If there was ever a match-up between the Atlanta Braves and the Miami Marlins in which the Braves were supposed to lose, it was one between Jose Fernandez and Lucas Harrell. However, Atlanta exploded for nine runs on Saturday afternoon and Harrell provided stellar work as the home team prevailed by a 9-1 final score.
The aforementioned Fernandez entered Saturday's game with a pristine 2.28 ERA on the season, but the talented right-hander allowed nine runs (six earned) in just 5.2 innings of work and that was a testament to Atlanta's offense. Freddie Freeman began the scoring with a two-run blast in the opening inning, while the Braves busted the game open in the sixth inning with a seven-run barrage that included a three-run home run off the bat of Jace Peterson.
At that point, Brian Snitker's team led by an insurmountable 9-1 margin (mirroring the final score) and the pitching of Lucas Harrell and the bullpen was enough to make this a comfortable win. Harrell, who was making his first start in an Atlanta uniform, navigated six innings of one-run ball while issuing only one walk against five strikeouts, and he was highly impressive in spot duty. Following his exit, the combination of Mauricio Cabrera and Dario Alvarez set down the Marlins without allowing a run, and it was an exceptionally well-pitched game from the Braves.
In terms of "star" performers, Freeman (3-for-4, HR, 2 runs, 2 RBI) and Peterson (2-for-4, HR, 2 runs, 3 RBI) stood out above the rest offensively, but only Chase d'Arnaud failed to contribute positively when it came to the starting lineup. Against a pitcher of the quality of Fernandez, it was certainly an unlikely result, but a very enjoyable one at that.
The Braves and Marlins will complete their four-game series with the finale at Ft. Bragg on Sunday evening, and Matt Wisler will take the mound for Atlanta against Adam Conley for Miami. Stay tuned.