After suffering a rare home sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Marlins look to get back on track when the host the Atlanta Braves in the opener of a three-game series at Sun Life Stadium.

Marlin rookie Brad Hand will make his major league debut while the Braves will counter with Tommy Hanson who opened in the MLB odds as a -145 favorite with the total unmoving at 7.5. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.

This is a key series on several fronts. Florida (31-27) will be out to snap a five-game losing streak and take over sole possession of second-place in the National League Eastern Division. Atlanta (32-28) will be trying to get back in the win column after losing the final two games of their series against the Mets in New York.

Showdown series

The importance of every interdivision series in the East is magnified due to the Phillies starting rotation. You may beat one of their ‘Big Four’ and you might even sweep them if the stars align right. But Philly was built to avoid long losing streaks and that means the teams behind them have an added urgency to win.

The Marlins and Braves begin the night four games behind the first-place Phillies and both teams could use some help offensively. Atlanta is 23rd in the league in both runs per game (3.83) and hitting (.243). Florida is 17th in the same two categories averaging 4.12 RPG while batting .251.

Gaby Sanchez leads the Fish with a .316 average and 38 RBI’s while Mike Stanton has a team high 13 homers. The Braves have relied heavily on the bats of Brian McCann and Martin Prado. McCann is hitting a team high .301 while Prado leads with eight homers and 38 runs batted in.

Tommy Hanson pitcher Atlanta BravesHomecoming

Dan Uggla returns to Miami in search of his stroke. He swatted 33 home runs and drove in 105 runs in 2010 as a member of the Marlins but is slumping badly in his first season with the Braves. The All-Star second baseman is hitting .172 with seven homers and 16 runs batted and in his last 18 games is 5 for 60 (.083).

Helping Hand

The 21-year old Hand becomes the latest MLB rookie to jump from Double-A to the big leagues. He won his last four starts at Jacksonville earning the promotion to Florida where he’ll become the first lefthander to start for the Fish this season.

Breaking out of their slide won’t be easy for the Marlins especially against Hanson who is 6-4 with a 2.82 ERA. The hard-throwing right-hander hasn’t been at his best the past three starts (1-1, 4.32) allowing eight runs in 16 2/3 earnings. However he was 2-0 in May and had three victories in April including a 5-0 shutout of Florida. In that game Hanson twirled seven innings and allowed just four hits. He’s got a career record of 4-1 and a 2.64 ERA vs. the Marlins and has held opposing batters to a league low .170 batting average over his past seven outings.  

In the first series meeting, Florida took two out of three in Atlanta with Hanson getting the lone victory.

Injury list

The Braves are without two of their key players with outfielders Nate McClouth and Justin Heyward both on the disabled list. McClouth has a strained oblique while Heyward injured his shoulder in a game against the Anaheim Angels on May 22.

The Marlins will be without shortstop Hanley Ramirez who was placed on the DL with a strained back. Even though Ramirez is hitting just .210, Florida is 1-6 ($-543) in games he’s missed.

The weather at SLS for this matchup is calling for partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the 70’s. There’s a 10 percent chance of rain with winds of 16 miles per hour blowing out of the East. That seems appropriate for a crucial series in the East.