Well, that was a wild one.
The Atlanta Braves zoomed out of the gate on Monday night, claiming a seemingly insurmountable seven-run lead. In wild fashion, that lead evaporated in full, but the home team was able to recover and, in the end, the final result was a 12-7 victory over the Miami Marlins in the series opener between the two teams.
The Braves began the scoring with a solitary run in the first inning, as Ender Inciarte tripled to lead off the game. He was brought to the plate on an Adonis Garcia groundout. Following that, Atlanta added a second run in the next frame, as Nick Markakis blasted a solo home run to give Mike Foltynewicz a bit of additional breathing room.
From there, the Braves appeared to blow the game open in a big way in the third inning. Inciarte led off with a double and, in short order, he crossed the plate for the second time on the night after a single from Garcia. Garcia then advanced to second base on a throwing error and, seconds later, Freddie Freeman stroked an RBI single to give Atlanta a four-run cushion.
The team wasn’t done there, either, as Matt Kemp singled and Markakis walked to load the bases and force a pitching change. With Andrew Cashner in the dugout, Tyler Flowers contributed a two-run single and, shortly after, Dansby Swanson added a sacrifice fly to give the Braves a 7-0 advantage with only 18 outs to generate.
As noted above, that wasn’t enough. Foltynewicz escaped the first three innings without allowing a run, but the fourth was quite unkind to the young right-hander. He led off the inning by hitting Marcell Ozuna, and after allowing seven (yes, seven) more singles in the inning, Foltynewicz was chased from the game as Atlanta’s lead shrunk to just 7-5.
To make matters worse, Foltynewicz was forced to the dugout after being struck by a line drive from Ozuna’s bat (at 110 MPH exit velocity) and he was quickly joined by Dansby Swanson under inauspicious circumstances. Mark Bowman explains:
Swanson was struck above the left ankle by an errant Flowers throw as Weber warmed up in the fourth inning. He was standing behind the mound— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) September 13, 2016
Later in the evening, the Braves provided a bit of clarity on both players’ injury status, and while neither is considered serious, both ailments were highly unfortunate and, frankly, strange.
Mike Foltynewicz left tonight’s game with a left calf contusion. Dansby Swanson left the game with a right groin contusion.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 13, 2016
With Ryan Weber on the hill, the Braves navigated the fifth inning without allowing a run and that felt like an accomplishment. Unfortunately, that new trend did not stick, though, as Ian Krol promptly allowed four consecutive singles to start the sixth and, even with yeoman’s work from Chaz Roe, the Marlins were able to tie the game at 7-7 in unlikely fashion.
Atlanta would, however, respond and it came immediately. The bottom half of the sixth inning featured a double from Freeman and another from Markakis to reclaim the lead at 8-7 and, in the ensuing inning, Anthony Recker plated Jace Peterson to reinstall the Braves in a comfortable position with a two-run lead. While that was probably enough of a cushion (even in this odd game), the offense wasn’t quite done.
In the eighth inning (and their final at-bat), the Braves were relentless. Freeman walked to lead off the frame, and he was immediately moved to third on a double by Kemp. After an intentional walk, Flowers sent a two-run single to center to widen the margin at 11-7. With no outs in the inning, Peterson then singled to load the bases, and Gordon Beckham (in for Swanson) lofted a sacrifice fly to push the score to the final margin of 12-7.
Aside from the obvious concern of blowing a seven-run lead, this was a fun offensive showing from Atlanta. Every starting player aside from Swanson (who exited early) posted at least one hit, with three different players (Freeman, Kemp, Peterson) adding three hits each. All told, the Braves produced 17 hits and, given the way this season has gone, that was a pleasant outcome.
The Braves and Marlins will continue their series on Tuesday night and the smart money is on game two being more “normal” than the opener. Stay tuned.