If you were expecting something considerably different from a 7-5 score on a night where the pitching matchup featured Julio Teheran and Jose Fernandez, I don’t blame you. Unfortunately for fans of dominant pitching, both top flight starters got roughed up in this one, but Marcell Ozuna’s three-run homer off of Teheran proved to be the decisive blow that sunk the Braves in the game as well as the series.
The Marlins struck first in this one against Teheran: Dee Gordon hit a soft leadoff single to left field and then stole second and third, like he does, before scoring on a Martin Prado single. Teheran was able to induce a double play from Christian Yelich, and then retired the Marlins in order in the second.
Jose Fernandez has juggled dominant and poor outings lately, and tonight his start was more of the latter variety. The Braves tagged him for four runs in the bottom of the second. First, Nick Markakis blasted a two-run homer (scoring Matt Kemp). Fernandez then allowed four straight baserunners against the bottom of the Atlanta order (three singles and a walk), including a bunt single by Teheran where no one covered first base. Ender Inciarte hampered the rally by hitting into a double play with the bases juiced and no one out, but that pushed the fourth run of the inning across. After two innings, five runs had scored, and the Braves had a nice three-run cushion.
Teheran and Fernandez then kicked it up a notch and largely cruised, with the offenses garnering just two singles and two walks until the sixth inning. Two of those baserunners were also erased on double plays.
The sixth proved to be decisive for Teheran and the Braves, in an unfortunate way. Dee Gordon started the inning off with a groundball triple and immediately scored on a groundball to second from Derek Dietrich which Jace Peterson could not make a play on. Teheran then hit Prado with a pitch, and after getting a hard flyout from Yelich, threw a first pitch slider that didn’t dive below the zone that Marcell Ozuna creamed into the left field seats for a go-ahead three-run homer. Ozuna has had great success against Teheran in his career, and only improved those stats with the big blast.
That was it for Teheran: his final line was a disappointing five and a third innings with six hits, a walk, five runs allowed, and five strikeouts. The Braves handled the Marlins pretty deftly (well, at least up until this series) this season, but Teheran never quite found a groove against them, and tonight did little to change that.
The bottom of sixth featured Fernandez in control, though he did plunk Nick Markakis with two outs. That proved to be meaningful, because in the top of the seventh, Jose Ramirez threw a first pitch fastball very high and tight to the batting Fernandez, leading to a prolonged benches clearing incident (though no haymakers were thrwn) and Ramirez’ immediate ejection by home plate ump Marvin Hudson.
From there on out, both offenses manufactured additional runs, without changing the likely outcome of the game. Ozuna drove in another run, cashing in a leadoff walk of Prado issued by Mauricio Cabrera. After a stretch of eight scoreless appearances, Cabrera has now allowed five runs in his last three outings. The Braves struck back with sequential singles and an RBI groundout by Matt Kemp, but the Marlins got that run back in the ninth on an Ichiro sacrifice fly off of Joel de la Cruz, who was pitching in this game for some reason.
Fernandez featured a final line that was not particularly pretty: seven innings, six hits, four runs, two walks, and three strikeouts. Still, he stuck around past the Ozuna homer to grab his 15th victory of the season. Weirdly enough, despite his affinity for the strikeout, he got his three Ks in his last two innings of work, including the last two batters he faced. (Maybe he was trying to pitch to contact more?)
For those perusing the box score, you’ll notice that Freddie Freeman left the game in the eighth and was replaced by Blake Lalli, who garnered his first Atlanta hit in the contest. Freeman was not injured: rather, he left to be with his wife for the birth of his child. He did, however, extend his hit streak to 20 games (and on-base streak to 36 games) before departing.
The Braves have an off day tomorrow before sending John Gant out to face the Nationals on Friday. The Marlins are now four games out of a Wild Card slot, but have the Cardinals in front of them as also vying for a spot from the outside.