The Braves once again beat the lowly Marlins, utilizing another offensive explosion in route to an 11-9 victory. The Atlanta attack was led by Freddie Freeman, who hit for the cycle and scored four runs, but this was a top-to-bottom effort that saw every position player in the starting lineup reach base. The Braves leave town with a three-game sweep during which they outscored Miami 25-11 and drew an absurd 24 walks.
The game began with starters Charlie Morton and Jesus Luzardo trading zeroes, though the Braves did have a runner on base in each of the first two innings. Freeman doubled with two outs in the first, but was stranded as Austin Riley flew out to center field. Morton was perfect through 22⁄3 innings before issuing a two-out walk to Luzardo. He escaped unscathed, however, and set the stage for the Atlanta offense to make it mark.
The fourth inning began with a Freeman into the right field corner. The Marlins had, for some reason, shifted their entire outfield to the opposite field, which allowed Freeman to motor around the bases to set the table for Atlanta. The next five batters would reach for the Braves, including two bases loaded walks, giving Atlanta a 3-0 lead. This chased Luzardo from the game as Steven Okert entered with the bases loaded and no outs. The Braves would manage to score once more as Ozzie Albies drove in another run with a one-out sac fly to push the advantage to 4-0.
In the fifth inning, the Braves once again saw their leadoff hitter reach base as Freeman singled to right field. Austin Riley followed with another single, then with two outs Adam Duvall blasted a double to center field, giving Atlanta a 5-0 lead. Charlie Morton found some trouble in the bottom-half of the inning, loading the bases with one out before allowing a run to score on a Jorge Alfaro fielders choice. Miguel Rojas would follow with an RBI single, pulling the Marlins closer as the score stood at 5-2.
The Braves answered in the sixth inning, as a two-out walk brought Freddie Freeman to the plate with two outs. Needing only a home run to complete his second career cycle, Freeman hit a towering blast to center field that just cleared the wall to complete one of the rarest feats in baseball and give Atlanta a 7-2 lead. Freeman last hit for the cycle on June 15, 2016 and becomes the first player in Braves franchise history to complete the cycle twice.
The eighth inning saw Atlanta score four more runs, three of which came on bases loaded walks, to extend the lead to 11-2. The Marlins struggled to find the strike zone all series, but this inning was out of control. Credit Braves hitters for staying disciplined in what appeared to be a blowout victory.
The lead only appeared to be insurmountable for Miami, as they made things VERY uncomfortable in the ninth inning against Josh Tomlin and Will Smith. The former entered to begin the inning, and in typical fashion got absolutely shelled. In 2⁄3 of an inning, Tomlin allowed five runs on five hits, giving the Marlins a very real opportunity to mount a comeback before exiting in favor of Will Smith. The closer entered with a four-run lead and promptly allowed a two-run homer to Jesus Sanchez, pulling the Marlins within two runs at 11-9. Lewis Brinson followed with a walk, then Isan Diaz singled weakly to the left side, bringing old friend Alex Jackson to the plate representing the winning run with two outs. Smith managed to strike out his former battery mate to avoid a complete meltdown, but it was anything but comfortable for Atlanta.
Regardless of the embarrassment that was the ninth inning, the Braves took care of business in Miami this week. They soundly thrashed an inferior opponent and now own a six-game win streak. Having the offense rolling so well after the struggles that plagued the early in the season is heartening, especially with all the new additions playing well. In addition to the heroics of Freeman on Wednesday, Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson continued their torrid stretches, each posting multi-hit efforts. The success continues for Atlanta throughout the lineup, and they appear set for a huge run in the pennant chase.