The Braves failed to sweep the Marlins after the boys with a splash of teal in their uniforms reeled off a five-run ninth last Thursday, but this Thursday, the bullpen slammed the door after Dylan Dodd’s terribly bizarre (or bizarrely terrible) start. Thanks to early runs and homers from Marcell Ozuna and Matt Olson, the Braves barely trailed and largely coasted to their third straight win.
This game had a lot of scoring early on, with five runs in the first three frames. Ronald Acuña Jr. started the game with a pop-out that was dropped by Yuli Gurriel near the right-field foul line, and came around to score on Sean Murphy’s opposite-field double that almost cleared the wall. But, the Marlins came right back against Dodd: Jon Berti reached by beating out an infield single to Vaugh Grissom at short, and then Jorge Soler obliterated a low-in-the-zone Dodd fastball to give Miami a short-lived lead. In the top of the second, Ozuna drew a walk with one out, and Eddie Rosario randomly tried to bunt before swinging at a low-and-outside slider from Jesus Luzardo and somehow rolling it weakly through the left side. Ozuna chugged in to third and drew a late throw, which let Rosario move up to second on a play that was somehow scored a double. Kevin Pillar, starting in center due to Michael Harris II’s injured knee, tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right, and then Acuña gave the Braves the lead by knocking a grounder single up the middle to score Rosario.
After that, the runs were more sparse. Acuña followed his single by stealing second and moving to third on an errant throw from catcher Nick Fortes, but was stranded there. Murphy erased a leadoff walk with a double play in the third, and Ozuna connected for his third homer in two days to make it a 4-2 game in the fourth. Murphy then hit into a double play, again, with a man on first and none out in the fifth, which stung because Ozzie Albies hit a deep drive that went for a double immediately afterwards.
The Marlins clambered within a run in the fifth: Dodd walked Peyton Burdick to start the frame and begin his descent into the third time through the order. Berti then singled on a bouncer to right that glanced off Olson’s glove, and Soler smashed a get-me-over, 1-0 changeup from Dodd into the left-field corner for an RBI double. Fortunately for the Braves, Soler’s second smash wasn’t hit high enough to be a go-ahead three-run homer, and even more fortunately, the Braves were somehow able to get Dodd through the game, despite the whole times through the order thing, because the Marlins proceeded to hit two shallow flyouts with the tying run on third. Their last hope in the fifth was Garrett Hampson, who lined out softly to a well-positioned Ozzie Albies behind the second-base bag.
Amazingly, the Braves pushed their luck by smushing Dodd into the sixth, and even more amazingly, it didn’t blow up in their faces. Dodd gave up a leadoff single to Fortes, and then collected his first and only strikeout of the game in the sixth inning. Fortes then got thrown out trying to steal (botched hit-and-run, maybe?), and though Dodd again walked Burdick and even had to face Berti a fourth time, the pesky Marlins hitter flew out harmlessly to Acuña in right.
Speaking of Acuña: as the last man in the top of the sixth, he fouled a ball hard off his knee (not the surgically-repaired one) and rolled around in agony for a while before resuming the PA and striking out. He stayed in to play the field for an inning, but departed before the bottom of the seventh.
Jesus Luzardo departed right before that Acuña PA; he had a meh 5/3 K/BB ratio and allowed a homer in 5 2⁄3 innings. Dodd’s start was something that makes little sense but you’ll still see a few times a season: despite a 1/3 K/BB ratio and a homer allowed, he somehow only got charged with three runs and made it through six frames. His command wasn’t pinpoint as we saw in St. Louis, but it was fine — rather, the issue was that his changeup and slider didn’t get any whiffs outside the zone and his changeup really didn’t get any whiffs at all. But hey, he and the Braves survived.
The Braves weren’t able to push a run across in the seventh when Grissom struck out with men on the corners to end the inning. Michael Tonkin had an easy bottom of the seventh thanks to a double play that erased Soler after a single — Soler finished a triple shy of the cycle. Dylan Floro sat the Braves down 1-2-3 in the eighth, but Nick Anderson returned the favor against the Marlins in the bottom of the inning.
The Braves did extend their lead and avoid any Marlins one-run game shenanigans in the ninth: Olson homered off A.J. Puk, and then Grissom hit a sacrifice fly to right after a single-walk-single sequence immediately after the homer. Skip Schumaker decided to add to the weirdness of this game by pulling Puk (a lefty) with two outs in the eighth with Marcell Ozuna (a righty) due up in favor of Steven Okert (another lefty). Ozuna flew out to left to end the inning.
A.J. Minter had the ninth, and made short work of the Marlins. A fly out, a strikeout, a single up the middle, and then a strikeout of Soler, and that’s it, Braves are off with a sweep and a six-game lead in the NL East, where they are the only team above .500.
The Braves will kick off a homestand on Friday night by welcoming the surprising Orioles to town. Max Fried is set to kick off the weekend for the home team.