Marcell Ozuna played the role of Dr. Beatdown in this one, homering twice and driving in six runs. Three of those RBI came on a massive, opposite-field homer off of Colon in the third; another two came on a high-and-inside fastball from Mike Foltynewicz, pitching in relief for the first time this season, that Ozuna crushed into the second deck in left field.
The Braves had a few chances to battle back, and managed to score runs in some unorthodox ways against Dan Straily. However, their offensive assault fell well short, in large part thanks to wasting a golden opportunity to do some damage with the tying runs at the plate in the forms of Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis in the top of the seventh.
Colon, who struggled mightily against the Fish in a late September start last season, once again fared poorly in Miami. Colon allowed three straight line-drive singles to start the game, without throwing a ball to any of the first three hitters. He then walked Giancarlo Stanton after a protracted plate appearance, and two straight sacrifice flies from Justin Bour and Ozuna put the Marlins ahead 3-0. Colon managed a scoreless second, but gave up two singles in the third before Ozuna let it loose.
Straily, meanwhile, was mowing down the hapless-looking Braves. He faced just one over the minimum through three innings, with the Braves reaching base only on a Brandon Phillips double (stranded at third) and an Emilio Bonifacio gift single courtesy of Justin “Voldemort’s Cousin” Riddle, making his major league debut, bobbling a grounder to short (erased on a double play off the bat of Ender Inciarte).
In the fourth, the Braves finally got on the board with a crushed solo homer from Nick Markakis. Colon pitched a scoreless frame, and the score was 6-1 heading into the fifth, where the Braves finally got something (strange) cooking.
Straily lost whatever mojo he had working, plunking Brandon Phillips and then issuing consecutive walks to Tyler Flowers and Bonifacio to start the inning. Brian Snitker made the decision to pull Colon for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson, who hit a 1-0 pitch to Marlins first baseman Justin Bour. Bour threw to second for the force out but completely whiffed on the return throw from Riddle, allowing a second Braves runner to come around and score. Unfortunately, the Braves got nothing else that inning, settling for two runs without a hit in the frame.
Mike Foltynewicz then came on in relief of Colon, working out of the bullpen due to a lack of starting spots with the bevy of offdays the Braves have this week. Folty showcased a neat changeup to lefties, but Christian Yelich hit a leadoff single under Freeman’s glove, which set up another blast from the game’s bad boy, Ozuna, to give the Marlins an 8-3 lead. The Braves got another run back when Freeman singled to start the sixth, advanced to second on a groundout, and scored on an Adonis Garcia single to center field. That capped the scoring.
As noted, the Braves did waste a great scoring chance in the seventh. Kyle “Second Amendment” Barraclough, pitching in relief for the Marlins, struck out both of the first two men he faced, but pinch-hitter Johan Camargo, making his major league debut, managed to reach first on a wild pitch strikeout. An Inciarte single moved Camargo to third, and Barraclough walked Dansby Swanson to bring up the tying run with one out.
That seemed like a good time for Don Mattingly, the Miami skipper, to pull a lefty out of his bullpen, with Freeman and Markakis coming up. Alas, the Marlins have no such luxury, featuring a relief corps comprised entirely of righties, but muddled through anyway. Freddie Freeman swung over the top of a curveball in a 2-2 count for the inning’s second out, and Nick Markakis hit a routine fly ball to left, ending the threat.
The Braves went down relatively quietly after that, and A.J. Rams struck out two to close out the game in the ninth.
All told, Colon lasted four innings, allowing six runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out two. Foltynewicz allowed two runs on the Ozuna homer, but otherwise worked two frames with four strikeouts. Eric O’Flaherty and Ian Krol each tossed scoreless innings to complete the pitching slate for the Braves.
Brandon Phillips was the only Brave with multiple hits, collecting two doubles. Ender Inciarte and Dansby Swanson continued their early-season scuffles at the top of the order: Inciarte went 1-for-5 with a strikeout, while Swanson went 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts of his own. Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich each had three hits for the Fish. Dan Straily started strong but finished with an unimpressive line, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits and two walks in five innings, although he did strike out five Braves.
The Braves wrap up this strange, truncated two-game set with another night game tomorrow, where they’ll perhaps get a chance to live again. Jaime Garcia will toe the mound against Braves nemesis Tom Koehler in that one before the Braves head home to finally get a home opener of their own on Friday night.
Also, the best part of this game was the cat that appeared at Marlins Park in the middle of the game. The Braves are reportedly considering offering it a major league deal for a bench or bullpen spot.