It would be easy to overstate last night’s victory over the Marlins in either direction. On the one hand, it would be simple to look at 16 hits and 11 runs, go all “woooooo, offense!” and start mindlessly chanting and chopping. On the other, it would be understandable to write it all off as IWOTM(arlins.) Neither would really be correct, though neither would be wrong enough to worry much about either.
While IWOTM(arlins), the offense did in fact crank out 16 hits, although only 5 of them came against Marlins starter Tom Koehler. The Braves didn’t really damage the big power throwing right-hander so much as group their hits well, play some fundamentally sound “get ’em over, get ’em in” type of ball, and benefit from some shaky defensive gifts from the Floridian side. (More on that later.) The big offensive explosions came later, against the Fishes’ quad-A bullpen, notably rookie lefty Dan Jennings and Twins reject Kevin Slowey. Even then, they also got the benefit of some shaky defensive gifts from the Floridian side. (More on that later.)
Things started out poorly. After a line drive out from Juan Pierre followed by a meek come-backer from Placido Polanco, Kris Medlen got beat by the Marlins’ only honest-to-god Major League talent. Do-Not-Call-Me-Mike Stanton walked and Logan Morrison, back from the minors and raking, launched a 2-run bomb to RF. CF Marcel Ozuna did us a favor – the beginning of a trend (more on that later) – and ended things with roller to short, but before so much as unpacking the bat racks the Braves were down 0-2. Atlanta followed up the inauspicious top one with an equally meh-inducing bottom-one; weak ground, lazy fly to right, K swinging. Things were not looking happy for Mudville.
Medlen followed up his bad first with a bad second, giving up a one-out single to Marlins SS Adeiny Hechavarria. That was followed immediately by a ringing double from catcher Rob Brantly. Only some bad baserunning by Hechavarria kept a run off the board. Meds got a grounder to third and a fly ball to center to wiggle out of it, but the stage was set for his night. Over the course of the game he would scatter 9 hits and 2 walks (both to Stanton) over a meager 6 innings, giving up 3 earned in the process. He would fail to record a single clean inning, having base runners on every frame. All things told, he was not the Kris Medlen we have all grown to love. He was throwing high-80s fastballs and getting hit hard and was lucky to get out with 3 runs and the win.
The W came because while Medlen was getting run-lucky with his hits and walks, the Marlins were not. In the bottom of the second Freddie Freeman doubled, because All-Stars do that sort of thing. Brian McCann hit behind the runner on a ground out to second, advancing him to third, because veteran leaders do that sort of thing. And then Dan Uggla drove him in with a grounder to the third baseman. Double, productive out, RBI ground-out. All of the fans at the stadium chanted “Simpsonorgasmico!” in unison and Joe had to change his pants. 2-1 Marlins.
In the second, Chris Johnson continued his quest to make fools of anyone thinking of benching him for a rental bat by doubling to lead off. Medlen laid down a nice bunt to move him over, Polanco threw it into the runner and while Medlen shocked the world and sort of won a full body block contest against LoMo at the 1B bag Johnson came around to score on the throwing error. Tie ball game and someone needs to get Joe another pair of pants again.
In the third, Justin Upton led off by doing the impossible and driving a pitched ball with authority again. Everyone seemed to be shocked, allowing the never-hustles, so-totally-not-gritty Upton to motor all the way around to third for a triple. Freddie followed with a moderately deep fly ball to LCF, which should have been a sac fly (because Juan Pierre’s arm is an insult to wet noodles at this point) but Pierre and Ozuna played an “I got it, you get it” game and Freeman ended up at third too. Braves lead 3-2, which of course means no need to drive that guy on third with nobody out in or anything. K swinging, pop to first, K swinging and we go forward.
Medlen gave the lead up in the top six. Something called a “Derek Dietrich” doubled and was driven home by pinch hitter Greg Dobbs to reset the game at 3 apiece. But that run came at a high cost for the Marlins, because it got Koehler out of the game and the Fishy pen into it. At that point the wheels came off.
The aforementioned Dan Jennings didn’t retire a batter in the bottom of six, loading the bases before giving way to Ryan Webb. Webb almost wriggled out of it with K’s against Dan Uggla and Reed Johnson (playing CF since the fourth due to an arm injury BJ Upton suffered swinging the bat in the bottom of three.) But then Chris Johnson was like, “who is it you were wanting to sit down against RHP again, mullet-heads?!” and laced a two-run double to right. Then Jordan Schafer singled in a run, even though he has only one functional ankle right now, and Andrelton Simmons followed with another RBI single, and Ryan Webb was cursing the heavens because between the both of them those two run producing singles might have traveled three-quarters of the way to second base. Regardless, the flood gates were officially opened and the curb-stomping had officially commenced.
Other things would happen before the game mercifully ended, including Brian McCann doubling to CF and Andrelton Simmons tripling to CF, which is as good a point as any to mention the Braves real offensive hero of the night; Marlins center fielder Marcel Ozuna. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a guy have that much trouble playing defense at the Major League level before. He played everyone really shallow and was beat by it regularly. He took routes to the ball that made a mockery of calculus and physics. He played no less than four outs into doubles or triples, by my count. He was an offensive force for Atlanta all night.
So, all in all, the Braves beat holy-hell out of the Marlins, who have two real offensive players + the washed up remains of Placido Polanco and Juan Pierre. They got a lot of help from a rookie CF who had clearly never played beneath the lights of Turner Field and was perplexed and confused by the mere thought of tracking a ball in flight. They got a few runs off of “productive outs” and they got another off of a throwing error. All the while, their starter was actually beat around pretty hard by the quad-A lineup from Florida. And they managed to win 11-3.
It’s baseball, you’ll take that. But you’ll probably not crow about it too much.