Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was blunt Friday afternoon: "Confidence or momentum is the next day's starter."
If that is indeed the case, and if Atlanta won't carry any confidence or momentum from Julio Teheran's 7 1/3 innings of two-run ball in the team's 3-2 win over the Marlins on Friday, then the Braves' chances might not be so great in the second contest of the three-game set on Saturday at Marlins Park.
Right-hander Ervin Santana -- who has given up 16 runs in 17 1/3 innings his last three starts -- will face off against fellow righty Jacob Turner, who is trending in the opposite direction after picking up the win with 6 1/3 shutout innings against the Brewers.
It was Turner's first win in his last 17 starts, a stretch that dates back to July 2013, when he allowed two runs in seven innings against -- who else? -- the Braves. Saturday will be Turner's fifth career start against Atlanta. In the previous four, all coming in the last two years, Turner limited Braves batters to a .218 average and .330 on-base percentage while allowing 10 earned runs in 23 2/3 innings (3.80 ERA).
Santana, meanwhile, has struggled mightily his last three starts against the Cardinals, Brewers and Red Sox. His May 21 start against Milwaukee in particular might be an interesting point of reference, given that Turner just shut the Brewers down.
Santana was touched up for six runs on nine hits and four walks in seven innings. Four of the runs came in the first inning, when Santana has a 6.00 ERA this season.
He also hasn't been especially successful against Miami, owning a 5.95 ERA and 1.73 WHIP in four starts (19 2/3 innings). Santana's only start in Marlins Park came this month -- and it went pretty well. He allowed three runs in six innings. First baseman Garrett Jones burned Santana for a homer during his 2-for-3 day.
The Marlins, one of the surprise teams in the league, find themselves facing the Braves with first place on the line. Atlanta's win Friday gave it a one-game edge in the National League East standings, but a series win would vault Miami to the top.
It is only the end of May, though, so it's a little early to be watching the standings so doggedly. Marlins manager Mike Redmond put the series in perspective with that in mind.
"This is just another game for us," Redmond said. "We've gone through a lot already in our first two months. We've had some injuries. But I think these guys just keep battling and keep fighting. We feel like we can play against any team, and we just need to keep our focus. We're not looking at the standings. It's way too early for that. We've just got to stay focused on things that we can control."
Braves: Balanced but less-than-prolific lineup getting it done
The three runs the Braves managed to plate Friday were barely enough to edge the Marlins, but it was also a pretty typical night for Atlanta offensively.
Gonzalez's crew averages 3.35 runs per game for a total of 181 runs through 54 games -- the second-lowest total in the Majors. Only San Diego (179) has scored fewer.
Atlanta's anemic offense was on display in four games (all losses) against the Red Sox this week. The Braves averaged four runs -- but nearly 10 hits -- per game.
"We swung the bats pretty well against the Red Sox the whole series," Gonzalez said. "We matched them in hits, not in runs. ... I was pretty pleased with our offense, at least from the hit production. But that doesn't win ballgames."
While the runs haven't been plentiful, they have been spread out. Eight different Braves have crossed the plate at least 10 times, including Freddie Freeman (33) and Justin Upton (29) at the top of the list.
Marlins: Looking to clean up baserunning mistakes
The Marlins have had a productive offense, their 246 runs entering Friday good for sixth-most in baseball, but the club lacks overall team speed. To make up for that, the baserunners have been aggressive at times. Sometimes it pays off, but other times it can backfire.
For instance, in Wednesday's 10-inning, 8-5 win over the Nationals, Miami made several mistakes on the bases. Giancarlo Stanton tried to reach third in the fourth inning despite Derek Dietrich being held at the bag. In the eighth, Casey McGehee strayed too far and was picked off first base with two runners on and two outs in a tied game.
"It's definitely something to learn from," Redmond said. "We are still young and we do make some mistakes.
"I think the key is to just look in front of you and check out the runner at third and see if [third-base coach Brett Butler] is sending him or not. We don't have a ton of speed. But we do try to be aggressive going from first to third and take advantage and taking extra bases. We've done that very well. Overall, our baserunning has been really good. But we do make mistakes."
• Stanton hit his 16th homer Friday night, and he now has 51 RBIs. He is the first Marlins player ever to have 50 or more RBIs before June 1.
• Craig Kimbrel bounced back from allowing two runs while recording one out in a loss to the Red Sox on Thursday by nailing down a save without issue Friday. He retired the meat of the Miami lineup -- Stanton, McGehee and Jones -- in order on 15 pitches.
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.