The Atlanta Braves won a baseball game in 2016.
No, really, they did.
For six innings on Friday night in Miami, Fredi Gonzalez's team looked to be on its way to an 0-10 start. Then, the bats awakened, and after a harrowing 4-out save from Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta was on the board with its first victory of the season, outlasting the Marlins by a final score of 6-3.
The Braves fell behind by a 3-0 margin early in the game, and they appeared completely inept against Marlins left-hander Wei-Yin Chen. Chen cruised through six innings of shutout ball much as a severe threat from the Atlanta offense, but in the seventh, Atlanta pieced together three straight hits, capped by an RBI double from Adonis Garcia to get the team on the board. After a run-scoring groundout from Gordon Beckham brought the margin to just one run at 3-2, there was a bit of life in the stadium, but at the same time, Braves Country has seen this movie end poorly multiple times this season.
Fortunately, the flood gates would open in the eighth inning and the Braves would never trail again. Atlanta put four runs on the board in the frame without the benefit of a single extra-base hit, using three singles, a stolen base and two instances where a batter was hit by a pitch to light up the Miami trio of David Phelps, Chris Narveson and Bryan Morris. Again, it was Garcia that came through with the biggest blow, taking the score from 3-3 to 5-3 with a two-run single, but it was an impressive inning when considering the circumstances.
From there, nothing was particularly easy, but Vizcaino managed to close the door... softly. Jim Johnson opened the eighth inning by quickly gathering two outs, but after he allowed a hit to Adeiny Hechavarria, Vizcaino entered with four outs to acquire to preserve the win. The talented right-hander promptly loaded the bases after a walk and an infield single, but Vizcaino picked up a hugely important strikeout of Marcell Ozuna to preserve the three-run lead.
The ninth inning wasn't much easier, as Vizcaino put everyone through some version of cardiac arrest. He allowed a leadoff single to Christian Yelich and put a second runner on base with a walk of Justin Bour. Fortunately, no serious threat was posed to the three-run cushion, and when Vizcaino retired J.T. Realmuto with a groundout for the 27th out, it was time to dance in the streets.
On this night, there were many heroes, ranging from Adonis Garcia (2-4, 3 RBI despite ugly defense) to Gordon Beckham (2-4, 2 RBI) and even to Alexi Ogando (two innings of sparkling middle relief). However, the larger takeaway is that the Atlanta Braves will not make history with a losing skid to begin the 2016 season, and our long, national (er, regional?) nightmare is officially over.