After shoulder soreness shut him down early on this spring, the prospect of Kevin Gausman making a dominant start in early April seemed far-fetched. And yet, on Friday night Gausman was completely dialed in, firing seven shutout innings to give the Braves bullpen a light workload. Those seven innings were the deepest any Atlanta starter has lasted this season, and helped the Braves to their fourth consecutive victory.
The Braves were largely quiet at the plate the first trip through the order against Marlins starter Pablo Lopez, but the second round bore fruit for the Atlanta offense. After a leadoff single by Freddie Freeman in the fourth inning, Ronald Acuña, Jr. lined an opposite field two-run homer into the Chop House to give the Braves 2-0 lead. After the next two batters were retired in order, Tyler Flowers added a solo homer down the left field line to push the Atlanta lead to 3-0. Dansby Swanson followed with a walk, then consecutive two-out singles by Gausman and Ender Inciarte plated another run, giving Gausman a 4-0 advantage.
The Marlins did very little to challenge Gausman, especially after the Braves jumped out to a 4-0 lead. The right-hander retired 13 consecutive batters at one point, with a Brian Anderson leadoff single in the seventh breaking that streak. Neil Walker would follow with a lineout before Gausman induced a ground ball from Starlin Castro, which was fielded by Ozzie Albies near the second base bag and quickly fired to first to extinguish the Miami threat. Gausman would be pulled after the seventh, having struck out seven batters while allowing just two hits and two walks. With only 88 pitches, Gausman would likely have been granted another inning if not for the proximity to his shoulder ailments.
Gausman was relieved by Jesse Biddle in the eighth, who worked a perfect inning, striking out one. In the ninth, Arodys Vizcaino ran into trouble as he walked the leadoff batter before a Martin Prado doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs. The right-hander would then strike out Curtis Granderson and Brian Anderson before walking Neil Walker to bring the tying run to the plate. With a 1-0 count, Vizcaino threw a slider to Starlin Castro, who chased Acuña to the base of the left field wall, narrowly missing a game-tying homer. The ninth was anything but pretty, but Vizcaino once again slammed the door to preserve a Braves win.
The Braves will take on the Marlins once again on Saturday, with Kyle Wright making his second career start, as they look to win the fifth straight. Sandy Alcantara draws the start for the Marlins.