Four-game sweeps are hard. Four-game sweeps on the road are even harder. Four-game sweeps where the last game is started by a recent minor league callup who’s been knocked around at the major league level so far? Well, we know it’s not impossible, because it’s what the Braves pulled off on Sunday afternoon in Miami, riding an awesome Bryce Elder start and a ninth-inning comeback to their sixth straight win.
This game featured three main things.
Wow, Bryce Elder. Yes, the Miami attack is pretty much anything but, but Elder was amazing in this one, weaving seven innings of 10-strikeout, three-walk ball in which he gave up just one run, just six hard-hit balls (zero barrels), and just four balls in play with a hit probability of 50 percent or higher. The only run Elder allowed came in the fourth, when J.J. Bleday hit a one-out double, and came around to score on a bloop two-out single into right center by Miguel Rojas.
Probably the most amazing thing about Elder’s start was that he didn’t lose any steam when facing Miami batters for a third time. He struck out the top three in the lineup when facing them a third time, and collected five of his ten total punchouts across batters 19 through 27. Working mostly sinker-slider, Elder did a good job of getting guys to focus on the slider the first time through before coming back with the sinker on go-around number two, and then mixing up his putaway pitches in the middle innings.
No dice until the ninth. Braxton Garrett and the baseball gods proved tough for the Atlanta offense for much of the game.
- 1st: Vaughn Grissom singled and Austin Riley was hit by a pitch, but Matt Olson hit into a double play.
- 2nd: Eddie Rosario drew a two-out walk and stolen second, but was thrown out at the plate by half the distance between third and home on Marcell Ozuna’s single to right.
- 3rd: Grissom singled and Riley walked with two outs, but Olson’s 50-50 100 mph grounder was snared at first for an out.
- 5th: Ozuna singled to lead off the frame and Swanson singled with one out. Grissom hit into what should have been an inning-ending double play, but the relay throw to first was awful. However, for whatever reason, Ozuna didn’t come around to score on the play, and Riley flew out.
- 7th: Michael Harris II hit a one-out double off new reliever Dylan Floro, and Grissom later walked, but Riley’s 111 mph liner was hit right to Rojas at short to end the inning.
- 8th: Now facing Steven Okert, Matt Olson “singled” thanks to another bad throw, and Robbie Grossman walked with one out, but Ozuna struck out looking on an obvious strike to end the inning.
Woo, ninth-inning magic. Basically, Harris immediately tied the game on Tanner Scott’s entry into the proceedings:
The Braves weren’t done there, either. Swanson singled to right, and Grissom had an epic plate appearance that at one point featured five straight fouls, and 11 pitches total, that turned into a walk. Riley flew out, and Swanson got thrown out on the basepaths, but Olson walked to put two on again. William Contreras followed with a ball up the middle just out of the reach of Scott’s glove. It was flagged down in shallow center on a dive, but Grissom easily raced around to score. The Braves inserted Ronald Acuña Jr. into the game, and the Marlins immediately intentionally walked him; a wild pitch from Scott capped the scoring at 3-1.
Kenley Jansen came on for the third day in a row and finished off the game, despite a one-out single, an advance on defensive indifference, and a balk. Tyler Matzek threw a scoreless eighth ahead of Jansen slamming the door.
Garrett was not actually particularly good for Miami, with a 2/3 K/BB ratio, but was bailed out by the strand rate deities.
The Braves will now head home to try to serve some revenge to the Mets, who come to town for a four-game set that starts on Monday.