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Apr 27, 2024 9:15 am

Braves, RBI leader Marcell Ozuna look to drive home another win vs. Guardians

Marcell Ozuna

Atlanta’s Marcell Ozuna is having a start that rivals some of the franchise’s greatest players.

Ozuna drove home two more runs on Friday to set a franchise record for most RBIs before May 1. He has a major league-leading 31 RBIs and broke the mark of 29 he previously shared with Atlanta greats Dale Murphy (1985) and Chipper Jones (1998).

The Braves beat the Guardians 6-2 in the opener of a three-game series between two of the major league’s winningest teams. The starting pitchers for Saturday’s game will be Atlanta veteran Charlie Morton (2-0, 4.70 ERA) and Cleveland’s Tanner Bibee (2-0, 4.44) in a battle of right-handers.

Ozuna, the Braves designated hitter, was 1-for-3 with a two-run double. He is batting .344 with a National League-leading nine home runs and a .677 slugging percentage.

“I work every single time to do what I need to do to prepare for the game and get rolling and help my team,” Ozuna said. “I’ve never started like this.”

The franchise record for a monthly total is held by Wally Berger, who had 38 RBIs in June 1935 for the Boston Braves. The Atlanta record was set by Freddie Freeman, who had 33 in June 2019.

“I don’t worry about numbers,” Ozuna said. “I just go up there to have fun. I just go up and if I like a pitch I swing.”

Morton will be making his fifth start of the season. He is coming off a solid performance against the Texas Rangers on Saturday that saw him pitch six innings and allow two runs on four hits in the Braves’ 5-2 win.

Morton has made six career starts against Cleveland, going 4-2 with a 3.03 ERA. He last faced the Guardians in 2019 and beat them twice while a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Bibee will be making his sixth start of the season, and the Guardians have won each of the previous five. Bibee last pitched on Sunday when he beat the Oakland A’s and allowed two runs on five hits, two walks and eight strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.

Bibee, second last year in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, has yet to face the Braves.

The Guardians are hopeful Bibee can eat some innings and give the heavily taxed bullpen a break. Tyler Beede and Pedro Avila combined to cover the final 3 1/3 innings on Friday after Logan Allen was knocked out.

“They’ve been awesome,” Allen said afterward.

The relievers have now worked 104 2/3 combined innings and posted a 2.41 ERA (28 earned runs) with 123 strikeouts and 36 walks.

“They’ve just been very impressive,” Cleveland manager Stephen Vogt said. “We’ve asked a lot of them already, so I feel good about any of those guys coming into the game.”

The Guardians were able to avoid using closer Emmanuel Clase and setup man Scott Barlow.

–Field Level Media

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