Best of MLB: Braves open new stadium with a win over Padres

Best of MLB: Braves open new stadium with a win over Padres

ATLANTA -- Ender Inciarte hit the first home run in baseball's newest stadium, local product Nick Markakis drove in the first two runs and the Atlanta Braves beat the San Diego Padres 5-2 Friday night in the regular-season debut for SunTrust Park.

Before a sellout crowd of 41,149 that included former President Jimmy Carter, Commissioner Rob Manfred and one-time home run king Hank Aaron, the Braves won their second straight game after a 1-6 start.

Julio Teheran (1-0) was a bit wild but lasted six innings. He gave up both San Diego runs, working around four walks and two hit batters. Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his second save.

Markakis, who grew up in nearby Woodstock, put the Braves ahead in the first with a two-run double off Jhoulys Chacin (1-2). Inciarte gave Atlanta some breathing room in the sixth with a two-run shot into the right-field seats, his third homer of the season (see full recap).

Realmuto's RBI double in 9th helps Marlins beat Mets
MIAMI -- J.T. Realmuto hit a game-ending RBI double with two out in the ninth inning, and the Miami Marlins snapped the New York Mets' five-game win streak with a 3-2 victory on Friday night.

The Marlins avoided extra innings after a 16-inning loss to the Mets on Thursday.

New York's Noah Syndergaard allowed two runs, one earned, in six innings, and his ERA soared to 0.95. Syndergaard struck out four and still hasn't walked a batter in 19 innings this season.

Miguel Rojas had three hits for Miami and walked to lead off the ninth against Josh Edgin (0-1). Realmuto hit a 3-2 pitch into the right-center field gap, and Rojas scored without a play (see full recap).

Tanaka finds form, Yanks beat Cards for 5th straight win
NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka got back on track with 6 1/3 effective innings, Aroldis Chapman escaped his own jam for his third save in three days and the New York Yankees beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 on Friday night for their fifth straight win.

Chapman allowed a two-out walk to Randal Grichuk and a double to pinch-hitter Jose Martinez before Dexter Fowler -- the closer's teammate on the World Series champion Cubs last year -- grounded out to second to end it. Chapman got his third save on the season.

Tanaka (1-1) entered with an 11.74 ERA over his first two starts, but he recovered nicely Friday after Matt Carpenter's two-run homer in the first. The Japanese right-hander allowed three runs, five hits and two walks and struck out five.

Starlin Castro and Austin Romine homered for New York, which is 4-0 to begin this nine-game homestand.

Michael Wacha (1-1) struck out eight for struggling St. Louis but allowed two homers and four runs over six innings (see full recap).

Duffy pitches gem as Royals beat Angels
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Danny Duffy allowed three hits over seven innings and Mike Moustakas hit a two-run homer as the Kansas City Royals beat the Los Angeles Angels 7-1 Friday night.

Duffy (2-0) gave up a run on a Mike Trout first inning single, but retired 15 of the last 16 batters he faced. He allowed three hits while striking out six and walking two while lowering his earned run average to 1.80 and improving to 8-0 in his past 16 Kauffman Stadium starts.

Moustakas homered in the first and the Royals added a run in the second when Paulo Orlando scored on a wild pitch by JC Ramirez (2-1).

Kansas City scored twice in the third on Eric Hosmer's grounder and Salvador Perez's sacrifice fly.

Ramirez, making his first start in the majors after 111 relief appearances, was pulled after 75 pitches and five innings, both career highs (see full recap).

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp sit

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp sit

Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp, both struggling mightily through the first month of the season, will get Saturday night off when the Phillies take on the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Joseph is hitting .190 with one homer and 18 strikeouts in 18 games, while Rupp is batting .180 with one homer and 20 strikeouts through 15 games. Last season, Joseph had 21 home runs and Rupp 16.

Brock Stassi will spell Joseph at first base and bat seventh. Andrew Knapp takes over for Rupp behind the plate and will bat eighth.

Daniel Nava also receives a start, playing left field. The first-year Phillie is hitting .346 with a pair of homers and as many walks as strikeouts (seven).

Zach Eflin takes the mound in a meaningful start for the right-hander (see story). He opposes resurgent Dodgers righty Brandon McCarthy (see game notes).

Here are tonight's lineups:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Michael Saunders, RF
6. Daniel Nava, LF
7. Brock Stassi, 1B
8. Andrew Knapp, C
9. Zach Eflin, P

Dodgers
1. Andrew Toles, CF
2. Corey Seager, SS
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. Yasmani Grandal, C
5. Yasiel Puig, RF
6. Cody Bellinger, LF
7. Chase Utley, 2B
8. Chris Taylor, 3B
9. Brandon McCarthy, P

Phillies-Dodgers 5 things: Phils face resurgent Brandon McCarthy

Phillies-Dodgers 5 things: Phils face resurgent Brandon McCarthy

Phillies (11-10) at Dodgers (12-12)
9:10 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

The Phillies' six-game winning streak came to an abrupt end out west Friday night. The beauty of baseball is that you have a chance to start a new streak a day later. Zach Eflin looks to avenge a poor performance from last season while the Dodgers send out veteran righty Brandon McCarthy at home.

Here are five things to know for Saturday evening's game.

1. Two strong starts for Eflin
In his second season as a big-league starter, Eflin is off to a lot better start than last year. 

If you remember his MLB debut, he gave up eight runs and retired just eight batters against a Blue Jays team that could hit the snot out of the ball … and did. Through two starts, Eflin had a 10.80 ERA and two losses to his résumé before coming into his own over the next two months.

This year has been just about the opposite. Eflin clearly looks comfortable on a major-league mound. He's turned Clay Buchholz's spot in the rotation into a positive. He's allowed just three runs and one home run in 12 innings, good for a 2.25 ERA.

The modern thinking is that an ideal pitcher strikes out a lot of batters, avoids walks and home runs, and induces weak contact. Eflin has done all but the strikeouts. His sinker has been marvelous and the Mets/Braves had little chance to do damage against it. Pete Mackanin described the sinker as a bowling ball. That just about says it all. The sinker won't induce that many swings and misses — thus the lack of strikeouts — but he can throw it in the zone and keep hitters off balance.

The Dodgers kind of ended Eflin's season last year. In reality, it was dueling knee injuries that did Eflin in (see story), but the Dodgers were the last team to take advantage of an ailing Eflin, hitting three home runs and scoring seven runs in just three innings Aug. 8. Even the outs in that game were generally line drives. Chase Utley, Yasmani Grandal and Corey Seager — all of whom could be in the lineup Saturday — took the now-23-year-old righty deep.

Being a righty against the Dodgers isn't all that advantageous as the team boasts those three hitters and Adrian Gonzalez, Andrew Toles and Cody Bellinger as lefties who can put up disruptive plate appearances. Unfortunately for the Phillies, they have a rotation full of righties and are unable to take advantage of the Dodgers' platoon issues.

2. Dodgers send out resurgent righty
The first two seasons of Brandon McCarthy's deal with the Dodgers essentially went by the wayside. Now, the 33-year-old starter is picking up where he left off in 2014.

McCarthy has long been one of the more entertaining and thoughtful players in baseball, as evidenced by his Twitter account. The veteran righty has also been a steadily average to occasionally above-average pitcher in 12 MLB seasons, bouncing around teams mostly on the west coast. He posted career-worst numbers with the Diamondbacks in the first half of 2014, but he rebounded in the second half with the Yankees, pitching to a 2.89 ERA in 90 innings despite the hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium.

He parlayed that second half into a four-year, $48 million deal with the Dodgers and that was almost immediately derailed by Tommy John surgery. Going into 2017, he had thrown just 63 innings and made only 13 starts in the first half of his contract. McCarthy was one of many Dodgers pitchers on the disabled list during a 2016 with a record-setting number of injuries for the club.

But now he's apparently back to form and, perhaps most importantly, he's healthy. He's made it through four starts unscathed this year and is 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA to boot. He's allowed just 18 hits in 24 innings. Similar to Eflin, he relies primarily on a dynamic sinker that sits in the low-to-mid 90s. He also features a low 90s cutter and an 80 mph curveball, both of which grade out well this season.

Only three current Phillies have any history vs. McCarthy. With his history in the AL West with the Mariners, Michael Saunders has faced McCarthy plenty with sub-par results, going 2 for 13 with five strikeouts. Freddy Galvis is 3 for 3 off the righty while Andres Blanco is 0 for 1.

3. How does the Dodgers' bullpen stack up?
Going into Friday's action, the Dodgers' bullpen had a 3.15 collective ERA, good for eighth in all of baseball and second-best in the National League. As a whole, the crew strikes out 10.29 batters per nine innings and has the highest wins above replacement of any bullpen in baseball.

Any conversation about the Dodgers' 'pen starts with Kenley Jansen, one of the premier closers in the game today. He overwhelms hitters with a cutter many consider reminiscent of Mariano Rivera. It isn't quite up to Rivera's level, but it is still wildly effective. He has a 2.16 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings this season, locking down six saves in six chances. He dominated the Phillies on Friday night.

Setting up for him primarily is righty flamethrower Pedro Baez. Baez pitches with a dreadfully slow pace but great results, striking out batters at a similar clip and takes a 1.08 ERA into the weekend. Righty Josh Fields and lefty Grant Dayton each hadn't allowed a run this year before Fields let one up in the eighth inning Friday while lefty Luis Avilan has been effective primarily vs. lefties. 

While Chris Hatcher and Ross Stripling, both righties, each has a loss this season, they've still achieved OK results pitching often in low leverage situations. The biggest disappointment for Los Angeles has been the offseason signing of former Giants closer Sergio Romo. The 34-year-old has a 10.57 ERA through 10 appearances and has walked as many batters as he's struck out. If the Phillies get to face Romo in a big situation this weekend, it'll be a tremendous opportunity to do some damage.

4. Players to watch
Phillies: Freddy Galvis takes a 10-game hitting streak into action on Saturday night. Not only does he have good numbers off McCarthy, he's also simply off to the best start to his career. The Phillies' shortstop has traditionally been a better second half hitter but he has a career-best .269 average and .487 slugging percentage thus far.

Dodgers: While he is currently playing corner outfield, rookie Cody Bellinger is the Dodgers' first baseman of the future. Currently the No. 10 prospect in baseball, he had five home runs in Triple A Oklahoma City and is projected to have legitimate in-game power at the major league level. 

5. This and that
• The Phillies went 2-4 vs. the Dodgers last season and haven't won a series at Dodger Stadium since April 21-24, 2014, when they took three of four.

• Frequent trade partners in recent history, the Phillies and Dodgers have teamed up for eight trades since the 2012 trade deadline. Eflin himself came to the Phillies in the 2014 Jimmy Rollins trade.

• McCarthy is typically at his worst in April. He has a 5.01 ERA for March/April in his career, his worst for any month. However, he pitched well the two times he faced the Phillies. He threw eight shutout innings in 2013 and gave up two runs while striking out 12 in seven innings during the 2014 season.