided not to put him back out there,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “He had a great workout today.”
Albies hit a leadoff homer to open Friday’s game. It was his 24th home run, his 64th extra-base hit and gave him 252 total bases for the season.
Albies was at the plate in the eighth inning on Friday with Eddie Rosario at second base after a leadoff double, but he didn’t have a chance to drive in the run when Rosario was thrown out trying to steal third.
The Rockies have their own sparkplug in first baseman C.J. Cron, the NL Player of the Month for August. Cron delivered what proved to be the game-winning RBI single on Friday. He has four doubles, six homers and 25 RBIs over his past 13 home games.
“I tend to pick it up in the second half of the season,” Cron said. “I don’t know why it takes that long, but I’m glad it comes and it’s something that I can always fall back on right around the All-Star break. It’s good knowing in my head that there’s always a good chance I’m going get going and contribute to the team more.”
The pitching matchup for Saturday features a pair of right-handers: Colorado’s German Marquez (11-10, 4.10 ERA) against Atlanta’s Ian Anderson (6-5, 3.36).
Marquez will try to bounce back from a pair of subpar games in which he has allowed nine runs in nine innings over the last two starts. In his most recent outing on Monday, Marquez took the loss after giving up four runs — including three homers — over six innings against the Texas Rangers.
In three career starts against Atlanta, Marquez is 1-2 with a 7.56 ERA. He last faced the Braves in 2019, a game he lost after giving up five runs in five innings.
Anderson made a successful return from an extended stay on the injured last Sunday when he worked 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the San Francisco Giants. Anderson, who had been out since the All-Star Game with right-shoulder inflammation, scattered four hits and worked around two walks.
Anderson will make his first career start against Colorado.
–Field Level Media