If last Wednesday's contest was a night to forget for Bryce Elder, then tonight's rematch against the Miami Marlins was one for the memory banks. Elder pitched seven strong shutout innings for the Atlanta Braves in what ended up being a somewhat comfortable victory in the series opener in Miami.
Bryce Elder came into this one likely trying to set the record straight against the Marlins and boy, did he ever. Elder started off the game with a 1-2-3 inning against the top of Miami's order and it was basically smooth sailing for Elder from that point forward. Nobody made it past second base against Elder in this one — the only time a runner even made it to second base was when Jon Berti got there thanks to reaching first on an error and then getting a free base thanks to a balk from Elder.
Other than that, Bryce Elder was fantastic in this one. If anything, he showed that the start in Cobb County against the Marlins may have been an aberration and this was more of the usual that we're used to seeing from Elder. The Marlins had their fair share of hard contact but once again when it comes to Elder, the contact was all for naught as he was able to keep Miami inside the ballpark with little-to-no issue.
The only time Miami even got really close to doing some serious damage was in the bottom of the seventh inning, which is when Bryan De La Cruz smoked one off the wall in center field for what looked destined to be a two-out double. Instead, Michael Harris II played the ball perfectly off the wall and then fired a laser to Ozzie Albies at second base. Ozzie kept the tag on as De La Cruz slid off the bag and instead of getting a double, he only got a single while getting thrown out at second. It was an amazing play and it ended Elder's night on a high note.
As far as the offense went, the first inning was also a sign of things to come for the rest of the game as Sandy Alcantara really had to labor in order to make it through the first inning scoreless. He only gave up one hit (a leadoff double from Ronald Acuña Jr.) but it still took him plenty of pitches to get out of the first frame. Atlanta made him pay in the second inning, though, as Ozzie Albies hit one deep to right field for a solo shot to get the Braves started in this game.
The Braves failed to add on in the second inning but still continued to push Sandy Alcantara's pitch count higher and higher in the early stages of the game. This continued into the third inning, which is when the Braves loaded up the bases with nobody out to lead off that frame. Unfortunately, Eddie Rosario and Ozzie Albies both swung at the first pitches they saw which allowed Alcantara to escape the jam with only giving up one run in that frame, but it was still clear that the Braves were causing Alcantara a lot of problems in this one.
Atlanta got something going again against Sandy Alcantara in the fifth inning, which is when Matt Olson reached base with a one-out walk and then got to second via a passed ball with two outs. Eddie Rosario came through with an RBI knock to make it 3-0 Braves and the hit came on Alcantara's 94th pitch of the game. Alcantara didn't make it past the fifth and this continued a string of underwhelming starts for the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner. Two of those starts have come against the Braves, which we are definitely glad to see around here.
Both teams remained quiet (aside from Ronald Acuña Jr. stealing second base via somersault in the seventh inning) until the eighth inning, which is when Marlins reliever Johan Quezada made his first big league appearance since 2020. It didn't go well for him at all, as he gave up a double, a sacrifice fly and five (5!) walks in just 0.2 innings of work. Two of those walks came with the bases loaded, so the Braves were up 6-0 at this point once the smoke cleared and the damage had been done.
Kirby Yates pitched a scoreless eighth inning and then Joe Jiménez came on for the ninth inning. While Jiménez did give up a double that ended up being wedged in the chain-link fence in left field, he was still able to keep the Marlins off the scoreboard and preserve Atlanta's second shutout win over the Marlins already this season.
This was a magnificent bounce-back performance for Bryce Elder, who continues to thumb his nose at Baseball Savant by being successful despite all indicators pointing towards failure. Here's hoping that it continues and let's also hope that the Braves can pick up yet another series victory with a win tomorrow night.